I hand embossed the envelopes that came with little elephant cards that I bought in India on my first trip there in 2010. They still strongly smell of printing ink. Couldn't resist doing a white envelope too. Gotta love the frail lacyness of it!
The french theme just got started with the fleur-de-lis of the previous week, and of course I have always looked out for an Eiffel tower stamp when online or in a craft store. I just never seemed to find the right one. They were either too simple or too expensive, but as the laws of creativity often ironically wants it, I think the reason was only that I needed to figure out a new technique or two and make it myself instead of the easy way. With a little stroke of luck I learned a new skill with my cutting tools that allows very fine detail. Exactly what I've been needing! And so my Eiffel tower saw the light, as my most detailed stamp so far, and a inspiring kick-off for week 3. I have already used it in a few different ways and know it will be one of my mainstays in future.
As a non-practicing-blacksmith I will never have too many anvils. Heavy and cold steel as they are, to me they are objects of excellent beauty and grace. More than just a tool for the trade, the right lines on an anvil can drive me to poetry. I brought my two working anvils from South-Africa when we moved here, and kept watching the anvil scene to see if a well-priced third one presented itself. It took a while, but at last it did! It was a pretty small little thing, with beautiful lines, and it was Australian made. Perfect! I have been needing something smaller and portable for lighter studio work, but if I only use this charming one for display it would be enough. So while anvil fever swept through the house until the weekend when we could drive down to the coast and fetch it, I made anvil stamps and anvil prints.
In the meantime, I've been working on a commission that required some roses. In mixed media I'm always a little torn between using ready-made papers, patterns and images and producing my own. This was no exception. None of the roses I cut from photographs and magazines 'wanted' to be there, and a painted rose would be too serious. So I made a plan. I made a stamp, scaling it up from a delicate design on one of my scrapbooking papers. It worked well, and I made another bigger one to use in combination, producing the outlines of the roses, and filled the insides with tones of red paint.
Days 4-7 saw an umbrella stamp and three textures of simple leaves, very handy in anything needing the soft touch of foliage.
But even with 21 new stamps it was the end not, as new ideas for stamps kept popping up, and I made notes so I could get to all of them. But for now, week 3 is over and done and tomorrow's stamp still a mystery.
I wrote this in July 2012, but it is still true...
I'm starting to realise that success in art only comes with drawing, painting and producing as much as possible. You'll probably not make anything of value (whatever that means to who-ever!) by only drawing once in a blue moon. Like the legendary Gary Player said: 'The more I practice, the luckier I get'.
The more I draw the easier bigger things become, and suddenly I realise that large drawings I started and gave up on years ago, I now feel ready to tackle again and finish!
The joy and the secret is not in arriving at some mystic destination, but on the journey. There is no arriving as an artist, maybe some significant landmarks along the way, but we have to keep growing, learning, evolving...
There is so much joy and beauty all around…we just need to open ourselves up to it. But the real beauty is inside of each of us…in singing our heart song. Explore with me!
I am an artist, traveller, hopeless romantic and dreamer…a bit gypsy, a bit hippy…a wearer of hats and silly stockings. I find prose welling up at beautiful everyday experiences. I’m always looking for that perfect photograph. I have paintings in my heart that are excitedly queuing to be made. But I’m also a pretty normal girl, sometimes struggling with the joys and pain and questions of life, just like you. I want to share here bits and pieces of the beauty I find in so many places, and as I’m discovering truths on my journey, maybe there is someone out there who finds my writings inspirational to live more creatively, more authentically and more happily.
Preparing for some mixed media fun at our girls art group tonight with some pretty textured papers, old music scores, alphabet beads and more...can't wait to see what the girls come up with...
A few months ago I went to the ANU production of Cats with two girlfriends. The theatre has always fascinated me, and I dare say, it has always called me, pulled at the strings of my heart. I have been very blessed to have had parents, grandparents and friends who enjoyed a night at the opera, the ballet and classical performances of varied sorts, and thanks to this golden theatrical thread throughout my childhood and youth, I grew up with regular exposure to the performing arts. The elaborate costumes, make-up, decor and effects enchanted me to the degree that I dreamed of a career closer to this magic, and because I had always been studying music, this seemed to offer a natural way into this magical world. Now, many years later, the night at Cats stirred in me once again the well-known feelings of awe and rapture for the theatre, and I remembered fondly a little adventure.
In my late high school years we were a close group of friends, all music students, filled with the joy of life and music. With some huge Mozart festival celebrated in Durban, at a two hour road trip our nearest city, we convinced one of our parents to drive us there. The great attraction was The Playhouse, home of the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, and some of the best classical productions in the country. To be a flautist in one of the big philharmonic orchestras in South Africa was one of my first serious career dreams as a teenager. I have always been crazy about playing classical music, and to be part of such a collection of the most intricate and beautiful instruments under the sun, was then the ultimate dream. Everything about live classical performance fascinated me, from the elegantly laid-out marketing posters (for sale in the foyer shop post-performance), to the sudden hush when the lights dim; desperately trying to catch a good look at the black-clad musicians and buffed instruments in the ill-lit pit below the stage, and especially, especially, the hair-raising dissonance when the individual instruments warm up, and then gradually tune together to a unifying A, reinforcing the anticipation of the imminent Overture. Absolutely entrancing! That year the principal flautist in the Natal Philharmonic was a young woman named Maria Swart. I dreamed of being her, did research about the requirements, salary and work hours of professional orchestra members, and fantasized about arriving night after night at a black backstage door with my beautiful instrument ready to contribute toward a soaring world-class classical performance, with an auditorium full of high-society patrons in curved rows and decorated stalls in ecstatic standing ovation.
On the afternoon of the opening of the Mozart festival, the four of us were at the home of local friends, preparing for our night at the theatre, which in those days were still regarded as a formal event, with patrons dressing in their finest brocades and silks. I, accordingly, was wearing a classical and very French black velvet beret, a favourite which also went along to the impressive performance of Aida in Cape Town's iconic Nico Malan, now the Artscape, a year or two later. We were excitedly and expectantly preparing to descend on the Playhouse, ready for a good dose of the finest culture. But unpacking our things, my good old friend Alexander realised that he had failed to pack his dress pants for the night. Since him being a rather abundant fellow, there was no chance of borrowing any from the house owners, and there was no help for it but for him to wear the only thing he had- a pair of surf shorts...with his dress shirt, shiny black shoes and eye-catching bow-tie. Needless to say it did not only encouraged the bunch of us to hysteria all night, we also formed a sort of protective circle around him against observant and judgmental eyes, and tried pretending nothing was amiss.
During interval there was, inexplicably, an open double bass case in the side foyer where we did our best to look, despite the hilariously mortifying situation, dignified with our refreshments, and it seemed the perfect size and shape to hide him in. Up to today I can still swear he climbed into that case until everyone thankfully returned to their seats, but with all the crazy ideas we had that night, induced by this unfortunate lack of suitable equipment, I cannot be quite sure what we crazily fantasized about doing and what we actually did. I have to commend the patrons and staff of the Durban Playhouse on their tolerance and ability to deal very courteously with unsuitably-dressed, generous-sized Mozart lovers and their nervous friends.
And so Cats concluded in another country far from that crazy night, and with a sentimental tinge, I can happily say that many of my dreams did come true, I was indeed also a flautist of a city orchestra, and even though times have changed and dress codes are much more open to interpretation, I make sure I pack everything, and still wear my velvet beret to the opera now and again.
It was decided even before I could really think about it, to do another week of stamp-a-day...which turned into another, and yet another. Eventually I did FOUR weeks and as a happy result have 24 new stamps in my armoury!
This is how the second week went. With my love for all things french it was on my mental list to make a fleur-de-lis stamp that I could use for multiple applications, and that's just what happened. I'm still using some black pieces of flooring rubber that I bought from the hardware store for my art classes two years ago. I think I have mentioned this, but is a fantastic and cheap alternative to lino. It would take me another week to find out how to manage really fine detail, so up to now my rubber stamps have been quite chunky. With this design it didn't matter though, but I was quite happy how the finer 'droplet' details came out. The heraldic symbol produced some lovely gift tags- gold ink on black and brown card, and a classic repeat pattern sheet of gift wrap that my other half teasingly remarked look like old-fashioned wallpaper. I must admit it did cross my mind too, with backflashed childhood visits to then very fashionably 70's homes. Wallpaper or not, I love the pattern and it will be used much more. And for those who observe style laws, Retro is very in anyway!
The next few days produced some bread-and-buttter stamps, basic polkadots, another royalty design in the form of a simple repeated diamond check, and a basic heart. By this time it was weekend and we were away with friends in Sydney. Determined to not miss my self-imposed day's stamp obligation, a heart was cut with a steak knife from the Friday night champers cork. I left it with my friend to make I love you-stamps on her childrens' hands and drawings.
On Monday I had a lovely catch-up coffee date with a friend who had just returned from a visit to our home-country. She gave me a symbolic and very special african beads bracelet, and the commercial wrapping had a little quaint house on, the symbol of a charity this product supports. I love little houses, so that was the inspiration for stamp #12, a quirky casa not unlike the one we built and lived in back in Cape Town. After making the print, I hand-colour the heart window in red.
Also resonating from the visit, the African continent that is my birthplace hovered in my subconscious. It became what I thought was one of my best stamps yet, partly because of the clean print it made, but probably more because of the solid reality of that diverse continent, the mystery and the memories it holds for me.
Week 3 of Stamp-a-day will follow soon with some more french icons, heavy metal and decorative flora.