Thursday, January 12, 2012


Patience - Mixed media on cardboard

I wanted to try something I haven't done before and here it is. This piece is a layered mixed media piece with perhaps a tad too much glitter. This piece started out life with gel medium and the heart shapes embedded within this medium. And there it stayed hanging around my messy workspace waiting for me to play with it a little bit, it waited and waited and waited - it was very patient.

I'd been wanted to try something different as a background so I pulled out some old little square ink pads and literally dragged them across the cardboard. It was a lot of fun and very, very messy. Some of these ink pads are now only sponges, but hey that's okay they served their purpose. The thing with ink is that it takes a long time to dry so there was more waiting.

Next using a square-edged brush I wrote the word joy (you can see my calligraphy training in this, because it's italic script). Still I wasn't happy and the piece once again had to wait while I thought about what I wanted to do. Some music was added with stazon ink and a stamp roller, then I pulled out some letter stickers and added them (I think they belonged to an Ali Edwards kit that I purchased about 6 years ago!).And then came the glitter, and more glitter, and more glitter and just a bit more. I was completely covered in glitter when I finished. Still an oft-quoted mantra of mine is - everything looks better with a little glitter! 

And the piece once again waited until I was sure I wanted to take a photo, and then waited again until I was sure I wanted to share it. It's so different to what I really do, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. But finally the wait was over and here we are. So, you can see why I have called my little piece Patience. And isn't having patience as part of your repertoire  a joy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's your signature style?

 Ruling pen and shellac ink

A week or so ago I was reading an interview with Brian Ritchie the bass player from the Violent Femmes. I no nothing about the Femmes music but was interested in what Ritchie had to say on artists who repeat themselves, in other words giving the fans what they want rather than trying something artistically different. As the curator of the MONA FOMA in Hobart, Ritchie states that ‘I don’t want to give [people] what they want. I want to give them what they don’t know they want yet.

Last year I completed an online workshop to help me identify and decide if I wanted to pursue an artistic business. Interestingly once completing the workshop I found my desire to not only create art, but also sell it and create a business out of it diminished significantly. I suspect that was information overload in action. One of the key messages I got from this workshop is that successful artists have a signature style; it is a message that is repeated in subsequent art books I have read. It is something that has worried me because I’m not sure I do have a signature style. Yet what does a signature style actually mean? Is it important? Can you have a successful career as an artist without developing a signature style?

Fineliner on cartridge

My interpretation of signature style, at least initially, is that artists repeat the same type of art: same media, same colour palette, same substrate and same images. It’s something I’ve noticed in a number of artists whose blogs I follow, almost every new artworks seems to be a variation on the last new artwork, there is very little actually new about the artwork. I’ve also noticed it in successful calligraphers that consistently do the same lettering style. In fact, it’s common in all forms of artistic expression. You become comfortable in doing a specific thing and it becomes successful and then you just keep doing it. Look at all the ‘80s bands, they are reforming and performing all of their old hits because the ‘80s is popular again.

Is the variations on a theme signature style enough for artistic fulfillment? I suspect not. Personally I’d find it very boring indeed to continually paint or draw the same kinds of images. I like to do new things, learn new techniques and try something different — can’t that by my signature style. I could call myself an experimental artist!

Rotring radiograph on watercolour paper

Now I've looked at it at a deeper level, I think that a signature style is something that signifies something about you. For me it’s specific media; pen and ink, watercolour, graphite, coloured pencils and similar themes and images; freedom, flowers, women and text. While I like to experiment and see what happens with specific techniques, these are done within a similar theme. I like to think that each new artwork is different to the last, and that it tells some kind of story. So, I guess I do have a signature style, just not in the obvious sense.

What's your signature style?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello 2012

Hello to 2012. This is my word for the year - BOLD in 2012!

I haven't blogged for 4 months, and I'm sure that anyone actually looking at my blog may have thought I'd decided not to blog. No, just been busy trying to finish up a paid writing project (very important to pay the bills!) and also running in a new computer. I decided to get an iMac and I love it. The only problem is that   I haven't worked out everything on it, and most particularly, I haven't worked out how to use my new version of Photoshop Elements, which means I haven't worked out how to edit a photo! This photo was taken on my iPad, uploaded to fb and then I saved the image in my downloads. There has to be a better process!

I have just signed up for a Jessica Sprague workshop - up and running with Photoshop. I used to be able to use a very, very old version of PS, but this new PSE has me stumped. So starting as a beginner, I'll soon be able to edit and upload and then there will be now excuse for me not to post.

Bold was a word I chose at a recent session I had with some friends - we call ourselves the Champagne Consultants! We all work for ourselves in similar fields, so the chance to talk about our plans for 2012 was a great opportunity. I decided that there are quite a few things holding me back from what I want to achieve and being BOLD seemed to be the way to move through some of these scary things. I did consider doing Ali Edwards' One Little Word workshop at Big Picture Classes, and I might still enrol because sustaining something like being BOLD could do with some prompting.

Well, my goal for blogging this year is for it to be more regular and maybe opening up on more about what I think on things. Til my next post. Enjoy the start of 2012.