Monday, June 30, 2014

Bat Woman

Bat Woman, but not as you'd expect her. She's elderly and wise, the kuia of bats.Yes that's a moko- a chin tattoo, and she came to me at the amazing creature workshop run by Wendy Froud . She carries a Nautilus shell- a symbol of my studio on the South Coast of Wellington. The pounamu around her neck is a Manaia meaning 'the messenger between gods and mortals'- it is a shameless copy of Luke Gardiner's work.  My polymer clay is but poor representation of his exquisite carvings! You can see his original here. Gorgeous isn't it?

The bat, or Pekapeka as it is known in Maori is viewed as a symbol of death. But in death there is freedom, and for me the workshop I did at the Illustration Master Class was the death of some old thinking around illustration for me.

Here is how I made her, my wise little Pekapeka. Thank you Wendy Froud, for the incredible week and the birth of new things :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mastering Art

from one of the lectures at the IMC

I'm back from my whirlwind 6 weeks and I can tell you, it has been expanding and fruitful and I would like to say exhausting because everyone is saying 'You must be EXHAUSTED', but I'm not. I'm exhilarated. I feel like a kid who has been given a box of Griffins Sampler biscuits and told to choose. Should I have the pink ones, the ones with sugar on, the chocolate, the coconut? So much to devour, I want it all!

I write this blog primarily for those of you who don't use facebook, because if you did, you'd have seen on my public page multiple pictures of the Southland Festival Tour which was wonderful on so many levels (hospitable people those Southlanders), my sketches, travels and works in progress at the Illustration Master Class in Amherst USA, me in my fabulous new dress from New York (yes, how great to say that!!! and no it wasn't from Walmart) at the NewZealand Post book Awards (no I didn't win my category but The Beginners Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Paul Adamson did and it is a fantastic book!) AND...absolutely NO pictures of my wearable art entries for this year. If they get into show the first pics you'll see are after opening night in September and if they don't get into show I'll share them after mid July which is when we find out if we made the cut. Fingers and toes crossed, for everyone who have poured their heart and soul and grocery money into their entries!

Also on facebook, a friend said 'It must be nice to live in your bubble' after I posted a picture of a carnival horse I sketched in Aotea Square whilst musing on life and work. She meant it well; she is a good friend but immediately I felt I had to justify my existence outside of a 9-5 job which I have never really aspired to, and any time I have applied for one, I have barely had a reply let alone an interview. I have no aptitude for a desk in office politics and workplaces with cubicles. I'd be terrible at it- I'd want to make sculptures out of paperclips instead of writing reports, and I'd have a glue gun secreted in my filing cabinet, just so I could take it out and sigh with regret that I was wasting all my creative time earning money. I'd be wasting their money too.

So this is the thing... if I had $10 for every time I have heard it said 'It must be so nice being an artist, I WISH I could give up my job and do what you do,' I'd be buying designer clothes and planning my next holiday in Tahiti. 

I'm telling you now don't want to give up your job. You'd never be with the uncertainty of never knowing when or where your next commission is coming from, whether your books/paintings/music will sell and for how much. You'd even have to stay with your life partner if you have one because they believe in you and make up the shortfall when you haven't earned anything in 6 months, and they think (bless) that one day your ship will come in and you'll both sail away together on it into the sunset with cocktails. In fact, some of the most married people I know are artists and writers, for richer or poorer... and our partners do get the short straw in that agreement. They are our rocks on which our boats get thankfully stuck.

To do anything else is unthinkable, and sometimes I wonder at myself- am I mad? completely delusional? But then, then you go to a place where there are others like you. A Masterclass, full of artists who are obsessed with making and creating. A place where everyone has to draw to be able to think. Who search their minds and their hearts and souls for visual answers, and then put them onto canvas, board, screens and creatures. And some make most excellent money from it, and some do not, but we are all equal in our passion. And none of us ever say 'It must be so nice to be a policy analyst, I WISH I could give up my art and do what you do.' We would rather live in penury than cut off our arms. I came away realising my worth; that I have a rich stream of gold, flowing with ideas to share in the world. Expertly. Like a master.

So here's my invitation- tap that stream; bookings are open for Fifi- I need to pay off that dress! 

photo courtesy of Mark Tantrum