Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Topiary Haven

For anyone who might be planning a trip to Tasmania, who is thinking of a holiday but is not sure where to go or who is an armchair traveller with dreams may I recommend a visit ( preferably physically, but initially virtual) to the Topiary Haven. This is a self contained apartment which we were able to use over the Christmas period during our Grand Round the World trip when it was being prepared  for rental as a business and we found it fabulous.  And  as regular readers know we had five star expectations for that trip which this accommodation easily fulfilled.   The owners have now launched for public holiday rentals. It is close to the Launceston Gorge as shown above where I swam in the open air pool and was very excited to come face to face with wallabies during my picnic.  The very professional website has lots of goregous slideshow pictures of all the rooms, to just the endless detail this pickypicky traveller needed when planning her trip!


It ought perhaps also to have a blue plaque on the door ( or whatever the Australian equivalent is) as the place where my chapter of the Twelve by Twelve book was written! 


I should be open that this place is the new business venture of my Uncle Barry and Auntie Diana but I think you will see that I would have recommended it anyway. Now, let me just go to expedia to plan my fanstasy return visit...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Free art catalogues

I have stumbled on two sources of free art catalogues as PDF files this week.
The first is the Adam gallery which is a real gallery in London and a branch in Bath, which is where I was persuing their paper catalogues last week. But then I found that they have many for free as downloadable PDFs. Go to their website and click on contemporary artist and then the artists name. There is then a link on the left for artist profile. If there is a PDF there will be a link to it on that page. There are three by Barbara Rae and two by Julio Rondo for example.

Then my beloved October gallery in London ( oh how I miss the days of working near that and nipping in after work)  has a new PDF catalogue of El Anatsui's ASI exhibition.
I love having these PDFs on my ipad in Kindle and having them handy for odd free moments or lunchtimes at work.

Oh and whilst is it  not free, for those who like Aboriginal Art, their bookshop has copies of  Kathleen Petyarre Genius of Place  for just £10 plus postage. When I checked, new copies were £86 on Amazon!
I would also recommend their small catalogues of Ablade Glover and Nnenne Okora's exhibitions - I return to mine all the time. At £5 each a good buy. They do post internationally. ( I have no connection to them - just  love the art they show!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peter Burke sculptures

Today I went to the Victoria Gallery in Bath which is currently showing an exhibition by Peter Burke called Earthworks. His sculptures are made of bonded soil. He uses a variety of soils all found within twenty miles of
Bath, which vary dramatically in colour.
All the works were easily viewable as a whole in the large open room.

Although these forms were quite flat they cast intriguing reflections on the floor.
Identical cupped hands protruding from the flat panels were made in a variety of soils which differed not only in hue but in how they cracked creating greater or lesser fissures.

The exhibition was certainly relevant to the working in a series course on which I am about to embark.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quilting arts magazine

I haven't actually got my subscription copy yet but I am pleased that one of my fellow Twelves has given me a sneak preview photo of the articles in the latest edition of Quilting Arts which features our Twelve by Twelve group. We each have one piece of work featured including my In Memoriam quilt for the Volcano theme ( bottom left, the black and orange one). 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


In response to Working Mum's request my sister Jenni has supplied a photo of the finished cake.

And while she was at it she sent two others. Just showing off I suspect...
Hmmm, maybe we are quite alike after all!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Its genetic!

My sister borrowed my kitchen tonight to make one of her Celebration cakes. 
Clearly, making a huge mess whilst creating is in our genes!
I always thought that when she made a shaped cake she did it in a special tin.Not so. She made a big square  one and trimmed it to shape.
And then made extra buttercream and donated jam so I could enjoy the 'wasted' bits. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On being a notebook polygamist

I made a discovery at New Year. Did you know that there are whole blogs dedictated to Filofaxes? They are quite fascinating. Blinging your filofax, collecting filofaxes, comparing  filofaxes, considering which diary inserts to put in your filofax. All topics for blog fodder. And it is strangely addictive to read all the details about how people set up their filofaxes.   I sent Dennis a link to the woman who changed her diary about eighteen times in one year. Just to show him that, in comparison, I am normal, even if I am a notebook polygamist as you will see...So I am reciprocating with one filofax post of my own to contribute to the genre and to show how to meld a business tool with creative activity.

When I was at the Bar and travelling to speak at conferences I  used a filofax and it was stuffed with appointments, train bookings, flight times, hotel names, invoice details, all the stuff neccessary to keep a self-employed career alive. As I left the bar my filofax (personal sized)  was on its last legs and was graciously retired. But now I drive the same route every day and there is a whole department of people whose job is to keep my diary, print it out each day and give me the necessary files. I may be senior, but basically I do what I am told. So what need for a filofax?

Well, they are nice to touch and fun to write in and you can buy specialised stationery for it. So, when I returned from travelling I bought a new one and decided to go larger (a5)  and hotter pinker on the basis that this would now mainly contain details of my personal and creative life. Which was fine until I went to Apple and became married to the ipad. I spent less time with my frst love as I explored the ipad diary and productivity apps. The ipad is great, but I missed the actual writing with a pen. Although the business like nature of a filofax was not quite working for my creative brain.
So come new year it was time to try to come up with a System for information managmenet. Not just a diary because there are, ahem, one or two other affairs with pretty little notebooks going on as well. After much thought and blog reading I now have a System to justify endless buying of notebooks  and the use of pretty pens maximise informational control and making the filofax play nicely with the Ipad.

I intend to do some tasteful blinging of the filofax but so far the only step in the direction is to add in as my front cover this photo taken by Diane Perin Hock of two chairs which are waiting in California for us to return to them together one day. It reminds me of good times and gives me hope for the future. Then I have notepages so I can flip it open and jot notes quickly.
Next is a horizontal year planner. This is where the Ipad cannot match up for a colourful visual view of where I have made my main committments. This really helps to show when and why I cannot take on anything else. Red is for holidays or travel, green is for major art qulting committments like mini retreats or classes. Black is work travel and soon I will be adding in blue for the Olympics when I intend to join in the sporting actvity by sitting on my butt in front of the TV for a month.

The next tab is my diary. I would have liked a timed page but Filofax do not cater for people whose committments are 7 amd to 9 am and then 5pm to midnight so it is a plain week to two page setup with weekly goals in the top box. I track my studio time and art committments in green and add personal appointments and daily tasks in black. In between I keep some ongoing to do lists so I can see how I am doing with bigger projects I have broken down into steps. Finally at the begining of each month I have a coloured piece  of notepaper to contain monthly goals both personal and creative. Behind the diary I have tabs containing notes on my overall life plan, lists (shopping, books read etc), my personal financial accounts, a quiting tab with details of classes and shows and spare paper.

I tend to keep the filofax on my home desk most days but the ipad comes with me everywhere. So on the ipad I have major dates replicated in the diary but I also use the Daily Notes and To Do App. This app is linked to a diary and allows you to have different subject tabs for each day. so I have tabs that correspond to those in my filofax. If i am out and about I can jot a note in there and later I can clear those notes off either by actioning them or putting them in the appropriate place in the filofax. This is especially useful when I am web browsing and see a link I want to follow up later or if I am shopping and want to make an note of expenditure. The aim is to keep this app as empty as possible which is odd but it works for me!

I also use Nozbe to keep track of the different steps on my art projects. I could do this by paper list but I like the way it will give you one list of all the next steps you have to do and how you can change the due dates without scribbling anything out.  I use Evernote as a big collection of virtual notebooks. This is great for collating emails or clippings from the web on a given subject. So my Evernote notebooks include travel bookings, creativity articles,  and research on individual artists or topics of inspiration. So much easier to collate images and notes than trying to print them all off. Plus they are then available to me on any computer. If there are any images I think it would be fun to share I also stick on a Pinterest board.

But then of course there are the rest of the notebooks. I like to journal. The sitting down with a good pen and writing thoughts down kind of journalling. For years I have been using the same type of journals which come in two kinds of covers but in both you can replace the stock postcard supplied ( of which this owl is  one) and  I use blue fountain pen ink on the lined pages and tuck clippings, tickets etc for memories in the back cover secured by the intergal elastic band. Sadly these journals are becoming hard to find and I am currently trawling the web for lone copies. I may have to join a notebook dating site in due course to find a new version. (Moleskins are recommended but they are so drab!) At New Years I spent happy hours and hours scribbling in this journal. Dennis was somewhat bemused when I told him I was writing my plan for what to write in my other notebooks.
Then I keep a creativity journal. The nearest I get to a sketchbook. I doodle and stick things in and write down what I have done and what I plan to do.  It is a thought bucket and must be plain pages and written with a black pilot drawing pen.
I am happy to change the style of my creativity journal as long as they are smooth plain pages. This is the current one.

Then, one day I found these journals. They come in so many colours, Far more than I have here. I have dedicated these notebooks to my Art Learning Notes  where I pretend I am still in education and make notes from books or internet sites about material I need to know. So one is about crtiquing art, another about art history etc. One has some work in on the theme of African Ladies.

How, you might say, do I cart all these around? Well, they live in this special basket which I do move from room to room. In the morning I decide which items I might reasonably have time to use out of the house and put those in my work bag or handbag and in the evening they come back to sleep in this basket which also has some book on creativity in it. The exception is when I go for my Sunday morning ritual tea and reading session at Cedar Farm when I just take the whole basket.  I am assuming that is what my husband meant when he said I had become a notebook basket case.

So, that is my complex system and it is working for me. Except, best Quilting Buddy came last week and bought me a red Magma notebook and a little Orla Kierly notebook. So Now I need to review my system.....

What works for you? show me!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

If you had a million....

You know the question. You win a million, a squillion, whatever. What would you do with it? 

Can there be a better suggestion than this true story from George Clooney featured in Esquire Magazine?

"There's ten of us, we've been best friends for thirty years. Ten guys. And their wives, and their kids, are all family now. I'm not big on keeping up on the phone, none of us are. Some guys I won't talk to for two months and then you pick up the phone and hear, "So, anyway." There's no guilt or where have you been? or what's been going on? or why haven't we talked? There's an ease to it.

I remember when Richard Kind's dad suddenly died. This was about seven or eight years ago — maybe more. Richard's a really wonderful character actor. He loved his dad, and he was very grown-up about passing on the news. He called and left a message: My dad died, I'm in Chicago, the funeral's going to be in New Jersey tomorrow morning. I'll talk to you when I get back.

This was five o'clock at night. I was in L. A. Rick is a Jew. They bury the next day. They don't screw around. They get you right in the ground. So I called up Michael, Grant's brother, and told him Richard's dad died. He said, "We should be there." The guys were all around the country. One was in Denver. One was in San Diego.

So I got a jet and we spent the whole night flying around the country. San Diego, Denver. We landed in Trenton, New Jersey. Richard didn't know anything about it.

We got to the synagogue, this giant synagogue, with the people up front. And Richard didn't know we were going to be there. We're sitting there, the nine of us in the back row. And Richard gets up to speak about his dad and he sees his nine best friends there. And what I loved about it was that all of us understood that there are moments in your life that are real passages. Your father dying is a very big one. Because you are now the man of the family. We understood how important that was at that time." 

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/meaning-of-life-2012/george-clooney-quotes-0112-2#ixzz1iWyF8tGH

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Planning 2012

I love the New Year period because it gives me an excuse to plan and I love to plan. Any kind of planning really, especially travel planning, but I have also long been an advocate for more formal Life Planning. There are many models for doing this. Lisa Call has a very goal oriented approach on her blog for example which I find inspiring although mine tends to end up more strategic than specific at this stage). This year I stumbled upon and decided to use a free e-book by Michael Hyatt. (You need to sign up to emails to get it but you can always unsubscribe!) This is not a miracle never before seen life sorting method by any means but it is a slightly different format to what I have done in the past.

The gist is that you list 'life account's - basically areas of your life that you wish to plan. Work, family, health etc. For each one you write a Purpose Statement of a sentence or so, write an account for your life would be in that area if it were perfect, write an account of the current reality and then a list of steps you need to take to get to the perfection from the reality. He then writes about a review system.

All fun and good until I got to the account entitled Art Quilting and then I began to struggle. What is my purpose? I know what I do, but why am I so compelled to do it? Pages of journallinng later I have some ideas but am still finding it hard to distill into a sentence or two. (Hard in a fun way you understand!!)

So I thought I'd ask you... Why do you make art? What is your purpose in doing so?
Are those questions easy and obvious to you or do they make you stop and think?