First of all, before I begin reflecting: Thank you so much everyone for your fabulous support with Rope of Words – for following my numerous blogs and meanderings, the printing, handbinding and finally for ordering books. We are on the home run – having sold over half the books and have broken even. Now I just need to make the large “artist’s books” in an edition of 6-10 copies.
My best (creative) year yet?
Yes I think it has been. This reflection is based on Jinny Ditzler’s “Best Year Yet” It starts with looking at what you achieved. This helps me to get an overview and gain perspectives on time well spent (or time wasted) and I can also see the directions my art and lettering is taking. Please don’t think that I am trying to boast. I have done a lot of work and need to see it from a bird’s eye view, but I am also trying to find my way to being a full-time sustainable artist. (I neglect housework a bit and don’t have kids or family members who need me – but I have done my stint in these areas)
The year began with my aim to complete The Rope of Words by April for printing by May.I had already completed almost all the drawings, but still ended up taking some to South Africa on holiday to finish. And that left just the cover to design.
With the help of friends I handbound 600 copies and we have sold over half of them.
We had a stand that looks like the “shop scene” with baskets and leather boxes and a cut-out of the unpaired negatives.
I did quite a lot of teaching and demos – starting with teaching in South Africa and at some local guilds. I demo’d at the SSI R&T day, and in Durham for the CLAS Regional Day.
Then there were the exhibitions that I took part in. The major ones were Woodstock for Oxford Scribes 30th Anniversary; Artweeks at the beautiful thatched cottage in Aston Tirrold and Art in Action. Each exhibition meant working hard at putting a complete portfolio together, mounting and framing; as well as printing cards which always seem to be in demand.
Below is a montage of the exhibtions.
You can see that pebbles are featuring prominently – I really explored them and their potential as an alphabet. I’m almost ready to return them to the sea… 20 little block-mounted paintings 15cm square and a couple of larger ones with two pebbles, plus some greetings cards.
In Jenny’s book you are encouraged to look at all the areas of your life for your best year yet, but for the blog I am only doing my creative journey. Once you have looked at your highlights and stuff you have done that you feel good about, you look at your disappointments, consider the Big Picture of your life-priorities and then move on to your dreams. Your dreams can then be made into plans as far as they are appropriate. I would encourage anyone to do this sort of stocktaking of their creative paths. This post is not really indulgence on my part but it is really more for me than for anyone else!
On my explorations of ‘finding myself’ as an artist after 30 years of more lettering and calligraphy than fine art; I have given myself ‘permission’ to explore any avenue in any way. As a serious artist you need to really stick to a signature style in your main body of work. I am still developing my signature style. This has taken me into portraiture, Chinese Life drawing and printmaking and I have completed 3 years of my 5-year plan. My goal is to be working full time as a sustainable artist, exhibiting, and creating exciting work. I am sure that lettering will always feature, but I’m not sure how…
In the end the portrait did not look quite like Lois, so I did a few adjustments to allow her to be a younger woman wrapped in her protective shawl. Reworking a piece is a very valuable and interesting thing to do; so I might rework this dramatically to make the portrait more graphic and stylised to go with the shawl which glows when the light is on it.
I reworked my Woolley Thistle Bud this year. In the top left image is has a white paper background. In the second image, a background is added to diminish the spider-leg effect of the radiating leaves, but this made it cold and dull. The third image is the photo, and the final one is on the bottom right. I glued the watercolour painting onto board, rolled gesso over it, added acrylic and white oil pastel, effectively repainting it completely and varnished it.
I have taken some by-routes and gone off the golden path this year and this took a lot of time and has left me exhausted. Having learnt how to use Indesign and doing Rope of Words I undertook two projects which I thought would be a good learning curve. One was to lay out a book for an elderly friend and the other was to do the layout for the Printmakers’ Platter. I have a new appreciation for how long it can take to do this and I really admire all the volunteer editors that I know! I trust I am back on track!
But I am still experimenting in many ways with flowers and flower painting. After painting the fritillary, I felt that I wanted to stylise more while still doing pure watercolours.The flower paintings are also for my greetings cards. I have begun layering with monoprinted Chinese rice papers, machine stitchery on paper, weaving.
And then there is the printmaking which is part of my 2015 projects. I am exploring pattern – pattern in textiles, ceramics and nature and will be doing a Blue Plate series, which will be prints and become part of a Blue Plate Soup Book (Watch this space)
I started by trying out different types of printmaking, planning to do one of each type for the book, but soon realised that they all needed to be the same for cohesiveness, so I am going to re-do the tomatoes and mushroom as collagraphs. I have some other blue plate plans as well…
And lastly I did the village church Christmas card with a woodcut Madonna.
So looking ahead…more printmaking, and definitely exploring the flower stylisation while trying to be really open to new ideas. My new website is up and running with new greetings cards in the wings and I have some interesting teaching plans. I’ll be teaching in Australia and Singapore, doing more child art with my granddaughters, exhibiting with Letter Exchange, at Artweeks and hopefully one other major one – still to be confirmed.
I am as committed to maintaining my blog – it helps me reflect and I love the writing, showing the ‘behind the scenes’ and the contact with readers. I blog for the people I teach at workshops, family and friends.
Here are Jenny Ditzler‘s 10 questions ‘that will change your life’ She says it takes 3 hours to plan your year but I think I’m a plodder so I need a couple of days.
- What did I accomplish?
- What were my biggest diappointments?
- What did I learn?
- How do I limit myself and how can I stop?
- What are my personal values?
- What roles do I play in my life? (e.g. mother, wife, artist etc.)
- Which role is my major focus for next year?
- What are my goals for each role?
- What are my top ten goals for the next year?
- How can I make sure I achieve my top ten goals?