Weekly Photography Challenge: Collage

I thought I might make a new collage to photograph for this weeks challenge, but yet again, the week has run away from me (or with me?). Anyway, I made this little book some years ago, and it’s full of collaged elements. I cut words and definitions out of an old dictionary to illuminate the quotes I used in it.

Click on the images for detail.

Making collage out of a collection of miscellaneous scraps can be great fun, and I’m often amazed at how meaningful random juxtapositions can be. I think it’s about time I assembled a hodgepodge pile of bits and pieces and made another little book!

Creativity: Playing with Paint(.NET)

IMG_7462 (Large)

As you may know by now, I am celebrating turning (gasp) 60 by having a punk-themed party. I am also a Nirvana fan, and a feminist…I decided a detail of a collage would add something to the party decor, but the slightly blurry photo wasn’t all that exciting. So I decided to jazz it up a bit, using paint.NET.

posterized (Large)

After fiddling with brightness, contrast and saturation, I played around with curves until I had a look I liked (making the discoloured old newspaper clippings pink and orange). But that still seemed a bit dull, and I felt the dark spaces needed…something.

posterized with text (Large)

Writing using the mouse is a challenge – so I did that. I was surprised how neatly I managed to write the name of my “event”. I filled some more empty space with my “peace love empathy” bleeding rainbow heart symbol, and wrote in the words. Filling in the colours of the rainbow took a lot of effort, and frequent use of “control Z” to fix mistakes…because the original background is unevenly coloured, it was not a simple matter of filling the space between the lines, and the lighter section (the newspaper clipping) read as the same as the heart outline – resulting in the whole thing being coloured in….several times before I gave up and left that corner “as is”. Finally, in case anyone missed it, I underlined the more pertinent parts of the quote about women. I made the collage from bits and pieces that had been stuck on a wall in my studio a long time ago – 18 or 19 years – so unfortunately I have no idea who it was that said/wrote either of the quotes.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Happy Place

This week the challenge is to show “where you go to get your groove back”, and I think I need to go there right now, because I’m having trouble coming up with an idea of what my Happy Place looks like. It’s more a state of mind, I think, than a physical location for me, although the garden, or my studio would be obvious choices. I’ve been away fromhome for over three weeks, so the garden needs weeding, and my studio is a muddle of things that need sorting, so…not so restful at present! Instead, I’m going with the crystals and rainbows in a sunny window of the study – the room I escape to to write blog posts, amongst other things…


And of course, there’s music, which has “charms to soothe a savage breast”* (and is the “brandy of the damned”, according to G.B. Shaw). Listening to Nirvana, fittingly, is a sure way to my Happy Place.

IMG_6298 (Large)

*William Congreve.

Creativity: Escape XXIV

DSCF9437 (Large)

I’m not sure where I cut this quote from, or who is being quoted, which is very remiss of me, but I glued it into my altered book, “Escape” because I liked what was said. It hides under a photo of a red poppy, printed on vellum and hinged with silvery duct tape. The translucence of the vellum allows the text on the page beneath to be vaguely visible.

DSCF9435 (Large)


I keep an eye out for interesting papers on which to print images as well as to use for making hand made books. Cheap shops sometimes have really good stuff, if you’re lucky and quick. I once bought 100% cotton rag copy paper in the Reject Shop, which photos print on beautifully. If only I’d known, I would have bought every pack they had…

DSCF9436 (Large)

Behind the flower is this wonderful quote –  I found it in a book of artworks by musicians, which I borrowed from a library. Work by Chris and Curt Kirkwood, the “brothers Meat” also featured. I wish it was mine…I knew a woman many years ago who was in the habit of “losing” (ie keeping) books she wanted from the library. She paid for the “lost” book – probably the original price, not the market value of out-of-print rarities. The thought of her dishonesty and sheer gall still amazes me, because she was an otherwise respectable school teacher. Surely the Librarians figured out her little scheme after a few “losses”!

“I Remember the Sound of His Voice” – Eddie Vedder

Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered on this day, giving rise to outpourings of grief, and some fatuous and unconsidered remarks by some commentators.

After 21 years of mythologising and crazy conspiracy theories – just remember the sound of his voice, and miss him for a bit.

Copy of DSCF4526 (Large)


Kurt was only man, a flawed one at that (who isn’t?). Maybe it was his flaws as much as his talent and passion that resonated – still resonates – with so many people.DSCF9418 (Large)

The images come from an artist’s book I made, titled “Basic”. I used the “True power…” quote several times in this book, but forgot to attribute it – where ever it came from, it rings true. The quote on the tag is a verbatim quote of something Kurt Cobain said in an interview – most likely having prepared it earlier, as he was wont to do.

Vale, Kurt.

Creativity: Op Shopping/Thrifting

I can’t say for certain that creativity and  love of op shops absolutely go together ( I haven’t done the research), but there does seem to be a strong correlation. Op shops tend to contain the sort of chaotic mix of anything and everything that spurs creation through the happy juxtaposition of unlikely partners. And they are full of the promise of glorious possibilities – you just never know what you will find! 61 leaves

We visited a couple of oppies on Monday, with no particular object in mind – apart from my ongoing quest for scraps of green (or other leaf colour) yarns for a yarnbomb I am working on. I found a few balls in the first shop we went to.

After carefully examining all their fabric lengths (no joy) and a trawl through books, crockery, notions, I spotted this old plastic case for storing spools and bobbins of thread – funky, useful and a bargain at $2! I bought it for Zoe’s sewing room, and now harbour a faint hope of finding myself one someday.

Zoe found the odd little cat teapot, and I found the cute demi-tasse coffee cup for Juniper – perfect for a tiny cup of tea (rooibos) or a frothy soy milk in the afternoon.

We also visited a large Salvos store, by which time Juni was sound asleep. The books were all $1 – I collected three in about four minutes, and decided I should step away form the book department, and not look back…”Where cats Meditate”, a book of cat pictures and meditative quotes, Garrison Keillor‘s wonderful “Lake Wobegon Days” to re-read, and a 1980 book on modern family life (always fascinating). Zoe found  an Agatha Christie for Matt. I went through ALL the old dressmaking patterns, but came up with nothing very inspiring. I’ll admit to sometimes buying old (ie 70’s and 80’s) patterns for the hilarious hair and shoulderpads…On the front counter, we found a basket of packaged old buttons and chose a few we thought we could use – one pack had small black beads, ideal for eyes for the amigurumi bees Zoe is planning to make. That’s not something we would have set out looking for! You just never know what you’ll find – very rarely it will be nothing, but that just makes you more keen for the next visit!

Three creative op shopping quotes from the cat book_

“He who hunts for flowers will find flowers; and he who loves weeds will find weeds.” – Henry Ward Beecher

(Good news for thrifters….)

“One is not idle because one is absorbed. there is both visible and invisible labour. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do. The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act. The eyes upturned to heaven are an act of creation.” – Victor Hugo

(My kind of guy…)

“Put all your eggs in the one basket and watch that basket” – Mark Twain

(Substitute “finds” for “eggs”…)cabinet

I bought this cabinet in an op shop – it was very tired, but I thought it could become both useful and beautiful, and it did, with a good clean and some fresh paint. Part of being creative comes down to seeing potential where others might not, plus a good dollop of old fashioned elbow-grease. Happy hunting!

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…

Escape 31


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

Creativity: Escape VI

Escape 19

These pages of my altered book “Escape” were first roughly painted to obscure the original text. The drawing was scanned and then printed on a translucent paper and pasted in. The shell stamp and extra text were added later. The checks of the doodled bit were ‘painted’ with a little water, using the water soluble nature of the ink-jet print to my advantage. It doesn’t always work that way! If soluble ink is going to be a problem, maybe get a copy done on a laser printer – then you can play around with the image as you wish, and still have the original.

The other page features a quote – “What we enjoy and value influences the life choices we make.” – Lilian Wissink , “the creative seed”,

and a part of an ad torn from an art magazine. I’m calling on myself for proposals for life choices I’d like to make! The drawing is a very vague artist’s impression of one of my house dreams…and an old church would make a fine craft cafe/gallery, once I find it!Escape 20

This page I slathered with white acrylic paint, scraping it on with an old plastic card (eg a credit card, or used gift card). The pink and yellow are watercolours, added once the acrylic was dry. The word “love” in the old text is preserved. The church sticker on the previous page disguises the back of the shiny gold heart stud, and there’s some dry Inktense stick rubbed along the edges of the page. I don’t plan what will be on any page – often I’ll add random marks throughout a book just because I have a new art supply to try out, or if I’ve rediscovered an old one. The lettering style I used for the Mary Atwood quote is fun and completely undisciplined – I have to remember to loosen up to do it, otherwise I accidentally revert to primary school neatness… Being true to oneself as a unique individual can be challenging for women especially, as we were generally raised to be relentlessly “nice” and therefore obliging to what everyone else wants. Not helpful for an artist life!


Escape 1“Genius begins where rules end”

– William BlakeEscape 3

“Artists are tricksters, opening up possibilities and reflections.”

– F. David Peat and John Briggs, ‘7 Life Lessons of Chaos’Escape 4

“When it comes to the arts I do not care how mindless it is as long as the makers put their heart and soul into it.”

Sean Hughes, ‘Sean’s Book’Escape 5

“Escape” is the old novel I have altered and turned into a book about creativity. It still has some empty spaces in it, ready for some more pithy quotes or inspiring thoughts.

Many of the pages are painted with ordinary acrylic house paint, because I was given a couple of tiny sample pots at a promotional display. It works really well! If you don’t have samples, you could also use leftovers, and mix your own custom colours with them. Altering books can be lots of fun, and an opportunity to try  new techniques and materials – just be sure to bend the rules, be open to many possibilities and put your heart and soul into the process!

Remember, you cannot fail.

These images are of the cover, title page and first few pages of “Escape”. I’ll be sharing some each week and hopefully inspiring people to pull apart and rehash boring old books into something new, exciting and very personal.

Creativity: You Have To Work On It

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia  in Melbourne has hosted a series of music and conversations with Australian performers within the spaces of the gallery. It’s a lovely complement to some of Australia’s best-known art works, and incentive for music-loving Melbournians to leave the house on a winter Sunday.

I wish I’d had my note-book out on Sunday when Paul Dempsey was being interviewed on creativity and what inspires him. He said that creative people have a compulsion to do whatever it is – songwriting, painting, playing guitar – whatever it is, the creative person is driven to do it… One reason for continuing, is that they don’t believe they actually know how to do whatever it is, so they need to keep trying. One can get closer and closer to nailing it, but never actually get there. Which reminded me of this quote from Henry Moore –a quote

Paul has been writing songs for twenty years or more, and the people who came to listen think he is an excellent songwriter, yet he says he still doesn’t know how to do it. He’s just compelled to keep trying to figure it out. And he says it’s work, you have to show up and do it, even if 90% of what you produce is “shit”. Just do the work. Writer’s block, he asserts, is a lame excuse for not working…DSCF4509

For the creative person, it’s the doing that counts, not the perceived quality of the work. Not everyone is a songwriter (just as well), but I believe everyone has a passion for something – something that they can never quite do. Doing it anyway is one thing that gives life meaning. And that means playing as much as working!a Jung quote