Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Last Weekend, Next Weekend

I found this little pet on Sunday, at the Gimme Shelter Vintage fair in Bristol, held in the retro bowling alley called The Lanes. Lots of lovely vintage stalls there, including Lizzie's - it was lovely to meet her again. I'm afraid I added more to my over-large stash of vintage fabric...

On my way home, I went into Paperchase (in Borders) to look at their 'kawaii' stationery. I bought a pencil tin and a photo album (I did actually need a photo album!).

And then in the magazine section, I found this wonderful publication.
I loved Jackie magazine when I was a teenager. I got the retro 'annual' they published a couple of years ago, but I couldn't resist getting this as well. My favourites are the fashion illustrations. I used to copy this style of drawing and I remember drawing a whole page of platform shoes in a history lesson. History lessons really helped my drawing skills.

So that was last weekend. Next weekend, on Saturday, I will be a guest shopkeeper at The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe in Weston-super-Mare, weather permitting. (They people who have the keys to the shop aren't there when the weather's bad.) Ostensibly, I will be there to sell art, but really I intend to eat as many of the sweets as I can! Heeheehee!! Sweeties!!!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Is It Art?

The West Bristol Art Trail is only three weeks away. Three weeks! Yikes!
I've been pretty busy making work for it. Or trying. I start things and have lots of ideas, but finishing - that's difficult. Sometimes I lose confidence halfway through a piece. I did with this doll. (No, not the one Val's holding, the one below.)
I didn't love it. I think it's because I went for subtle colours. It's not very 'me'. I do like subtle colours, and I appreciate gentle colour combinations, but somehow it's not a way I can really express myself. Kitsch and garish speak to me so much more strongly and happily.

I know that much of what I do is strange and unpopular. But I need to express myself and explore these ideas, and I hope it's worthwhile. But am I an artist? I've called myself an artist when I exhibit my work, because I have to. I feel like I'm an imposter, but I do it to try to convince myself. The boundaries between art and craft are blurry in any case. Is it mainly about originality? Well, that's open to debate at the best of time, with purists arguing that there's no such thing anyway.

I don't suppose it really matters, except to me. Like so many women, I struggle to have confidence in what I do. I only finished the doll because Mr Kitsch gave me a pep talk.

And then I gave myself a pep talk. I may not be creating masterpieces, but I'm finding my way to what's important to me. It's about self-expression and creativity. It doesn't matter what other people think. Maybe this sounds like needy psycho-babble, but perhaps I'm a needy psycho. I don't know. Whatever the case, it helped me a lot, and I've got lots of new ideas which I'm excited about working on. I may even manage to finish them before the Art Trail, with good luck and a following wind.

I think I need to remind myself of all this at regular intervals. I suppose it's an affirmation.
"I am an artist."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Blogs and 8 things

We all do it - feel bad for not keeping up with everyone else's blogs. There's so much out there, and I'd love to comment more than I do, but well, you know... Every now and then I try to work my way through the list of blogs I follow, to make sure I haven't missed too much. I must admit I have to sneakily stop following blogs occasionally, when the list gets too long. I could look at pictures of vintage fabrics all day, but then I really wouldn't get anything else done, would I?

So on one of these backtracking journeys, I discovered that I had been tagged by another blogger way back in May, and I never knew anything about it. She seems to have stopped blogging since then, so I'll let her remain anonymous. Her lack of new posts since then, also accounts for why I never picked up on it. Anyway, the tag was about lists of 8 things, and the idea inspired me to give it a go.

8 things I did yesterday
1. Got hot (yes, hot! in September! Yay!), walking up the hill from the shops.
2. Looked for vintage fairs & carboot sales to go to in the next few weeks.
3. Made a watermelon slice from hama beads (a.k.a. perler beads, pyssla beads).
4. Crocheted a 'doll' body to work on.
5. Discovered the wonderful world of Allee Willis. I got sent an email about her new Museum of Kitsch. I'd never heard of her but her career is amazing. She has written hit songs - most notably 'Boogie Wonderland' and the theme to the TV show 'Friends'. She has worked as an art director on TV, she makes art, collects kitsch, and has some very cool and famous friends.
6. I read some more of my current book - Claire Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen
7. Enjoyed an hour-long phone call with my friend Tessa.
8. Inspired by the kokeshi exhibition I mentioned the previous day, I drew a couple of designs for decorated dolls.

8 things I'm looking forward to
1. Having auburn hair again. I coloured my hair 'golden brown' over the summer, but I think I preferred it redder, so I'm stocking up on a different shade of Nice 'n' Easy...
2. A flea market tomorrowDetail of work from West Bristol Art Trail 20083. The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe. 12 Sept - 11 Oct
4. The West Bristol Art Trail 17 Oct (Pic above is from last year's)
5. The Vintage & Handmade Fair 14 Nov
I'm participating in all these three events, but even if I wasn't, I would visit them anyway, as I think they'll all be enjoyable
6. Gimme Shelter Vintage Fair 27 Sept. (Definitely just planning to visit.)
7. Collecting conkers. I love them when they're fresh and shiny. (I'm a bit worried about the local horse chestnut trees though, because they've been attacked by a leaf miner parasite, which makes the leaves die early.)
8. The run-up to Christmas. I enjoy the anticipation and preparation more than the event!

I'm going to skip the rest of the tag, which was '8 things I wish I could do' (I think everyone wants to teleport, don't they?) and '8 TV shows I watch' (I get bored enough by TV without inflicting it on you) and finally the last list was to tag eight other people. Well, I tag anyone who reads this, if they want to do it. Can't say fairer than that.

Friday, 11 September 2009

American Museum Part 2

Why is there an incongruous tipi in the middle of the English countryside?
It's the American Museum near Bath, which I visited yesterday.

This lovely museum and its gardens gained a special place in my heart, when I went there in 1992, just when I was about to take voluntary redundancy from a job I disliked, and start a more creative career. It became associated with that feeling of freedom and creativity. I have visited it regularly ever since, and now I try to visit it every year, to see the annual exhibition. This year's exhibition featured American folk art. They have a wonderful permanent collection of folk art, which has long been an inspiration to me. They also have an extensive collection of beautiful American quilts. I'm afraid photos were not allowed, so I can only share some of the outdoor delights. Like the gardens in the September sun...

Some architectural details in the gazebo...

Tree roots in the arboretum....

And finally, the 'Tussie Mussie' posies they sell. They are full of sweet scented flowers and herbs, and the ladies used to carry them to church as a nosegay.

American Museum Part 1

I wish I was somewhere near Los Angeles, so I could go to this fantastic exhibition of kokeshi dolls at the Japanese American National Museum.
There are some wonderful images to look at on
I love kokeshi dolls and have started to collect them. Here are some of my collection.

I love their apparent simplicity and the painted details on the wood. I find it fascinating that we can see a human form in very simply shaped dolls. I'm starting to work on dolls inspired by these sort of figures.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe

Quite a creative week last week, as I finished some pieces for The Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe. This is an exciting exhibition being organised by the wonderfully talented Camilla of Made by Milla, as part of the Weston-super-Mare arts festival. The concept (originated in the States with the artist Edith Abeyta) is that "The shoppe will be home to artist multiples and one offs with a Mythical Beast theme, all alongside traditional sweets provided by local company Tizzy Treatz." Art and sweets? Fantastic!

I have to admit that I was a bit unsure about the 'Mythical Beast' theme. Mermaids and unicorns weren't my favourite things. But once I got to thinking about it, all sorts of ideas popped up. One idea I played with was making mermaids and unicorns from hama beads (a.k.a perler beads). Perhaps I could put together unicorn fun packs with badges?

Umm... No. The next idea I worked on was primitive dolls that might have been made by mermaids for their merchildren in the past. I made a couple and hated them. Isn't this the ugliest mermaid you've ever seen?
I haven't had the heart to put her in the bin, but she's headed that way.

However, at the same time I was collecting bits and bobs for the first concept I'd had, which was to make a box of artefacts or specimens 'on loan from the Museum of Mythical Beasts'.

This box contains 'Mermaid Scales', a 'Dragon's Claw' and a 'Phoenix Feather', amongst other things. While I was working on this, another idea popped into my head. A variation on 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey' - 'Pin the Horn on the Unicorn'. Once, I'd thought of that, I had to draw it.

And finally, it occurred to me that the hama bead unicorns might make nice cards. It was all very rushed, as I'd managed to get the deadline date confused (yes, I am an idiot!), but it was good to get some pieces finished.

As I was late with my stuff, I decided to deliver the work to Camilla in Weston myself. I'd been meaning to meet up with her for ages, and despite her extreme busy-ness, she very kindly agreed. So yesterday, we went for an afternoon out in Weston (Mr Kitsch came as driver). Except we didn't go out really. It poured with rain all afternoon, and Camilla kept us supplied with cups of tea and lovely cake. (Obviously, I am a very poor blogger for not photographing the beautiful cake on the gorgeous vintage china, but quite frankly, I was far more preoccupied with stuffing my face. So no photo. But take my word for it, it looked beautiful and tasted even better!) She has so much wonderful art and kitsch in her home - I could have spent all day looking round. It was an extremely pleasant afternoon, and a big thank you to her for putting up with us!

We did manage to visit the venue for the Sweet Shoppe - a wonderful little black and white building by Birnbeck Pier (the very old pier in Weston, not the one that burnt down.) We got soaked, but what an amazing place!

The exhibition is open every weekend from September 12th until October 11th, and there are lots of pieces by artists who are a lot better than me, so it will be worth a visit!