Saturday 24 March 2012

Golden Pierrot

detail from "Golden Pierrot"

Having overcome my fugue of yesterday I've gotten back to work. Such a gorgeous Autumn day! I feel better physically, the tiredness has gone. Beloved husband put March Girl on a stretcher so that work is now ready to be hung in the Gallery.

The work in progress has been renamed "Golden Pierrot" and the original background, intended to be pale metallic gold has been overpainted with black. The intention is to paint quite a complex picture of a gothic archway framing the figure. The picture shown is a detail, there is quite a lot of space surrounding the figure at the sides and above the head.

Rodney and I are off to celebrate Tess Hynes 30th birthday tonight. Happy BIRFDAY TESS!!!! So long as I don't indulge in too much champagne and are hangover free for tomorrow theres a good chance I could finish it. I'll be attending in the wheelchair, not taking crutches, so should keep safe from over enthusiastic revelry on my part or others!

Friday 23 March 2012

more backwards with crutches

On wednesday the orthopedic surgeon operated on my ankle and put in a supporting plate and screws. I suppose this will be good in the "long run" (sick pun) for getting the bones to mend. I just hate being back on crutches, it is so limiting and difficult to get anything done. Some things like gardening are completely out the question! Rodney is being his usual positive self (we are a good balance, me always being the half empty part of the glass and he always insistent it's half full) and my saintly beloved cooked us roast chicken with veges and malaysian style sago dessert last night. So we aren't starving at this point. I did have to explain to Rodney I was merely using the crutch to point out where items were in the kitchen rather than threatening him with it....

I didn't get out of bed until 11am this morning and are trying to shake the despondency of having 90% of the things I want to do made very difficult to impossible. In the last 48 hours I've felt totally exhausted more from the effects of the morphine than the relatively low trauma operation, I think. I seem to have lots of adverse reactions to it like migraine headdaches and vomitting (3 times)....yuck!

Reminding myself of the glass half full - the surgeon did say I don't have osteoporosis, so at least thats not what caused the disunity issue with my bones. Except for being able to rule out some possibilities like diabetes and the former he said he had no explanation what the basis of the problem might be.

With the dry weather of the last week I'll be able to get down the back yard to the studio, as the ground will be firm enough to use the crutches safely. During that really wet part of early March the ground became so saturated the crutches would sink down several inches. I can still sit to paint or sit at the sewing machine to work on my art -so theres another glass full issue to celebrate in that I didn't break the right ankle or I wouldn't be able to use the sewing machine! Hooray!

Tuesday 20 March 2012

one step forward....then another back!

After making that blog post this morning I went up to Tamworth for another X-ray and inspection of my ankle this afternoon. It is still not mending (after 2 months) so much to my surprise the osteopath asked me to come back to hospital tomorrow to have surgery. Apparently he will put in some temporary screws to encourage it to knit back together.

So...bahh-gaah! no art today and none tomorrow either. I may have to stay overnight after the surgery so possibly won't be home till Thursday afternoon.

I did make a start on a new work yesterday, as above. The face has been painted. The figure will eventually be trimmed back to be mounted on the canvas behind it which is painted a pale metallic gold. It was inspired by one of the famous masks created by W T Benda in the 1920s. This iconic face has appeared in hundreds of photographs throughout the 20th C. After painting the face I was playing around with fragments of textile embellishments from my collection, trying to decide how to finish the work. The pieces that are shown in the picture below I had initially rejected but when I showed Rodney he really liked them and urged me to use them.

I was reluctant to use these pieces because I often judge my work as too pretty pretty. I really wanna be more surrealistic and gothic!!!....waaahhhh!!

I'm referring to this one as "the golden collar" at the moment.....but are open to alternate suggestions as usual!

a step in the journey

Pearls studio window
 It has been cool and windy the last few days and I had to shut my studio window....uhhh-ohh! look at all those vines clambering in. With my ankle broken I haven't been able to mow, whipper snip, weed and tidy the garden as I normally do. Rodney has taken over the mowing these last few months but he tends to do just the middle bit and the outer edges are getting a bit rampant!

In the middle of the window sill is a clay face I sculpted for "Petrouchka" a doll made in 1998. That was the year of the exhibition of the costumes collected by the National Gallery of Canberra from the Ballet Russes. I was only vaguely aware of the Ballet Russes then, mainly because I have always been a huge fan of the Cirque de Soliel, and the exhibition that year introduced me to the marvellous heritage of this group of early 20th C artists. I did a whole body of work based one of their principal male dancers,Vaslav Nijinsky. One of those paintings from 1999 is presently displayed in my gallery. It is based on a black and white photograph of him in the ballet "The Blue God". Another work was this doll "Petrouchka" from another ballet Nijinsky danced in.

The Blue God, 1999

Petrouchka, 1999

I just relate this story because 1999 was when I went to University to start my Visual Art degree and the Ballet Russes inspired work was part of what I submitted as my portfolio to gain entry as a "mature age" student. All of the the other artworks I made as part of the Ballet Russes inspired phase has been sold or given away except the doll and the painting. I'm quite sentimentally attached to them not so much because they are particularly "good" art but because they represent a sort of transition stage in my journey as an artist. That was the year I segued from regarding myself as a talented hobbyist to believing I could be a "real artist"...

To me these works represent 2 transitions that were being made at the time - the psychic striving from perceiving myself as a hobbyist to serious practitioner and the other transition was ending of the period of making sculptural forms and going back to 2 dimensional representations. In 2012, some 13 years+ after these works were made all my work is now 2 dimensional, I haven't made an art doll for about 6 years.

However! there is one constant in my "art journey" that always amazes me as it goes right back to the very first painting I did as a 17 year old when the thought first came into my mind that maybe I could be a professional artist. I don't have that painting any more but I remember it well and it's a memory I turn over with some sentimental awe because how could I know in 1976 that I would still be obsessed with exactly the same themes in my art in 2012!!! Sometimes I think I should try to reproduce that picture...!

That picture I painted was of the historical Indian Queen Mumtaz Mahal (wife of Shah Jehan and she who is famously entombed in the Taj Mahal. (I visited the Red Fort, which was built by Shah Jehan and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India when I went there to collect textiles in 2001) I think I must have must copied it from some original source material but I don't remember exactly where the concept came from. What I recall painting was this exotic Queen of India depicted kneeling on a lavishly patterned turkish rug wearing her regalia of crown, earrings, necklace, heavily embroidered sari. A very decorative woman clothed in and surrounded by glorious embellished textiles and jewellery!

Astounding to realise that 36 years later I am still depicting the feminine figurative, and that textiles, design, colour, jewellery and the decorative are still major fascinations.

Sunday 18 March 2012

art of March

"March Girl" 

"March Girl" was finished this afternoon. Here is a picture of the whole completed canvas, measuring 75 x 54cm at the moment, but will end up more like 68 x 47cm when stapled over stretcher.

Thanks for your comment Caitlin! Any and all comments are welcome from readers - whether long, short and sweet or complimentary or critical. I also invite readers to make suggestions for naming the works!...I will always give these serious consideration and happily use them if they feel right to me! I always struggle with choosing names, my aptitude is with the visual not the textual! So unless somebody is inspired to make a suggestion for this one she will retain the title "March Girl"....

Here is a close up detail of the face. The stitching to simulate strands of hair took much patience and felt a test of my skill. To achieve some of the subtlety of colour tones I used very thin layers of felting fibre, dyed in multiple hues, which were laid onto the background painting and stitched over with free motion stitching. I used 9 different colours of embroidery thread to do the hair effects.

I have enjoyed the process of creating March Girl. Getting the faces right is so often a struggle but this one came together remarkably quickly (don't ask me about hands!!!! sheeeesh! I try to avoid them altogether! arrrrrghh!) From beginning to finish today the whole picture took 3 days or about 20-25 hours which is about as quick as I work.

Tomorrow I'll start a new work. I have researched the idea and have the canvas prepared. This next one will be a face only. I am already thinking beyond that to the next work!

An update on my broken ankle. I will still be off work until at least the end of this month. The X-ray I had 2 weeks ago showed the bones are being slow to knit together. A blood test showed I'm a little low in vitamin D, quite common for women over 50 but I have started taking Vit D supplements at Doctors advice to avert the potential of developing osteoporosis.