My collage paintings

Firstly, big virtual hugs and kisses to you all, for letting me know that you are thinking of me. You make blogging and connecting a joy. I am doing well, with only a little stiffness, and my energy levels are okay. I have even been making lists, a sure sign that I am getting back to normal.

Secondly, my art work.

I can’t remember what I have told you, so let’s go back a little.

I did an online course with Tara Axford during our first lockdown last year, maybe in April? One of the many things I learnt and loved was collaging. The loving part was a very nice surprise. In our second Melbourne lockdown we could only leave home for 4 reasons; one was exercise within a 5km radius. I spent a lot of time down at my local urban wetlands and the reeds and reflections fascinated me.

Collaging and wetlands came together.

Then I found out I had been accepted to have an exhibition at the Old Auction House in Kyneton. How exciting it that! August is still a way off, but it seems to be approaching at a rather quick pace. I am building up a body of collages to exhibit.

So far I have worked on two series.

The first is of the wetlands. Some are abstract reinterpretations.

Some are more realistic.

Then I decided to switch my focus to rock pools.

Over Christmas I was lucky enough to spend time at my sister’s beach house at Somers. Somers beach has the most amazing rock pools, with colours that took my breath away. And just happened to be the colours I have been using. How could I not be smitten by something like this?

Most of the time I can tell whether the collage has worked or not. There is something that makes me smile and feel satisfied. I don’t get that feeling from the rock pools I have done so far.

The last one is the only one that resonates. For me the first two are neither realistic nor abstract enough, neither one nor the other. I would love to know what you think.

I am not giving up on the rock pools. I need to loosen up, to let go of the detail until the last; not try to recreate them as they are, instead let the paint and shapes tell me what to do.

As for the painting, all of these have been ‘painted’ with an old credit card, which I use to scrape the paint across the paper. There is little control, but wonderful effects. Then I cut out the shapes that I see in the paint. Simple and works for me!

Resuming transmission, I hope

I have been a very poor correspondent over the last few months. If it wasn’t for the SAL deadlines, I wouldn’t have been posting at all. And a couple of those posts were rather skimpy. However, I have a good excuse…..

Early in December my neck and hips started to feel very stiff and sore, and then it got worse over the month. Not really painful, but doing simple things, like turning over in bed, bending over, sitting down, were really difficult. It was worse in the morning.

Eventually, after expecting it to go away, and throwing Christmas and New Year into the time mix, I had blood tests which showed high levels of inflammation. My GP was really supportive, and started me on medication that helped, almost overnight.

This week I saw a rheumatologist, who diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica. It is an inflammatory condition which, fortunately, is treatable. It may take time but the medication should get the immune system and inflammation under control. So, good news!

The best way to describe it to you is to say that many, many, moons ago I went rock climbing with my brother. Oh boy, were my thigh muscles stiff over the next few days! I remember how difficult it was to climb the stairs at work, and at one stage had to go up backwards. My legs just didn’t want to work. Through December my muscles seemed to be saying, “Nup, we’re not moving.” They were stiff and sore. Trying to make them move was a little painful, but overall the pain level was quite low.

I mention this because I know there are many people, including some of you, who suffer high levels of pain over months and years. What I have experienced has not been at that level, but it has given me more insight into how difficult life can be for many. I applaud you for your courage and resilience.

Getting the diagnosis confirmed how important it is to have someone say “This is what you have, this is how we can deal with it”. Before the diagnosis there were a number of possibilities which I brooded on, playing out scenarios in my mind, having imaginary conversations, scrolling through websites and Youtube videos. None of that was helpful. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I was impatient to know. My mind tried to come up with its own solutions, but all it was doing was being a hamster on a wheel. However, now I know which way I am facing I know which direction to go in.

It is a relief to get out of my own head!

There seem to be many chronic conditions that are difficult to pin down. And that’s assuming you have a supportive medical professionals who believe you. And access to specialists and the various tests needed. So again, I really feel for people who have had to fight to get the correct diagnosis, people who have not only had to deal with what their own bodies are throwing at them but battling to be heard by others.

I am grateful for so many reasons.

Now, to end on a different note. Even when I was chatting to you on a more regular basis, I hadn’t mentioned much about my art. I am going to leave you with a gallery of my collages, with the promise that soon I will tell you more about them. However, if you can’t wait for that post sometime in the future, you can sign up for my newsletter. This weekend I am going to write about how my collages are rather like jigsaw puzzles. [You can sign up here.]

SAL

Before I show you the work done over the last three weeks, I just want to say how much I appreciate the comments you leave. Of course I get warm fuzzies when you tell me how you like what I do, but perhaps even more I appreciate the comments you leave about what you see in my work, what they remind you of, how they make you feel. That there is something in my stitching that you respond is a good feeling.

I am proud to be part of such a warm and supportive community.

So, to this time….

….another postcard. The torn up work was a watercolour tree. I tried to make the pieces more horizontal, but somehow it still has quite strong verticals!

I am working on the cross stitching, but seem to have stalled over the last week or so. I think it needs some colours that I don’t have in my thread stash. Of course, that could just be an excuse to buy some more but now that shops are open and our restrictions have eased I feel the yarns and threads are calling to me!

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

SAL

Another three weeks, another SAL, another “Postcard from liminal time”.

What a washed out photo…the backing cloth is actually a sage green, and the threads more vibrant.

As you can see I tore up a watercolour painting of a leaf. The leaf was quite curved, and I think this is why it didn’t work as a painting.

As the original painting was a single leaf I tore out around that shape, which left me with white edges around each shape. The other postcards, like this one, were larger shapes, in this case a shell, torn into smaller pieces. It wasn’t until I was into the work that the obvious white struck me. Tearing paper is always going to leave some white, but this is too much to my eye. I tried to break it up with the extra cross stitches, but I wasn’t happy with it.

So, it’s not my favourite postcard, but it taught me more about which painting to choose.

There are five in the series so far. Looking at them together for the first time I can see that they are vertical, with the exception of the eggplant, the first. Maybe the next one will be more horizontal.

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

How about this for an unusual online activity?

There are so many wonderful things to do online. Have you been sampling some? I have listened to a range of talks, from topics about mountain pygmy possums (just the cutest animals), through feral pests, to edible weeds, as well as visiting museums and galleries and attending online concerts and book launches. However, today I began what I think may be the most unusual thing to do during this period of restrictions ~ an online pottery class!

Sew-a-longs, watercolour lessons, life drawing classes all seem quite doable online, but pottery? It made me laugh every time I told someone about it, and made me smile whenever I thought about it.

Many years ago, when I was doing my teaching diploma, I sub-majored in Art, specifically pottery. I loved it, and did classes for many years after that. Life changes and goes in different directions. It’s a very equipment heavy art form; paper and paint aways seemed easier. But the idea was always there…..one day.

This class is organised specially for Seniors Week through my local council, for October. Our first session was this morning. I was rather flustered at the beginning as I was under-prepared. It was my own fault as I hadn’t read the emails that came last week to register my address which meant they hadn’t been able to deliver the supplies. The tutor, Vincenza, very kindly dropped off my kit last night. I didn’t realise until five minutes before logging on that there was an envelope with instructions. The Fella was highly amused to see me dashing about collecting the things I needed!

Despite that rush I had a wonderful time.

The kit had all the important things, especially the clay, already cut into useful sizes, a little container of underglaze, a rolling pin and other odds and ends.

The kit

The class met over Zoom and Vincenza took us through making slab plates. Then we had time to work on our own, asking questions as we went.

My task over the week is to make two slab plates ~ one is to be textured and on the other I am to sgraffito (draw) into the underglaze. We can attach a raised foot if we like.

First plate ~ work in progress

The texture on this first plate came from rolling the banksia cone over the clay. The darker areas are from the ink of the paper I was rolling on. Vincenza assures me that the marks will burn off in the firing.

And yes, these pieces will be fired. Firing the clay was something I was unsure about, as the logistics of it seemed daunting. It seems like Vincenza will collect all our pieces in a couple of weeks and take them to a kiln for the bisque firing. I am not sure how, or if, we will glaze them.

So, I am off on a new adventure.

I love the way people are thinking about how to do things differently, and really appreciate that this is available to me. It has already brought me joy. And did I mention that it is free?

What have you enjoyed doing online?

SAL

I have finished another similar work, so these SAL posts are more about the series of them, rather than an individual piece. I seem to be able to finish them within the three weeks of SALs.

When a name for the series popped into my head it struck me that these works are becoming a serious series. So, they are part of the series…..

Postcards from Liminal Time.

(Curious about liminal time? I wrote my thoughts about it in an earlier post.)

This latest one is the same size as the others ~ 12 x 17 cm ~ a little bigger than a postcard. It also follows the same ideas of being uncertain about the future, that my art is changing without a clear idea of where I will be. There is also the theme of emerging/disappearing, covered/uncovered and impermanence.

You can see that I have torn up a watercolour of my favourite melaleuca trees. When I painted it I was experimenting with creating forests. This was one of the early attempts, that didn’t quite work.

I worked quite hard on this embroidery. For some reason it didn’t flow, especially the top part, the red couched threads. I think it got there in the end. I am not really happy with the the tree on the right ~ or more specifically the band of rust/yellow stitching that runs across it. It is too dense for the paper, too definite. I couldn’t unpick it, because of course the needle holes would still be there. The best I could do was distract the eye with more stitching, without making the same mistake of the stitching being too dense.

What I do like, and this was unplanned, is the notion that the top part is a little like the tree canopy and the bottom grasses and undergrowth.

I am part of a group of stitchers who share their personal stitching work every three weeks. Go and have a look at the wonderful work that is being done all around the world. Everyone is doing something very different, but always interesting.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

SAL

I have been enjoying working on a series of works, using the same sort of stitching. This is one I am working on. I am sure the stitching will look very familiar.

Let me explain about the scraps of paper. (If you read my newsletter, you will know about this. Click here if you would like to sign up.)

My art practice has moved away from more botanic art influences, so I am rethinking my connection to those past works. At the same time I am wondering what I will be creating when I emerge from this strange time. This work in progress, and the others below, have come out of those thoughts.

I took a watercolour painting of a limpet shell and tore it up. Rather extreme, but I have also been thinking about the impermanence of things, how unfamiliar and unsettled our lives are. I selected some of the fragments and stitched them down. The couched threads go under and over the paper ~ emerging, disappearing. To create the texture I am using an open, quite random herringbone stitch.

These are the other two I have finished. One is a torn eggplant drawing. The other is another watercolour limpet shell, in blue tones. In this one I also added some material scraps ~ you can see them on the left, behind the paper fragments. They are small, so are quick to work on. At the moment it is important to not overwhelm myself.

I am part of a group of stitchers that share their personal stitching work every three weeks. Go and have a look at the wonderful work that is being done all around the world. Everyone is doing something very different, but always interesting.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Time for an update

Last time I wrote I was settling back into Stage 3 lockdown. Unfortunately case numbers in Melbourne are not flattening, and there is talk about going into Stage 4. That will be a new world, because things weren’t that strict last time around. However, we have to get the numbers down.

And really, for me, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. I am only making brief forays into shops for food and often a walk up the street for take away coffee. I can get food delivered, and can forgo the coffee 😩. I have a backyard that needs lots of work and plenty in the house to keep me out of mischief. My heart goes out to the others who are not in my position, and unfortunately there are so many of them at the moment.

Also I wrote about the public housing towers. Residents in eight of the nine towers are now at Stage 3 ~ able to go out for food, exercise, work and care. However one tower had to be kept in strict quarantine as it was deemed that residents were either positive or a close contact of those who were. They are, apparently well supported. I am not sure what level of care is being taken in other towers around Melbourne.

But enough of the virus!


The other day I received three delightful treats in my letter box. The first was a card from my Mum, who lives on the other side of town. We often write to each other. Then there were two lovely protea flowers. I must have a secret admirer, as I have no idea who they were from.

The third was even more special. It was a parcel from Catherine in New Zealand. She blogs at Random Thoughts from a Non-Warped Mind and Catherine: the Maker. She constantly amazes me with the things she makes, and this parcel was full of joyful creations.

A treasure trove of goodies from Catherine

You can see the range of goodies ~ cards, notebooks, fabric squares, knitted delights, hand embroidered pieces, papers embellished and printed. How blessed am I? And blown away by her generosity, and talent.


It is a while since I have told you anything of my art, aside from my Stitch-A-Long sewing. I have been better at keeping my newsletter readers more up-to-date; if you want to be in the know you can sign up for my vaguely fortnightly newsletter. There will be a new one in the next day or two, where I will be writing in more detail about tearing paper.

While it took me a while to get going, lately I have been busy with arty things, especially any thing to do with paper:

Gelli plate printing

Collaging

Folding paper

And now tearing and sewing paper (More on this in my newsletter.)

It is good to have a place to escape into, isn’t it?


As you can tell from the fancy dropped capital letters and the little separating dots, I have been playing with the new WordPress editor. I only have one whinge. In the old system I could upload photos straight from Google photos. Now I have to download them into iPhotos and then upload them. Am I missing the magic button that will save me a few steps? Any ideas?

SAL ~ The Forest Regenerates

Progress! Yay! This is where I was last time

contemporary embroidery

and now I have filled in the bottom left section, turning them into trees.

A close up of where I have been working

I am not sure that the trunks are right, but they are easy to take out and restitch. I’ll evaluate them later. Sometimes it helps to just let things sit, doesn’t it?

While I have finished the canopy it is not time to do the Happy Finished Dance just yet. There is still some touching up to do.

I started at the top and gathered confidence as I worked my way down. Some of the early work needs going over and I need to work out what I am doing right at the top. Some of those darker chain stitch areas may come out. It will depend on what looks right.

So, close to being finished, but not quite yet.

These Stitch-A-Long posts are hosted by Avis, and we do them for pleasurable stitching, stitching just for ourselves. Do go and have a look at the other fabulous stitchers from around the world ~ just follow the links below. I am sure you will be amazed by their creativity. (Their posts may not be up just yet due to time differences.)

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Some Odds and Sods

A few bits and bobs, odds and sods for you today.

I was procrastinating about the second square for my sister’s grandson’s quilt. I got some excellent ideas from many of you. Thank you for your helpful suggestions and ideas; in the end I went with a stylised car.

Can you tell that I had a little trouble appliquéing smooth curves? I wouldn’t want to travel too far with those wheels!


If you read my fortnightly newsletter (and the next one is due this weekend, sign up here if you would like to know more about my art) you will know that I have two collages accepted into an exhibition at our council gallery. It is a community based exhibition, designed to celebrate the opening of the gallery.

My two works are abstract representations of the wetlands that I have become fascinated with over the last few months. You may remember my post about it.

Both are so different to the fine, detailed realistic work of my previous botanic art. However, I have been moving in this direction over the last few years.

The paper for the reeds was created by smearing acrylic paint around on photocopy paper, mainly using an old credit card. Then I cut around the shapes that look to me like reeds. The papers for the sky and water were printed with my gelli plate.

If, by chance, you are around Moonee Ponds at any time soon, drop in. The exhibition opens next Tuesday, 23rd June at:

The Incinerator Gallery

Holmes Rd

Moonee Ponds

You may wonder about why it is called the Incinerator Gallery. Check out their website to find out more, including opening hours and social distancing measures.


The other news is that we sold out caravan the other day. If you have been reading my blog for a few years you might remember some of the trips the Fella and I did in our little Avan. The last big trip was the dash over the Nullabor Plain to Western Australia. Unfortunately it is a few years since we went travelling, and when we did it was obvious that it was becoming more and more difficult for the Fella.

We had tossed around the idea of selling it. However, whenever we thought about it, the problems associated with getting it ready were too much. The big issue was that it is difficult to park it in our suburban street and we have no off-street parking. To get it ready for sale would mean having outside our place for an indefinite period, irritating the neighbours, the school over the road and the parking inspectors. It was easier to leave it out the back of our friend’s large country block.

Then we got a phone call out of the blue. The buyer, John, is a friend of the friend in the country. He had seen the van, understood that maybe it needed a new battery, regassing of the air-conditioning, new seals etc, but offered to buy it without even going inside. An offer too good to refuse! It got better when he was happy to do all the paperwork and clean it out.

So now our little van is off on different adventures.

Will I miss it? I miss the idea of being able to take off. There were still lots of places left to explore, and I never did get to travel up to the Kimberleys. However, I know that currently it is not realistic. So I am glad there is one less thing to sort out, one less little niggle to be dealt with.

What will I miss? I will miss the chance to immerse myself in different habitats, being able to wander; but you don’t need a van to be able to do that. I will miss the quiet and stillness, especially in the evenings. The Fella always goes to bed way before I do, so evenings in the van were a time to read, sketch, journal, catch-up with myself, to listen to the night sounds.

Camped at Moody Bluff Rest Area, Nullarbor Plain, New Year’s Eve, 2016 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2016)

And lastly, a photo of the framed collage I dropped to the Incinerator Gallery. It is being guarded by a snake, created by my talented brother. His iso-art has been to create mosaic snakes!