Thursday, 20 June 2013

Waving at ya !

I have been re reading 'The Zen of Creativity' Cultivating your artistic life: by John Daido Loori. It is an inspiring read, Daido Roshi is a photographer and articulates well his journey into studying Zen through his photography. The meditative process we go through to produce art sometimes goes unnoticed, even by the artist. He explains how to cultivate the meditation practice through our art, thus producing something very special.

As I have had a lull in the last couple of weeks, after the frenzy of getting work finished for the last (very successful) show, and have been experimenting a little with new processes. Horse hair brushes were my first experiment. First, find a horse willing to give a little of it's tail hair ! Luckily I found one that did. Bundle the long strands of coarse hair together at the blunt end and hey presto an 18 inch unwieldy wonderfully tapering painting brush.
The Japanese tend to use ink for their long haired brush paintings, but I wanted to try it with watercolour. I also wanted to see how it would work on gesso and ultimately on driftwood. Some messy pieces later I got to grips with the long hair.
It wasn't so much about controlling the paint but more about letting the long brush do it's own thing. Daido Roshi suggests that we take ten minutes or so before we start our work to settle the mind and body in preparation. Bringing everything to the still point before applying paint. That way we are in tune with our surroundings and only concentrating on the job in hand. Ink painting as a practise in Zen tradition is taught by example rather than by words. The teacher demonstrates as the students watch in silence. The methodical grinding and mixing of the ink, the preparation of the paper and then carefully breathing through each brush stroke, allowing the brush to do the work. What you end up with is a piece of art that is intuitive rather than over thought.

I have started with an enso as this doesn't entail much thought and it's a good place to start. Watercolour on 140lb watercolour paper.
I love the way the first few strokes are heavy with blobby paint then as the paint is used up the lines become very fine, creating wispy, wispy movement.

This is watercolour on gesso, on board. After the paint had dried I used a spray fix to stop the paint running, then I finished it off with a clear varnish to protect.

I did a few more on paper. I also tried some with inks, including metalic ink which gave a lovely effect. Cropping the painting gives the effect of waves breaking.

The other thing I have become interested in is journal making. Inspired by a new friend Ness Woodcock-Dennis who's work can be seen here
After some You Tube tutorials, I have am beginning to master the technique of Coptic stitching and binding a few journals together.
These snippets of wave meditations are going to make some lovely covers for the journals. You will be able to see these at the Waterside Gallery, Brightlingsea in July.

My life has a red thread running through it ! and I will use a red thread in the sewing of my journal signatures together.

The first of Red Thread Books

Monday, 10 June 2013


Travelled down to Devon this weekend to see my daughter's jewellery on show and for sale at the Contemporary Craft Festival. Clever girl, you can view Alice's work here

          .......  and here are a couple of her pieces using Silver and resin.

Ankle cuff