Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas & a blissful New Year

At this time of the year I always like to reflect on the things I've done and experienced during the year. While looking back I realise how quickly this year has flown by and how amazing it was. It was filled with beautiful trips and inspirational and creative events! You can read more about that in my latest newsletter.

I would like to thank you for supporting me by following this blog, giving me commissions, participating in my workshops, collaborating with me, teaching me new skills and encouraging me in my artistic journey.

Merry Christmas and a blissful New Year!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Artistic Explorations: Visual Poetry (1)

My collaboration with writer and artist Elaine Reid recently resulted in co-facilitating a Visual Poetry workshop, as part of the Barn's community year-long project Flourish that she is leading. In the run up to the workshop we got together in my studio to go through the steps ourselves and create a few visual poems. Elaine already had experience with found poetry and making zentangle drawings around it but I hadn't. We would offer the participants a wide array of art materials to play with and before we could do that, we actually had to find out what would work best.

We copied a few pages of an old book onto heavy-weight mixed media paper, skim read the text without actually reading the content and circling the words that popped out.

Example of text for visual poem

We then worked with gesso (to push back the text that we didn't want to keep) and added acrylics, coloured pens, stencilling, stamping and collage material for the visual element of our found poem. I thoroughly enjoyed the experimental and subconscious process of it all!

Here are the visual poems I made in preparation for the workshop.

Visual poem with stencilling

Visual poem with collage

Visual poem with stamping and drawing

During the first half of the day, which was led by Elaine, they focussed on found poetry; skim reading, circling and trying to connect words and phrases in pencil.

Participants at work in the gallery of the Barn

Participants at work in the gallery of the Barn ©Elaine Reid 2017

Found poetry in action

Everyone would get three different pages and in just half an hour's time, the group created so many different poems from sometimes the exact same text!

The second half was led by me. We first showed them samples of our work so that they could get an idea what can be achieved.

Examples of our visual poems ©Elaine Reid 2017

Once I explained and showed them what you can do with the various art material I had brought along, it was time to play!

I brought a selection of art materials they could use

Using gesso and collage ©Elaine Reid 2017

Using a stencil to draw a shapes ©Elaine Reid 2017

Using various papers as collage ©Elaine Reid 2017

The page is now totally transformed into a visual poem ©Elaine Reid

One of the participants using pen and collage to erase text ©Elaine Reid 2017

This workshop was part of the community project Flourish ©Elaine Reid 2017

One of the visual poems a participant created ©Elaine Reid 2017

Another example of a visual poem created by a participant

Reading and hearing the feedback from all the participants afterwards I can say it was a huge success! Hopefully we can do it again next year. From 5-18 March 2018, these poems and many more will be displayed during a two-week Flourish exhibition.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Artistic Explorations: Artists' Books and Book Objects (2)

In March I wrote about my first attempt to create an artists' book (see article). This inspired me to make many more but due to various other art projects, commissions and applications, it only stayed as concepts in my mind. Until now!

While browsing through my materials, I noticed one of my large prints would be suitable to create a flutter book from.

Ecotone (copper); drypoint with embossing and rubbing
with Artist Paintstik (copper) and conté crayon

After studying this book format and deciding where the cuts should be, I first made a sample out of cartridge paper, just to make sure it was all correct!

Then I selected the section I wanted, pencilled my measurements onto the print and cut it out with a scalpel knife. The paper was folded and some folds were partly slit to create an accordion. The back side was blank so I added pages by cutting out double spread sections. These were then handstitched with a pamphlet stitch to the flutter book by using copper metallic thread.

"Trees in a box", artists' book and box

"Trees in a box", artists' book and box

"Trees in a box", artists' book and box

"Trees in a box", close-up of a few pages from artists' book

"Trees in a box", close-up of a few pages from artists' book

"Trees in a box", close-up of page from artists' book

"Trees in a box", close-up of page from artists' book

"Trees in a box", front of artists' book

"Trees in a box", spine of artists' book (with handstitching)

I also made a box for this book out of cardboard and other parts of my original print. The box measures 11.5 x 8 x 3 cm.

Handmade box for artists' book "Trees in a box",
11.5 x 8.5 x 3 cm

Handmade box for artists' book "Trees in a box",
11.5 x 8.5 x 3 cm

Handmade box for artists' book "Trees in a box",
11.5 x 8.5 x 3 cm

Handmade box for artists' book "Trees in a box",
11.5 x 8.5 x 3 cm

Next year I hope to do an art residency to create more artists' books and book objects. I'll keep you informed if there is any news about that. In the meantime, I will be experimenting with this medium in my studio and see what else I can come up with.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Artistic Explorations: 3D Design (1)

When I was a young teenager my father introduced me to photography. He had a dark room and I remember watching him processing his images with different chemicals in various baths. It was magical to see him developing his artistic photographs! At that time I had my own small analogue camera but I never tried to develop my images myself because the smell of these chemicals really put me off. When I got my first digital camera around 2004, just before we moved to Scotland, it all changed. I enjoyed learning how to develop them on my computer and quickly I was hooked. My love for photography was reignited.

When my father gave me a selection of vintage cameras, previously owned by him, my grandfather and even my great grandfather, I was delighted! Although I have never used them myself, I feel honoured I'm the keeper of this precious collection.

My vintage camera collection

Among this collection is a glassplate camera and a rolleiflex
A few retro cameras

I even have a camera made out of of a can from Cuba, given by my parents!
Recently I started my 3D design course at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen. During this course we learn about lasercutting and 3D printing. After familiarising with Adobe Illustrator again for the first two lessons (it had been a long time ago since I used it but it's like driving a car), we had to choose an object we wanted to create and/or blend into. I chose to recreate one of the vintage cameras: the Balda Super Baldina from around 1950's!

Balda Super Baldina camera (1950's)
Sketchbook with my design for the camera

After measuring, drawing, re-measuring, tweaking and adding a few more drawings I was finally able to have all my pieces cut out from cardboard with the lasercutter. Then I glued all the different pieces together. There were a few things I had left out in my initial design, but once I had assembled the camera I thought it would be better to add them so I cut the viewfinder front and back, side strips, tiny cord holes on the side and flashlight holder by hand.

My cardboard replica of the Balda Super Baldina next to the real one
The reconstructed Balda Super Baldina in cardboard
Balda Super Baldina, back view
Balda Super Baldina, top view

I really enjoyed the whole process from design to contruction and I'm pleased with how it turned out. Now it has a spot in my small vintage camera museum!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Vancouver Island from land and sea

The planning for our holiday on Vancouver Island started about a year ago. We and 6 other friends from our kayak club booked a week's expedition with Mike from Mountain & Sea Guides. As it's such a big island and Jaap and I only visited Victoria during our honeymoon, we deciced to add two more weeks. Finally on the 19th of August our big holiday started and we flew out to Vancouver and then Port Hardy in the North East.

After Port Hardy (just North of Telegraph Cove) we stayed in Strathcona Park (Buttle Lake) where we met our Dutch friends by coincidence, Tofino where we walked through dense rainforest and over massive roots to reach Cone Hill, Ucluelet where we walked part of the Wild Pacific Trail, Courtenay where we cooled off in the local river and Quadra Island where we met Driftwood Tom. Then we went to Telegraph Cove where our week's kayak expedition to the Broughton Archipelago started from.

Map of Vancouver Island with visited places (blue triangles)

Below is a selection of photos and videos to get an impression of what we saw and did. A picture tells a thousand words so the writing will be very limited. Not all photos have been taken by myself and where relevant have been credited accordingly. I would like to thank Dave, Jill, Nicky and Mo for their permission to use them here. Enjoy!

Juvenile bald eagle

Colourful damselfly

Bear warning sign along one of the many trails

Swimming in Buttle Lake, Strathcona Park

The cool lad and the silly lassie underwater

Stunning scenery at Buttle Lake

Our first night camping at Buttle Lake

Map of Tofino and Ucluelet area

Boat journey to Meares Island near Tofino

Sunset from Meares Island

After a long, steep and sweaty ascent we finally made it
to the top of Cone Hill on Meares Island

Derelict van as sculptural feature in Tofino Botanical Gardens

Brilliant sign in Tofino Botanical Gardens

Vintage typewriter in nature

Man and woman sculpture

Lily pond at botanical gardens

More sculptures in the garden

I was treated a delicious lunch for my birthday at Tofino Botanical Gardens

Our camping spot at Ucluelet just after we had been notified
a bear wasforaging on this very spot an hour earlier!

Wild Pacific Trail sign

We actually thought this was put up mainly to keep dogs on a leash.
Wolves tend to avoid places where there are many tourists!

The trail had magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean around every corner

We had just been warned by the warden that a bear had been spotted
on the trail about an hour earlier and then we saw bear poo. 
It's full of blackcurrants and smells like it too!

This large Douglas Fir tree is a very popular tourist attraction and
is located at Cathedral Cove between Ucluelet and Port Alberni

It's hard to see the size of the Big Tree in such a dense rainforest

Branches are covered in lichen

Beautiful root system of a fallen tree

A giant chair made from driftwood by Driftwood Tom on Quadra Island

Driftwood Tom and Jaap in front of his self-built house.
It was so inspiring to meet him and to see his work!

True craftmanship

Nature taking over

Driftwood Tom builds these small huts for the many hippies
who live in the forests of Vancouver Island

At Nuyumbalees Cultural Center on Quadra Island we learnt about
Canada's First Nations populations, their woodcarvings
and their potlatch collections such as masks

Time for reflection and shade under this artistic construction

First Nations woodcarving

Postcard The Pod by Trevor Angus:
"Whales teach us about living together with family and community"

Postcard Eagle Transforming by Corey W. Moraes:
"The spirit in all beings offers guidance as we transform"

Postcard Whale by Paul Windsor:
"Whales provide us a message of family, unity and collective strength"

Boardwalk at Telegraph Cove

Telegraph Cove Harbour

WWII Telegraph Line at Telegraph Cove

Navigating through rainforest near Telegraph Cove to
reach a viewpoint overlooking Johnstone Strait
© Jill Franks

On two occassions I almost stepped on the Common Garter snake!
© Dave Johnson

Our kayaks ready for a week's paddling in the Broughton Archipelago
©Dave Johnson

Day 1: Telegraph Cove to Kaikash Creek Forest Recreation Site, 14 km
Day 2: Kaikash to Mound Island, 21 km

Killer whales in Johnstone Strait

Killer whales in Blackney Passage

Our campsite at Mound Island (2nd night)

Every night we had a delicious meal cooked by Mike.
Afterwards there was a strict regime to put all washed up dishes,
cutlery, mugs and even toothpaste in our kayaks to avoid attracting
bears and cougars. Even deodorant was not permitted!

Mo drawing skillfully in her sketchbook

Day 3: Mound Island to Echo Bay, about 30 km

Jaap observing a flock of small waders © Mo Jones

A flock of waders along the coastline

A fresh bear footprint on the beach where we just had lunch!
© Nicky Penford

As soon as we had finished our lunch here and got back
on the water this bear appeared!

Although being aware of us on the water, this bear just continued
foraging for seafood along the coastline © Dave Johnson

While safely on the water, I was able to capture the movement of this bear
foraging for food and even having a poo!

After that amazing experience, we might have slept a bit differently!

Arriving in Echo Bay after a long paddle day

Echo Bay from our campsite (3rd night)

Mooring at Echo Bay shop and filling station to get fresh water
and check the weather forecast for the coming days © Jill Franks

Mike briefing us about where we're going to paddle to next

Day 4: Echo Bay to Crib Island, about 25 km

Thick fog and drizzle on day 4 created a mystical atmosphere

Sea lions on Screen Island © Dave Johnson

The sound of the Steller sea lion bulls was very impressive, especially because you 
could hardly see them!

The mesmerising sound of the Common Loons

Common Loon with chick © Eagle Wing Tours

Day 5: Crib Island to White Cliff, 14 km

On day 5 the fog was luckily lifting. We had lunch and waited for slack water
at Dusky Cove © Jill Franks

Me enjoying the scenery and beautiful weather after a day of fog and rain
© Jill Franks

Jaap and me paddling approaching one of the islets in the Broughton Archipelago
© Dave Johnson

Jaap paddling towards one of the islets in Broughton Archipelago

Taking in this amazing scenery at Broughton Archipelago

Once we arrived at White Cliff in the early afternoon, Jaap went for a swim.
It was hot and humid all week and we hadn't had a shower since we left.
He was very brave as the water temperature was just around 8 degrees!!!
© Dave Johnson

Me searching for humpback whales from White Cliff where we stayed the night.
They were in abundance here! © Dave Johnson

Our camp at White Cliff

We were extremely lucky to have been able to watch this humpback whale 
bubble netting from 'our' islet White Cliff!

This whale was surely putting up a show just for us....about 7 times in a row!!

Our kayaks parked for the night on driftwood

Sunset with moon at White Cliff © Dave Johnson

Pure bliss; enjoying yummy food with friends in stunning scenery while watching
humpback whales catching their meal. It can't get any better than this!

Humpback whale at sunset © Dave Johnson

Day 6: From White Cliff to Hanson Island, 11 km
Day 7: From Hanson Island back to Telegraph Cove, 16 km

Me doing kayak yoga in Johnstone Strait © Nicky Penford

Drying out our stuff after a week's paddling during our lunchbreak
© Nicky Penford

Our expedition team. Thank you all for a great time and in particular
our guide Mike (in blue) for being a superb leader and cook!