Drawing waves

I saw some drawings on Instagram made by a friend @richardbriggs_artist , of the movement of a car over a bumpy road in Bolivia. It prompted me to pull out my own drawings made just over a year ago recording waves lapping my feet on a rising and a falling tide on the south coast of New South Wales.

I steadily drew a line back and forth across the page and if a wave washed over my feet I drew it as a peak, for the duration of it’s ebb and flow.

Falling tide, 10.30 am to 11.05 am, 13 March 2018, ink on recycled ledger

Rising tide, 3.49pm to 4.19 pm, 15 March 2018, ink on recycled ledger

This is a continuous line drawing at the same location.

Glacial erratics on the rock platform between Depot and Pebbly Beach, 13 March 2018

PS lest you think that I am even more of a tide nerd than I am, the details on the page were copied from a tide guide at the Ranger station at our campground.

Everyday practice

Here are some sketches from my current ‘handbag’ sketchbook. I am trying to use up one of the myriad sketchbooks that seem to spontaneously generate in my spare room. This book isn’t too good with wet media so I mainly try and sketch in pencil. The pencils I am using are a Palomino Blackwing 530 and my el cheapo multicolour pencil I got in Japan at Sekkaido.

In rough date order …

Trying to get some more interesting perspectives into these ‘regular’ events.

From the car in a roof top carpark.

Sketching graffiti from a roof top carpark.

This is a work in progress. I do a bit more every time I stop here to collect the mail.

Again, trying to enliven a cafe sketch. It gets very busy at our local cafe on Saturday morning. There are lots of parents and kids relaxing after the kids football matches.

Stitching with my eyes closed 

Some of you will know that I have been participating in the #365handstitch2017 challenge where people are asked to stitch a minimum of a thread a day for a year. I thought it was time to show you the progress so far.

The ‘front’ of the piece 

As you can see I’ve already added several pieces of cloth together and am working on melding them together.  I made the decision up front to ‘stitch with my eyes closed’, (a process I have been using since I first started this blog). Working this way has meant that I do not visually self-censor. This choice has removed from me the necessity of neatness. I also find the process of leaving the decision about which thread and which stitch to use, until the moment I pick up the work, really freeing.  

Other people online have asked some very pertinent questions about the direction the work is taking. This has made me think about a number of issues, in particular whether I have a specific end in sight – no; and how much bigger the piece might become. 

So I have decided that the current size is where I will leave it (at present). The obvious question of what to do when I run out of space to stitch, was equally quickly answered -work on ‘the back’. I have started this process and not looking while I stitch has helped a lot. It is so hard not to be precious with my work.

The ‘back’, with two new areas of work in cretan stitch and herringbone stitch.

You can see from the photo above that the reverse side of the stitches predominantly resembles small running stitches. That’s why I’m currently adding some strongly coloured lines of stitching. You can see from the following photos that the reverse of even strong colours is not very intrusive. 

Blue herringbone stitch is quite strong when looking at the face of the stitch

The reverse of the stitch is quite unobtrusive

The ongoing challenge will be to stick with the process. It may be difficult to ‘spoil’ this work, but working against an established aesthetic is hard.

What do you do at an artist’s residency?

That’s the question I have been asked the most before I came to Japan. In short it’s an opportunity for an artist to produce whatever work they want over a specific time. It’s rather like a writer’s retreat, but with more messy fun stuff to play with. In my case I have two months at Youkobo to spend doing pretty much whatever I want to and therein lies the challenge.

Pedestrian mall in the nearby suburb of Kichijoji

I don’t have to produce anything specific while I am here, but some artist’s use the time at a residency to prepare for an exhibition or complete a specific body of work. At the end of my time at Youkobo I will have an ‘open studio’ where anyone can come along and see the work that I have been making. My goal is to produce new work that will also be shown when I return to Australia.

Some of the work I am making is related to what I have made before. I am also open to new ideas and already I have made some different types of work to my previous pieces. That’s the fun part, seeing where those ideas take me.

The laneway near the Igusa Hachimangu Shrine

I didn’t prepare specific work to take with me to Japan, because I wasn’t sure what I would find when I arrived. I certainly bought lots of art materials along! I had one large packing cube of sketchbooks paint and the like and a smaller packing cube of material threads and general sewing stuff. 

What I do have are some strategies to get me started. I have my ‘working wall’ where I stick up things I’m working on. I also a few pieces for inspiration that I  brought from Canberra. 

The ‘working wall’ a work in progress

I’m currently working on a piece of stitching which is like a diary of some of the things I am seeing around our part of town. I love taking photos of odd bits and pieces, the sort of thing that you may not think of as subject matter for stitching. I like road repairs, decaying buildings, rusty things and odd stuff, like the large goldfish you can see in the picture of my ‘working wall’. (We found the goldfish lying in the middle of the footpath near our Canberra home one day – you see, quite odd). 

I will work on this piece most days, as it takes a lot of time to stitch something this size, even when it is quite narrow. 

My daily stitching piece another ‘work in progress’

Of course I don’t sit in the studio all day either. A whole other part of being here is to get out and about to all sorts of activities, explore  and be inspired by the city, but more of that in another post. 

Chatting with the Peach Girl at the Momoshi Elementary School Autumn Festival