On my table today, originally uploaded by gilfling.


– noun

1. place or source of origin

This week, I haven’t spent as much time in the studio as I would have liked but when I have been there, I have loved every second. I wanted to give myself a new challenge this year in terms of creativity and I am feeling increasingly drawn to the idea of working with lino prints and wood-cuts. This is a challenge as my artwork and drawings can be quite sketchy and often depend on soft graduations in tone and texture as well as loosely drawn lines. In my mind, lino prints are defined by quite bold and graphic shapes whilst wood-cuts can involve more texture and graduations in tone. I am only beginning to research other artists work, inspirations and techniques so have alot to learn. (More on that in my next blog post)

So where does the word ‘provenance’ come into all of this? Last week I showed this photo of The Victory which my great-grandfather made before I was born. He carved and made many model ships, some in glass cases, many more in bottles, every detail created with his own hands.

A few years ago when I was teaching myself how to carve with leather, my dad gave me my great-grandfathers carving tools which you can see in the photo above. The wooden handles are worn so smooth with years of use, the blades a little rusty and in need of sharpening, the edges worn down. They have been sitting in a box, unused for around 4 years but I often look at them and think of my great-grandfathers hands working away on one ship or another as he did in his shed at the bottom of the garden. My father has a photo of him somewhere that was used in an article in the local newspaper many years ago. Next time I am home I shall have to make a copy to show you.

My family has an interesting story, possibly not one to be told here but my great-grandfather was an incredibly talented craftsman. His son (adopted) was also a talented artisan, moulding and remaking ships badges as a hobby. His son (my father) is also an incredibly talented artist and craftsman who has over the years in his spare time worked on leather carvings, wood carvings and paintings. My father retires next year and I am really hoping that he will get back to creating with all the skills that he has. So with these carving tools that have been handed down to me through 3 generations of men in my family, I have also been gifted with a passion for art and craft and the skills and desire to create every day for all the rest of my days. The source of that passion lies with the gifts and talents of my great-grandfather and the crafting of those ships; the worn down handles and blades of these tools; and perhaps even further back in my family than I know. I will always be grateful for the origin of my creativity.

Perfectly Imperfect.

Perfectly Imperfect….Just Like Me….

I have spent my first proper day in the studio today (apart from the big clean up a few days ago) and it was so good just to pootle and ‘do’ with only a vague idea of what I wanted to achieve. I am so excited to be taking another e-course with the wonderful Misty Mawn. It suits me perfectly for this time of year. I have less pressure to make work for stockists and shows and I can make time to create whatever I want. Today I made a couple of hand-bound journals in preparation for the e-course and I am really looking forward to working in them!

Along with continuing to create and make for a living, this year I also want to make more time and space for just creating for the sake of it…for me. Whether that is sketching, journalling, book-binding, knitting, sculpting it does not matter. I never, ever get tired of making things with my hands and my imagination. It never feels like a chore. I am never, ever bored.

Although I have created hand-bound books that were carefully cut and measured with the intention of using them as sketchbooks, I always open them and feel the fear of spoiling those carefully measured pages as soon as I start working in them. This journal is as rough and imperfect as can be. The straggly threads that are knotted on the outside remind me of spiders legs or bare, tortured tree’s on a snowy landscape. I can’t wait to fill those pages!

A sketch a day…

Last year I began the year with a sketch a day. Just a wee drawing in my small moleskine, often drawn just at bedtime with sleepy eyes and fuzzy thoughts. Sometimes they took just five minutes, sometimes as many as twenty.

I managed this pretty consistently for the first months, fizzled out, returned and then fizzled out again. It was a really interesting exercise. Often I thought I was just rehashing the same ideas and images over and over again, never really visualising anything new. But looking back at these tiny black books filled with ivory and grey dreams I see how precious they are. They are like a stop motion film of my thoughts. I have taken them to a couple of shows and placed them on my table and people love flicking through them and seeing something new.

So I am going to return to this lost habit and see where it takes me. I aim to do a lot more painting this year and these tiny sketches help develop ideas that may or many not reappear in larger artworks. Scanning each and every page became a little laborious last year and as a consequence I have many pages that I have not shown. You can see those that I did, here.

So this year with the help of my new lifeline – my phone and instagram, I shall instead take a photo of each 2 page spread and perhaps show the best ones in my blog once a week. Some turn out better than others.

I am excited about giving myself a creative challenge every month this year partly inspired by one of my favourite artists Cathy Cullis who has written the most excellent blog post about creative challenges here. I think I will change it up a little every month and sometimes a month will have daily challenges and sometimes weekly. I am hoping the daily sketch will be something I can continue throughout the year but I am going to make January easy for myself and also make it my daily task for this month. I will be looking for ideas for February! Cathy is making a hand-bound artists book a week for January so I am quite tempted by this idea.

Have you set yourself any creative tasks/challenges/goals for 2012? I would love to hear about them.

Thank you as ever for your comments!

x x x

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year to you!!

I have spent a bit of time on each of the first 2 days of 2012 cleaning up the terrible mess that my studio was left in at the end of all my Christmas shows. I feel so much better now and ready to start work tomorrow.

I am not really one for making new years resolutions such as lose weight/excercise more blah-de-blah as these always get broken practically before I even start. Instead, I see life as a constant work in progress – I take faltering steps forward and sometimes steps back and sometimes I vear off the path altogether only to find my way back eventually.

So in this year, as in any other, I want to continue to work hard and develop as an artist. I want to use my imagination more and create work that is from the heart. I want to spend more time with those I love, venture out into the unknown and enjoy the comforts of home. Most of all I am wishing for health and happiness for myself and those I love. Not New Year’s resolutions but the start of the year is always a good time to just remind myself of my life’s purpose and my long term intentions.

I have lots of little projects in mind for the coming year and lots of challenges I want to set myself in terms of my artwork – I am gradually making a list.

I would really like to blog a little more consistantly this year instead of starting off well and drifting off into nowhere as the year goes on. So I am thinking ‘short and sweet with a picture posts’ will appear more (thanks to my new phone and instagram app) and the odd more thought out post appearing on occassion and when I actually have something interesting to say!

So I wish you Health, Peace and Happiness for you and yours – I hope 2012 will be a great year for us all!

x x x