Saturday 23 February 2013

looking forward, looking back

February is turning out to be a month of forward planning as far as my creative side is concerned.  In the space of one week I found myself filling out forms for the Open Exhibition at Luton Hoo Walled Garden and this year's Art on the Common, and hosting a meeting for those of us hoping to exhibit at Artscape in Harpenden for Herts Open Studios 2013.  Much of it seems a long way off; but time for creative pursuits has proven scarce so far this year so I've started thinking about possible exhibits already. As always when time is tight, I've gone back over my photo albums; last October's visit to Kerry has proved a rich source of inspiration. We were staying right on the harbour at Portmagee, and took a stroll on the quayside early one morning when the tide had just gone out:

seaweed, Portmagee harbour

Kerry offers the most spectacular views, and it's easy to forget that there are plenty of smaller delights right under your nose if you care to look, such as this little plant growing in a crevice of rock on Valentia Island:

rock plant, Valentia

Back in Portmagee Harbour I indulged my particular obsession with the wooden crates which the fishermen use to catch lobster.  They have wonderful colour and texture both when wet and dry, and are festooned with ropes which also hold a particular fascination for me:

old rope, Portmagee harbour
As well as working on some exhibits involving rope, plants and seaweed, I'm also putting aside images which are suitable for cards, such as the one below.  I like this one so much that I've hung it in my cloakroom, which has a Kerry seashore theme to it:

the sign of the cross on the foreshore at Kilkeaveragh
So at the moment I'm looking forward to September by looking back to last October, keeping the memories alive and the creative juices ticking over at the same time!

Thursday 14 February 2013

Love Unlimited - guerilla printmaking!

Love Unlimited - linocut greeings card
© Teresa Newham 2013

We've had a busy few weeks since New Year, with little time for creative pursuits, so I suspect it was Divine Providence which reminded me, towards the end of January, that if I wanted to make my husband a Valentine's card, the time to start it was now.  My problem was how to go about it without him noticing -  J takes a great deal of interest in my art and is incredibly supportive, so it felt quite disloyal to do something in secret!  I hastily drafted a simple design on the PC when J was downstairs, marking schoolbooks.  I even managed to transfer the design onto lino in my studio when he was working in the dining room next door - there is a window between them so it wasn't as easy as you might think.  I was sweating buckets and kept looking over my shoulder - I'd be a hopeless secret agent!

Scene of Crime I - the box in the crate . . .
© Teresa Newham 2013

At this point I realised that although there was still almost three weeks to go before 14th February,  the card would need a week to dry, so would have to be cut and printed that coming weekend.  Which would be impossible, as my brother-in-law was staying; usually I can rely on J to pop out at least once or twice over the weekend but we were planning to do everything together!  Perhaps I could sort something out in the week?  difficult, as someone was going to put up curtain poles in the studio on Wednesday, so J was planning to move my studio equipment out  of the way.   I might not be able to access what I needed, and if he came across the card by accident it would spoil the surprise . . .

Scene of Crime II - the shelf in the cupboard
© Teresa Newham 2013

I had no idea how to solve this problem, but I decided that if Divine Providence had prompted me in this direction in the first place, DP would probably supply the solution (I did a bit of praying too, to help things along).  And on the Monday morning, after J had gone to work I found I had twenty minutes spare before I needed to leave.  Who usually has twenty minutes spare in the morning? not me!  but I wasn't quibbling - I got out the cutters and set to work.  And finished the cut.  I could hardly believe it, but I found a hiding place for the lino block and dashed out to the station.

Scene of Crime III - the drawer in the cabinet
© Teresa Newham 2013
On Tuesday morning the same thing happened; I managed to print up three cards (two spares just in case), and clear up, and move quite a lot of studio stuff out of the way in preparation for the curtain poles the following day.  But drying the cards somewhere J wouldn't see them was the next problem.  In the end I put two in the drawers of a plastic storage unit where I keep my printmaking inks, and the third in a cupboard.  OK - it's not the most complex card I've ever made (or the neatest!) but it is all my own work - and not bad for something put together in a hurry in total secrecy!

the finished card (unsigned)
© Teresa Newham 2013

J loved the card - all that secrecy was worth it - he had no idea it was coming!  it's our wedding anniversary in a few days' time;  but guess what?  I've bought him a card for that - my shredded nerves won't take any more guerilla printmaking . . . !!