Posts tagged ‘art journalling’

Jack Kerouac on creativity

Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

by Jack Kerouac

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumb saint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language &knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

– via Blues for Peace (and quoted on CALM THINGS, an excellent photography/thoughts/still life blog)

How to be “a crazy dumb saint of the mind”?

Is it to think outside the box, with passion and devotion to what is your own truth, comes from your own integrity, whatever the cost? To follow what I call rigorous intuitive practice (as opposed to intellectual/academic practice) and let your hands and eyes be in charge, not your brain?

To be a violet flowering in October?

Because it can?



SEE MORE @ Nottingham Contemporary


Soooooo…the Contemporary class curve balled me, and extended by a week, meaning I will have an interesting challenge on managing spoons of energy…On Friday 10th May, we are having a 3hour performative art share, SEE MORE, 11 – 2, when I will promptly hustle into a phone booth and twizzle 3 times, emerging as Wonderwoman (sshhh! my secret identity, tell no one 😉 ) and whisk away to Queen’s Walk Rec to sit and instruct the installation team on how to hang all the components of SEA CHANGE. I really need to get my head round this because I hang in a happy process daze of flow, and having to choose and explain every little decision is super tiring and induces fibro fog. And I need to stay fresh for the picnic the next day 😉


Well, obviously, it will be a day of taxis and ready meals/sandwiches. Then I have already done myself a big favour by choosing to make a handmade book, to be shown on a plinth. I think the class is supportive enough to accept that I have no spoons to herd cats and help curate the space by class consensus, instead I will volunteer to sort out flyers and a couple of posters to attract visitors from upstairs at the Contemporary to The Space, where we will be showing. As I am doing all my flyers and posters at the same time, this is minimal extra energy, while saving the others a deal of stress. I can drop the flyers in to Contemporary by friend delivery (looking at you Robyn 😉 ) on Monday/Tuesday and then arrive about 10.30 on the Friday, with SEA CHANGE carried by bearer (tbc!! but hopefully Cherise) and plonk SEE MORE on plinth, sit and smile and enjoy the art. Mary is using some sword form in her piece, ages since I’ve seen good tai chi ch’uan, so that will be a highlight for me and very centering/calming…


It’s interesting how different people interpret the same theme, I think Mary may be the most holistic of us, she is very elegant and moves beautifully and her piece may encapsulate somatics, performance and aesthetics, while exploring the class experience…we will have to see! I have chosen seeing more through internal adjustments, the quotes from creatives and the bringing in of non-traditional elements, embroidery and embellishment bundles, metallic and neon marks, not your average material for an international gallery 😉  A daoist chuckle at resolving the chip on my shoulder about this by quietly bringing in what I believe should be more acknowledged in the age of altermodernism, that art is non verbal philosophy and can be “decorative” [read: visually interesting in a harmonious way] without losing its edge…may even be more powerful for it… (heresy!!! pass the smelling salts!!!) There will be inter-active elements as well, so altogether, an interesting event, if you happen to be in Nottingham that day, come on by 😉 and I will take photos on the day too.


I’m trying to think out a way to prepare some of SEA CHANGE so it can be easier to install on the day. I went to Poundworld (like a dollar store) yesterday and lucked into some green gardening mesh, so am beginning to see a way to lay out some of the chains and stitch them down (it’s a VERY windy site) so that section can be unrolled like a carpet and then tent pegged in. I got some glow-in-the-dark tent pegs to edge it!!! I’m not totally convinced the batteries will work still, but it could be great…

Lovely Eleanor set up a Facebook page for the event, in particular for the bring and share craft and  picnic event that’s standing in for a private view, and as she has an enthusiastic following, the invites (it’s open to all, it’s just a way of letting people know about it) are creating a buzz already 😉 This inspired me to set up a page for the week, and bring it to the attention of non-fibre artists, and already some accepts are trickling in. Fingers crossed the weather plays nice, a good forecast will do wonders for my stress levels 😉

Feel free to check out the links and send good wishes across the sea! I hope they work, my, my, the learning curve I’ve been on in the last couple of weeks…

see more at nottingham contemporary

The title/theme for our end of course art share is SEE MORE. I have really broken through a lot of personal barriers on this course, perhaps not in the way I expected, but in ways that matter deeply for how I will approach presenting my art to others, particularly art world gatekeepers. I realised that I get wound up by jumping through the hoops of gallery and exhibition proposals because I bend myself out of shape to fit into art speak, to prove I may be an outsider, but I can speak your language…No more!! Because I have such a bad taste in my mouth while I’m doing it that all the joy is lost. Bit hard to be a singing bird while I’m sucking lemons…


So I have rewritten my artist statement to be more directly from my true/heartfelt process, I have kept some terms like inflection of surface, because to be honest, there is no other way to describe what I do, the mixture of texture, colour and dimension that make a single plane multi-faceted or many surfaces one colour field is something painters care about, and not many others, like Flemish bond is a bricklayers’ term because they really care about sticking bricks together…but I have shared more of how I want to catalyse others to reclaim their creativity, which always felt taboo, as direct appeal to the viewer veers dangerously close to beauty/hobby painting/ elvis on velvet 😉 I’ve always felt art theory is a bit like psychology, there’s a defensiveness, trying to prove it’s a respectable discipline by being unnecessarily wordy and impenetrable… when really they both involve the the ineffable, the use of what looks like magic to bring people to a better appreciation of how to live…at their best, anyway.


So my art will be seeing more of me, sharing more of what matters to me, being more playful and taking risks with being pleasing on a more superficial level…less abstract, but informed by my love of interesting surfaces, allowing more decoration even (eek, eeeek, such a taboo in fine art) and fusing art/craft elements more…and so this end piece is more elaborate than Chris asks of us. The minimum requirement is to spend 3 hours on our end piece and obviously people with family and work commitments will be very relieved at that, but me, I have more time and…more stash!! So I have dug out lots of leftovers from City & Guilds and elsewhere, brusho and quote albums and new techniques like the stippling…and am making a book. I am using a lot of found objects, they just happen to be my own leftovers 😉 and I have let myself work in a very decorative way, I’m enjoying it and I will be pleased with it, it will be worth the spoons…

So, eye candy time:


regaining momentum


mahatma gandhi: almost everything you do will seem insignificant but it is important that you do it

So compared to getting the British Raj out of India, I am on a downhill run, glissading with ease through fresh snow in bright sunshine, under azure blue skies 😉

I have been processing stuff in my head and not my hands though…so now to regain some momentum, by finding a project I have already thought through, but need some inspiration for, to dream about. And then a mechanical task to work through in small stages with small wins; avoiding people whose situation is too difficult for me – I had a random phone call from a woman who liked some of my work in an exhibition 2 years ago, who is now on a manic high and wants to “help” me by telling Iain Duncan Smith  how valuable artists like me are to the community (eek!); a non random call from someone  in a horrible situation, exacerbated by a history of mood swings who also happens to be very manipulative in ways she won’t recognise…it was very hard to not “rise to the occasion” again, but the occasion has been lasting over 20 years now, and the challenge fibromyalgia is setting me is to be self-ish and choose what works for me… and then not letting myself dwell on the ESA form and benefit changes, just working steadily through the necessary on it, heading for therapy to sort out the art world/family rejection links and

letting all that go!


making small things:



bubblewrap pressprinting tutorial

Tutorial is a tad grand for this technique, it’s so simple! There are always a couple of  things it’s worth knowing in advance though 😉

1) choice of paper/surface plays a large part in the effect, so if you have time, prepare a few small samples of  different surfaces, write in OHP pen or laundry marker in one corner what it is and print away. Then mount all your paper samples together on one spread of your sketchbook/studio notes per paint variation and you have a handy reference for years later when it has all faded in your memory!

What effect pleases you most?


If you like wrinkled and crozley, choose a cheap, poor quality packing paper – brown parcel paper or plain newspaper or the packing paper inside parcels.

If you like a clear pattern with a smooth surface to go under your sewing machine, a good quality manila is the way to go, and those who respect their machines will not use glitter paint (do as I say, not as I do 😉 ) and hoover the bobbin chamber, the slot above the needle and under the plate to remove dust from the workings! (Yes, I do that 😉 )

If you want to print on surfaces other than paper or card, make test samples with your colours and think hard about use… wrapping paper that is foiled is nice to work on, but be aware it may craze or crackle, so allow room for that in your overall design. For clothing, printing with a fabric ink is the most reliable, because lots of paint washes off, though the acrylic in the 100ml bottles you get at fabric shops should be laundry safe, and at the other end, most artist quality acrylics will not wash out. They will however feel very harsh, and if you have any environmental sensitivities, allergies or fatigue issues or are making for a child, please avoid them as there are a lot of artists now having  serious health problems that seem to be linked to them – acrylics are plastics and plastics can have invisible outgassing…

2) choice of ink/ paint the easiest to use is the children’s play paint from Early Learning Centre, Hobbycraft or more cheaply at Wilco etc.,

I have also mixed brusho into pva/ white craft glue to paint onto fabric  that isn’t going to be washed and sometimes got away with it, glitter paint and the lustre paints that are around a lot at xmas are all very easy to use and work well on paper. Food dye may fade/ change colour quite dramatically, the “red” I have been using is a lovely burnt orange as you paint it on, fades to orange, but if left a bit too close to the fire when drying, fades to candy pink…?!?

So, what do you do?

1) paint the bubbly side of the bubble wrap with runny paint/ dye mixture


2) lay onto surface, press gently, no white knuckles needed 😉


3) lift as smoothly as you can and print a second sheet

4) lift the wrap and put to one side, move the wet print to a sunny windowsill or by a radiator and leave to dry


and repeat… because the paint is thinnish, if you get it dried quickly, you can overprint with a second colour, but you can paint in stripes, you can leave gaps on the wrap or print headers and footers, you can use this as the faintest background to give you prompts to overstamp, you can embellish with gel pens or stitch or text or….??

It’s a lovely first layer to release ideas if you’re finding your way back into being more playful as you make art, and it’s as easy to use with children as sponge printing, and at the end they can pop the bubbles 😉 have fun, chickabids!!!



Upcycling your own art

multi 061

Sorry, this is not a great photo, showing art in a cave is hard on my photography skills 😉

I’ve decided to upcycle the piece on the left, and have removed it from its 3’x 4’/1m x 1.27m stretcher.

Now it has lots of interesting bits in it, and actually was a lovely piece to be around when there was a breeze, as lots of  those streamers are raw silk (I was given a 30METRE roll of damaged upholstery silk…) and rattle slightly, rather than floating like chiffon or organza.

Detail shots:


STA44649STA44657STA44652 STA44654Looking at it now, it’s clear to see what my interests would be on the City and Guilds Machine Embroidery course and within yarnstorming:  the overflowing abundance of fibres is a common theme in my work, and then there is the overarching theme across all my process art: pay attention! The big tangles have tiny single threads shining and glinting in the least bit of light, inflections of a large surface…such a large surface, my c & g tutor nearly had a fit! 😉 I showed her my response to an exercise she’d set us in week 4, and how it had lead me to a sample for a prospective piece of work, and she was praising my follow through, and then I explained I was making  it  on a 4′ x 3′ stretcher, with another 3′ of dangling streamers…she asked when for, and I said, oh, I’m half way through, I’m hanging it next week in my solo show…

She was speechless! Most embroidery work is tiny and impeccable, mine was large and sprawling, deliberately unraveling and uneven. Members of the Embroiderers Guild commonly wait years before they show their work, and here was this upstart artist who had bought her first machine 8 months earlier… showing now! She was VERY, VERY nice about it, but obviously shocked!!!

It’s been shown a few times, as part of the Fabric Focused textile artist group shows, but I no longer like the format of it hanging from a stretcher, so: time to recycle/upcycle it. It will make 12 covers for the art journal edition, which pleases me as it echoes the same but different theme, each of the 12 has slight variations and the covers all being cut from the same cloth fits very nicely. I consulted Cherise who knows many art journallers, and she approved, so the big scissors are coming out tomorrow! I will have to line it, so a forage in the fabric boxes will round off the stashbusting aspect of the art journals 🙂 happy dance 🙂

I notice I feel very ready to release this piece, for all it was a significant breakthrough for me. It has had a lot of praise and appreciation, one of the gallery staff considered buying/bartering for it, after a fortnight he loved the rattling, shimmering light dance of it. A librarian at Sandiacre (?) also loved it and defended it against someone saying how “untidy” it was, and inappropriate for a library…but I really don’t have any wish to resolve the formal problem of the stretcher, which is one of those small but deeply annoying things that happens when you do things in a hurry or for a particular exhibition, rather than tuning in to the piece itself. Looking back I was being defensive/ protective of the piece being in an exhibition that was mainly oil paintings, which whether you admire them or not are always recognised as art, where fibre art is frequently disparaged… but now it would look odd in an exhibition of my fibre art, because most of it is meant to hang and drape very fluidly, to be like drawing in the air

So, yes I am ready to upcycle it, and very happy that each piece will go to a good home. As most of its components were recycled or industrial remnants, it is twice made over, and that is very exciting 😉

nottingham contemporary: definition for recognition

We were working on the marketing side of being an artist at  last Friday’s class at Nottingham Contemporary. Traditionally most artists hate the selling side of things, but ever since artists like Tracey Emin have shown self promotion can be your art until you’ve got their attention, and then you can make some art and they’ll hopefully pay attention to your work, not your shenanigans, self-promotion has become an acknowledged part of the process. Sigh…I want to be recognised as the person who made the art, but only in the way Banksy is, I do not want any part of the spotlight on me…meanwhile I want the art to be seen, so I have to do my hardest thing to give my best thing a chance… thank goodness for tintanet!!!

DIS-INTERMEDIATION is a business-speak term Chris (class member) taught us. It means taking out the middle man / agent/ mediator and becoming your own broker, though really you tend to be substituting the internet and its market possibilities, so there is still a mediator, just not a third party, you are wearing two hats, the second being marketeer and publicist. A lot of artists are not great at this, with huge exceptions like Warhol, of course, but think of poor van Gogh who traded paintings for a meal and never sold a painting for cash in his life.

The internet is the saving of shrinking violets though!

A reflective practice both mirrors and confronts society – meets it where it is and shows alternatives to current norms, whether in a critical and challenging way, or a more invitational way, by engaging the viewer’s interest and creating ripples in the calm pond of apathy. (Yes, that second way is what I’m hoping for, like most longterm activists, I see room for many approaches 😉 )

So, if our practice is technically a commodity (service including experiences or object including goods for sale) why and how do we market it?

KATALLAXY (Chris classmate again!) is a community of exchange:  where economy is based on the idea of a single household or state or market, catallaxy as it is sometimes spelled, is based on the idea of a neighbourhood or group of households and states, negotiating in amity.

We need to market, because: no marketing – no market – no recognition – no sales/ no support for present and future work/ no exchange of barter vouchers to fund our everyday living expenses.

Or we can sponsor our work ourselves, by having a day job and incurring few expenses because it is released only via the internet. Doing this may be sufficient, but for the vast majority, the pleasure of exhibiting and seeing your work meet an audience demands more… 😉


In my case I want the work to be seen/felt  in person, because it has its own presence. Walking round an environmental intervention or installation can be a compelling experience, and with kinetic and spatial elements, extremely non verbal  and hard to describe, as well as being very individual. I also want all those slow patient hours of making  recognised!!! So I have slightly contradictory things going on there. As the installations and films are not for sale, and I want them to be seen without admission charge/on equal access, the costs of the exhibition have to be met somehow, and as I already find the materials and electric bill for stitching and laptop & camera battery recharging out of my benefits…preferably by a supportive community!

So: I need to use marketing  to create support that results in funding for my work and exhibitions. I need to introduce myself and my goals as well as my finished work to an audience, so I create the katallaxy/community of exchange where funds and support in kind eg lifts, printing, hanging work and taking down come easily 😉

We were asked to answer 3 questions

(Charlotte presented the most powerful piece of performance for this, I was blown away!)

who am I?

where am I (coming) from?

what do I want?

in artspeak:

I am singingbird.

I am a process artist making planet-positive installations and visual essays, which invite people to (continue) walk(ing) away from global consumerism, towards personal fulfillment. I use mainly upcycled elements to create components that can be assembled and installed as respectful interventions that surprise and delight the viewer, reminding them that joy cannot be bought and consumerism is draining the planet.


I have escaped from extreme suppression of my creativity and am at my most happy when making for myself or inviting others to release their creativity. I have worked as an adult education tutor, community artist, workshop leader and craft therapist. I have learnt dozens of skills which I harness to overcome disabling pain and fatigue in order to continue being creative in spite of severe fibromyalgia. I enjoy making beautiful and meaningful objects, including handmade artist books.

I want to make environmental installations and respectful interventions in mindful process, which are filmed to be shared by a wider audience. I would like to bring art to unexpected and non-commercial venues as well as galleries, and to extend my yarntagging to municipal foyers, office buildings and shopping centres as well as to be part of more community events, after the success of Gaia’s Guardians at Wovenfest in June 2012.

OR, for the wider community… 😉

i am singingbird, calling for creativity to bring life to the green tree in the garden…

i want to use the freedom and joyful ease making gives me to encourage viewers to pay attention to the small joys of life, and to live more and buy less.

i make short films, handmade books and large pieces of art from intricately constructed components, that use simple techniques and lots of upcycled materials, working by mindful process. i enjoy using  colour and texture to create pieces, some to console, some to delight, all hopefully to inspire others to make…

I need to create a comfortable/easeful way to be present/ share the work to a receptive audience.

Easeful refers to the issues of agoraphobia and fibromyalgia, and the solution, finding the flow where things like to happen 😉 and comes from daoist practice. So…


@ birds sing artblog (x = you are here!)

@ youtube

@ vocational links, eg Disability Arts Online carry a link to my blog

to be developed:

@ facebook – as a professional site to give details of xhibs etc, links to utube, latest blogpost, pledge listing etc

– needed to be able to join TAFA [textile and fibre artists association]

@ KICKSTARTER and equivalent sites

@ textilearts networks/blog rings/ web rings for surface decoration, altered art etc

also: contact cards (blog and artist email, done!)

to be developed:

standard exhibition proposal pack for each of: fibre art/ installations/ process art/ disabled artist/ book artist/ visual essays and animations

– I am some of the way through this, for some of the strands!

pledge rewards for kickstarter etc – progressing well (that, my friends, is cos it’s making art! 😉 )