Books

A bit of insight never goes astray

Creativity books

Sometimes I find I’m drawn to analysing why I do (or don’t do) things. Over the past few months I’ve been reading, amongst other books, some real crackers on the processes of creativity. I thought I’d share them with you, as they’re bound to resonate with you other creative folk out there.

If you haven’t already read it, Austin Kleon‘s most recent book Show Your Work is a deceptively simple, practical encouragement guide to getting out of your shell. He has a nice, friendly, in-your-face way of getting the message across.

(Workman Publishing Company, New York, 2014)

#showyourwork

Art & Fear: observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking really probes into what’s behind your work, identifying your fears, artist’s block, and the processes of making art and generally leading a creative life. David Bayles and Ted Orland have put together a study in the psychology of being an artist that is reassuring, insightful, and at times a little confronting. My copy is the 14th printing, so what more can I say?

(Image Continuum Press Edition, Santa Cruz CA & Eugene OR, 14th printing 2014)

Right now I’m reading Twyla Tharp‘s The Creative Habit: learn it and use it for life. It has lots of insights into her creative process and career hiccups, exercises to challenge your creative thinking, and some sound advice thrown in too. Not to mention the roles of generosity and valuing yourself and others. So far I’m only a quarter of the way through but it’s obvious already it’s a winner.

(Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2006)

They’re well worth hunting down if you’re not familiar with these titles. I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve read any of them. Have they raised questions for you about your work or the way you practice? Have you found them of value?

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Residencies

Gunyah artist residency

I’ve just returned from a wonderful short residency at Gunyah (Port Stephens, NSW) – a peaceful, serene environment for working, thinking, and re-evaluating.

Sunset from the balcony

Sunset from the balcony

A wonderful, if too short, residency that was a real delight. Pluto the dog was very impressed too, what with all those intriguing bush smells to check out. The family came to visit for the weekend and we took off to the sand dunes (which had moved so much closer to the road than we remembered – no doubt due to the recent storms), had morning tea at Tillerman’s in Tea Gardens, and lazed around the Gunyah living room, enjoying the fireside, world map jigsaw puzzle, art magazines and the views. We had a great time checking out the jetty (Pluto does love a swim), discovering charming little beaches, and walking around exploring – and baking bread.

Wet day activities

Wet day activities

I used the time to play around with the local flora (luckily readily available because of those storms) and making dyes for the silk lengths I brought with me. Pluto and I went on daily walks collecting interesting bits and pieces to include in the process.

Pluto eyeing off our collection

Pluto eyeing off our collection

We washed the cloth down by the jetty before and after the dyeing – a serene and meditative process at Gunyah (it is so quiet). The lovely golden colour of the water no doubt contributed to the final results. Photographing the fabrics in the water was fascinating for me – I couldn’t get enough of it. The colour of the water, the rocks beneath, the swirling cloth, beautiful light….

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Clockwise from top left: washing the silk by the jetty; bundled with petals & foliage; finished cloth; dyepot with bark, flower petals & orange fungi

Washing dyed silk

Washing dyed silk

I also used up some of the waste threads and string to make experimental ‘lace’ samples.

Hand stitched 'lace' experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Hand stitched ‘lace’ experiments using waste string and frayed silk threads from the dye bundles

Evaluating some work

Evaluating some work

A big thank you to Kath Fries and the Gunyah team! What a peaceful and laid back thinking/working environment! And the house is sooooo charming…

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Residencies

Upcoming Gunyah Artist Residency

I’m looking forward to my upcoming artist residency at Gunyah from the middle of May. Research, play, writing and STUDIO TIME. Nature, self…and Pluto the velcro dog for company.

 

gunyah_sign_0139

 

Gunyah AIR 2015

You can find more information on the residency here:    http://www.gunyah.blogspot.com.au/

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Quotes

The Trouble with Being an Artist

Ahhh… how true is this quote I just found on Austin Kleon’s blog! Any opinions?

“If one becomes a lawyer, scholar, mechanist, typist, scientist, production assistant, or what-have-you, the world will commend your decision. Each day at lunch, on vacation, or at whatever party you attend, your choice will be applauded, upheld, and affirmed. And you will know what is expected of you. Even if your job is difficult—if you are a brain chemist, international death merchant, or rocket designer—your responsibilities will be obvious and your goals concrete. If you achieve them, you may be rewarded by promotion. If you fail, you might be fired or demoted, but nonetheless—unless your boss is insane—the job will have tangible parameters.

[Art], however, is different. You will never know exactly what you must do, it will never be enough… no matter what change you achieve, you will most likely see no dividend from it. And even after you have achieved greatness, the infinitesimal cadre who even noticed will ask, “What next?” ”

— Ian Svenonius

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