Tuesday 25 October 2022

Spring - Autumn 2022

 This is a catch up post. I have been so busy that life has taken over. I love creating this little sort of diary. More of a point of interest for family and friends but open to everyone - what I'm doing, perhaps my thoughts and photos of inspiring places. Saying this I have not yet uploaded any images onto my new laptop so I've looked to the past for the photos here. I love my past - most of it.

I count myself very fortunate as I'm usually pretty inspired by the world around me and by my imagination. In short I'm never bored. Though I do find that after covid was more tired than previously in the afternoons for a while. I surrendered to Hypnos and Morpheus and learnt to enjoy the journey and simply stopped resisting. In return I was able to conjure images and ideas that were/are quite literally as food from the gods. 

As some of you may already know, I have another studio to work in that also comes with storage space - incredibly useful. Also the use of a polytunnel although I prefer to think of it as a greenhouse. Make no mistake - it is a polytunnel and I'm rapidly learning the difference. But my mind keeps saying greenhouse so I'm going to say the same - it's far more atmospheric and old fashioned after all and comforting as I can transform it in my mind into a long Victorian greenhouse in a walled garden. It's a place where I can listen to the birds and the wind in the trees, the rain on the roof and look out across a valley to the sea beyond. I am blessed yet again. It's now beginning to provide green leaves and herbs plus a few strawberries and a place to safely keep my pots of transplanted garden plants - members of my family - gardeners will understand.

It's quite a jungle or will be. I've strung up a hammock so that I can slip occasionally into that alternative reality of feeling completely weightless - the perfect departure point for the imagination in fact. I've started to paint and draw in there too - lovely when it's raining. 

The studio space or rather spaces are exactly what I was hoping for when I was looking for my next studio last year - the perfect place to make all my YouTube and future Patreon tutorials (hopefully in January 2023) - spaces that are Set Decorated to look like home though in fact I don't actually 'live' here as I'm still technically homeless and stay with friends on a sort of rota basis when not working - for the time being anyway. 

What I like about this arrangement for now is that I do get to meet up with friends regularly - those who can put me up anyway. As a maker and an 80% introvert I can easily be completely preoccupied with my own inner world.

However I am constantly on the lookout for a new home but these are extremely hard to find right now. Prices have rocketed and so many people moved out of London and other cities in favour of a less stressful and expensive life. Well, less expensive for them but the result is that it's far more expensive for the people who live here. The ups and downs of life. Adaption is called for yet again. At least I have a place to work and I quickly decided that that was the priority.

So as my working space used to be initially a dormitory, then a hospital, then university offices, then a kitchen was added, then workshops and studios, it does naturally lend itself perfectly to my way of working. I have a series of dedicated spaces - one for jewellery making and video tutorials, one for painting most sizes of canvases and panels, one for my 'Sofa Chats' videos that I began in lockdown, the old kitchen is my papier mache studio as there is water and I have a portable induction hob for mixing up gesso, gelatin and also beeswax polish, a dedicated area for for drying by fan - it works - and my microwave for the quick drying of beads and small bowls etc. It's also ideal for video tutorial making as there is so much natural light. I even have an 'office space' and a place to edit and upload vlogs at the end of the corridor - fairly small but big enough.

 The room with the least light and a loo are piled with boxes of things I have yet to organise and for which I need to put shelving up but as yet I haven't found the time. I did manage to put up my daughter's big Victorian brass bed that I store for her, as I can store more boxes underneath it as well as create a huge 'table' with with my old market trestle tops on top where I now have a dedicated photography and packing area. One has to be creative with space. I still have lots to sort out and in theory I try to sort a bit out every day - I set my timer and give it half an hour. It adds up.

I sometimes house-sit a large rambling old house on the edge of Dartmoor when the owners who are friends go away with the possibility for long let in the future. In the meantime it's head down and work undisturbed and thank God for my friends and their spare rooms. 

Fortunately or not I'm one of those people who needs very little sleep and I've always been a very early riser - I love to welcome in the dawn and especially at this time of the year it is perfect as I can quietly leave wherever I happen to be and drive to work without waking anyone and start my day. My circadian rhythms give me a sharp mind from about 3.30am so I can be at work at usually 4.30. I know this may sound crazy to many people  and yet it is the way I am wired - I have had the same circadian rhythm all my life. I love it.

At present I am working on 18 new A4 boards that have been laser cut to make a new collection of paper mache jewellery. I'm constructing some paper mache bowls - rough textured and appearing to be weighty and resembling ceramic - think old Japanese masters of ceramics. 

I found a torn off strip of some kind of black waterproof paper that seemed to have acquired a richly textured layer of mud and green algae that had weathered and dried to an incredibly beautiful appearance. Naturally I brought it to my kitchen studio where it's been waiting to be transformed. The start of a new series. I'm currently filming that process and will then show how to create that effect without old mud and algae. So video to follow in the next post.

When working on any craft based project it'a all about processes and organisation. I have had to re-organize my studio so many times. This is effectively my 48th move. It's not as stressful as people think - though not without stress.

Autumn is now here and it's a great year for sweet chestnuts.

I'm continuing to gather the old dried out stems of foxgloves and bracken etc when I'm mooching about on Dartmoor. They provide me with endless references for paintings. C'est la vie. Toodle-loo.

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