Tag Archives: process

The wind has been taken out of my sails

I have been forced to go into extra time today. I suppose I have got a little casual and assumed that each day my #Letter365 piece would just flow, that the picture I had in my head would get transferred into physical form and be quite wonderful. Alas today’s just turned out to be a crock of proverbial! I have to say I was quite deflated to have produced something that missed the mark quite so badly and which had no discernible redeeming feature! It really was quite depressing. Made worse by a growing headache, the fact Radio 3 keeps playing warbling women and the realisation that I had run out of envelopes and had but a little time to dash in to town and get some. So I have had to take a deep breath and relax to the fact that there was no way I would get No47 would be in the post box before collection time! That’s OK as my deadline is midnight and I have turned things round in my mind and realised that I am working in an OK way on my other stuff and this was just a hiccough that caused an overreaction and loss of confidence.  We will see if all is well when I return to the studio in a few minutes to look what I have done so far!

Can you believe it? The plan worked!

Post box being emptied
Kindly postie lets me put a stamp on No38

Those of you who know me well may not believe this, but I had a plan, I worked the plan and the plan worked! OK, the postie quite rightly gave me a little lecture on putting stamps on and postal security and stuff, but he did let me put a stamp on the postally-naked No38. I suspect that I came out of it OK. Polly Gifford at the Arts Centre would have mercilessly ribbed me about it at the very least and I saved us the £1 or so extra for unstamped mail and the walk to the sorting office. I even had a go at a flamingo shadow on the postie’s leg, but it didn’t come out that well as you can see. Nice shapes in the lower half of the photo though!

No38 went in the box around lunchtime – with no stamp!!

#Letter365 No38 goes in the post with no stamp!
A sunny Sunday posting for No38 – with no bloody stamp!

I cannot believe I have done it again! I was so pleased that I have managed to spend the day in the studio despite my lost voice turning into a really bad sore throat tuning into a rotten cold. With the help of tissues and Strepsils I have soldiered on and had a really productive day. I did my #Letter365 piece first and am very pleased with it. Around lunchtime I did the envelope and photographs and popped it in the box. It is only now that I notice the lack of a stamp! (I didn’t notice that I thought it was Sunday yesterday as far as the message on the envelope went!)

So here is the plan:

  1. Tomorrow morning enquire at the Bradpole Post Office as to the time of the first collection
  2. Hang around about that time and see if the postie will let me rummage through the box and stick a stamp on the envelope
  3. Failing that (if I miss them or they won’t let me) go cap-in-hand to the Arts Centre and offer to pick up and pay for the postage due
  4. Suggest I leave a postage due fund to cover future cock ups
  5. Repeat the opening words of Four Weddings and a Funeral under my breath from time to time
  6. Record it all as part of the process!

Posh sealing wax and a pale envelope for No37

Red sealing wax stick
Upgraded sealing wax – a more traditional recipe

I seem to have got bound in to this thing of sealing my envelopes with sealing wax. It started because the only envelopes I had were old and the self-seal had lost its stick so I used Pritt stick and some sealing wax. I rather like the way that things like this develop. Quite often in the repetitive drawings I do, rules develop: perhaps if I make a “mistake” I will respond with an over-correction, which I then have to do each time  that “mistake” happens. It all goes back to the thing I have about the wave-carved ripples on hard-sand beaches, where regular patterns develop and anomalies occur in turn spawning predictable reactions to the anomalies.

So anyway, I am now probably stuck with sealing up with sealing wax each day (except when I am away) and I started using the decorative gold wax I already had and then bought some more from the art shop in Dorchester. Neither of these had the satisfying sticky quality that the sealing wax my father used. There was always a long stick or two in the sideboard drawer (along with the little machine for cutting rug wool, the wooden darning mushroom and the little reedwork pen nib box my father brought back with him from Egypt during the war, amongst other mismatched sundries). This sealing wax had the manufacturer’s name or the brand embossed on one side. I can’t remember what is was called, though for some reason i think it may have been “Houses of Parliament”. Over the years the sticks got broken and gradually eroded at the breaks though still held together by the wick like a string of flattened red sausages. This was real “legal” sealing wax and was very different to the decorative stuff I used to date on the project. So the first one I found was this one pictured above is Waterson’s, supposedly made to a traditional recipe and unchanged for years. They are quite small sticks but they certainly have a much more satisfying stickiness to them. I am confusing myself with these sticky sticks that stick!

~letter365 No37 goes in the post box
Pale No37 goes in the box to sit there till Monday

I posted No37 hours ago. I’ve had to renew the ink cartridges and tried to keep the same tone as before but the grey came out far too light really, a pale ghost of its former glory! The piece inside is worked up precisely from the idea I had this morning. It all went smoothly apart from a brief moment of doubt just before I completed it. It feels great when it goes like that – and it feels great when it gets a life of its own and finds its own resolution. It doesn’t feel great when it turns out to be rubbish and goes on the fire or recycle pile!

A fertile morning produces a rather special No35

#Letter365 No35 is posted at Bradpole
No35 is popped in the box

I have had a rotten sore throat and have lost my voice for the past few days. I don’t feel particularly unwell in general, just weary and jaded, so I am trying not to allow my virus-enforced Trappist silence to affect me. I had a particularly fertile morning and have started to explore some slightly new directions in my work. Today’s #Letter365 piece is a small version of one of those new thoughts, modified to fit within what I am doing with #Letter365 specifically. Delighted with both this piece and the bigger picture.

The first month completed

#Letter365 No31 goes in the box on a drear and drizzly day
No31 goes in the box on a drear and drizzly day

Well the first month has been completed and I still have lots of things to sort out for the project from this website to sponsorship and printing to events. This week the From Page To Screen festival has eaten up a fair bit of time – 7 films in 5 days – and I have some basic stuff to put in place for Dorset Art Weeks and my son and daughter-in-law are visiting for a few days and there’s the garden to sort when/if it stops raining and then the bees will be swarming and…and…and…it’s good to be busy!

But whatever else may be happening, the work I am doing for this project is happening well – it’s mostly flowing easily and also teasing me into unfamiliar areas and causing me to experiment in my other work. So all is well.

A bit of drizzle and a bit of drivel about a rock or a crab

It’s odd that there is a pressure in me to produce a completely new and unique work each day. While I intend each work that will be unique that doesn’t mean that I have to summon up a totally new idea each day. I have only just realised that I could work on developing a single idea over a period of time – I had already thought of doing special series, say at Christmas – and I had sort of forgotten that part of this process is the final installation, so perhaps I will do series of similar work for stretches at a time. It will perhaps be like the wave-carved ripples on the wide sand beaches, the same but totally different every day. And some days there will be a rock or a crab. But mostly it will just be the same but totally different. There again I may not do that!

#Letter365 No25 goes in the box
Drizzle and drivel – No25 goes in the box

I thought it would be sunny today but it turned out dull and drizzly. So today’s #Letter365 offering got everso vaguely damp in the 30 paces to the post box.

I read it somewhere

It’s one of those things that when you read it you think, “yes that’s interesting, probably true” but when it comes down to it you don’t follow through. It was – and  don’t know who wrote it or where – something like, “Accept that all those things that you think of in the middle of the night that you know are brilliant ideas but that you can’t remember in the morning, accept that really they were rubbish.”

I saw this to be useful wisdom for those nights when the brain is overactive: excited by all the brilliant ideas for brilliant things that you will create or do or think next day. Telling yourself that they are all crap and if there are really any good ones you will remember them in the morning, can help you get back to sleep, the sleep you need to have a creative day next day.

Last night after just 40 minutes sleep I was disturbed by the cats, or my parter, or a putative burglar or a good/bad idea and found myself awake for the next two hours wondering if I should risk the disturbance of recording the creative maelström in Evernote or getting up and making a calming tea whilst jotting it all down in my notebook. I did write a couple of words in the dark on a small scrap of paper – one of which was a useful memory jog, the other was a superfluous reminder of something I really would not have forgotten anyway! I did manage to tell myself that “all these ideas are crap anyway” but ignored my advice and stayed awake desperately trying to imprint my brilliant ideas so firmly in my mind that I would be able to instantly access and use them this morning.

Well, what a success! I woke to find I had clearly remembered 3 or 4 of the dozens of good/bad ideas I had had in the night. These must be the worthwhile ones! So I was quite excited to get to the studio quite early and start working with them.

The first indication that something was wrong was my lack of confidence. Instead of just wading in and doing it I decided to try it out on a piece of paper the colour of which I was unlikely to use – no way I was going to risk wasting a piece of expensive hand-made paper… Hang on! What kind of idea was it that was so shaky I wouldn’t risk wasting a piece of paper on? This was an idea that I was so convinced was interesting that it kept me awake for two hours – yet I hadn’t the confidence to back it to the price of a piece of paper! In any case, I believe what my dear friend Jill Beagley once told me, “You are an artist and anything tha an artist does with a piece of paper can never be a waste.”

Well I fiddled with this idea for about 30 seconds more before I realised that it really was crap. I reviewed the other ideas that I had packaged up from the night and concluded they were not much better.

The good thing was that this left me totally clear to approach my #Letter365 piece open and fresh. Immediately I had discarded the rubbish I knew exactly what I wanted to do and as I worked it developed a purity and clarity that almost brought tears to my eyes.

I wonder if now I will be able to remember next time that thing I read somewhere about things that are crap in the night

All comes good in the end

Yesterday I was surprised that something other than the idea I had planned wanted to get made. Today it was me that doubted myself: I had a clear picture of what I wanted to create for today’s piece but as I was making it I began to doubt if it would work. I was beginning to thing I might bin it and start afresh and just made a final adjustment and bingo it suddenly became perfectly what I was aiming for. It’s magic all this!