Inch of the Day 29 August 2015: Ripples

Arrows: Encaustic on Paper Encaustic and acrylic paint on paper. Arrows. An arrow is a symbol for a force. The direction of a force. Not a sign. A ripple would be the sign of a force. A ripple might form the shape of an arrow, of course.

I wasn’t thinking about this. I was looking at the encaustic art of Nan Swid.

Today I’ve also been looking at music theory. Melody, harmony, tonality. Notation. Rhythm and metre. Texture.  Texture in music is interesting. Fugue. I’d like to put together some artwork derived from the shape of a fugue. Shape in music. Been looking at that. Philip Glass.

‘Inch a day’ seems to be shifting things. Creating events. Ripples. It’s making me register. Record. I let too many ripples go by uninspected.

I’m dreaming more. I’m tired. I had to go to bed this afternoon. Slept for three hours. Yesterday I did some heavy duty physical work at the allotment. There was a huge matted heap of weeds and grass from last year, when we started with chaos. We just had to clear a space, to start ordering. I stretched the heap into a horizontal line across the plot. Covered it with black netting. It was like a line on a sheet of music. I overlaid the line with a melody.

Good night. :)




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Inch of the Day 28 August 2015

At the moment I’m singing through Handel, 45 Arias from Operas and Oratorios which is a three-volume collection of sheet music edited by American pianist, composer, music editor and singing teacher  Sergius Kagen and published by the International Music Company (New York).

Care Selve appears in Volume II and is an aria from Handel’s Atalanta.  Handel wrote Atalanta to celebrate the marriage in 1736 of Frederick the Prince of Wales (son of George II), to Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.

The rendition in the You Tube video is by American soprano Arleen Auger, whose voice I became acquainted with through her recording of Les Chants d’Auvergne, by Joseph Canteloupe. This was in 1994 on a Malaysian Airlines overnight flight. Unable to sleep, I listened to this suite of songs over an over, all night. Little did I know that  in 2014, some 20 years later, I’d be singing one of these haunting songs myself, solo (La Pastourelle). Auger died, tragically, aged 53, of a glial brain tumour. My husband is almost 8 years in remission of a glial brain tumour. Life can be very strange, don’t you think?

Anyway, I’ve been singing Care Selve. This is my inch of creativity for 28 August. I hope you enjoy it.




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Inch of the Day 27 August 2015

Sorrel Print I 21 January 2015Voila,  my inch of creativity today. It’s from Leaves: Three Short Tales, a compilation of three stories I’ve written and am now editing for publication, specifically for Kindle.

I have lots of stories awaiting further development and my cunning plan is to publish them in sets of three. Leaves will be the first compilation. This is an excerpt from the first of the three tales, The Second Coming of Judas Iscariot.

“What were the leaves like?” Again, he’d no idea where his question had come from.
“Big, they were big.”
“Shape?” Why am I asking these questions?
“Heart-shaped, no kidney …”
The hairs stood up on the back of his neck. The Gov was looking like a penny had dropped.
“You’re ‘Bookworm Bateson’.”
How does he know that?
“Know any Greek?”
“A bit, sir.”

A Isik (c) 2015

The image is of some leaf prints I did in January. These are prints of sorrel leaves. They are so simple to do. You just brush acrylic paint directly onto the leaf and press it onto some paper. The trick is to get the paint the right consistency and to use a receptive paper. I used cartridge from a cheap sketch pad. It’s a great art activity for kids.

Have you added an inch (or 2.54 cms if you prefer) to a creative project today?  I’d like to know.


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Inch of the Day 26 August 2015

Eco Prints Merged Below The Line 26 August 2015“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life.”    Ray Bradbury

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know that yesterday I launched a project ‘An Inch A Day’. This is about creating (at the very least) an inch of art, writing, singing, whatever, on a daily basis, no matter what else happens during the day.

So here is my inch of the day.

Did  you inch your way towards a creative goal today? I’d like to know.



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An Inch a Day

Chapter Close upI’m setting myself a challenge, because it seems every time I settle down to some artwork, writing, singing, something throws the proverbial spanner in the works. Over the past two weeks, the culprit has been Microsoft and its Windows 10 Upgrade.

Upgrading to 10 was just like throwing a hand grenade at my operating system. Despite promises that if I wanted to, I could roll back to 8.1, I couldn’t and in the end I had to reinstall Windows, install all the updates, then reinstall 8.1 and its updates. I’ve had to reinstall all my programs and in the process I’ve lost hundreds of euros of iTunes music that I bought while I was living in France. (You can’t re-download iTunes music that you bought in other countries). I’m not blaming Microsoft, except for the poor customer support (one gave me information I didn’t need then cut me off, another cut me off as soon as I explained what I wanted, I shouted at another one over the phone, another gave me the wrong information but was nice about it).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve had problems with os upgrades before. The problem is, I think, without being a techie geek, that one’s computer gathers – like the rolling stone – a lot of moss during its lifetime (registry errors and the like) and really, clean booting ought to be made the only option when upgrading. Any IT professional reading this might be laughing into their socks, but that’s my opinion. Anyway, I won’t upgrade an os ever again, but wait for my laptop to expire and buy a new one with the latest os already installed.

The point is this, however. I’ve decided that no matter what happens, I’m going to try an inch a day. An inch of writing, an inch of art-making, an inch of singing. At least. More, of course, when possible. An inch of writing is easy, it’s about a paragraph of writing.  An inch of art is similarly measurable. I’m not sure about an inch of singing. I suppose I could count the bars.

Chapter Close UpIf you have a workable system that is helping you achieve your creative goals, I’d like to know.




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The Purpose of Art


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The Sketchbook Project: Next Stop on its ‘Walk’: Oakville, Ontario

Towne Square Gallery Oakville OntarioI received an email the other day from Arthouse Coop’s Sketchbook Project team telling me someone had viewed my sketchbook at The Loop, Chicago venue of the tour. There are over 33,000 sketchbooks on this year’s tour, so I wonder what the odds are on that happening? I know I’ve at least one mathematician follower, so if you read this, I hope you’ll figure it out for me. I don’t know who my viewer was, but I thank him or her.  I hope you enjoyed it. If you read this and I think the odds are that you won’t, Anonymous, do step forward.

August 27 – 28, the sketchbooks will be on view in Canada, Towne Square, Downtown Oakville, Ontario.  If you can’t make it to the exhibition, at least feast your senses digitally on the works of the artists exhibiting at Towne Square Gallery.

"Oakville-Ontario-Downtown" by Whpq - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - to Downtown Oakville’s Facebook page, 10 local folks will be visiting the Sketchbook Project exhibition. I’ve written to all of them to ask if they’re participating and for links to their sketchbooks and invited them to view my sketchbook. It’s what the Sketchbook Project is all about – creatives connecting, viewing each others’ work and communicating, in person, too, if you can get to an exhibition, as I did when it toured to London a couple of years back. Sadly, for me, this will be its last year of tours, but life moves on.

Oakville is situated on Lake Ontario. (The name translates from, in Wyandot (Huron) Lake of Shining Waters). The town originated in 1793 and rose up from lands both bought and ceded by the Mississagua First Nations People. I note that very recently, the Canadian government awarded the Mississauga First Nation almost $145 million in settlement of a land claim because of the British Crown’s underpayment in the 18th century.

OakvilleOnLighthouseThe original settlement, Old Oakville, is situated along the lake shore.  The ancestry of most Old Oakville residents is English, Scottish or Irish. There is a city named Mississauga – which translates to Those at the Great River Mouth – and with a population of over 700,000, it’s the sixth most populous municipality in Canada.

According to Downtown Oakville’s Facebook page, 10 local folks will be visiting the Sketchbook Project exhibition. I’ve written to all of them to ask if they’re participating and for links to their sketchbooks and invited them to view my sketchbook. It’s what the Sketchbook Project is all about – creatives connecting, viewing each others’ work and communicating, in person, too, if you can get to an exhibition, as I did when it toured to London a couple of years back. Sadly, for me, this will be its last year of tours. Life moves on.

AH Coop 2015 36 and 37 30 March 2015The region around Oakville seems heavenly. I would love to walk it, but I can’t. I can at least follow digitally in the steps of my sketchbook.

After Oakville, it’ll be striding off in the direction of Toronto.








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The Tale of the Jersey Tiger and the Large White

Jersey Tiger MothI found this beautiful creature close to our door the other day. Sadly, it was dead. Or maybe not, I thought and brought it into the house, where I tried to give it water. And hoped it was either resting or momentarily stunned.

I left it on the kitchen bench overnight. The following day, as it hadn’t moved, I had to accept that it was dead.

Jersey Tiger Moth It’s a rare Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria). It flies both day and night, attracted at night towards artificial light, like most moths and likes to visit flowers such as Buddleia and thistles. I’ve several Buddleia in my garden and I’ve spotted a Jersey Tiger Moth on one of them several times this year. I’ve also seen one trapped in a parking lot, fluttering at a light and managed to free it through a door.

I’m mighty pleased that I’ve created an environment in the middle of a town which attracts such rare and beautiful creatures.

The species was until recently restricted  to the Channel Islands (if you’re French, Les Iles Normandes) and parts of the south coast. On the UK mainland it is commonest in Devon, but they are being spotted in Dorset, the Isle of Wight, other southern counties and even London.

I’m mighty pleased with myself to have created an environment in the middle of a town which attracts such rare and beautiful creatures.

Kleiner KohlweisslingThis image is of the Large White – a butterfly – (Pieris brassicae).  It’s also known as the Cabbage White and is the scourge of allotmenteers and vegetable growers as it eats holes into and lays eggs on the leaves of cabbages and other brassicae. I was complaining recently to one of my neighbours at the allotment – a salty  ex-sea dog – that despite the butterfly netting cloche I’d surrounded my cabbages with, I had found one fluttering about inside.

“I hope you stamped on it!” he returned, two livid spots appearing in each of his sunburned cheeks.

“No, I carried it across to your plot and put it on one of your kale plants.”

We joke like that. I was getting him back for him laughing at me painting my new composting area (a shabby chic affair of nine wooden pallets screwed and hinged together and now in faded shades of green, purple and red).  And I didn’t put the butterfly on his brassicae, but I didn’t stamp on it either.

Now this is the odd bit of the tale. I had laid the Jersey Tiger on a square of kitchen roll and left it overnight on the kitchen bench in the hope it would revive. The following afternoon, lying next to it was a cocoon. I looked to see where it might have come from, to no avail, as they say. On closer inspection, I thought I could see a butterfly folded within. Or was it my imagination?

“There’s a butterfly flying round your kitchen.”

It was the following afternoon and it was the lovely lady who comes once a fortnight to sort out the mess I make round the house. She was just leaving, so I waved her off and on returning to the kitchen, I released the butterfly into nature via the window. It was a Cabbage White. I inspected the cocoon next to the Jersey Tiger and it was broken open and empty.  Then I remembered that I’d taken a red and a green cabbage from the allotment to a friend, taking off the outer leaves first, for ease of carrying. The cocoon must have been amongst the leaves.

So there it was, in my kitchen, a death and a birth; a little enactment of the mysteries and miracles of birth and death.  A tableau vivant, almost, I thought, where costumed characters pose in silence, to illustrate a narrative. At one time, the tableau vivant was a feature of a part of a Mass. Often, a tableau vivant would be modelled on a painting.   Here’s a You Tube tableau vivant based on Giotto‘s Lamentation of Christ.

One of my characters was actually dead, the other, about to be born.

The Lord hath taken away and the Lord hath given? Job 1:21  (Well, I’ve switched the quote round, but you know what I mean.

I like to think that this tableau vivant was a sign of auspicious new beginnings; and in truth, I am about to embark on a new adventure.  I hope for it to be a window opening onto the expansion of my creative energies.

How are you planning to expand your creativity?  Have you had any auspicious signs?  I’d like to know.




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Art House Coop Sketchbook Tour 2015 – My Sketchbook Hits Seattle

Olympic Sculpture Park Seattle (Seattle Art Museum (SAM))

Olympic Sculpture Park Seattle (Seattle Art Museum (SAM))

Somewhere in there (gasp) – The Olympic Sculpture Park at Seattle Art Museum – is my little sketchbook. It must be terrified.

If you’re in Seattle, it’s there today and tomorrow to be seen (and smelled).

Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is at:

1300 First Avenue
SeattleWA 98101

SAM, the art museum, gallery and shop are open as follows:

FRIDAY – SUNDAY ​10 AM – 5 PM​​​​

If I were going, I’d also take in the Calligraphic Abstraction exhibition in the Asian Art Museum section of this vast conglomerate of art.

Sketchbook Front Cover with Eco-Printed Coffee Filter as Book Wrap

Sketchbook Front Cover with Eco-Printed Coffee Filter as Book Wrap

Read about the principles behind The Sketchbook Project and meet the Team (I met them in London when the Sketchbook toured to Canada Wharf a few years back).

The next stop on the tour is Chicago – Chicago Loop Alliance – August 22-23.

Please let me know if you get to see my sketchbook.

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Forces and Energies at Work on my Worktable: (Subtitle: At Last – A Breakthrough)

4x4 Canvasses - EncausticisedThe image here is of six, out of a suite of twelve, 4″ square deep canvasses, to which I’ve added a top layer of plaster cloth (Mod Roc). I’ve then added layers of clear encaustic medium and to some, yellow ochre and indian red oil paints (wiped on then wiped off) white encaustic medium and soy bean wax, blending and fusing the layers as I’ve gone, with a hot gun.

The technique is an adaptation of a   process for making plaster and encaustic artist books developed by artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills. Instructions for the process appear in the book  Encaustic Revelation, Cutting Edge Techniques from the Masters of Encausticamp, which includes step-by-step demonstrations of innovative techniques for encaustic printmaking, from nine artists, including the author of the book Patricia Baldwin Seggerbruch.

The technique allows for the inclusion of photocopy prints or small objects, such as leaves. To the canvas on the right I’ve added a recent eco print on organza – I’ve written about this batch of prints at The Gift of the Unexpected and The Gentle Spear.

It was a spontaneous – I could add desperate – act. For a few days I was intensely uncomfortable with what I’d done. It seemed to have no meaning. How did it tie-in with my Below the Line project? Which is all about meaning, about existence, origins and sources. And I don’t want my art to be just decorative. Decoration is absolutely okay – we desperately need more beauty – but that’s not what I want my work to represent.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills has written this: “I thought about how artists are the ultimate meaning makers. That is what we do. That is our practice. We take what human beings do all the time, every second, without thinking- but we do it all the time, with purpose and intent.”

And then I saw it, the meaning in my little work.

Canvasses with Added Plaster and EncausticForces and energies. I wrote, in The Gift … : “Eco printing is about forces, reactions to pressures: the pressure of compression, of chemicals, of time and space. The results are always emblematic of life and living. Could it be said that the accidental, the disappointing, can better be seen as The Gift of the Unexpected, an opportunity, a fresh way of making something beautiful and useful (i.e. art)?”

I missed out heat as a force, from the list, but no matter.

I’ve been following a blog Spirit Cloth, for most of this  year, the work of textile artist Jude Hill, whom I’d describe as one of the most insightful women – and women artists – I’ve ever come across. She wrote this:  Idea + Technique = Form.  It’s a breathtakingly simple equation, describing how art comes into being.  I’m inclined to write: QOD, because I have Idea; I have been searching for Technique, so there has been little Form. I think I have found Technique, at least for now, for as Jude also writes, about Balance: “One must be ready at any moment for everything to change.” I’m balanced for a big change, an avalanche of Form. First, this suite of twelve little canvasses.

It’s a funny number, twelve. It represents a cycle (such as in twelve months equals one year). I read that twelve, being the product of three and four, represents the union of people and God.

1 KStones Sliced 15 May 2015ings 18:31-38   Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.”  With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord

Stones. I know all about stones. And if you’re wondering what the stones are in the first picture, they’re rock crystal. I’ll be writing about that adventure shortly.


Posted in Art, Botanical and Eco Printing, Collage & Assemblage, Consciousness, Eco/Natural Dyeing and Printing, Encaustic Art, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Mixed Media, Printmaking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment