Friday, September 23, 2011

Behind black & abandon


So in an earlier post I mentioned my two new "gifts" - black and abandon. Here's a bit about the story behind. 

I needed some playful fun (and something not too serious) to ingnite my creative life after more than 1 1/2 year away from it. I'd heard many inspired words about Christy Tomlinson's workshops and I thought it sounded just perfect to get me going again. I had no idea how the workshop would affect and inspire me, but it did in a big way (as I mentioned in an earlier post - it affected me in a way that rocked my creative foundation). I guess there's different advantages to attending a real live workshop with other people reflecting your creative work and just doing an online class in the comfort of your own home where no-one is there to reflect or make comments. 

I can honestly say I had no expectations whatsoever  - maybe just one of having some childish fun. I believe that's exactly why I had the aha-moment I did - I was open and I had no expectations. 

So I'm sat there enjoying watching Christy's fun videos, completely unwitting of the "rocks" that are about to hit me. Well, the first rock that hit me was "abandon." At some point watching her work I notice that I'm beginning to get twitchy thinking she's adding too much stuff. I'm thinking; "It's perfect now... don't ruin it." And yet she continues to splash and dabble with the paints, inks, paper and what have you. But suddenly it all magically blends in to this gorgeous little piece of perfect mess (and I mean this in the most positive and sincere way!) - and I can feel some kind of inner boundary being pushed. There was something about the abandoned way she worked that made everything blend so magically - just what I needed, to not be too overly concerned about the result, but more believing it would turn out just perfect. When I studied fashion design (my artistic background) we were always told to strive for perfection (nothing less was good enough!) and that can be a little stifling to your creative process to put it mildly. 

Well, there was another "rock" in store for me...
 Christy likes her black doodle-pens. She doodles a lot! A smile is allowed as you ask; "So what's up with doodling?" Again I watched her doing all these random doodles - right across her creative pieces - and I was thinking; "Oh no, not again, don't spoil it" but the same magic happened - it just pefected the piece. So the next day I decide to try this for myself and I initially ended up with a neat little piece. A bit too neat and boring I thought, so I'm thinking let me have a go with some black accents and a black doodling pen. At first I could hardly get myself to put the black on the paper - it actually made me feel uneasy inside. So of course I was wondering; "What on earth is up with black?" And suddenly I get this flash-back to art school where I've been introduced to hard and soft pencils. I always used hard pencils because they were thinner and not quite as visible as the softer pencils. I suddenly realised how closely linked these two (black and abandon) were. Feeling the weight of must strive for perfection upon my shoulders I'm sure I developed some kind of inhibition where if I used something vague (like a hard pencil) then I wouldn't be noticed too much and therefore my imperfection wasn't as likely to be noticed. Yes I know - how much you can be unaware and ignorant of when you're in your early twenties!  So upon this realisation I'm thinking; "Holy cow!" (or something stronger than that!!) and decide there and then to give it a good old splash and doodle with some black. And suddenly magic appears - my little neat piece comes to life and I'm beginning to feel endeared to it and I'm realising that I've just been given two huge gifts. And in an instant the cost of this workshop has just redeemed itself.

I do believe these insights serendipitously coincided with joining The Great Big Card Swap where I did my first ever free motion stitching - and I fell in love in a way where I couldn't believe I hadn't done that before! Anyhow... I felt everything creatively falling into place and I could suddenly feel my own signature style as an artist appearing - something I've been struggling with for years. I knew my new friend black had to play a prominent part so the black button appeared, almost as the dot under an exclamation mark as if to say; "I'm here to stay." I also just loved the idea of wildly stitching a black frame (the loose threads being used to tie a bow) to make the entire piece pop. Abandon was included in the way of just tearing and ripping fabrics - using some natural dyes and going with the first attempts - randomly placing some contradicting fabrics (such as silk and burlap) and doing some completely abandoned stitching - I just let me hand go with the flow.

I don't think I've ever had more creative fun and I am just loving the results.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A word portrait...


- that's what I call my stitched hangers.
I'm fascinated by the power of words and how a well-chosen word or words can encapsulate the essence of a person - or indeed a quality of a person.

This is the one I posted with close up details - and here it is in its entirety. Another hanger is awaiting a photo shoot and then these are ready to be listed in my Etsy shop. On this hanger I've used a favorite wise quote (if you can't read the text click on image to enlarge) and I kind of let the words dictate the composition. I recently got very inspired by these words used in a post by a dear friend

From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
‘Yes, I knew of them.’
Isaiah 48:6-7

I love this idea of creating something that has not been created before - of something original fetched out of, well... a world unseen and unknown to us. As if a creative intelligence is just there awaiting translation.

These hangers will also be made available as custom order with a word or words to match the essence of the receiver.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An artists touch


Before getting to the images of the finished stitched hanger I just wanted to share these images.
As a creative artist it can be a challenging matter to move to a new place because all your favorite sources of supplies are no longer so readily available. It's an even greater challenge when you move to another country - let alone a wee island (25.000 inhabitants!). Of course there's the internet (thank goodness) but you know those moments when you stand there and just need that one bit. That's what happened the other day when I ran out of black vintage buttons. And I knew any online source would take at least 10-14 days. What's a girl to do?

Well, I remembered a teensy antique store I once saw in a narrow deserted alley - you'd have to be real eager to find it. I popped by to find a little old Greek man who of course didn't understand a word of English - BUT right there next to him on the counter was a bowl full of old buttons! And I guess this is where you realize there's a difference between the words antique and vintage. These buttons all had real patina and a feeling of pre-war times.

Anyhow, I was so lucky that another girl was in the shop who kindly did the translation. I found this little dish and a small selection of buttons. I inquired about the price (next to nothing) and he humbly wanted to know if that was okay? Yes, for sure. So I'm thinking it'll just be wrapped up in a little reused platic bag (as they do in many small stores here) but to my delight he wrapped it up in brown paper and attached a handwritten businesscard and darling little buttons on strings!! It somehow felt so authentic and Greek and I just loved it. 

I told the girl to please tell him that I loved the packaging and he glowingly answered back that he was an artist - obvisously delighted that someone recognised the extra glowing touch.

Isn't it a thrill to receive packages where you know extra care and effort has been put into the wrapping? I didn't open this package for a few days but just enjoyed the added glow. 

"For those whow are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store" 

Isaac Beshevis

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's right in front of you


Do you know this concept that sometimes you can't seem to find something because it is just in front of you?? Well, it's curious because this seems to have been the case with my creative dry spell when I couldn't find what was next for me (you can read more about this in my earlier post).

For a few years now I've purchased stitched textile art on Etsy - just being in such utter amazement at the brilliance people are able to create with their hands, hearts and minds. I seem to be endeared to small creations that have been meticulously created - although not necessarily perfect. I've truly come to love imperfections - it's like a sign of work in progress... continued refinement. Does that ever stop? - I hope not. Well at some point recently, with my two new gifts in hand (btw, they are called black & abandon!) and newly inspired from the card stitching, I decided to try it for myself - and I have fallen in love with stitching! Spiced with a few mixed media influences. On top of it I've started experimenting with making my own nature dyes (this is truly fun and exciting) and I made a great beetroot brew LOL! a few days ago (image above). It created such a fantastic pink color! Here's a few close-up images of one of my recent creations (at stitched hanger) where the silk has been dyed with the beetroot. It was not intentional, but it matches the pink mercerized thread exactly.

In the images above and below you can also see that many layers that has been used - paper upon silk upon parchment upon vintage lace upon burlap - it's almost like a cake!

And making sure to make use of my trusted new gifts - plenty of black in the details...

and abandon... lots of ripping and tearing both textile and parchment, placing things randomly and trusting they're where they should be.

And just loving the many different textures tulle, lace, linen, silk - just such a great contrast and match to the coarse burlap.

Finished with a sweet word extracted from the text I've machine stitched unto this piece. I'll post an image of the entire creation when it's completed. I love it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where new began


Uprooting and moving to another country is a major upheaval - so many new things to get used to (culture, language, services, etc.). Little did I know when I boxed up my creative studio that it would be more than a year before it was all laid out again. It's a long story (moving from Scandinavia to a little Greek island) but as you can imagine, after more than a year you have creatively moved on. Only thing is that when you haven't been creative in all this time you don't actually know how you have moved on. 

During all this time I've followed many other artists and getting creatively tickled but I somehow seemed unable to tap into my own creative source - a creative writers block. If you've tried it you'll know how hair-pulling'ly frustrating this can be! Anyhow, at some point i got caught by how several people talked about the fun they were having with mixed media artist Christy Tomlinson's online paint & journal workshops. Words like fun, playfulness and creative mess kept appearing and I thought; this is what I need to get going again! Just being able to play and not being too serious - no need for perfect end results. So I signed up at the same time as also joining in for the yearly Great Big Card Swap. What a strangely serendipitous concoction!! Before I started making my card for the swap I watched some of Christy's inspirational videos. This girl truly masters creative fun, playfulness and the art of abandon - just being able to go with the flow and not minding too much where it all lands up, and yet her creations are just gorgeous messy perfections. I love it! 

So of course I'm thinking; I've gotta try this. Only thing is that when I started playing it looked like blah! and there seemed to be no flow whatsoever. But still, when I watched Christy's first few videos I got two major AHA moments or personal insights - some that truly rocked my creative foundation (more about them at some later point). And I somehow felt that it didn't matter if this attempt at journalling didn't work for me because I got two huge gifts (insights) which was obviously what I was meant to come there for. Feeling strangely freed up I instead started playing with ideas for the card. At first a bit careful and tentative (and it apeared a bit boring too!) but then I decided to give it a go with the two new insights I'd just had - and magic began to appear (at least for me). Creative juices started to flow!

I'll write more about my two gifts at some other point and just leave you with this snippet of the finished card. It's made from three layers - linen, vintage lace and a darling floral vintage fabric, several different threads (machine and hand stitched), thrift store buttons, beads, sequins and paper. The theme was BLOOM (which I handstitched into the piece) and I added the text: "Don't forget to smell the flowers on your way."