Tuesday, 20 February 2018

21 Days in My Art World : Week 3

Here is the final in my series on this hashtag challenge hosted by Tara Leaver. I skipped a couple of days in Week 3. The challenge started to seem really long by that stage, I have to admit. Once again, the photos are accompanied by the original notes I wrote on my Instagram.

Click here to see Week 1!
Click here to see Week 2!

15. How I Name My Paintings
The way I name my paintings is quite boring, I'm afraid: I name them after the character ("The Gut Pixie") or what the character is doing ("Papa Hupio Tells a Story"). I prefer to keep them simple and straightforward because in the folk tales I'm inspired by, even the most fantastical events are described in a simple, straightforward way. It somehow adds to the air of unreality.

16. Smallest Painting
Back in 2008-2009, I did a lot of ACEOs (playing card-sized works). I don't know where they are now, so I took a photo of them on my blog. I was really into the swirly shapes back then. I also did a lot of embroidered ones which I remembered that I enjoyed a lot.

17. Largest Painting
None of my paintings are noticeably larger than any of the others, so I skipped this one.

18. Celebrate!
I'm sick of posting photos of my art, so here's one of my derpy self! At least half of the photos that Husband takes of me I have my eyes firmly shut, but we keep going until we get something good. That's what I'd like to celebrate: turning up against all the odds, against all the obstacles both external and internal, and just giving it a go!

19. From the Archives
This drawing (photo is a screenshot from my blog) is a re-creation of one I did when I was 13. The original is lost to the mists of time - ie the bin, probably! This was the artwork which my art teacher criticised harshly and put me off doing art for many years. Re-creating the drawing was an act of defiance. I did it to accompany an article on facing your fears for a group zine. When I look at it, I remember the sadness and sense of exclusion my younger self felt, but I also feel determined never to let anyone else feel the way I did. I truly believe anyone can be an artist!

20. Favourite Technique
This prompt seemed quite similar to an earlier one, plus I was falling behind in the challenge, so I skipped it.

21. Big Dream
My big dream is to make enough pieces to fill up a gallery and then have a show! And at least a couple of people will look at them and be happy. They think, "ah yes, that's a Katie Theodorus!" And then they will think, "I want to make some art, too!"

Sunday, 18 February 2018

21 Days in My Art World : Week 2

I'm continuing on with my series on this hashtag challenge hosted by Tara Leaver, even though it happened quite some time ago now! I'm just a completist that way. I skipped several days in Week 2. Once again, the photos are accompanied by the original notes I wrote on my Instagram.

Click here to see Week 1!
[Week 3 is coming soon!]

8. Inspiration
I'm inspired by many different things! Here are a few of the ones that came to mind first: dreams, craft, TaĆ­no stone carvings, nature, especially the bright colours of flowers, monsters (friendly ones!), kawaii illustration and culture, etc!

9. Where the Art Happens and 10. Artist Hands
I was too embarrassed to show my hobby room as it looks like a dogs' breakfast right now! (Plus you could see peeks of it in previous photos.) I was too embarrassed to show my hands as my eczema is very bad at the moment, as it always is in Summer.

11. Turning Point
When and how did I decide I was an artist? It was a couple of years ago. I just decided one day to start calling myself an artist. It took many years and a lot of inner work to get to that point: to ignore everyone who said I couldn't, and overcome my self-doubt. My first thought after making the decision was: "I need to stop working in art journals and start working on canvas so other people can see this stuff!"

12. Current Motifs
I notice that my paintings often have an oval shape around the central subject. Usually the oval is a portal from which the character is emerging, though in this work (in progress), they are a protective energy field. I like the freedom and sweeping movement of drawing the ovals in paint before settling down to the finer details.

13. Process Insight
To be honest, I couldn't think of anything to put for this. My art is very intuitive so I don't really think of myself as having a procrss.

14. Sold!
I have sold a total of one painting, and it was to my best friends. I don't think that really counts, but the gesture of support means so much to me. They hung it in their front hallway so all their visitors can see it when they enter the house. This is a great honour for me!

Monday, 12 February 2018

I Went to the 2018 Zine Fair

Last year I went to Melbourne's annual Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair as a customer. This year I went as a stallholder! (Or I 'tabled', as the kids say.) Hello to everyone who has found my blog through purchasing one of my zines or taking my card. I appreciate your interest: it means a lot to me. Thank you and welcome!

Having a stall at the Zine Fair was a huge step for me in several ways. I'm very introverted, I have social anxiety, and am starting to understand that I'm an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). All of that means sitting in a huge room packed full of people all with their own nervous energy, while a stream of people come past judging my work, is not the best place for me to be! It was a really great experience though, and I want to do it again next year.

I first started writing zines in 2006. I even had an Etsy shop where I sold them for a couple of years. I closed it in about 2008-2009, partly because of declining sales, but mostly because my anxiety made it too difficult to go on. A couple of years ago, when I saw that zines were resurging in popularity, I was encouraged to start making them again. I had a lot of pieces of writing stored away that were too personal for the blog, not on topic for the blog, or I just preferred to present on paper. Instead of writing zines on single topics or in response to a prompt like I had in the past, I decided to write more of a magazine-style zine. It would have articles, stories, comics, and whatever else I could jam in there. I was hoping it would be the first of a series, and it would be called Intensely Introverted. My anxiety interfered often though, and there were long periods when I didn't work on it.

That was interrupted when I was invited to take part in an exhibition on Chronic Illness in early 2017. I was told that any creative endeavours including zines were welcome. I'd always wanted to write about my illness, so I made I Have Ulcerative Colitis and presented it there. I was proud of it, yet at the same time horrified that I shared such personal (and disgusting!) stories.

Intensely Introverted was my real baby though, and when I pinky-swore with my friend Fox that we would have a stall in the 2018 Zine Fair together, I knew I had to finish it! Skip forward to yesterday, skipping over a lot of stress, anxiety and last-minute trips to Officeworks, and I made it to the Fair.

I got to find out what it was like being on the other side of the table. I saw many interesting people, and met some lovely ones. I got lots of ideas for future zines and future stalls. I have a list of 'what to do / not do next time'. Which I may as well share!:

* Don't bring so many zines -- I really had no idea how many copies of each zine I was going to sell, so I brought lots. I had to lug them there and then lug the un-sold ones home! It was a great learning experience to see which ones were more popular and how many copies sold. (Of course, if I become a famous zinester in the next year, then I'll bring more!) Also, it's good to note that you're not going to fit more than 7 or 8 A5-size zines on the table.

* Having a card is a great thing -- Quite a few people took my card, and as a customer, I will always take the card of someone whose work looks interesting, but I can't buy it at the time for whatever reason. So I'm always very pleased when someone takes my card.

* Bring cough lozenges, breath mints and muscle rub -- My throat was very sore after 5 hours of chatting with my friends, I was paranoid about my breath after eating sushi handroll for lunch, and my jaw was sore after all that smiling!

* Make a greater variety of zines -- This is just an aesthetic point, but when I saw my zines all lined up in a row, they were all the same size, and most of them were black and white. I'd love to have some of different sizes, and with colourful covers as that suits my personality.

* Go to town with the table decorations -- Really, you may as well. You have an hour to set up, and an interesting display really brings people in. Even if they don't buy anything, looking at a cute and/or interesting display makes people happy, and I want to make people happy!

* Bring whatever you need for your self care -- I was so glad I brought my mascot Princess Fuzzyhorn. Stroking her and even just looking at her helped keep me calm. I wish I'd brought my essential oil roll-on too, so I'll do that next time.

I haven't posted for a while because I was focussed on the Zine Fair. Now that it's over for the year, I want to finish off some paintings, do some craft and start sewing again. All of which you'll see here!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

21 Days in My Art World : Week 1

I'm currently taking part in a challenge hosted by the lovely Tara Leaver called 21 Days in My Art World. The prompts are designed to encourage artists and creative people everywhere to share their art and process. Most of the participants are posting their responses on Instagram, a few on Tara's Facebook group. I thought I'd post mine here for any that aren't on Instagram. I skipped a few days because they didn't resonate with me or other reasons (I was too embarrassed!), but I made sure to note those too, for completeness. The photos are accompanied by the original comments I posted on my Instagram.

Here is Week 1:

1. Favourite Painting
This was actually my first ever painting on canvas, which I did 2-1/2 years ago, and gave it to my mum for her birthday. I love the details, scribbly background, vaguely botanical shapes and range of colours. I don't feel like I've been able to quite achieve it ever since. Unfortunately I've never seen it hung up anywhere in my mum's house, which has been discouraging, but I try to keep going.

2. Lesson Learned
I still have so much to learn, but the greatest lesson I've learned so far is to never let anyone tell you "you can't ". My Year 8 art teacher told me that, and it was a wounding experience that took me over 20 years to recover from. I let "no, you can't draw", "no, you can't be an artist", "no, you're not good/talented/special enough" stop me for too long. I had to learn to ignore all that before I could even consider that I could do art and be an artist. I truly believe that anyone can be an artist. Don't let anyone ever tell you "no"!

3. Latest WIP
I actually have 6 paintings in progress right now, but just showing you 3. There were a few hiccups in today's session: my favourite paint colour was dried out, so I tried to recreate it with a mix of other colours. I tried to do a stencil and it was all blobby so I painted over it. I didn't like the collage pieces I'd laid down last time, so I painted over those too. With each painting I do, I learn more about layering.

4. Art Book -- I didn't do this one as I don't really refer to books for inspiration.

5. Favourite Tool
This probably sounds strange, but my favourite tool is packing foam pellets. I cut them up to make small stamping tools to make patterns. I also really like bubble wrap.

6. Current Challenge
I tend to have very limited subject matter because of my lack of skill in drawing. I'd like to branch out more, but I don't have the confidence right now. I need to challenge myself to improve my drawing skills and explore new ideas.

7. Colour Palette
My favourite colours at the moment are pinks, purples and blues. Yellow and orange sneak in there a bit, too. I NEVER use black or white. If I want to depict the night sky then I'll usually use a dark purple or blue, but I offset it with an eye-aching shade of orange or pink. love bright colour!

Click here to see Week 2!
[Week 3 is coming soon!]

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Movie Review: Bright

As always, I try to avoid spoilers for new movies,
but you may not want to read this post until you've seen it!

Bright is a 2017 movie made for Netflix, starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace. The movie is set in a world very much like our own, except it is inhabited by elves, orcs, fairies and various other fantasy creatures. The different races have settled into stereotypical lives, with elves living in gated communities and holding most positions of power, and orcs living in ghettos and doing menial jobs. Humans are somewhere in the middle, trying to navigate this complicated society.

Daryl Ward (Will Smith) is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. He is paired with Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the country's first orcish policeman. Ward is distrustful of Jakoby, having already been shot once while on duty with him, and knowing of the orcish race's reputation for being loyal to their own clans above anything else.

One night they respond to a disturbance at an apartment block which turns out to be a stronghold for a renegade group called Shield of Light. Most of the inhabitants have been killed in an unusual and brutal way. The only survivor is an elf named Tikka (Noomi Rapace), who has a magic wand stolen from another elf. In this world, magic exists, but can only be manipulated with magic wands, which are very rare artefacts. Only one individual in a million can wield a magic wand: these people are called Brights. Anyone else who tries to touch it will die. There are many desperate enough to try though, and very soon Ward and Jakoby find themselves confronted with gangsters, both human and orc, a gang of elves called the Inferni who need the wand to resurrect the Dark Lord (no, not that Dark Lord, a different one!), and even fellow police officers who plot to take the wand from them. Knowing how dangerous the wand would be in the wrong hands, Ward, Jakoby and Tikka embark on a flight for their lives.

I felt this movie had potential, but it fell short. The world it's set in is fascinating -- one in which the creatures of fantasy live alongside humans. The story, however, is not much different to the average buddy cop shoot-em-up, with social commentary. Not only that, but social commentary that becomes more and more awkward and inappropriate as the movie goes on. The place of orcs in society was explained satisfactorily, but it would have been nice to see more of the other races, and of how society is different for them being there. Apparently there are 9 races, but we only see 5 at most (if you count fairies, which seem to have intelligence on par with cockroaches. I did spot a dragon though, which was pretty cool.)

The story became confusing, as the Shield of Light group were not properly explained, and gave way to the Inferni and various other groups as it went along. Yet other concepts like the magic wand were over-explained repetitively. And in a world where a magic wand can do anything, erasing any consequences, you tend to stop caring. Even the fight scenes with awesome-looking evil elves, when we finally get to them, aren't all that satisfying.

On the other hand, I particularly liked the opening sequence, which showed street art and graffitti depicting the basics of the different races and their attitudes towards each other without having to go into exposition. The most intriguing part of Bright for me was the character of Nick Jakoby, whose character unfolds to be so much more than the stupid, incompetent oaf that everyone takes him for.

Apparently there will be a sequel.

Would I watch it again? Not really, except to jog my memory before the sequel. (Yes, I do want to see the sequel, but only to see if it improves on the original.)

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

National Gallery of Victoria Triennial

Last week I went to the National Gallery of Victoria's first ever Triennial. The Gallery plans to hold the exhibition every three years, in Summer. The first Triennial features 100 artists from around the world, but especially focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. Various types of arts are represented, from traditional painting and sculpture, through to conceptual art, architecture, and furniture design. The exhibits filled up the ground floor, and were scattered amongst the usual displays throughout the upper levels.

One of my favourites was by Yayoi Kusama. An entire apartment re-created in the gallery, with every item you could think of. All surfaces were covered in red flowers. Each visitor was given a fabric flower of their own to stick whereever they liked. The effect on everyone who entered was magical.

Not far from Kusama's apartment was an installation by We Make Carpets. This colourful wall was made entirely of ordinary kitchen sponges!

Other displays invited visitor participation. Pool noodles cut into different lengths could be fitted onto pegs to create a pattern. This room was a lot of fun!

There was a room full of these stunning mask-like creations. They looked like glass, but they were actually 3D-printed. By Neri Oxman.

This pop-art styled room was filled with coloured strings strung from floor to ceiling. Moving through it gave an illusion that the strings were moving.

Of the paintings, I found the series by Kushana Bush intriguing. She mixes the flattened style of traditional Indian and Japanese art with Western subject matter and composition.

This gorgeous carpet uses colour and texture to paint a landscape. Visitors were allowed to lie on it, as long as they didn't get their shoes on it ... which the poor guard had to repeat at least twice a minute!

Normally, works with a political or issue-based message don't have that much effect on me, but I was strangely moved by this piece by Shilpa Gupta, which addresses the ongoing effects of colonialism in India. The huge, room-filling, amorphous sculpture is made of microphones. From it emits the sounds of a streetscape and a voice speaking of an imaginary world with no borders. I found the contrast between the microphones, which are meant to take in sound, and the sound being emitted by the piece to be strangely otherworldly.

I liked this carpet by Faig Ahmed, which makes a statement on our perceptions of tradition.

Most of all, I like art which is a joyous celebration of life, which I think these weavings by the artists of the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre exemplify.

Last but not least, one of the most popular works was this skull room by Ron Mueck. 100 giant-sized skulls are stacked up all over an entire room of the gallery.

The Triennial is open every day until 15th April 2018. Admission is free.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

My 2018 Planner

For a few years, I had a two-planner system, where I had a small pre-printed planner, plus a notebook for my to-do list and habit tracker. I wrote in detail how this system worked here. Last year, I got sick of carrying around two planners, so I ditched the dated planner and just had the notebook. As I completed each week, I would rip out the page for the previous week and discard it.

Left: 2017 notebook planner ; Right: 2018 Smiggle planner

In lieu of the planner, I made a print-out of all my important dates for the year, and wrote down appointments on it as they came up. At the start of each week, I referred to the print-out and wrote down any events for the week on the current week's notebook page. As you can see, it got very messy and not very aesthetically pleasing to look at:

Speaking of ugly planners, I was always hesitant to decorate the pages too much, knowing I'd throw them away in a week's time. I felt like I was 'wasting' any stickers or washi tapes that I put on them.

On a slightly more serious note: I also had no way of tracking how long a task had been on my to-do list. If there were any undone tasks at the end of the week, I would copy them into next week, or, if there were a lot, cut out that section of the page and stick it on. I had no idea how long some of the tasks had been on the list -- the system was missing a sense of accountability. Sometimes, if I was having a bad chronic illness week and hadn't done much, I would even re-use the same page for a second week. This made me feel better about not getting much done, but it also had the effect of not being able to plan in advance -- I didn't know which page to write future tasks or events on because they weren't dated and could vary. So, my planning was very flexible, but had some large drawbacks.

Then one day back in November, I was in Smiggle (a stationery and accessories shop for pre-teens ... and me!) and saw their new range of 2018 planners. I bought one on impulse, deciding then and there to go back to a proper planner for 2018. After months of waiting, I was finally able to start setting it up on New Year's Day! (I was going to start on New Year's Eve, but I had a sudden urge to clean and tidy the house, and I don't want to deny that urge when it happens!)

It took me a surprisingly long time to set up my planner -- writing in event dates and birthdays, decorating the first few weeks in advance, and glueing in printables to cover up the pages I wasn't going to use. I also added in a list of my goals for the year, and some inspirational sayings. Then of course I had to go through my whole sticker collection, dividing them up into a Planner set and a Hobonichi set. Then I had to prepare some washi tapes and decided to re-arrange my whole washi tape collection, too.

While the Smiggle planner is a lot of fun, if I had thought about it more, I would probably have chosen a different one. All of the coloured pictures you see on the pages are stickers or printables I've added -- all of the artwork in the planner is monochrome, which surprisingly isn't in keeping with Smiggle's colourful reputation. The paper is quite thin: felt-tip pens bleed through, and ballpoint pens leave an imprint. I'm not so worried about that though, as I can always cover them up on the other side with a sticker. The glitter cover, while awesome, means that I can't really whip it out during a job interview!

I'm already enjoying having a combined planner. Planning ahead is easier, and decorating with lots of stickers and washi tapes is fun. I hope that will be reflected in an organised and fun year in 2018.