Monday, October 24, 2016

Another Kind of Collection

When a long-term collector of my work emailed to say she'd like a portrait of me as a tattoo, I surprised both of us by offering to draw it. 

As I've written before, I'm having my small collection of ink removed by laser. But I was intrigued by R.'s suggestion. I was also open to the idea because I have known her for a number of years. She's collected my art in a diverse range of styles and media. Adding a tattoo to her existing collection of my work made sense.

After I read the rest of her email I was in for sure – I'm partial to smart, articulate women. She wrote, "...I’ve always loved how personal (and often autobiographical) your work is, even as it is situated in a much broader social, cultural and feminist context."

R. chose one of my self-portraits from Pola Auto-Erotica as a reference. I drew the design after I got back from hospital, between other projects.

I emailed R. a minimalist line drawing and she suggested having her tattooist ink a little shade for the cheek bone. So I added soft shading to the face, blackened the lips and emailed it back. I told R. I don't mind if her tattooist adapts the image so it makes a better tattoo. I've seen the tattooist's work and she's a talented woman, skilled in both inking and placement of images on the body.

I have never drawn a design for a tattoo before. I didn't expect to and I don't plan on making it a habit. Yet it's been a fun experience. Besides, it's always good to break my own rules.

Above: Tattoo design for R., lead pencil on A4 copy paper.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dooney Lives in Photos

I'm experimenting with using 'instant' photos in my Dooney Lives series. Initially, I planned the works in Dooney Lives as exclusively text-based. But photos fit the concept – I think of them as 'proof'. It's a development of an idea I wrote about in Evidence and Emotion: "I’m most interested in photographs as proof, evidence and documentation of events... (especially when combined) with expressions of internal experience."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

An End Is a Beginning

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

– T. S. Eliot, from Little Gidding

Late last week I finished emptying the storage facility associated with my former enamel studio. It's been a long process and I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted before I completed the final few days. But I didn't want to delay the arrangements I'd made (or pay another week's rent). So I admitted myself to the private psychiatric hospital, then commuted to and from the studio.

Each morning I received permission to leave for the day. I slipped my hospital identification off like a bracelet and put it in the pocket of my jeans as I walked to the bus stop.
I caught a bus from a station near the hospital to the industrial facility. In the afternoon, I caught a different bus back. When I signed in at the hospital they checked my bag. My ID band was slipped back over my wrist. I ate dinner early in the communal dining area. My evenings were spent talking (and often weeping) to a psychiatric nurse before crawling into my narrow bed. I fell asleep holding a pillow.

On my last day at the industrial facility I moved heavy boxes of archives – around thirty of them – to a much smaller, less expensive unit. I went back to hospital and slept for the next two days and nights. I stayed there to rest for a few more days. Then caught the bus home.

I expected to feel something more definite in response to the end of this period of my oeuvre. And I expected to feel something more definite about being able to focus on new work in other media. Except the feelings overlap. It's not linear or simple like the end of one story and the beginning of another. Or the linear way that life unfolds; we are born and age through distinct stages of life until we die.

Art doesn't adhere to linear time. It's one of the qualities that makes it powerfulbecause our internal experience of life isn't linear either.

Above: Makeshift study in my shared room at the private psychiatric hospital. These days, I figure anywhere can be a study or a studio.

Friday, October 07, 2016

A Room of One's Own

My current workspace is small. It functions as a bedroom, study and studio. But I love it – and I love the ease of working without a half-face rubber respirator. Next time I wear a rubber mask it'll be for pleasure only.

As with all images posted from 2016 onwards, please click on the photograph above for a larger version.


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Fine Motor Skills, Test Two (A+)

I painted the linework on this gouache study over the course of a day, a few days ago. Each side of the line is painted individually, so this section isn't finished yet.

As I mentioned in Fine Motor Skills, Test One, I drew the image last year, before my severe psych'-med'-induced dystonic reaction. Painting precisely is the best way to assess the recovery of my fine motor skills. I'm slower than I used to be and still have occasional waves of dystonia. But I can paint in a wide range of ways again and my exceptional fine motor skills are returning.

Finishing this gouache hasn't been a priority for me. Rather, it's something I've done between everything else: refining my online presence and strategy going forward; developing a range of new work in new media; consulting with my bookeeper, accountant and business mentor about the financial side of my career as I re-establish; closing my final enamel studio; emptying the storage unit associated with my enamel studio; re-connecting with collectors and friends; and looking at what other changes to make as I build the foundations for the next stage of my art and life.

That said, I've genuinely enjoyed painting this work. It's meditative, soothing and ultimately reassuring – proof that my unusually refined dexterity isn't gone, after all.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

No More Enamel Paint(ings)

The enamel period of my oeuvre has ended. My high gloss enamel paintings will only ever be available on the secondary market now.
Although the decision is final and I've worked toward it for an excruciatingly
long time, I found it hard to let go of materials I've accumulated over the years. For a couple of decades, tins of enamel paint were among my most important possessions. Whenever I moved I took them with me; transporting them myself from place to place, state to state.

The paints were a mix of discontinued colours, specialist enamel delivered from America and endless shades I custom-mixed myself. But there is no point continuing to store ageing hazardous paint – one tin has already exploded.
Over the last weeks I decanted my remaining high gloss enamel paint. Then took it to a rubbish tip that recycles and properly disposes of hazardous waste. As instructed by the council, I poured my bottles of turpentine over absorbent kitty litter so it became a solid material and disposed of that too.

I wore a breathing mask, changed my clothes and showered afterwards. But I'm still recovering from exposure to the fumes.
During the next weeks I will empty the rest of the storage unit associated with my enamel studio. I may need to rest afterwards but hopefully not for long.
I am impatient to focus completely on new work in non-toxic media. I have a build-up of words, ideas and new art inside me. I need to let it all out.