Monday, 27 August 2012

In times of stress

It has been a fraught week - too much to do (deadlines and computer glitches which became worse rather than better), husband still not really recovered and I don't think he ever will be. In times of stress, writing and creating art in many forms always calms me. And so tomorrow (Tuesday 28th August, 2012), I move into the third week of my creative diary. Which began fourteen days ago as 'Artist's Morning Pages' - all shown in last week's post on this blog - and became 'Creative Morning Pages' a week ago, because that better describes what they are. I have hardly had time to truly create, just a little sketching. For somehow when a big project is ongoing (editing 'Discover Touring' magazine at the moment, as well as writing articles) my mind becomes numb and I dare not involve myself in big stitching projects. So my waking creative thoughts each morning are set on the page, and for the moment that is all I can manage. I hope they may spur others to keep such a journal - morning, daytime or night, it doesn't matter; it's a record of achievement and failure, and, for me for the moment, of fragility. Click on any page to see it at a readable size.

Do you keep a creative journal (as opposed to a working sketchbook)? I'd love to know. This one engages my waking thoughts, before I fall into the business of the day; it sustains me. And for those who haven't already seen the 'Poppy Page' elsewhere, as mentioned on page 13 above, here it is - lest you should think that all I do is write!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Creative Process

Sketching in Ireland, July 2012
With so many changes occurring in my life right now - inevitable as one grows older - I find I am less able to cope with all that is required of me. Or perhaps, to be more truthful, all the self-set goals I feel behoven to achieve. I do not do less; my workload increases exponentially and I create lists of lists of lists (ever the diarist!) until I drop. And as clarity emerges, and I become aware of what is needed - husband, house, garden, family, work, voluntary activities - I realise just how important to me is my creativity. And so, seven days ago, I embarked of my own volition upon a new daily journal: 'Artist Morning Pages' - actually, it would have been better had I titled it 'Creative Morning Pages' and maybe the title will change as I progress. But not the purpose - to set down each morning as I wake  creative thoughts that spill onto the page. I know they will, for it was just such a daily exercise that 12 years ago actually jump-started my professional personal writing career (after my husband and I retired and abandoned our publishing business begun in 1967). They are not intimate pages, but the thought processes that are continually running through my mind. Chaotic at times, as is my crazy life. So here for what they are worth are the pages from WEEK ONE. No explantations; it's all on the page.

And so you have my first week of journaling about my creative process - in one book and not on scraps of paper or penned higgledy-piggledy in other notebooks. Click on any image to view it at larger size. APOLOGIES to those kind friends and acquaintances who read more than one of my blogs or follow me on Facebook (my personal timeline and groups). I write and post across so many genres and media that I am certain at times to duplicate an image you have seen elsewhere. Put it down to bad organisation and a failing memory. It's happened already in this new 'amp' - two days running, my first creative thoughts on waking were on the same topic. re-enforcing what was in my mind, though I wasn't aware of this when I wrote. (And one of the things about unselfconscious morning pages is that you do not look back at what you have written; at least for a while. Well I did! But then I was always the wild rule-breaker if it served my purpose and it did not hurt others). I hope you enjoy this adventure into my creative process and that it just might encourage others to document their own journey. Just fifteen  minutes on waking is all it takes. Truly.

Garden Journaling

Remember what this cartouche signifies? That a topic I would normally write about here appears on one of my other blogs. Well this week, my subject for the weekly post I write for Dobies of Devon (the UK seed and plant company) is on creating garden journals and sketchbooks; with the aim of giving inspiration to others (children included). Please click this link to visit the other blog. I hope you enjoy what you read, and the images.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Something of a Sea Change

Bookcase behind my writing desk (there's
another smaller one to the left,  
the windowsill, with art boxes as well)
I've spent the week since returning home from Ireland in some sort of mental limbo - working during the day but then sorting paperwork and rubbish on a grand scale. I know in my heart that I need to make changes in my life; not the togetherness I share with my dear husband, but in what I still want to achieve. I was overwhelmed by the response to my open studio adventure and know I can now spread my wings, and am proud of what I have managed in 'spare' time. I am thinking this through and, regardless of what needs sorting and discarding in the rest of this rambling old house, I am first reorganising my office into an integral work-space. For the last twelve years, since we 'retired' and I started to write free-lance, this small bedroom overlooking the village green has had computer and office at one end. Gradually, in my madder moments when I thought I could maybe try to sketch and create collaged junk-journals, I introduced a few art supplies and books. Work overtook everything however as commissions grew and art has taken a back seat. Not any more! 

'Welsh Idyll' - a piece created for a magazine article
From now onwards, the two will be interwoven. I won't go into details, but my 'writing' desk is now also where I now work at my laptop, I can see the trees and the sky, feel the sunshine on my face, and have my favourite reference books on the subjects about which I write, and some of my working notebooks, in front and to the side of me. It's not yet completed, but the vacated space where the 'big' computer stands and where I piled reference material and heavens know what, will become somewhere to lay out sketches to dry - and I can bring upstairs my second printer which will also copy in colour when I want to reproduce images for cut-and-paste. 

A mixed-media stitched fabric 'herbal', in progress (though it was actually finished!)
I am fortunate to have a workroom / sewing room also that doubles as a laundry room but that is underground and has no daylight, and little actual space - it's mostly storage and laundry. It will take me a while to change everything around: a twelve-year itch, if you like, but something that I feel is vital to keeping my spirit young, even as my body fades. I have been trying to catalogue the TYPE of things I love to create; to analyse not so much processes (though actually those as well) but also subjects. Top of the list is that I must work in fabric AND paper, use images - my own wherever possible - incorporate threads, perhaps knitted and crocheted, and certain types of ephemera. Not bling, but what I can only describe as organic, rooted in the earth. And no matter what, I just MUST gave words - my own word-whispers and poem-spills. Topics include landscape, gardens and natural history, travel trails, and history. 

A single page from a map-trail
(there were eight in all, backed
with calico, and decorated with
napkins and my own sketches
My ongoing projects (many started and waiting to be finished) comprise the following: a) handmade paper-scrapbook type creations, b) ditto in fabric, c) ditto in paper-AND-fabric (oh dear, how boring and repetitive that sounds), but all using a twist on various techniques that, whilst learned from tutors or gleaned from books, magazines and other people, nevertheless are never copies but my own twist on things. To that I would now add my illustrated sketchbooks and notebooks where I try to think images before words, and my attempts at creating from, say, perhaps a single word or artefact and jumping in whether it be junk-journaling or a collage or ... 

The images shown here are representative of what I exhibited recently; and to all this, I would now add the burning desire to experiment with new techniques and materials; in fact to move myself upwards and onwards, never forgetting that we only have a limited time on this earth, and I never know when mine will reach the point of no-return.