The Otane Arts and Crafts building was getting its floors scrubbed and sealed this week which meant that we couldn't use our art room as usual. Instead we were invited to sketch in the lovely garden of one of our Tikokino members, Marie S. We didn't know if we'd even be able to go as the day before was cold and rainy but yesterday dawned a beautiful sunny day, almost as if it were actually Spring.
Glenys and I arrived early since we only live five minutes away. Marie gave us both a tour of the old house which has been extensively renovated over the years. There were many original features left including lovely woodwork and an interesting old black stove. By the time we made our way back into the kitchen a couple others had arrived so we sat in the sun on the veranda having morning tea. Then Marie and I went around outside before I finally decided to sit out in a paddock to draw an old petrol pump and shed. Well I sort of sketched, mainly I talked to the sheep, took photos and annoyed the others as usual.
Working outside has its own challenges. The brightness of the sun shining on your sketch pad so you can't see properly, the heat, the cold, wind whipping your paper away over the field, having to avoid sheep poo etc. On the other hand it's fun to be in the fresh air and the art created can be fresh and spontaneous.
Arriving home after doing practically no work whatsoever I had a rest, fed the animals and as the afternoon wound down decided to have a bath before I heated up dinner in the microwave. At the risk of providing too much information this cottage has a lot of windows but being in the country you don't have net curtains as there aren't houses invading your privacy. As my bathroom is pretty narrow I usually undress in my bedroom and scoot through the kitchen/dining room into the bathroom in my grundies. I am always extremely careful on coming out that I stick my head out of the bathroom door to check the coast is clear, that no cars are coming down the road, and no one is in the paddock at the front before making a dash for the bedroom.
Well it had to happen some time. I stuck my head out, checked no one was there and rushed out in my undies although I decided to make a quick detour to programme the microwave to cook my stuffed spud. However when I turned round I saw the lawn mower man striding towards my front door. The dog was in the way so I had to go around the dining room table and across the GLASS front door before racing into my room and throwing myself down behind the bed. The dog was going ballistic by this time as the guy was at the door. I'd only met him the day before when he came to give me a quote to mow the lawns and then promised he'd drop it into my place "sometime tomorrow".
I waited for him to leave but the dog kept on barking. I raised my head slightly above the bed but couldn't see him so grabbed my tee shirt and lay down to put it on. I then reached up to grab my stockings and wiggled my way into them before grabbing my skirt and shimming into this all the while getting carpet burns. Mishka was still barking so I knew there was no way to avoid the inevitable so went casually to the front door and tried to look as if I had just been having a lie down. The guy handed me an envelope and made some polite conversation but I am sure as he walked away he was smirking. I guess from now on I will have to think of him not as a stranger but more as an intimate friend.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I have been in a complete art funk the past week or so since my mojo upped and went on holiday. Anything I've worked on has only been useful for wiping up cat accidents. However I was feeling a bit more optimistic this morning, especially when I learned that our model was from Egypt. Sure enough Sayd (Said, Saed or Sayed etc.) talked, looked, and even walked like an Egyptian. However his sense of humour was very Kiwi. Well I hope he was joking when he looked at my drawings and asked if I worked for Jenny Craig because was he really that fat?
Friday, October 09, 2009
No matter how prepared and organised I try to be I usually manage to fall at the last fence. Last night I packed my basket for portraiture but on arriving this morning discovered I'd left all my pencils, charcoal etc. at home. Fortunately Glenys lent me a 4B and also a Conte pencil so I could continue. Our model was Megan who modelled for us the first year I began at portraiture (she is the grand daughter of one of our members) but I still got a shock to see how much she'd grown up since then. Her younger brother had also come along and spent his time trying to make her laugh or else drawing her as a monster, sometimes with "appendages". Sex education at schools has a lot to answer for.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Have begun working on stock for Christmas markets in the hope that I won't be painting frantically at the last moment. Of course I say this every year and every year I end up in a mad panic as I run out of time. I did hear about last Saturday's fair at St Mary's while at art group yesterday morning. I sold eight out of ten hand painted soaps, three out of six cat brooches and ten out of eighteen cards which made it one of my most successful events. Unfortunately the cash is nearly all gone on meds, rabbit food, the farrier for the donkey and I have put some aside for new paint brushes since so many of my small ones have gone to the great art shop in the sky.
At the moment I am reading a book about some of New Zealand's well known crafts people. It is interesting how so many of them had to reassess their businesses after the stock market crash in 1987 which saw the sales of arts and crafts plummet. I think this current recession has caused us all to think small in order to achieve sales. There is a large gulf between a bread and butter line which pays the bills and the more esoteric experimental exhibition work we do. Sometimes you have to think about what people actually want when the economy is slow. Often they're only looking for something practical they can use rather than something merely decorative to be hung on the wall.
In the gift line people don't think too much about spending $5 or under but begin thinking a bit more at $10 and hesitate at $20. It is hard to compete against the Chinese imports sold at the big chain stores but people do appreciate buying something of better quality, especially if they can find out a little about the person who made it. That's why it's good to meet your buyers so they can see the face behind the art(craft)work. Basically in hard economic times the way to work your way through it is to think outside the square, to market yourself as a brand and to have a Chinese money plant sitting outside your front door and water it nearly every day to encourage cash to come your way.