Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sometimes The Magic Works

I've read a few books on writing and some of them have been so boring and obtuse that they almost put you off reading let alone writing. However I picked up Terry Brook's "Sometimes The Magic Works: Lessons From A Writing Life" from the library and have nearly finished it after just three days. Brooks is basically a fantasy writer and he writes of the difficulties of getting published, what it's like to write something you think is wonderful but doesn't sell, as well as the vagaries he encountered when writing the book for the movie "Hook". There is some specific advice in there as well: the importance of having an outline or blueprint for your novel so that the story doesn't run out of steam half way through, having a strong beginning and ending, building your characters, as well as the usual rules of writing what you know even within the context of sci fi or fantasy writing.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels or fiction in particular although I enjoy reading a good historical yarn. However Brook's book was an interesting insight into writing a novel with many personal anecdotes spiced with a dry sense of humour. For anyone aspiring to write it's a good introduction to the technicalities without taking itself too seriously.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Last Of The Sausage Dogs

I had to miss portrait class on Friday as I couldn't get a ride in which heartily annoyed me as it was a life drawing class. Spent the morning instead making necessary phone calls and the afternoon packing books. This afternoon I finally finished the last dachshund pendant and have sent it away with the other parts of the order. One of the best moments of finishing a commission (apart from getting paid) is finally sending someone's photographs back as I'm always worried that something will happen to them while they're in my care. Never have but there is always a first time. I can now feel smug for a few hours before I get back to packing again.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

I finished off one of the two dachshund pendants at art today and got the other basecoated. Would have had that finished as well if I hadn't chatted to Helen so much. She sees art in such unexpected places from a roll of kitchen towels reflected in a mirror to an untidy line of chairs along a wall. Made me think differently about still life- it's not all bowls of fruit and vases of roses.

After lunch the lady from Workforce Development who is working with Creative Hawkes Bay to run the Professional Development Workshops came to interview Martina, Gine and myself. When it came to my turn she explained that successful working artists usually have a bread and butter line which keeps a steady income coming in as well as a more upmarket range of work such as larger gallery pieces. In my case my bread and butter are my cards and jewellery and I must look on my paintings as the higher priced items. This caused me a bit of an epiphany. It is actually preferable to diversify with creative projects rather than just stick to one medium or type of art.

On the way home Gaye, Gine and I dropped in at Esther's place for a cuppa. She brought out the most stunning alpaca scarves she has been working on with accompanying beaded clasps. It's always great fun when Esther brings out her treasure chest of beads. Gine had with her a lovely small painting of a mauve waterlily she was working on as a present and she tried placing beads on the stamens and it really made the picture pop. Then we sat brainstorming over how else you could incorporate beads into our work. I came away all inspired but of course I don't have the time to do any of these new projects at the moment due to my unsettled home situation.

I stopped in at Gaye's place and she showed me an old wooden sofa and armchair which she said I could have since I don't have a lounge suite of my own, only my present landlady's set which she left here. The sofa just needs a sheet laying over it and it'll be fine. So kind of her to think of me, especially as I've only known her a few months. But then she is a kindred spirit as Anne of Green Gables would say.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One Of "Those" Mornings

Went to portraiture with Betty today. Owen (another member of the group) had agreed to be our model and got into some interesting positions that challenged us. For some reason though I wasn't cooking with gas at all yesterday and when three visitors (including a visiting Canadian artist) came in mid morning I was thrown off and couldn't draw anything worth keeping.

Betty needed to pick up a few things in Waipukurau and so while she was shopping I worked on a poem. I have one that accompanies my cat brooches and needed another for the new dog line. In the 40 minutes I waited I completed five verses so hopefully that'll do. Afterwards we drove up through Ashley Clinton to Tikokino. The countryside round there is so dry and barren with so many fields with no animals in them. Very serious situation for the farmers which impacts on the local towns as they haven't spare money to spend in the shops.

Yesterday someone took a photo of "Celtic Mandala" my entry for the NZAG Art Awards . The colours are slightly distorted- the main cross is more a powdery blue rather than the electric shade pictured. Who'll want it is anybody's guess! Gine likes is so hopefully someone else will too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Positively Stoned Again

Arrived at Otane early yesterday morning with the intention of trying to complete part of a jewellery order I've had waiting for a few months. I worked on and off most of the morning and finally completed this little Bichon Frise dog brooch at lunchtime. This has given me the idea to add dog brooches to my line so now I have to write a funny poem to go along with them (as I have with my cat ones).

I have arranged for a lady from Creative Hawkes Bay to come down here and interview Martina, Gine and myself with the view of us attending professional development workshops in Napier in May. The interviews are to gauge what exactly we want to learn apart from the basics such as creating a portfolio, marketing, keeping books and approaching galleries. Jacqueline asked me to talk to the group about the workshops as well but some of the people had already attended similar courses so it looks just like the three of us at this stage. However Martina and I are very excited about them and kept talking about them throughout the day (which is why I didn't get more painting done).

Jacqueline had also asked to see my papier mache mask as she is wanting to make a couple for The Little Theatre. After explaining the technique to her she suggested that we have a mask making day later in March. I'm happy with this idea as I have long wanted to make a more ornate version of mine plus it means I get a partner to help me make a mould that doesn't have a nose which falls off! It sounds like we're going to have a very busy year with workshops nearly every month and many exhibitions coming up. I hope I can keep up with everything- most days I have to take two naps before I do anything.

On the way home Gine wanted to buy a couple of plants for her mother in law and as we were on Rose Street she suggested we visit Jan Gosling at Positively Stone Aged as she had offered to sell me some Oamaru stone for my TLC sculpture project. I paid $40 for quite a large piece which we carried home on the back seat. I would like to return there again sometime to look more closely at Jan's sculptures as we didn't have much time to talk to her.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Flapping In Granny's Good Hat

I haven't really been doing much artwork at all this week due to feeling stressed about having to move again after only ten months here. However I decided to go to art on Wednesday so that I could take my mind off things at home. As we were meant to have a long lunch I made a weetbix slice with coconut and as we were also meant to go dressed Art Deco I wore Granny's old burgundy velvet dress from that era as well as her best black velvet going-to-funerals-hat which I embellished with a burgundy scarf.

While we were driving to Otane I told Gine about a dream I'd had the night before where we walked into the room and realised we were the only ones dressed up. And sure enough.......If only I could dream about winning Lotto! There were excuses of it being too cold to wear dresses but I think we shamed the others into making an effort. One person made a garland from wildflowers outside, another a paper hat decorated with eyes and a nose, someone else had brought along a black afro wig and joke glasses that completely changed her appearance and frightened the hell out of me when I unexpectedly met her coming out of the kitchen the first time. Another constructed a hat from an old corset decorated with a red geranium. We nearly died laughing all day for whenever she spoke the catches for the stockings jiggled in agreement with what she was saying.

A table was decorated with flowers and plates of food in the garden room and we settled in for an hour and a half lunch. There was a fair being held at Otane at the same time and every so often people wandered in to look at the art. One man stood in the doorway, horrified at the motley crew being very merry thank you and said "Which group are you?" No wonder we have a reputation for being uncouth.

It was 1.30pm when Gine and I left to brave the crowds so we could look at some of the stalls. Many people were packing up to leave by the time we got there so didn't stay long. Dressed like 1920s flappers (or in my case flapless) is a definite way to get people to look at you. Granny would be appalled that I took her good hat on such a frivilous expedition.

Friday I went to portraiture with Gaye for the first time. Just had time to unpack before we were into one minute gesture drawings. Megan sat for us again and because it was hot she was in short shorts and a tank top which made for great foreshortening exercises. This picture took me ten minutes. I didn't look at the form as a human body but concentrated instead on just drawing shapes and negative spaces. By the time the two hours were up I was wrung out from concentrating. I wonder if I would be brave enough to tackle members of my family yet. Maybe not- family feuds have started over less.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bad News Good News

Early yesterday morning I received an email to say that my entry for the NZ Art Guild Awards had been rejected. Not a good start to the day as I thought of all the time and money I wasted on courier fees, materials etc. However when I got to Portraiture I found out that "Old Friends" had been accepted for the Art Hawkes Bay Exhibition at Vidal's Winery. Nine Otane painters had work included which is wonderful news.
Jessie, the seven year old daughter of one of the class, was our model this week. I have never known a child so young sit so still and so patiently. She even managed some lying down poses for us and I had the lovely task of coping with lots of foreshortened limbs.

My tutor from The Learning Connexion phoned me Thursday for a chat before term begins. She wanted to know what resources she could send me to help with my studies and what I wanted to concentrate on this year. Made me keen to get back to work again.