Reflections on the mid year review (23 June)

June 23, 2016

Thanks to all who offered kind wishes for my mid year review at art school yesterday :)

I was really happy with how it went. My display table looked good (see previous post), and although I didn't love every single piece that I produced this semester, overall I was pleased with my progress and how much I'd achieved. In fact I am quite chuffed.

In the formal review, I got some really good feedback about my skills development across the semester. The teachers said that pattern, colour and a developing use of texture are a strength. Textile design was suggested as an area to explore further, which I was happy to hear as it's a strong interest of mine. Next semester I need to slow down a bit on trying new things all the time and consolidate my existing skills :)

I previously mentioned the peer review session - the critique of my work included some great comments about my use of colour, attention to detail and mixed media techniques (thanks Chiara!).

I also got some lovely feedback from a couple of the teachers on the afternoon before the formal review. One said that they could see an illustrative style emerging that was colourist and quirky (I like that!). Another teacher said I was doing interesting work on the edges, with a nice reference to permaculture theory. We'd been talking about the tension between neatness and messiness in art, and finding our own place on the spectrum.

We were invited to incorporate some work that we'd done outside the course, so I included a box of my favourite index cards for people to flick through. Most of my teachers and fellow students hadn't seen them before, and they got a lot of interest. Every time I came back to my table they were in a different order, as people shuffled through them :) They received an honourable mention in my review too. I appreciated the opportunity to show what I enjoy doing in my own time.

Box of index cards


First semester nearly done (21 June)

June 21, 2016

Yesterday I submitted my last assignment for the semester. It's been hard yakka all semester long, usually with five or six assignments on the go at any one time. It's such a relief to have a short break to look forward to! But the holidays aren't here yet ...

Today was the first day of our mid year review. In the morning I set up a table and display space with a selection of the first semester's work - all of the assignments, plus my six best pieces from life drawing and five best pieces from studio drawing. I've included a photo of my display space below. I know you can't see the work very clearly here, but I couldn't fit everything into a single photo anyway. I will post better individual photos soon.

Mid year review

In the afternoon we conducted a peer review session, where we provided critique on each other's folios to date. Everyone has produced so much amazing work this semester that it was really more of a case of finding the best words to effectively compliment people's work and express our admiration. This is part of learning the language of art :)

Tomorrow I'll present my work to a panel of teachers, focusing on six pieces in particular as a basis for a discussion about my artistic direction. The teachers will then review my folio as a whole and provide me with feedback. I'm more interested than nervous at this stage. Overall I'm quite happy with the work I've produced in the course so far, and am hoping that the teachers will give me some pointers on what to explore and develop further next semester.

P.S. Daily blogging is hard when you have five assignments due and a review in the same month!


#ICAD2016 week 2 round up (18 June)

June 18, 2016

Another seven index cards done, so another weekly round up. A collage of the second week's efforts is below :)

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2016 Week 2 round up

I thought I would find it much harder to do the index cards while I'm also spending so much time and energy on my arts course. But so far I'm actually finding it a great outlet for doing my own thing creatively.

In my course I am constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone, while here in the index card challenge I am free to play around with the patterns and colours that I love. I'm not trying to create groundbreaking art, I'm just playing and exploring. And nobody is going to mark my efforts :)

As usual, I've been posting my index cards for the Index-Card-A-Day challenge (#ICAD2016) to Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr individually as I create them.


Cherry Tree in Autumn (13 June)

June 13, 2016

I'm totally in love with the colours on my cherry tree right now. Every time I catch a glimpse of it through my laundry window, or step outside my back door, it makes me feel happy. A reminder of the beauty in the world.

Love the golden colours on my cherry tree right now!

Last week I desperately needed some inspiration for an assignment on modernism that I was really struggling with. I had ideas, but just couldn't pull them together and move forward. One of my friends suggested taking inspiration from a landscape, and suddenly everything came together. I thought of my cherry tree, and that gave me my shapes and colour palette. I picked up the paintbrush and went to work.

Painting inspiration - leaves from my cherry tree, love these colours!

I posted a work-in-progress photo earlier today of the beginnings of the painting. It was looking so pretty, I wanted to capture it just in case I stuffed it up later (it happens, trust me).

Beginnings of an abstract geometric painting, inspired by my cherry tree

And here is the finished piece - an abstract geometric watercolour painting of my cherry tree, with brown and grey accents to represent the trunk / ground and winter sky. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

Cherry Tree in Autumn

The next step was to scan the painting and import it into a program called PCStitch. It's software for creating cross stitch designs, but can also be used for any grid-based designs such as Fair Isle knitting or latch hook rugs. I used it to create a design for a 3 x 4 foot rug. The pattern will form part of an artwork proposal along with the watercolour painting.

Oh, and while I had my paints out, I made an index card using a similar design too :)


The first assignment (12 June)

June 12, 2016

Well, I guess I really have been nervous about sharing my artwork, as it's nearly halfway through June and I still haven't posted anything from my course yet!

It's funny - I don't feel any hesitation about sharing the results of my daily creative challenges. I suspect it's because they're quick and small, and of necessity there are limitations on how much time and effort I can spend on them.

My art school assignments are a different matter. I've spent more time on them, and put more thought and work into them. Sharing them is just that little bit scarier, simply because I tried harder. Fellow perfectionists will understand what I'm trying to say here (and I have another blog post in draft all about that!).

Sometimes the assignment work also really needs some context to go along with it - such as the one I'm (finally) sharing in this post. We received this assignment on our second day of classes. After watching a Powerpoint presentation, we were given the following brief: create two pages of a zine; with subject matter based on a shortlist of books and films; in either Art Nouveau or German Expressionist style; with a contemporary twist; in three weeks.

I felt totally overwhelmed. My internal dialogue was a wail of "But I don't even know how to draw!" and "Isn't anyone going to teach us anything first?". Tears got the better of me at the morning tea break, but a lovely fellow student comforted me. It turned out I wasn't alone in feeling that way.

Anyway, long story short, here is my final piece :)

Harry Potter subject guide in Art Nouveau style

Click on the image to see a larger version in Flickr. The two pieces are also uploaded individually to my Art School 2016 Flickr folder.


The cumquats are coming (10 June)

June 10, 2016

It may be a little premature to be blogging about my much anticipated cumquat harvest while the fruit are still green (counting my chickens before they're hatched?), but ooh I hope this lot ripens successfully :)

Last year, after our cat Roxy died, my friends at work bought me a cumquat tree. I'm not sure who contributed, but I know it was Rose that remembered my reminiscences about growing up with a cumquat tree, and I was so touched at receiving such a personal gift at that time.

I took this first photo back in January when the little tree was in blossom. We had nursed it through its first summer with extra shade and insect traps to keep the citrus gall wasp away. Such excitement to see that first tiny fruit appear, when the tree had been in the ground for less than a year!

Lots of flowers on my cumquat right now, and a tiny young fruit too :)

And now it's June - the flowers have gone, and have been replaced by lots of fruit (but not too many, as it's a young plant still). The cumquats appear to be full sized now, so hopefully they will start to change colour soon. We don't yet know what their season is, though, so only time will tell when they are ready to pick and eat.

The cumquats are coming! Looking forward to my first harvest this year :)

Cumquats are very tart, so when they're ripe we will most likely be adding lots of sugar to them, and making marmalade or brandied cumquats. But first I'm going to eat one straight off the tree! Those beautiful orange fruit were always such a big temptation to an impatient child, and every year I would forget how sour they are and try to eat one raw :) I'm looking forward to reliving that moment, including the I-just-sucked-on-a-lemon face that inevitably goes with it *lol*

P.S. Apparently cumquats are better known as kumquats outside Australia.


#ICAD2016 week 1 round up (8 June)

June 8, 2016

I just realised I've already done my first seven cards for this year's Index-Card-A-Day challenge (#ICAD2016), so it's time for a weekly round up.

I've been posting them each day to Flickr, and also to Instagram and Tumblr. A collage of the first week's efforts is below.

Index-Card-A-Day (#ICAD) 2016 Week 1 round up

Again, never easy to make time to do these, but it's such a worthwhile activity for switching gears, engaging creativity and developing skills. It's a bit like a shared daily sketchbook habit, really.

I had a few leftover watercolour backgrounds from last year, as well as some other bits and pieces that I've repurposed. That was a real timesaver this week. I'll try to get a head start on a few more this weekend if I can.

Interesting to see two distinct colour palettes emerging in the first week's cards. I don't think that was deliberate. A bit of collage - we're doing a collage assignment at the moment, so it's on the brain I guess. Some doodling, mostly over the top of other media. Paint of various types in all except one. The only one without paint was done with permanent markers in a food court while waiting for a friend. Much better than wasting time on my phone :)


Smells and memories (7 June)

June 7, 2016

Oops, missed a couple of days already. Oh well, I don't think anyone's counting my blog posts except for me. I'll manage what I can :)

Anyway, this morning I tried a new shampoo sample. It had a coconut fragrance that instantly took me back to living in Darwin. Not that we were surrounded by coconuts up there (although we did have a coconut tree above our pool that was rather alarming - I was so worried about getting hit on the head by a falling coconut that we put up a shade cloth for protection), but there is definitely a connection. I normally use a coconut scented shower gel to remind me of the tropics, but I've been using a vanilla scented one lately and can't wait to finish it and get back to that lovely coconut and the memories and feelings it evokes.

Coconut tree, Darwin

As I thought about the various scents available in hair and body products, I realised that this is an area where I really do call upon smell to alter my mood by reminding me of happy times. Not so much perfumes, but body lotions, lip balms, shower gels and room sprays. I like a hint rather than a whoomph of scent.

  • Coconut, as mentioned above, makes me think of Darwin and the tropics.
  • Orange blossom reminds me of the tree in our front garden that I played in as a child.
  • Baby powder envelopes me in a feeling of parental love.
  • Green apple reminds me of my favourite shampoo as a child, a gift from my grandmother.
  • Jasmine takes me back to our family home, and the fence that was covered in it.
  • Raspberry lip balm reminds me of my university years.
  • Lemon verbena is a direct line to the lemonade icy poles of childhood summers.
  • Rose reminds me of my mother's favourite flowers.
  • Eucalyptus oil is the hankie my father used to stuff into our shirt pockets when we had a cold.
Do you have any smells that you deliberately use to evoke fond memories of people, times and places?


The 100 Day Project (4 June)

June 4, 2016

I mentioned in my first #blogjune post for this year, that I'm taking part in a couple of creative challenges this month. One is the Index-Card-A-Day challenge that I've done for the last two years - I'll be posting updates on that here on the blog every week or so. The other challenge is The 100 Day Project (#the100dayproject).

I first heard about #the100dayproject when it was mentioned by a few artists and illustrators that I follow on Instagram who were planning to take part. Intrigued, I investigated further. The challenge involves choosing a creative activity - anything you like - and doing it for 100 days. The tagline is "What could you do with 100 days of making?".

Day 5 #100daysofbrushstrokes #the100dayproject

Knowing how much I've got out of other daily creative challenges, in building both skills and community, I wanted to participate. But I also knew I had the index card challenge on the horizon, and assignments for art school are very demanding on my time.

By chance, I discovered a simple iPhone app called Ink Brush Pen around the same time I was contemplating joining #the100dayproject. After creating a few little drawings just using my finger, and liking the look of the brush pen effect, I decided this was it - this was how I could participate in a short but satisfying way each day, without stressing out about trying to create great works of art.

Now I just had to decide on a personal hashtag (#100daysof... ) to accompany the challenge. I chose #100daysofbrushstrokes.

I've decided to join #the100dayproject challenge on Instagram :) My theme is #100daysofbrushstrokes, and each day I'll post a small digital drawing made using an ink brush app on my phone

Each day I take a few minutes to play around on the app and see what I can come up with. Some days I feel especially creative, and build up a bank of drawings that I can use on those days when I don't have enough time or energy to come up with something. My drawings using the app are necessarily simple, and I enjoy creating them.

Here's a quick mosaic of some of my favourite pieces for #the100dayproject so far. I post them each day to my Instagram account, and also to my Flickr account where you can view them all together in an album.

#100daysofbrushstrokes mosaic

The challenge runs from 19 April - 27 July. There are lots of amazing artists, creators, photographers and makers taking part. You can check out the hashtag on Instagram to see the latest work that people are doing. So inspiring, and a great way of finding interesting people to follow too.


The Light in Winter (3 June)

June 3, 2016

Last night I caught up with a good friend for dinner in the city. As we walked towards Flinders St Station at the end of the night, our eyes were caught by the illuminated buildings of Federation Square, which were covered in colourful patterns. I wandered over for a closer look, and learnt that the light installation was part of Fed Square's tenth anniversary The Light in Winter.

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

The light projections on the building facades are called Federation Squared, created by Reko Rennie and The Electric Canvas. It's a repeat of the installation that they created for White Night Melbourne earlier this year. The work relates to Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

The Federation Squared light installation will only run for four nights (2-5 June), so if you want to check it out you'd better be quick!

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

Another important part of The Light in Winter is the Leempeeyt Weeyn’ Indigenous Campfire, and its associated program of events. It was originally created by Vicki Couzens. The campfire will burn continuously until 17 July.

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

The Light in Winter, Federation Square

The Federation Square website also says there is a Giant Theremin set up somewhere in the vicinity until 19 July - this most definitely requires further investigation!

Sally Cummings

Art student. Librarian. Crafter. Foodie. Geek.
And much, much more :)
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