Creativity: Escape XVIII

Escape 49

On this page of my altered book “Escape”, I covered most of the text with half a torn big yellow sticker, and wrote my opinion about opinions over it with a black sharpie pen…I added a stamp of a bird cage and a smudge of paint down the outer edge. I left the words -“mother” and “Yes” because I am a mother of five, amongst other things.Escape 50

The next page is much softer in style and content – I do want to have harmony and some consistency in a book like this, but also contrasts and variety, otherwise it would be boring. And we don’t want that!

Most of the original text is again covered up, but this time with a sheet of handmade paper, and the notes-to-self concern my dream of opening a craft cafe, and the desire to experience live music as often as possible…The text at the top of the page I adjusted a little to suit the theme – and the final sentence was already fitting – so I have repeated it for emphasis. Of course I must open it! Just have to figure out all the details….escape 51

The next page looks rather messy and unresolved, I think…A print from a carved stamp coloured with watercolour paints, and a couple of commercial stamps for decoration. The paper is not the best for the watercolours, but it is bright and cheerful, obscuring the text, which isn’t.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Creative Walls

july-aug 2011 010 (Large)

I’ve had a busy week, with a four-day workshop, learning some different book-bindings at Grampians Texture, with book artist Adele  Outteridge– besides which my computer has been recalcitrant, refusing to do what I asked of it. (I think it’s feeling better now…) So I’m compressing a week’s worth of posts into one. july-aug 2011 013 (Large)

Some years ago, I had gradually covered much of a wall of my workroom with various cuttings, clippings and posters, as well as the odd feather and leaf. I would now call it an “inspiration wall”, but I hadn’t heard the term at the time. One day, I took it all down, possibly to repaint – I don’t remember – but I then used all the bits and pieces to make several framed collages, of which these are two. They all have touches of red in them, which helps to unify the disparate elements. The second one has a poem I wrote, typed up on the electric typewriter we used to have…

“Peace!” is my battlecry,
With love I taunt my enemies,
And when they writhe in travail
on the floor
I ache with empathy.

There is also a clipping from a magazine explaining what empathy actually means and a quote from Carl Jung -“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

Any collection of clippings and mementos could be treated the same way, framed and hung on a wall to be enjoyed, rather than hidden in a drawer.Bainbridge Is

This last piece was originally installed on the door of our fridge. The photo in the middle reminded me of the one on the right, which I hunted out in my old school mag…which reminded me of the boy next to me (we are out-lined in red) in that photo of the editorial committee, Castlemaine High School 1972…and the poem I wrote when I heard that he had died rather young…which I wrote, it happened, around the time that Charles Peterson photographed a band from Olympia, Washington, on Bainbridge Island. Then I wrote another poem about these coincidences, and stuck them all on the fridge, linked together with red thread, and there they stayed, and yellowed, until I took them down because they were so tatty.

However, I didn’t throw it all away, but transferred it onto a piece of paper in a drawer; eventually, I made a background of tea-stained board, which I embellished with stamps of flowers and birds, echoing the meadow where the band were. I applied them with the tea-stain still damp, so that they blurred slightly for a pleasing aged look.I also added rust-stained paper rings (meant for reinforcing holes on paper) and a coloured image of a bird, similar in outline to the stamped ones, which rounded out the composition ready for framing. It’s one of my favourite things (of which there are many….)

Creativity: Escape XIII

More pages from my altered book “Escape”…This one features my dream home, a “cabin-in-the-woods”, with me flying over the roof – because when I’m dreaming, I like to fly. The page was painted over with house paints, and then crayon and coloured pencil was added. A few lines of black marking pen help define the drawing. Working outside the lines is what artists do, don’t you think?


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Instead of paint, this page is covered with a sheet of tissue from an old dressmaking pattern – it has the layout for cutting your fabric printed on it. Over that, a stamp of fancy scissors (appropriate!), and a wild rose, which I’ve coloured in with pencil. The text is an admonition to self – some relationships are not helpful…for creativity, or anything else.
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The paint colour on this page is called “Kirkwood”, which is the surname of the Meatpuppet brothers, and made the colour irrisistable to me. My youngest son’s room once featured a colour called “Pixie”, but I’ve never gone with a dark purple labeled “Nirvana”. I have to like the colour as well as the name!

The bit of printed text is from a brochure advertising an art exhibition, and a good reminder – looking really isn’t the same as seeing. Like many women, I struggle still with “duty” – what I “should” do, and “patience”, which can mean just putting up with things which are unhelpful to me – and they get in the way of creativity. So I’m typing this post when I “should” be making dinner….
Escape 36

Friday Poem: Desire

a red shadowIt’s St Valentine’s day tomorrow – I’m not sure whether that makes this poem timely or quite the opposite…The ideas expressed in it are influenced in part by reading Polly Young-Eisendrath‘s book “Women and Desire: beyond wanting to be wanted”, alongside my wide reading of Buddhist ideas.a yab yum

To be desired
is not desirable to me;
I complete
no-one but myself.
Desire wants
to acquire some object.
To be
in relation to
is a better way
to be.

to be simply,
to simply be:
To be an object of desire
or to desire objects-
Neither of these
will do.
to be emptied of desire
To be Free.a rock tray

Friday Poem: Question Everything

The poem came first. Then somehow I had some Time Alone this week, with pen and paper, and thinking of the poem and all that has been going on in the world of late (what’s new?), I wrote a little rant…question everything

Nothing is certain,
Not even this:
I don’t want to be certain-
I want to wonder
And to exercise curiosity.

I don’t want to be
Like a man who is sure what is true;
Such men are dangerous
For sure.
There have been a few.

Let me instead
Always question everything,
And keep ‘if’ and ‘maybe’
Firmly in my vocabulary.question everything 2

I don’t like Dominator Culture, however it is expressed. But, because we are immersed in it, it can be difficult to see – but once one is aware, it’s everywhere. Misogyny, abuse of children, spousal violence, unequal pay scales for men and women, cheap, illegal Mexican labour used for dirty, dangerous and underpaid work, 1% of the world’s population “owning” as much as the other 99% put together, violent struggles for control, whether for families, neighbourhoods or whole countries or religions. Keeping up with the Joneses and other extringent goals, playground bullies trying to assuage their own miserable self-worth by destroying someone else’s….Dominator Culture surrounds us every day, in ways both large and small, with the seemingly insignificant feeding on and into the blindingly obvious.

No one can beat Dominator Culture, because beating is joining it…So how to counter it?

Mohondas Gandhi taught non-violent non-cooperation, and one form of non-violent non-cooperation that anybody can participate in is to ask questions, maintain curiosity and to live an actively creative life. To be widely read, and go into the wild without wanting to tame it, to regard all persons as the equal of oneself (am I sounding like Walt Whitman? Don’t mind if I do…). To draw in the margins, and colour outside the lines. To love one another, and cultivate compassion, even towards those who seem to be the very worst…All this is deeply radical behavior,
and utterly contrary to Dominator Culture.question everything 3

Weekly Photography Challenge: Depth

This week’s photography challenge is deeply challenging – Depth! – and as ever, it is wide open to interpretation. Two peach tree seedlings came up from compost – really too close to the house, but I left them to grow anyway. This year we have been rewarded with some fruit – 5 nectarines, and 1 white fuzzy peach. One nectarine is missing because I ate it, or what was left after tram bugs and earwigs (deep in the centre – luckily I cut it in half…) had first go at it. It was delicious, with that great depth of flavour that only freshly picked sunwarmed fruit can have.

deep taste

These sections of my bookshelves are just the tip of a very deep iceberg of books…I have a lot more. Some of the titles in these pics are very deep also!

There are books of poetry (alongside various dolls), children’s classics, and a lot of psychology, philosophy, biography and spirituality – breadth as well as depth!

Creativity: Escape XI

It’s been several weeks since the last episode of my altered book “Escape”, as I’ve been doing other things, but I’m back to the book today.

This page is fairly simple – yellow paint slapped over the whole page (but not to the edges), and then a rough block of pink in the middle. The flower stamp has been hand-coloured with some green on the leaves, and a quote added. I’ve said it before, I may say it again, you can’t have too many stamps! Or inspiring quotes…

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The facing page has a similar foundation , only the pink is in two patches. A scrap with a graphic print is pasted on, and doodles inspired by the print are done with green metallic pen. Then a camera sticker and  Jung quote to finish – a very apt quote in an altered book playfully dedicated to creativity. Escape 32

On this third page, the original text is completely obscured with a page torn out of an art magazine – and used upside down. There a some splodges of the pink paint used elsewhere, and the border of the page is filled in with closely packed little circles. drawn with a brush pen. The text written over the photo uses a white ink pen. Once again, I have used the book as a place to try out new art supplies – to just have a play, and see what they do. I’ve also used a gold filigree heart sticker (hiding text) and I’ve stitched a sequin at the top of the page. The Ararat Regional Art Gallery, where I work as a volunteer, shares the building with the Performing Arts Centre: sometimes there are dance events and competitions, which lead to me finding sequins lost from the costumes of dancing girls. I keep them and add them to books – why not?! They sparkle…Escape 33

Friday Poem: Travelling Deeper

It’s been quite a few years since I wrote this, partly in an effort to work out where I was ‘at’, flooded as I was with new ideas and fresh attitudes. While the journey no longer seems so utterly strange and unfamiliar, it still goes on, and I don’t doubt that plenty of other people have had, or are having, similar experiences and might identify with the imagery.IMG_9734 (Small)

It seems I’ve crossed a border
And entered another country.
It is unmapped territory:
Only a few have come this way before,
But they have blazed the trees,
And built beacons on the hills,
And I am penetrating deeper every day.
Sometimes I feel a little lost,
The landscape is so strange to me.
I stumble and turn aside,
And sit down by the way.
Sitting and wondering,
I see the next marker,
And rise refreshed to start again;
And I am penetrating deeper every day.

IMG_9737 (Small)

It can be unsettling, not to mention discombobulating, to come to the realisation that what you have always taken for granted is not the only way to see the world and all that is in it. It was my experience that books seemed to appear regularly, by authors who did in fact view the world differently, and also who described odd experiences that resonated with what had been happening for me. Hence the signposts, and blazed trees.

There did indeed seem to be “more things in heaven and earth than  I had dreamed of in my philosophy”…and more than “only a few” had been there ahead of me!DSCF7689 (Small)

Creativity: Inspiration Board

I upgraded my inspiration/mood/notice board this week. It’s had a long evolution, starting out as a display vehicle for earrings and other jewelry about ten years ago. I bought a large stretched cotton canvas, and, leaving it white, I strung wire horizontally across it (‘landscape’), winding the wire into thumbtacks/drawing pins pushed into the sides of the wooden frame. The earrings were then hooked over the wires, the different prices indicated on swing tags knotted onto each wire. We used it for a couple of years, then found something else, and it lay idle in the shed. Until…an inspirarion board

I needed somewhere to pin up  souvenirs and bits and pieces, and hung it in ‘portrait’ fashion, so that the wires are vertical. Tiny pegs and paper clips hold pieces in place on the wire, while some bigger sheets simply slot behind the wires. It remained much the same, moving from one room to another, new things added – usually on top of what was already there. Until…an inspirarion board 2

I was painting a wall in what is now the sewing room, and needed to take down the heavy laden inspiration board. In doing so, I removed most of the treasures that had built up over its surface, and put them aside. I looked at the white canvas, I looked at the can of pale pink paint…I decided it was time for an overhaul. I painted directly over the wires and the tags that were still there, letting them stick down in the paint. I then decided some paper pattern tissue would be nice, so I found my bag of stray bits of pattern from the op shop/thrift store and selected a rectangular piece that I was sure I’d never need for anything else, and smoothed it down over the wet paint with my hands. When I got paint on my hands, I wiped it over the pattern, visually softening it. Once it was dry, I got to work on refilling it, returning some of the old display, and adding some new ones.

I ‘unstuck’ some of the wire, so I could tuck things behind it, and left some as it was. There are still a few reminders of our trip to Washington State in 2011 (the house I wish I’d seen in Olympia), inspiring fabric pieces, postcards, a photo of my youngest wearing practically everything in the dress-up box a long time ago…a vintage instruction for measuring oneself for a bra, which came in the middle of a pack of bias tape(!), one of my collection of pairs of long white gloves, still in it’s original bag, a printed-off drawing by Meatpuppet Cris Kirkwood… all sorts of things! I’m sure it will be added to – that’s what it’s for!

Creativity: Escape X

A couple more pages form my altered book, “Escape”, which is built around the theme of creativity and the glorious escape that brings…Escape 30

My favourite quote from Kurt Cobain, written in felt tip onto a background of yellow house paint. There’s a bit of the pink from the opposite page mixed in in places (and the reverse on the other page), because you can be as sloppy as you want, as long as it’s good…There’s a doodle of green ink in the margin, and a sticker from a pack intended for scrapbooking…I’ve no idea what that thing is, but I love the colour!

The fiercesome chaps – not sure if they are demons, or demon-destroyers – are cut from an art catalogue. Whatever they are, they definitely have passion! I have painted out the background, blending it into the page. This is a great treatment for photos where the background isn’t wanted in your image, whether they are personal photos or borrowed ones like this. The text on that page is from me – a play on a quote used in publicity for a movie called “Love Story” many, many years ago. It was “Love means never having to say your sorry”, which can be taken in the entirely wrong sense of never apologising, rather than having no regrets.

Freedom is accepting everything you like, making your choices without regret, accepting responsibility for yourself, letting go of all that you cannot control (which is a lot!).