onsdag den 3. april 2013

Saved by feedback!!!

I've got a commission art quilt I've been working on (and off) for about four years. I've posted some of the work I've done on this piece in this blog. Here are the direct links to them:

http://tovepiraja.blogspot.dk/2011_12_01_archive.html
http://tovepiraja.blogspot.dk/2011/11/forest-is-born.html
http://tovepiraja.blogspot.dk/2011/11/walk-with-dogs.html

The art quilt must be about 170 cm long and must not be higher than 60 cm. It has to fit on a short wall, over a couch. This has not been the challenge.

The challenge has been to compose an image with all the atmosphere I wanted on a long piece. The theme is nature, since the commissioners are keen on long walks with their dogs. My house lies in the middle of their daily tours...


Sketches


Inspiration has not been a problem: I live in the middle of the woods, and I'd even taken some pictures of the wife and their dogs, one day they walked by. We've talked about colours and they would like to have some warm colours in the room. But to start with I've made a light blue background - and the atmosphere is still cold... But I have plans to change it a lot... the background colour isn't always what dominates... By the way, the photos below were taken at different times, with different sources of light - that's why the colours look so different...

Background and the first layer: the old tree

There have been changes - many, and huge. They all happened in my private life, and ended up sinking my work a whole lot. At times I just couldn't do anything about this art quilt, so it hang on my wall waiting for some peace and quite, so I could work on it. But time goes on, and it became a source of bad conscious and self criticism - which is not constructive in any way.

So I decided to take it down, pack it and hide it in my cellar and there it remained until a couple of weeks ago. It was good to take a break from it - it stopped feeling as if it was a heavy burden I couldn't deal with. Instead, I'm motivated to finish it. But efter ironing it flat again, and considering the work so far and wondering what the next step should be, I felt hopeless.



I just couldn't understand what I'd done or how it would become something decent. My first impulse was to throw this piece away and make a whole new one from scratch. But then I took a deep breath and realised I've done this before. It's part of the creative process to doubt and to get lost. I know that if you don't give up, it might become a masterpiece. But that's when I need help - usually  a fresh pair of eyes to look at it.

Alice and my unfinished art quilt
And help I found this time with my friend, and artist, Alice Frost. She makes wonderful things and we've exhibited together a couple of times. So I called her and asked if she could give me a cup of coffe and packed my art quilt in the car.



Alice was great! We spread the piece on the floor of her living-room and rolled a piece of plastic over it, and then we discussed the possibilities and drew a few sketches on the plastic, so we could se how it'd work. Efter 15 minuttes I was confident again - I knew what I had to do next!!! And next!!! Actually I could almost see the end picture for myself...

With plastic on top, I drew some of the ideas with a marker - and choices were made!


The tree hole... 
Feedback is really a powerfull instrument - Alice listened and watched carefully. She helped me see what was lacking and how I'd put a 'cave' atmosphere in the picture. It's something I thought of while the art quilt was hidden in the cellar. I needed that possibility to shield, hide and protect, which you find in caves, holes and closed spaces. But I had trouble finding place for that in this art quilt. Until we decided that it could be a part of the great old tree in the front!!! WOW!!! So simple!

Transition pine forest

We also talked about the transition area between the autumn forest and the lake area. I realised I'd also developed a winter landscape on the right side, which I wasn't aware of. That also needs to find a balance with the rest. And the key to all these issues is pine trees!!!

I can bring some of the darkness of the tree hole with a smaller pinetree forest in between autumn and the lake, and some pine tree's outlines on the winter landscape. Spring will come later on the old tree in the foreground, and sommer  may show around the tree hole, I think...

Counterbalance pine trees and quilting  


At least now I know what I need to do and I'm looking forward to working on it, and to see what will come out of it!!!

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to my friend Alice Frost. It made a real difference!

 You can see her art work at http://www.af-tekstilbilleder.dk/



onsdag den 6. marts 2013

Mermaids and oceans...

Somebody told me recently: "You know, your work is great, but the technique takes too long and is complicated!" And last month another person asked med if I could simplify the technique, så children in the second grade could use it...

Hmmf! Complicated? Too long? Yeah, right... That's what I thought at first. But then sometimes it's nice to try new boundaries. So maybe I should try and see if I could come with something easier to do, but which would still look awesome.

Efter some thinking, I came down to some possibilities and and decided to try two of them. My parameters were:

- requires few materials and tools available everywhere, so to speak.
- the level of dificulty should not be too high - imagine what 8 year old children's skills. Nothing that needs precision or lots of instruction.
- keep it simple!!!

Textiles on canvas

I cut small pieces of fabric skraps - who hasn't got plenty of it? :-) - and glued them on a 20 x 20 cm canvas. The idea seemed simple, but it actually required more ability than I expected. For the first, it takes time, and then it's messy - the glue in the brush keeps atracting pieces I had glued in the first layer... So maybe the best would to let it dry in between layers - but very few children like working on something for many days... I did get the grip of it, and I was quite amased to see the result. But I'm not sure every eight-year-old-child would enjoy it! Her are the mermaids that came out of it: 


When the whole piece was dry, I drew the mermaids with a black permanent ink marker and with a golden marker. I should add that since I was running out of glue, I mixed it with a pearl medium for acrylic ink. That's why the coulors seem a bit washed away. I quite like the result.


Plastic and textiles

The next technique was much easier and quicker. I simply cut the fabric skraps on a sheet of laminating plast, covered it and came it through a laminator. Fun, easy and very nice result! It's easier to show rather than explaining. See the pictures: 


Lots of tiny fabric skraps...




... closing the laminating plast...



... and the laminator does magic!


And this is how it looks efter the laminator...



... and efter I drew the mermaid with a marker!




Surprise: the backside looks diferent! 
So why not draw some sea life on it? 


And should you wonder how you get those small skraps, well, her is a very short video so you can see how I do it! :-) 

video






fredag den 7. december 2012

Eureka!!!! Insight in an expression!


Aha! I've just got it!

Well, I kind of did for some time now. But I decided to write about it, because I realise we tend to forget all the steps that take to learn something. Maybe it's because I've turned 40 this year! :-) Jokes a part, I often find it difficult to recall how I got an insight, specially the life changing ones. Because when I finally integrate it in my everyday, then I no longer need the track... But maybe somebody else might need it, so her is a little about my last AHA!-experience!

I've been told I've been grieving - apparently you can do that, without the loss of a loved one. I lost a lot this year, and my reaction has been long and painful. How do you deal with feelings? I did get help - all the help one could have - from friends, spouse, familie, and professionals. I am grateful to have a bright mind that loves learning and that helps me see things clearly. But in this period, this blessing was almost a curse, since I could understand so much in the cognitive way - that is, with my logic thinking. I knew all I needed. And yet, nothing could help the way I felt.

"Be in your sorrow" - in Danish "Vær i sorgen"- I was told many times, by many different people. And I stared and tried to understand what they meant. WHAT DID THEY MEAN? I had nothing but suffered long and much and I had no intention of staying in that hole, where everything was black and black.

What did IT mean? What does "be in your sorrow" mean? The question remained. And that's what I sat myself out to discover...

In All Saint day I went to church - a new one - my usual one was one of my losses this year. The pastor, a young intelligent woman, said something that became my first few clues to my answer. "The worst we can do is to tell someone who's lost a dear one: it will all be all right, it takes time, life moves on and so on. Even if it eventually does. It's much more healing to show your own sorrow, so that there's place for the other person to express her/his feelings. We're not always in control. When we allow ourselves, and when we accept our powerlessness, we give God a chance to help us in our sorrow. We give space for the other person to feel he or she is not alone. We're together, in our powerlessness."


 "Saint Maria Rita"


The key words were: expression, acceptance, powerlessness, let go of control. I thought I accepted my pain, my loss. But somewhere I just hoped it would soon stop aching, and that life would be normal again. I tried all the positive thinking techniche I know, but it only made it worse. The problem was, I was trying too hard. I didn't have to do anything - I am powerless. So I decided to let go of my eager engagement into getting better. I needed sometime for myself, away of all the well intentioned help, which only stressed me more.

So when I decided to close the doors, almost everyone of them, I found a need to express my feelings. But I couldn't. Not really - not in their actual depth. Anger and sorrow can be very destructive, and for this artist's soul, it's very self destructive. So I didn't want to go there. Instead, it came in my dreams, in the most awful nightmares. My days were ruined. I reached bottom and couldn't do anything at all, other than sleep and eat, and sleep...


"Insufficient soul"


Then the next piece of the puzzle arrived. I was shopping for groceries, when I found these colouring books with the most beautiful mandalas. I was so glad just to see the motives that I bought it. I thought it was rather childlike to colour books again, but I decided to follow this little - and now - seldom  glimt of interest. In the beginning it was hard to do it - I felt I was always choosing the wrong colours, the wrong pattern, and doing it all wrong! I continued and my harsh self critism diminished. I enjoyed working with the  colours. The magic word her was: enjoy. It was about what I enjoyed doing. So simple.

Truth's flames
Mandala: Truth's flames


Efter a while, I wanted to see if I dared to draw with my new markers and the fancy shinny paper I bought - and it became my last post... I tried to make a hopeful and helpful image - filled with positive vibes. Even when I tried, the gloominess of my state showed. I told a friend how disturbing this was. I really don't like making pictures that are gloomy and sad - I have this idea that my mission is to bring hope and joy with my art, to help other people. My friend gave me the next brick of the puzzle: "Why?", she said, "Why should you draw what you're not feeling? Have you thought that maybe you give other people the possibility of identification with your feelings? It might be just as healing for them to see it as it is for you to make it." The word was: rapporting. And you can't do that, unless you're in contact with your self and your feelings. Honesty towards our feelings is another bonus word.


"Rejection"


Then last week arrived with a huge wave of sorrow - almost out of the blue. Might it be the blues? :-) It was tough. And I ressorted again to drawing, and "Rejection" came to life. It took me hours to fill the A4 paper, but it felt so relieving. And then the last tips of the riddle came along: when I'm drawing and giving my feeling an expression, I'm in my sorrow. Or rather I feel it going through me. When I'm finished drawing, I'm left alone again - my sorrow waves away for a while. So drawing is my way of being in my sorrow. And I discovered that it gives me peace. And I don't need to explain more.


In short my definition is:
To be in sorrow: to be honest about ones feelings, to express felings when they appear and rapport to other people's similar feelings, to let go of control, to seek and practice activities that one enjoys, to feel the sorrow go through one self as one practices one's choice of expression, whether it might be singing, dancing, drawing, writing, maoning the lawn or washing up!   

I found a nice short description of the five phases of grieving, and if anybody should need it, her it is: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

The author says it very well: nobody experience grief in the same way - it's personal and individual. There's no right or wrong about it. Each person finds their own way of coping with it.






lørdag den 27. oktober 2012

Rediscovering markers - back to the origin


Efter this nine months of turbulence, it seems the winds are blowing in a much more gentle way. Not having to strugle or stand against the storm, there's suddenly a huge need for expression. And words aren't enough. They're not desired. They'd change the feelings, without giving them a place to be...

And sometimes you just need to give your self permition to feel, whatever it is you're feeling. At least I do. And as a good cancerian, feelings is not something I take lightly! We're famous for our rich and colourful emotional life, and efter a year like mine, imagine just how much I longed for creative expression!

"Shattered" - markers on paper

A friend of mine, who is also an artist, told me earlier in August: "Tove, you use a technique which craves a lot from you. It's really beautiful, but maybe you'd be better off trying some media where you get to expression quicker and in a more lashing way...". She's right. I've reached that point, where I am just too worn to cope with the long way that art quilting is. I don't need the noise or the shaking of the sewing machine. Neither do I need the mess of painting or the dust and fiber clutter from the textiles. I needed to reduce the frame. I needed to simplify.



I thought about what she said for a few weeks. I remembered how things were before. Today I can get access to a huge variety of materials, machines and techniques. But there was a time, specially in my childhood, that the only material available was the cheapest papers my mother could afford or recycling paper that would else go directly to the dustbin. The pen or pencil would be the one at hand at the moment. Whatever situation we were in, I was drawing. I was always drawing. I even got a reprimend when I was in the 5th. grade, because I used lots of time decorating my notebooks with drawings in the margins. That wasn't fair. I did my homework and I was paying attention, while I was drawing... But teachers often hated the competition!

Anyway, remembering those tender years and the easiness in getting my world out on paper leftovers with bad functioning pens, or very short pencils, I kind of missed it. It was just so natural, so out of the heart and so unintentional. It was its own. And I missed it.

So I found some paper, and just to cheer me up, I bought some very nice markers. In my childhood they were most treasured, bacuse they were expensive and lasted only a short while. And they were not very fine. Most of what you could find in a supermarked had a rather thick tip, which wouldn't allow thin lines... But today there's no limit to what kind of marker you can buy. If you don't find it in your local shop, you can always buy something on the internet...



I didn't have to go far for my new markers. I found a very fine 12 colours collection from Faber Castel in a toy shop in Brædstrup, 10 km Northeast from home. Some weeks later, I drove to Tørring, another small town in the vicinity, and decided to check out what the local book and paper store had to offer. To my great surprise, they had not only good quality paper for markers, but a fine collection of doble tipped pens in three different packages. I chose the pastel one, since these are the most difficult to find elsewhere. I might go back there next month and buy the grey and sepia tones pack...

Since then, I've used the early hours of the morning with my new friends, the markers! :-) And it's been rewarding. So I decided to keep this as a part of my morning rituals. I have no ambition with my drawings, other than self expression, and cheer joy for the colours. It's definetly helping me connect to my creative brain side, and re-building my confidence. It's nice to take sometime off, and just play, go back to where it all starts: the cheer will and desire to draw!

"October thoughts" - markers on paper

fredag den 31. august 2012

Where is art? What's become of time?


The first day of September
nine months efter the last post.
What is to remember?
Why are all doors closed?

2012 some thought
would be the end of all years
but it's only stories and fears
in this apocalyptic plot.

But are the stars above
bringing more than we can bear?
Are the tides of times
higher than we expect?

Will we all survive?
  

All my plans this year have failed. Except the unexpected. You can always count on that! :-)
The journey so far has been of survival, adaptation and recovery. Well, I wish I could say it's over, and I'm starting a fresh page.

But why should it be any different now? Maybe. That's the hope I have yet. Maybe it's getting better.
But it's hard to see it from where I am. Maybe we could shift to a higher perspective, and find there a coherent path.

My soul longs for expression. My body needs more care. My mind is worn and tired. Too many days and nights with worries, uncertainty and mispleasure, have taken the best of me.

I've retired myself from the world now. Hopefully not forever. But for a worthy while. I need some peace and quiet to heal and find my inner strenght again. To find the steering wheel of my feelings. It's probably the best I've done this year.
Aren't the answers always her
hidden behind our foolish fears?
The shouting loud . Inside out.
of our inner norht and south.
When we most need assistance
They're the best to give us guidance:
The inner quiet sounding voices
 - DNA of our choices
For our soul's nature swings
with the almighthy wonder
where  infinite and universal meets
and words are no longer.
There I know not knowing.
There I think not thinking.
There I am, but forgotten..
All is one.
  
There have been many blessings. There are always blessings, if one can see. So they were also in my life. The troubles themselves may turn out to be a precious gift. At least I hope so.
I don't know much. I have no idea where I'm going to. I have no plans. I try to keep an open mind and to be as thankful as I ever can. And when everything is so unclear, I raise my spirit in prayer. Because there, in Gods hands, life is stil worth it. And nothing really needs to have a meaning. It only is. And that's enought...
As for the art piece above, it's called "Conflicted feelings", and is actually a drawing on paper with crayons. I made it a couple of weeks ago. Wouldn't that be the right picture for this post? It's about using the energy that is present, whatever colour it takes... :-)
Let's hope my next post is filled with other, more artistic content! Enjoy this late summer/ autumm!

mandag den 2. januar 2012

A new form for society? Questions to be answered...

Everybody is talking about it. Everyone is affected by it. And yet it shouldn't be a surprise. The world wide economic crisis is her to stay. The old western world is definetly sinking in its own hands. It's nothing new. every big civilization in history has experienced it: the huge golden era first, and then the drop down, the surrending to the excesses commited in the high wave...

All I hear in the news are politicians talking about creating economic growth, finding new jobs or  new technologies that will make us competitive enought to survive  the crisis. The problem with these ideas is that we're not thinking out of the box, and this crisis needs real new thinking.


For centuries, our cicilization has depended on values based on the persuit of profit. All the major developments have been due to this persue. Money makes the world go round. Yes, it did indeed. But that world is cracking a part now, so looking at solutions where we only consider financial solutions will do no good. We don't need annother economic plan or another marvalous ingenious 'I-must-have-that-thing'.

We've done enought, at least what regards technologies and world records. We have what we need. We can always do it better, it's true. But what's the point of doing it to perfection if the whole point of it beeing disappears? As my old teacher in school used to say: form is important, but content is essencial. Just as making the most of the presentation of the writing is not enought to account for the missing point in the text, just as pointless it is to develop extremelly hight technology if there's no fuel to produce energy to turn the machine on, or if the people are so desperatly poor they even can't even pay for food or water.

We have to rethink the whole thing. We have to shift our society values and our main goal for our society. It can't be money and priviledged status anymore. We have to raise us above and find new ideals.

Philosophy, religious beliefs (not religion, which is religious belief transformed into organisations) and not to mention the declaration of human rights have always presented us for alternative values. So we already have some other ideas we can use.

We have to reorganize our society, decide what we want to keep, what is really important and find a way where everybody, so to speak, can have a fair share of the cake. It's not new communism. It's plain survival. One could also say, it's only trying to live according to "treat your neighbour as you'd wishes to be treated" or "love your neighbour as you love yourself".

But how do you do that? I don't know. I'm just an artist, a dreamer, and I have very little knowledge of economics  and politics. But I count on the internet. I count on this blog getting read by many people, maybe creating discussion, maybe giving other people who are closer to those who are major decision takers an idea, an inspiration. We need new ideas. We need everyone's engagement - for maybe your word will make somebody else find the answer... So help me find possibilities, help me ask questions, help us all with new ways of using what we have on earth.

Here are my questions:

What would happen if profit no longer was the main concern and goal of society?
What if we placed 'good living skills' as the new goal for society, where healthy living is the main idea?

How would that affect our work places? What if instead of giving values and status to papers in the bank, we value the time spendt helping one another, for eks. through teaching, caretaking, and other 'soft jobs'?

If money is out, what is so our currency? One man created art money (a small art work that has a fix value, and can be used to pay for goods and services) and caused huge noise in the economic world. Maybe we should look at such experiments and try something new. We all have so much to give - much more than money can buy. So why not use that as currency?

What if we just decided to accept that our financial world is cracked and decided to shut it down? What if we called that financial marked 'the new Disneyland', a fantasy world that isn't real? We gave those rules in the financial marked meaning and value. We could just as well withdraw their values. What would happen if every company, every business and every person just had what is real: their houses, their workers, the work they do, the ideas in their heads and their skills and their relationship to other people? Without money, as we know it, how would we share food, water, housing, jobs, technology, and waste? How would that impact our social structures, such as families, friendships and workrelations?

What is really vital for people? What is important in order to live a good life, and not just survive through life? How do we best use freedom of speach? How do we best contribute to the whole society? How are we democratic in a new era, where communication tends to create huge opportunities for many people to share their ideas and to affect political, social, economic and religious events? I've heard Google, facebook and the likes already do it, just for making more profit for themselves and for the companies who use them... What about using the same technologies for keeping up with the good ideas, for developing a real forum for a new world?

And I didn't talk about all the green possibilities - everybody talks about it now, so, there should be quite a number of good ideas there. I'll let this space for those who are much better to argumenting for a green active policy than I am.

Making a new world is like rearranging the furniture in your home.  You have to think first, because it costs a lot to move the huge closet out of the room. You have to decide what use you want to make of the room, what needs more lightning or darkness, what stays in the way of traffic, what contributes to a cosy atmosphere, and how you see yourself in it. And then it's mostly about deciding what to throw away, what to keep, what to mend, what to use in a new way and what to give to other people who may use it better. And once we've moved the heavy furniture, there'll be a lot of readjustment. Routine will teach us how practical or efficient things are and then it's all 'learning by doing' time...

But right now, we're just in the 'thinking fase'. Please, feel free to comment! Feel free to give voice to your ideas! They're badly needed! And please, do share this with your friends and accquaintances!

lørdag den 3. december 2011

And the forest grows...

Now I've worked a couple of layers in my forest... This time I began working on the branches - there are always so many of them in the woods - and then I moved up in the colour skale: up towards red!



It's kind of funny working on an autumn scene as my trees outside are bare and grey... We're already in the Danish winter:  grey, wet, dark and foggy. So I had to tune myself into the right atmosphere. And for once I was really happy I've been taking thousands of fotos with my camera. I used some time observing my old pictures, and when I felt as if autumn was getting under my skin again, I set the computer to slideshow my many autumn pictures... Her are a couple of them.




Back to my work, I've managed to keep the printing of the dog walking motif still visible beneath the layers of forest. The white vertical lines in the foto beneath are the light reflections on the soluble plastic. I wonder how it will look like when it's gone!



I guess my forest is getting to the point where it's ready to be stitched as a layer with fine nylon thread - my magical invisible thread.  That's what I'm going to do now and then when everything is sewn together, I'll wash the forest layer in water, so the plastic will dissolve. Sounds like magic, doesn't it? :-) It's so high tech! :-)