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Throughout my life, I've often been accused of being overly sensitive.  From the time I was a young girl, my family often made fun of me for it.  For years I had a poster tacked to my bedroom door that read: "Be careful what you say to me, I'm a highly sensitive human being."  So it should come as little surprise when I acknowledge that I have a way of identifying full-heartedly with characters in books and films.  And I'm not talking simple empathy with a character's thoughts and actions; I feel like I am the character. 

In the most recent novel I read, The World According to Garp, the main character had a way of describing his life as a writer that so similarly to the way I feel about being an artist that it was almost creepy.  It was as if John Irving somehow had found a door into my head - the head of person he doesn't even know exists - walked in, and started rooting around until *bing* he uncovered my anxieties with painful accuracy.  This is the cringe-worthy excerpt that could be a description of my life (if you substitute the word "artist" for "writer" and "she/her" for "he/him"):

"I should get out more, Garp thought.  If I had a job, he thought - a thought he had every day, and rethought every day, since he wasn't writing. 

There was almost no job in the world he was qualified for; he was qualified, he knew, for very little.  He could write; when he was writing, he believed he wrote very well.  But one reason he thought about getting a job was that he felt he needed to know more about other people; he wanted to get over his distrust of them.   A job would at least force him to come into contact - and if he weren't forced to be with other people, Garp would stay home. 

It was for his writing, in the beginning, that he had never taken the idea of a job seriously.  Now it was for his writing that he was thinking he needed a job."
 

About juggling the burden of working from home and the challenges associated with it, the novel continues:

"...ironing was the only task of conventional housewifery that Garp rejected.  The cooking...the basic laundry, the cleaning up - he did them.  The cooking expertly; ... the cleaning up, a little compulsively.  He swore at errant clothes, dishes...but he let nothing lie; he was a maniac for picking things up.  Some mornings, before he sat down to write, he raced over the house with a vacuum cleaner, or he cleaned the oven.  The house never looked untidy, was never dirty, but there was always a certain haste to the neatness of it.  Garp threw a lot of things away and he would allow most of the light bulbs to burn out, unreplaced, until Helen would realize that they were living in almost total darkness, huddled around the two lamps that worked.  Or when he remembered the lights, he forgot the soap and the toothpaste."

 
 

Art

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Today I'm revisiting the Suburban Housewife series.  I've been scouring the web for images of women from the 50s and 60s posed in the middle of mundane chores.  I've been looking for very specific poses - ones that are (of course) interesting and offer obvious tasks, but that are ambiguous enough that they could be suggestive of something less ordinary.  Once I have an image that interests me, I turn the woman into a silhouette, the act of which is in itself very intriguing to me: casting her into shadow, removing all detail so that she becomes a shell.  This afternoon I'll place these silhouetted women into new environments and will become the basis for new paintings and vintage transfers.


Music

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I often listen to music or the news while I work.  Today it's music and I put together a random playlist which includes a Tom Waits album which lays often neglected in my collection titled Real Gone.  I'm so glad I played it today.  On it is a song called Trampled Rose.  It sounded incredibly familiar and I quickly realized that's because that same song is on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album Raising Sand.  Both songs are great, but I'm easily pulled into the gravel-grit quality of Waits voice.  I also made the connection between Wait's Circus and Ani DiFranco's Parameters.  She is definitely borrowing some of his style in that song. 

Book

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During my breaks from the studio I'm reading one of my favorite authors: John Irving.  I'm not sure what it is about his books but for some reason I always discover them in charity shops, which is where I picked up the novel I'm currently reading: The World According to Garp.  I first discovered this particular novel in a book of disregarded junk in my parent's house when I was a teenager.  And from my first read I fell in love.  And since then - I find his books in the most unexpected (to me) of places.  And that makes me smile.  I'm nearly at the end of Garp - so I've been reading it more slowly, savoring it like a piece of sharp, dark chocolate. 

 
 
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photo taken by Gail Hilton
I can't believe how long it's been since my last post!  It's been a busy time for me in the studio in the last few weeks as I prepared for a Vintage Fair at the Cedar Farm in Ormskirk, Lancashire.  It was a great day and I met a lot of lovely people and saw sooo many cool things I wanted!  I demonstrated phenomenal restraint and ended the day without making a single purchase, which was VERY difficult, as you can imagine.


I've also had a bit of good news: I have accepted a position as Curator at the West Ox Arts Gallery in Bampton!  I start on March 1st and already my head is full of ideas for exhibitions and events - I can't wait to get settled in! 
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Featured in this print: my marvelous friend, Romayne, during our trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
In addition to all of that, I've been working hard on launching my new product: Nostalgic Prints. I personally think they're great and have a feeling you'll think so, too. To create these special Prints, I use the same transfer process used to make the vintage War Girls wall hangings which gives a really cool, aged look to modern photos. It's still early days, but I think they're really going to grow into something big!!
And, while I have yet to start working on it, I have an idea rattling around in my head for a new piece of artwork which will incorporate stuff that I've picked up on my walks with the dog. It's going to be another assemblage piece. More details to follow soon!

Speaking of walking the dog: Butler is by my side as I sit here typing this, begging me with his gorgeous amber-coloured eyes to take him out for a walk. So I'd better get going. I'll keep you posted on the artwork!