Blog Archives

Life sure is busy sometimes…

There is something undeniably exciting about moving to a new house.  The possibilities of colours, arranging furniture, admiring new views from the windows.  I had already planned the layout in the new villa.  But alas, my sale fell through and I am still living in my old villa.  That was a waste of a few weeks of negotiation, discussions, planning, house-hunting and excitement.

Nevertheless, I have some pictures to share of other, more interesting and fulfilling things in my life:

Here is my little Yamaha Arius YDP-140.  I found her second-hand on Dubizzle (naturally!) for a very good price.  The lady had bought her with the intention of taking piano lessons, but after two years she gave up, and sold the piano in mint condition.  She takes up much less wall-space than an upright piano would, but she has a full keyboard and plays 50 demo songs too.  The 50 songs came with the piano in sheet music form as well.  And the best part:  volume control!  I can still play some of the pieces I learnt when I was 12 – wow – all that practice sure paid off.

My set of 30 encyclopedias are now used in a tiny corner, as a “book” shelf.  This is a perfect spot for them, because the kids cannot knock them over.  On top is a tiny work of art I bought years ago, and a piece of coral that washed up in Dubai after they started constructing the large Deira Palm (and as yet unfinished).  It looks like a brain and the encylopedias just add to the visual pun.  I’ve seen some amazing book sculptures and have some ideas floating around in my head, but for now, the encyclopedias are going to stay put in their corner.

Some more progress on the blue pentaptych:  we have now hung it on the wall in the living room.  It looks great and allows me to see it at different times of day (and light conditions) as well as saving space in my studio.  I can also take one canvas down to work on it, and replace it easily.  The white buttons are all sewn onto the white band (shaped like a U) that flows over the three right-hand panels (not really visible in this photo).  I am now planning the design for one of the teal bands.  I’m going to incorporate teal-coloured pearls that I found at Dragon Mart.  They’re only cheap cultured pearls, but they are still heavy.  I want to combine some embroidery stitches with the pearls to fill up the area without overloading the canvas.

On 21 October 2011, I attended a 24-hour sew-a-thon for breast cancer awareness, sponsored by Craftland and held at the Town Centre Mall in Dubai.  We made loads of under-arm cushions and shoulderbags to hold the drainage bags after surgery.  The event took place for 12 hours on the Friday and 12 hours on the Saturday.  Sewing for 10 hours straight is quite a challenge, and on hard chairs it became even more so.  I had to spend the rest of the weekend recovering from back pain.  I met some  wonderful ladies and it was very heart-warming to share this experience with ladies from so many different cultures and age groups.

The rest of my time was spent on Halloween, children’s parties and some pretty weird medical stuff.  But more on that later!

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I got the blues, baby… 30 of them!

Last night, while surfing the internet, I checked out Dubizzle, a local second-hand online site like eBay.  I don’t often look at the books for sale, as the odds of finding something really interesting, are very low.  Imagine my surprise then, when I saw these babies for sale.

Do you remember paging through encyclopedias way back in the day, before schools had computers and internet access?  It was the only way to find out ANYTHING remotely interesting.  Some days I would just grab the next one in line and start paging through it, cover to cover, and absorb all kinds of weird information.  It helped that I was a library prefect and was allowed to sit and work in the library if my class teacher was absent.  Luckily, I was a girl, so no-one really teased me about it.

After negotiating a fair price with the lady selling them, I picked them up this morning.  So, what am I going to do with them?

Firstly, the blue is the same blue tone of my leather lounge suite.  Now I have 30 spines, 30 front covers and 30 back covers in the perfect shade of blue, to assemble and collage into an installation.  I’m thinking maybe a low-relief work in a box frame, or maybe a stand-alone sculptural piece.

An artist whose work I really like, is Brian Dettmer.  Go check out the photos of his pieces on www.briandettmer.com.  He excavates images and text in thick, old books and creates wonderfully abstract sculptures with the books.  I don’t really have the patience to try to recreate one of his works, but one day I’d like to try his techniques for myself.

Another fabulous book artist is Daniel Essig.  Visit his site and explore some of the fabulous sculptures made of books, with books, and containing books, www.danielessig.com.  I really like assemblage, but don’t have the proper welding equipment to really get into metalwork.

Secondly, I have some crafty ideas that are also floating around in my head.  I could cut off all the spines and mount them on a false panel, thereby creating the look of matching blue volumes, but hiding my real books behind it.  My art books are very colorful and don’t blend in very well in my blue/gray/silver/white colour scheme in the living room.  Hmm, as I write down these colours, I guess you could call my colour scheme “stormy ocean and deserted beach on a cloudy day”, which is my favourite time to sit and watch the waves.

Of course, 30 volumes x 900 odd pages in each volume = a lot of paper I can use for collage.  Modern-day stickers are very expensive, as are decoupage papers (which are faux vintage paper designs and elements anyway).  This should be enough paper to finish a few little projects!  And, as an added bonus, most of the imagery and text date back to 1986 – wonderfully vintage already.

Then again, I may just display them in their natural state, to give the bookcase in the living room a more formal look.  But I must admit, that I’m itching to disassemble them and create something wonderfully weird to display.

There you have it.  A treasure trove for the price of a regular glass vase at the local Home Center decor store.  I love a good bargain!

Current work in progress

This is my current large-scale work in progress.  I first saw the basic concept painted on 5 canvases in an umber/ocher/sienna color scheme as a finished piece of art, advertised for sale on a second-hand website.  I liked the composition very much and decided to recreate it in blue/teal/silver/white on a larger scale.  The largest canvas in the middle is 80cm x 60cm.

I first had to join all the canvases together with G-clamps, balanced on 3 big easels, to draw the basic outlines of the bands to the right scale.  I chose Cryla Artists’ Acrylic Heavy Body paints in the following colors:  Primary Cyan, Prussian Blue Hue, Ivory Black, Pewter, Silver and White. I especially liked the metallic options for added subtlety in the color-mixing.

Then it was a matter of custom-mixing the paint hue for each band, as I went along, to harmonize the overall balance of the piece.  Over the course of many weeks, I mixed and painted each band individually, using only solid colors while I worked on the balance and flow over adjoining canvases.  It was necessary, in some places, to adjust the tonal balance over adjoining bands to accommodate my color choices.

The original artwork that inspired me (in all the natural brown hues) had highlights and shadow painted with black and tonal adjustments to show movement of the bands flowing over and underneath each other.  My vision ultimately includes found objects, ephemera, embroidery, beading and DIY hardware to encompass a variety of emotions, situations and symbols all relating to the Moon and her influence on water.

Water is very fluid and can also carry objects that float.  Water also acts as a separate environment for various intricate life-forms.  While the human body comprises a large volume of water, it takes on many forms within the body.  There are tears, saliva and urine (which consist of the consumption/digestion/excretion chain) and the most obvious and exclusively female water-form of lunar-sympathetic hormonal fluctuations and fertility cycles.

All forms of water on the planet earth are subject to the gravitational pull of the Moon.  I hope to explore the various interactions of water-forms and the almost melodic lunar movement in this artwork.

The theme and title that keeps on popping into my head, is “Moonsong and Waterdance”. The Moon sings to entice the water, while the water dances to seduce the Moon.  To me, it is a very beautiful and timeless performance that can only be understood if you can respect the potential power caught in a single drop of water, and lose yourself in the intricate minutiae of an entire ocean.

So far, I have almost completed the white central band curving in a U-shape over the middle, 2nd right and far right canvases.  I have covered the entire band with dozens of little white buttons.  I like the way they feel when I run my hand over the band.  They represent various repetitive concepts and objects:  teeth, finger nails, white buoys floating in the ocean currents, medication that we swallow to aid with the flow of our emotions and health.   I’ll post another photo as soon as I’ve finished that band.  My progress has been hampered by the supporting wooden planks on the back of the canvases – it takes longer to get my hand under and around them, to continue with the stitching.  Each button is hand-stitched with Nymo beading thread and I find the repetitious motions very soothing and meditative.

I have collected many different hues of blue/teal/silver beads and objects to add to entire piece.  I am letting this piece develop organically, and as the Moon or mood strikes me. Therefore, I am not planning too far ahead in terms of design and object choice.  I will be reviewing the overall balance of the piece as I complete each band, before I start designing the next one.

Thank you for following me on my journey as an artist and putting up with my mental musings while I flex my creative muscles.