Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stuff and Nonsense

Is there anything more enticing than a worktable filled with 'stuff' - unfinished, hardly begun, anticipatory 'stuff'?

I love to walk into my studio in the morning and see all sorts of 'goings on' - things that will keep these hands and this imagination going for some time to come.

Of course there does come a time when the 'stuff' overwhelms me and then my hands have to get busy and do a major clean up.  Meanwhile just think of the possibilities!

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.  The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." - Ray Bradbury

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Lucky One"

Hi Guys,
Hope you don’t mind but I’ve taken over Penny’s blog posting this morning – shhh she doesn’t know I’m here.

I thought you might like to know what ‘really’ goes on behind the scenes when she’s creating!  I’m the first one of her paperclay figures – so she started off making my head (and two others).  There we sat – the three of us – not knowing who would be chosen.

I have to say, it seemed like we waited quite awhile for her to get her act together – but at last she chose me.  At first I thought – “oh boy, I’m the lucky one”.  Well, let me tell you – I soon changed my mind about that.

We had to go through the whole body and costume design thing together.  She and I – me looking at her stoically while she sketched and drew and stitched and stuffed – all the while I’m thinking  “maybe I'm not so lucky”. That woman can mutter like nobody’s business – let me tell you.  I know I’m complaining but have you ever been the experiment for a master plan?  It isn’t fun!!

Finally we came to end of my journey and I spotted this wooden button that says “Lucky One” – I told her I just had to have it.  So she obliged and also gave me a really snazzy hat.  The next day she walked into her studio smiling at me – she likes me!  So now I guess I can say that I really am “The Lucky One”.  Wonder why she’s keeping me separate from the other two guys –  do you think she doesn’t want me to warn them about what's in store?
By the way, let’s just keep this little conversation between ourselves okay?
 "I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.  Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope." - Dr Seuss

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feet of Clay

I have to admit that working with paper clay has brought me excitement and lots of ideas. I had prepared three sets of legs - using cloth - when I decided that perhaps I could add a pair of shoes to at least one pair of those cloth feet. 

As I coated the feet in paper clay I decided to add some design to the shoe by making curvy lines.  It wasn't until I started the painting that I realized how difficult it was going to be getting the paint into those teeny, tiny lines.  Why do I do these things to myself?

Trying to put clay over already painted feet wasn't so bad - but the shoes then had to be painted without painting the legs and feet along the way.  One painting coat might be okay - but try three - one coat of raw umber, one coat of orange and lastly an antiquing wash.  I used the blue tape that one uses with regular paint projects.  Can you imagine how tiny those pieces of tape had to be?  

I'm paving a new trail for myself -- and finding out that stamina and perseverance are going to be my biggest need.

 "When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." - Confucius

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bare Bones

This skeleton of what for most of the year is clothed in green -- standing against the sky -- down to its bare essence.  I love it!

These branches interwoven among themselves - gently moving as a breeze stirs them - making their own sort of winter music.

 The bare bones of the tree - its foundation - the roots going deep, deep into the ground - the branches reaching for heaven.

This is winter - these trees - this is my life.

"There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as if everything is." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finding My Way

I have spent hours on-line looking at beautiful, wonderful paperclay figures.  Some of them abstract, some of them fine sculpture.  Some of them whimsical, some serious and some downright sad.  I have tempted myself with complicated images.

In between looking and dreaming there was the actual working time with the clay.  I have read and heard people rave about paperclay -- they were all correct.  Its wonderful stuff.  If even I, a  total novice, can figure out how to actually get the clay to stay in place - add features - manage the finish painting then it has got to be a 'hands' friendly product.

As I followed my learning curve (without actually getting seasick), I realized that I had to let go of preconceived ideas.  Those fantasy creatures with perfect noses and haunting eyes were probably not for me.  It was better that I just covered the styrofoam and then let things happen as they happened.

Along the way I began to recognize the look that came most naturally to me.  A somewhat primitive look - a simple look - a look that might tell a story.  Why not try to recreate those aims using clay?  Let's see what happens.

I'm sure there will be some changes as I go along - as I learn more, as I learn to control the clay better, as I venture out into the unknown. But for now - I'm happy, feeling quite elated that new little people are beginning to populate my studio.

"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." - John Steinbeck

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meeting the Challenge

My first paperclay head was pretty ugly -- BUT at least it looked like a head and not just a blob of clay.  Thanks to both Jane DesRosier's and Moriah Betterly's on-line tutorials (found at Cloth Clay dolls) I was able to practice and learn just how to do this.  My first two heads were made on styrofoam bases. This second one even sported ears.

Next I worked on a couple of cloth dolls - putting the paperclay over cloth. I'm not sure how well I like the results of this because the head is too 'flat' and ended up looking more like a primitive stone statue - perhaps something worshipped by early man (and woman) - definitely not the look I was searching for. 

The scariest part of the process was no longer working with the clay but painting the 'raw umber' over my carefully sculpted 'masterpiece'.  Yikes!!  It looked dreadful and I really worried that this whole process wouldn't work, even though I had seen from the tutorial that it would.  Still this was only practice so why not give it a try?

I'm 'training' myself to play - to experiment - to learn and not to worry about finished product or perfection or any of those other limitations on creativity.  Its quite refreshing.

"One of the greatest joys known to man is to take a flight into ignorance in search of knowledge." - Robert Staughton Lynd

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Signs and Portents

As we were driving around the other day I got to thinking about the traffic signs that we frequently observe.

My thoughts turned those 'rules of the road' into 'rules for life'. How many of them might qualify as reminders as I move through my days?  How often do I detour from what I am presently doing?  Do I detour off to do it another way or do I detour off and then return to the main road eventually?

"Merge" - on the road this means that I have to move into the traffic - keeping up with the flow and blending in.  In my life this might mean that I have to do the same thing with my fellow human beings.  It doesn't have to mean that I am not an individual but that in order to live among others there is a certain about of 'merging' that must take place.

"Construction Zone Ahead" - oh this could certainly pertain to my own personal life -- its a constant 'construction' zone, isn't everyone's, or it is just me?

"Yield" - Yield to what?  Do I yield to every random thought that comes into my head?  Do I yield to the injustices that occur in this world with no thought at all?  Do I yield to the 'lazy' way instead of the right way? Just how much yielding am I supposed to do?

I'll be watching for signs that pertain to me as I enter a new year.

"Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most reasonable." - Francis Bacon

Monday, January 7, 2013

An Experiment

Life is full of adventures -- some come upon us not by our choosing, others we bring upon ourselves.  Recently our InspiredArts Guild had a challenge.  The challenge was to use something (anything) that you have had laying around for awhile.  Many of us have a bit of this and a bit of that snugged onto shelves, spilling out of boxes.  Some things were acquired because we liked them but didn't know what to do with them once we got them home. Others acquired because we've 'always wanted to try that'.

My challenge fell into that category.  Paper clay!  I've admired the work done with it for some time and one day I bought a block of it with the idea that I would at least try it out - someday!!  So this past month the 'someday' came in response to the IA challenge.

Thank heavens for Google - for tutorials that walk us through each step - for the opportunity to sit alone trying something, without the onus of 'what other people are doing or thinking about our sad attempts'. 

These days my nails are apt to be sporting bits of dried paper clay as I work through this new-to-me process.  And from the looks of this guy - my learning curve is going to be pretty steep!

"Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience." - Masura Ibuka

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Out of the Box"

Last January our InspiredArts Guild had a discussion about what we wanted for the coming year (2012).  Here we are beginning 2013 and its time to go back and see how each of us met the challenge of 'getting out of the box'. 

My statement, a year ago went something like this: "I focused too much on production in 2011".  My ways of jumping out of the box for 2012 were:  not doing any shows; trying new kinds of projects; developing punchneedle further.

Here's what actually happened this past year.  I did end up doing two shows - but I used pieces that I had made earlier so there was no production line going on in my studio and the only deadlines I had were to get the paperwork in on time.

Then I really jumped out of the box because I put punchneedle aside and moved on to some stitcheries early in the year.  From there I went into doll construction - first with a few 'stuffies' and then to a whole batch of cloth dolls with costumes that I designed.  Great fun!

As I ended 2012 I found myself still deeply entrenched in doll work - but switching over to paperclay (at least for the head).  This was a huge change for me since cloth has been my medium for years and years and years.  Here I was -getting messy - playing with clay - learning a whole new skill set.

So what do I foresee for 2013?  Hopefully my clay work will improve (it has to as it can't get much worse *smile*).  Hopefully I'll be able to continue exploration of alternative ways to make figures that please me. Perhaps I'll come up with a series of 'out of the box' figures. My overall plan is to work the way I did last year with no timetables to meet nor pressure. 

Let the creativity begin!

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin


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