Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 4 - Leprechauns

St Patrick's day is coming up and I have to work on an Artist Trading Card for a fibre arts group I belong to so I'm researching leprechauns.

This is what's in Wikipedia -

"In Irish mythology, a leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland. They are a class of "faerie folk" associated in Irish folklore with the Tuatha Dé Danann and other quasi-historical peoples said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts.
Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. Popular depiction shows them as being no taller than a small child. Their trade is that of a cobbler or shoemaker. They are said to be very rich, having much buried treasure. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the gaze is withdrawn, he vanishes."
I love mythology. The human mind is capable of such fabulously imaginative creativity, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 3 - geckos

I love geckos. They're realy cute. I've drawn them, painted them and made sculptural pieces of them. However, I think that I may have overdone the whole "I love geckos" thing because I seemed to have attracted vast numbers of them to me. The house is gradually being overrun by them.

I did a search on the web for some way to control them and found out that they don't like mothballs so now I have mothballs located near their favourite places. The only problem is I now have to decide whether I prefer the geckos, and all the hassles they bring with them, to the smell of mothballs. And I still don't know if the mothballs work anyway.
If anyone out there has any better ideas then please feel free to share them with me.

March 2 - Ghostpatrol and Miso

Ghostpatrol and Miso are two emerging young artists in Melbourne. They are street artists as well as professional artists. Their street art mostly takes the form of paper cut paste-ups that they put up overnight.

Their work is original, beautifully-executed drawings that they produce as collaborative works. They've produced 2 books of their work.

This is one of Miso's pasteups.

I love their work and I find it interesting that one of the comments made on the Artscape programme about them was their uniqueness in producing actual pencil drawings, rather than computer-based work. I guess that's where art is heading right now and it's a good thing that there are artists out there who still pick up and use a pencil.

In and exhibition that featured on the Artscape programme there was a close look at pieces that Ghostpatrol has done. They are drawings that he's done using pencils glued together as a drawing surface.

March 1 - lizard longevity

I watched "Wild Caribbean - Hurricane Hell" on ABC TV and learned that there are islands in the Caribbean that regularly get totally flattened by hurricanes and as a result the flora and fauna have adapted to survive.

Here's a description from the ABC website-

"The Caribbean is no stranger to the wild forces of nature. Between June and November, during the hot summer months - Caribbean heaven turns into hurricane hell, as the pristine waters and lush rainforests are hit by the extreme winds, water and rains that accompany a hurricane."

"Storm surges have been known to cover the entire surface of the Caribbean's low lying islands. Over the years, the inhabitants of the Caribbean - coral reefs, animals, marine life and even fauna have done their best to adapt to the hurricane season. Rainforest trees for example, use their roots to literally anchor themselves to the forest floor, while leatherback turtles head to the deep waters.

But while a hurricane may devastate a reef or rainforest beyond recognition, the Caribbean is able to renew itself time and time again."

The story of survival that interested me is about the lizards. Occasionally the inundations are so severe that the entire population of lizards is wiped out but the species survives because the lizard eggs can survive under water and within weeks of the water subsiding the population of lizards is replaced. Clever survival mechanism I think.

Friday, March 6, 2009

February 28 - Shostakovich

I went to a concert by the Queensland Orchestra with the Symphony No15 in A by Shostakovich in the second half.

Dmitri Shostakovich was a Russian composer who was born in St Petersberg in 1906 an died in Moscow in 1975. Apart from being a Harry Potter lookalike, I found an interesting story about something that happened during WWII.

"The 1941 German invasion of Russia inspired the composer's Seventh Symphony, subtitled "Leningrad." Impressed by the symphony's epic-heroic character, Toscanini, Koussevitsky, and Stokowski vied for the Western Hemisphere premiere; the score had to be microfilmed, flown to Teheran, driven to Cairo, and flown out. The work became an enormous success the world over, but eventually fell into obscurity. Still, the composer had for a time become a worldwide celebrity, his picture even appearing on the cover of Time. " (from

According to the programme from the concert he was "arguably the greatest symphonist of the 20th Century". I haven't heard enough classical music to judge, but I enjoyed his 15th symphony very much.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

February 27 - Abraham

Esther and Jerry Hicks (pictured) form the Abraham-Hicks team and they travel around the world giving workshops about a new way of looking at life.

Some years ago Esther became a channel for messages from a group of spiritual guides who call themselves Abraham. Jerry had been asking questions about the meaning of life for many years so it became a perfect partnership. Jerry asks the questions and Esther (as Abraham) answers them. At first they used the process to get answers for their own questions but now they hold workshops and invite the attendees to ask whatever they want to know about how life is working for them and how it might be better. According to Abraham, life works like this -

(1) The Law of Attraction. Whatever you spend your time thinking about will automatically come your way and the more you do this the more you get of it. This applies equally to the things you want as well as the things you don't want, because your mind doesn't distinguish between "want" and "don't want". So if you spend a lot of time thinking about bad things happening to you then you'll attract bad things. Have you ever noticed how some people tend to be unlucky all the time and things seem to go from bad to worse for them? According to Abraham it's because they spend all their time anticipating bad things, so that's what they get. Conversely, if you spend all your time anticipating good things coming your way then that's what will happen too.

(2) The law of Deliberate Creation refers to the idea that if you want something then you can send out a "rocket of desire" for it and Abraham says that whatever you desire is there for you, ready to manifest for you as soon as you're ready for it. The reason we don't get what we ask for immediately is because, most of the time, we're not tuned into it yet. We might have negative thoughts/feelings that are keeping us in a mindset of lack and preventing positive energy coming our way.

(3) The more thought you put into the object of your desire, the closer you get to manifesting it and the best way to see where you are on this path is to follow your personal guidance system. According to Abraham your personal guidance system is your emotions. If you are feeling happy then you're moving towards your goals but if you are unhappy then you're going away from them. The way to realign yourself, therefore, is to do something that changes how you feel from sadness to happiness. The trick is to keep on doing this until you feel better and better and better and when you achieve joy then that's when manifestation happens. This sounds too simple, but it works.

There are many free downloads available on the website at that will explain these laws and how to apply them to you life. Until I started listening to this stuff I didn't realise that it's what the book "The Secret" is all about.

I've been applying the knowledge I've gained from this to my life and anticipate great things to come.

Page in book to follow at an appropriate time.

February 26 - bricolage

bricolage n. Something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available.

On By Design (ABC radio) I heard that there's a competition in Tasmania for designers to come up with products which can be made from industrial discards and that could have marketing potential.

The dolls in the photo were the winning entry for the inaugural competion in 2008. They are called Redivivus dolls and were made by Susan McMahon using reconstituted sawdust and recycled flour bags. She liked the idea of creating something that lasts from materials that would usually be discarded.

Tasmania has a tradition of reusing things and the products made available to the designers include plastic offcuts, rubber, metal bits, fabrics, cardboard etc.

These necklaces made from laminex offcuts was another of last year's entries.

Other ideas included a sprinkler made from car parts.

Maree Bakker, competition organiser and Sustainability officer in the Tasmanian Environment Division explains:
"Many industries are trying to reduce their water and energy use and reduce their waste, but a large amount of waste still goes to landfill. This competition is an opportunity to reuse some of that waste and encourage new market opportunities through design innovation. "
Reverse Garbage is a re-use concept with operations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, providing clean industrial discards for anyone who wants to be creative with materials that would normally be sent to the waste stream. I think it's great that many people are now looking at creatively diverting these resources fom landfill.
I'll HAVE to make something from industrial discards for my page in the book on this topic.

February 25 - Argo floats

I was watching Catalyst on ABC TV and learned about these cool robots that monitor the conditions at the bottom of the world's oceans. They're called Argo floats and the transcript from the Catalyst website explains them thus -

"Humans have been weather forecasting for thousands of years. But the ocean also plays a huge role in our climate patterns and until now the processes that go on beneath the surface have been largely a mystery. But that mystery is being slowly revealed. Ten years ago Australia released the first Argo floats into the Indian Ocean. These nautical robots dive up to two kilometres every ten days and surface to transmit their precious measurements to Argo headquarters. Twenty countries maintain the global armada of more than 3000 Argo floats... and they're providing oceanographers with an unprecedented wealth of data from deep beneath the sea."
Isn't technology wonderful?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

February 24 - Colour Literacy

Peter Travis was the guest on the morning interview with Margaret Throsby.

He was the guy who designed the speedo swimming costume in 1959 so that's why I've chosen to use this particular photo of him.

"Colour literacy" is an expression he invented and it describes the process of putting colours together so they make sense. He speaks of putting colours into phrases or sentences. As colours affect and change each other when they are put in close proximity then the quantity of a particular colour is as important as the colour itself. Any individual colour is reflected around whatever is nearby and therefore the groupings of colours and the light source shining on them is important too.

His most surprising statement was that colour doesn't actually exist in the world at all. Our brain makes colours when our eyes bring in the light. As colour is a result of ambient light then the colour of a paint sample in a paint shop is quite different from that same colour when it is in your home.

We tend to think that certain colour combinations to be harmonious as a rule but Peter believes that every combination can work if you understand them. It's all about the proportions of colours you use. Even tiny pieces of discord can look good in the right place.

His interest in colour has been with him from a very early age. When he was four years old he advised his mother which colour fabric to choose for a dress she made. When anyone complimented her on the colour she'd tell them that her son chose it for her.

Peter designed the speedo in 1959. At the beginning they weren't liked by the beach inspectors but the court decreed that they had to be allowed because they covered all the important bits. The speedo was the first male leisure garment in the world.

Peter is presently designing an installation for the opening of St John's Cathedral in Brisbane. He's using an installation of light to produce colours in the eye of the beholder. The piece includes a yellow kite that represents the sun. The idea is to go and see it as a work in process as well as the finished piece that will remain there for a year.

Extract from the Cathedral brochure - "ART The Wonder of Light The Maker of Colour. Aerial sculptures by Peter Travis. An evolving installation throughout the festival year. Sydney artist PeterTravis is an international specialist in ceramics and glass sculpture, and former designer of kites installation for St John’s Cathedral."

I must go and see it. I'm intrigued.

February 23 - Cressida Campbell

I listened to an interview with Cressida Campbell by Richard Fidler. I saw her work at a gallery in Brisbane last year and I was inspired to try something like it. Needless to say, I haven't done anything about it yet but I'm just about to be reinspired as the latest exhibition of her work is about to commence at the QUT Art gallery.

She said that she likes to work every day and loves it because it relaxes her. In her work she combines painting and printing and the process she's worked out suits her well.
She starts a piece by doing a line drawing on the block, which is a sheet of plywood. She then uses a high-tech engraving tool to carve out the lines and thinks about the colours as she does this. Although the line drawing has usually been done from a real-life setting, she paints the colours onto it in the studio so they are not the actual colours. The idea in doing it this way is to transform the image into something a bit different from the real scene. She adds tension to the work in some way and Margaret Ollie describes this as being like adding a bit of the artist's handwriting.

The next part of the process is to add colour using a fine sable brush. She applies two thick coats of watercolour paint. This done, and while it is still wet, she sprays it with water and puts a dampened piece of watercolour paper over the image. It is then rolled to transfer the image onto the paper.

The process sounds simple and, by itself, it seems to be so. However, the detail that she achieves in her work is just astonishing. Cressida's artistry is the result of devising a process that works successfully every time and applying it with extraordinary skill, patience and creativity.

A major influence for her work was Japanese woodblock prints and she spent some time there studying the process. Her work is more about painting than printing, however, as all the colours are on the same block, while Japanese printing uses a different block for each colour.
The work takes a long time to do. Sometimes she can multiprocess but other times she has to give it her total concentration. She commented that when she consciously tries to experiment it doesn't work as well as when she works intuitively.

When Cressida was a child she was a collector and started with stamps becasue they were like visual art galleries. Then she collected shells, especially from a particular rock pool. She tells a lovely story about how her mother would buy shells from somewhere else in the world and plant them in the rock pool for Cressida to find. When she discovered they weren't local her mother would make up some fanastic story about how they came to be there. Cressida believed her and only found out the truth of this about 8 years ago. Her mother was obviously creative and imaginative and no doubt influenced Cressida's own creativity.

The book of her work is a beautiful piece of work in itself and the first edition sold out quickly. When it was being printed Cressida monitored the process carefully to make sure the colours were accurate. The printing house had a place where she could sleep between colour runs so then every hour and a half she'd be woken up to check the colours and allow it to continue.
Her husband coproduced the book with her.

I'd like to think that the page in my book about this will include my own version of a Cressida Campbell print but, given that I'm already WAY behind with my book, then the likelihood is close to zero. I'll put in something of Cressida's instead, I think.