Time to put the paintbrushes away..?

I’ve hit one of those times in life where I know I need to make some big decisions about what I am going to do and when I try to work it all out, I don’t think there’ll be much more time for making art…

This isn’t as doomy and gloomy as it might sound. It bothers me slightly, but I have been lucky so far to have had the opportunities  I have had, to have had art to help me and the tools to express myself. For the future of my family and myself however, I need to look at something I can do to support us consistently and to work through my fears, anxieties, and fluctuating self esteem. I have been in two minds whether I should share my plan or not – if i don’t succeed it might be all the more embarrassing. But  I don’t think many people actually read my posts so I think I’m quite safe and I wonder if putting it here in black and white will make it more real. Over the next year – I need to do a little bit more work to get get myself in a good and stable place mentally. I am taking positive steps towards this already but it is slow and wobbly progress. I aim to be the best Mum I can possibly be to my children to support them as they grow. Actually, that’s something I always intend but sometimes I need to stop and rethink how I am doing that one so that I can do a better job. I shall be looking after my niece and plan to do a pediatric first aid course.

I also plan to learn to drive, or, at the very least get some lessons. Anyone who knows me will know that for personal reasons this is a huge deal for me and I am madly nervous but need to give it a good go. This year will have its difficulties but every year does.

I also plan to apply for a primary PGCE.

I did this just after my BA, but it was very last minute and I wasn’t successful. At the time this was a bit of a blow and I took it as meaning that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable, was a bit of a joke even. With a more rational perspective and one that is much kinder to myself I simply say now that I wasn’t ready. I still have moments and sometimes days or longer where I have incredible doubts about my ability to do anything well, but I know this is just me being my own worst enemy, and I need to distract myself from these thoughts until I can be more realistic, sometimes this involves getting outside opinions – outside my own head. I can do it.

I am nervous about becoming involved in education as it is in it’s current state, but I have hope that things can improve and want to learn all I can to be the best that I can. I’d love to be a part of changing things for the better. As a teacher, I would want every child in my class to believe in themselves. First, I need to believe in myself to achieve this.

Wish me luck.

 

 

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Spring Forward

Last week we saw the clocks go forward. (Or rather complied in putting them forward in keeping with our bizarre methods of counting time.) Spring seems to be doing its thing and my cousin who also writes a blog and does arty stuffs reminded me of this space. (if you get a moment check out her blog too, listed in my followers or I think if you search for Corvidendron you’ll find it.) Any how, I guess it’s about time I awoke from my winter slumber.

I suppose the implication is that I’ve slept through the winter. I sometimes wish I could, but it’s actually been a busy one. In terms of creative endeavor There are a couple of things you might be interested to hear about –

Jess Caudery, Set Design
This seems like a bit of an over statement to me. I basically helped out with the Christmas show for my sons drama group. This involved making some shaddow puppets, securing some items to form part of the set, liasing with the drama teacher and a little prop making. It did feel good to see my name on the programme and Rosie from Acting Up has asked me to be involved with next year’s play so hopefully I’ll get the chance to do an even better job.

Not Just Jars…

…I think I may have mentioned somewhere in my last post that I had started trying out a new idea with upcycling jars. Well, I’ve been working pretty hard on this one trying to ‘perfect’ the product. I have been finding lots of reasons why the jars are not yet ready for craft stalls etc. I think it’s getting to the point where I just need to go for it – nothing ventured nothing gained, so they say.

How about a few pics?

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Shaddow puppets from acting up. Can you guess the play?
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Captain... Shaddow puppet

Some of my favourite jars so far

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What about the plants and the paper..?
I haven’t forgotten that I began my blog about papermaking and natural dye. This is not something I have forgotten and I’m pretty sure it is something I will come back to. As an artist, my ideas evolve and I have a tendency to go off on tangents so ideas are constantly changing. The jars still have the recycling element but other than that seem a million miles away from what I was doing last year. I just hope you can bare with me whilst I find my way. 

As always feel free to make comments.

Happy Spring.

Hybernation

I want to take this opportunity to thank my small but smashing group of followers.

I’ve not been able to spend as much time doing the blog thing as I would have liked and similarly have not been able to spend quite as much time making art as I would like.

It’s been an incredible roler coaster of a year. I have insisted on going for job interviews partly because I think I need to put myself through them to stay in practice. For me, interviews involve a huge battle with anxiety and low self esteem where by I literally have to argue with myself to make myself attend. I have been offered a job which I have realized I could not in reality have managed and therefore turned down. I have come very close to getting what have seemed like perfect jobs but not quite reached the mark. I have even faced some of my demons and attended an interview at my old secondary school – something I would never have imagined a few years ago.  Our new family has taken time to achieve a balance and understanding of each others needs – we are still not in a position where we can all live together which  takes its toll on all of us. I returned to work after maternity leave in the middle of August whilst family members were in and out of hospital. childcare has been a nightmare and my physical and mental health has been put to the test. I have now resigned from my work and am giving myself a little time to get my head together and to stay at home with my 9 month old and be around to help my much older 9 year old. (Yes he is 9 years old but I think he still deserves his mum in one relatively sane piece.)

I may put the odd post up but will be most likely keeping it to a minimum and preserving energy for the spring. I have a few project ideas involving recycled jars and lids but this is a digression – maybe I’ll keep you posted on my progress with this idea, please let me know what you think in the comments below. I’ve had to put paper making and dye on the back burner but let’s please consider this as a period of hibernation and and I’ll be back in greater force in 2016.

I’ll leave you now with a couple of autumn pictures from our garden. Because I can’t write a post and NOT include any pictures.

Peace. X
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When I’m Not Making – Art Is Always On My Mind

Sometimes I just don’t get the time to spend on making art, It is a fact of my life that there are times when other things take priority. For the past two weeks this has been the case but that does not mean that art isn’t on my mind almost all the time, or that I am  not receptive to creativity and inspiration. Quite the opposite infact.

Ideas and thoughts will pop up whilst I’m washing up or doing the school run. Sometimes they are quiet little thoughts but more often they are noisy and hyperactive – shouting and waving at me for attention. I might see a post on Facebook about an intriguing artist or topic of emotive inspiration that calls to be addressed via visual expression. But the baby needs feeding, the house is a tip and one of the cats has decided that actually they didn’t really want to be outside after all and is scrabbling away at the door- for the third time in half an hour. I must put my thoughts and ideas away until I have the time and energy to give them.

When I am unable to create, I am still collecting tea bags and flower petals for a future batch of paper and storing beetroot vinegar in a jar because I’ve not finished drawing with it yet. I must be a nightmare to live with because surfaces and drawers are covered and filled with things that might be useful. One day. My son tells me that I am a nightmare to live with, but only sometimes.

I would like to invite you – not just ‘creative’ people but anyone who can draw a comparison, to share in the comments bellow your experiences of being unable to spend time doing something you feel passionate about. How do you cope with this? Do you make it a priority to fit it in to your life or are you able to give up – temporarily or indefinitely, without too much bother when needs must? Do please tell.

A Perfect Weekend For Making Paper

My attempts at paper-making in the past have involved thick clumpy bits of shredded paper that have taken what has seemed like forever to dry. The sunshine this weekend however was perfect for drying this little lot of paper.

I have a long way to go before I am happy with the paper I produce but I am getting there and having fun along the way. I have been interested in the craft of paper making for a long time partly because it fits in with my ideals in art – to use recycled materials where I can but also as I see it as an exciting challenge. The way I make paper at the moment means I end up with a fragile medium which drastically effects what can be used on it. I have found with some of the batches I have made that ink tends to bleed into the material and that drawing with any ‘weight’ just breaks up the paper.

Handmade recycled paper made from some old envelopes and' used party popper' paper
Handmade recycled paper made from some old envelopes and’ used party popper’ paper

This lot of paper was only made from a couple of handfuls of torn up envelopes and the contents of some party poppers – the source of the paper has helped me decide what I might do with these pieces but that has yet to be completed and is for another blog post at a later date. (Keep following!)  I left the paper in a sealed container for a couple of days before getting the old mold and deckle out and am happy with the result. It reminds me of crazy paving.

I have had a couple of questions put to me about my paper making the first of which was from a lecturer whilst I was at University. The question was some thing along the lines of this…

Why don’t you try using a blender to make a more efficient pulp  – it would probably mean a finer (and less ugly) result?

My answer to this is that I don’t want to! You can get really lovely delicate papers and this partly depends on the material that has gone into making the paper. I believe that blending or essentially cutting the paper material into finer pieces can also have a more satisfying result. If that is what you want. Of course I don’t make things that easy for myself though. With a philosophy of trying to consume less and recycle whilst making work I don’t want to use the electric to power a blender either . At the moment this often means I finish with a chunky paper but I’m working on different methods and materials to create various results. Any suggestions would be most welcome!

The other more recent question I had was from my partner who was getting a bit fed up with having to move a container of paper pulp out of the way to get to things in the kitchen. Yes, I am a messy human being. His question was this…

But aren’t you just using paper to make more paper?

And yes I am. Sometimes. Often, when I first started paper making I used paper from my shredder. I only shred documents with personal details on, as again, I don’t like to use electric unless I have to. I had been told by someone – I can’t remember who and correct me if I’m wrong but apparently we are not supposed to put shredded paper into our recycling bins. Well, of course this annoys me – I want  there to be away of recycling everything and for us not to be the most wasteful creatures on the planet. I live in hope, and in the meantime create my own waste. I digress. I might be just using paper to make paper but the fact is – it is recycled paper that might otherwise be thrown away. The envelopes I used for this paper had my name and address on them so would have likely ended up in the shredder if I hadn’t torn them by hand to make a pulp. There is also the prospect of using various other materials – I have used tea bags to make paper before and want to try this again at some point. I have also used a torn up old table cloth. With my new focus being on plant pigments and the possibility of combining this with paper making I could use all sorts of natural ingredients including grass, petals, seeds and other organic matter to make material. I know that denim paper, banana paper and elephant dung paper already exist so this seemingly basic craft can be experimented with and the possibilities are endless.

I didn’t get the job: Cathatrtic Pyromania

Okay so, the title for this post is a little hyperbolic . It is complete exaggeration in fact. I am not a pyromaniac – but I did use fire to make this work and I may have just got your attention.

BLOG peonese & charcoal

I’ve dated this piece so you can see when I found out the news. I had been for an interview that involved facing some old demons the day before. When I found out that I was unsuccessful I felt a mixture of relief but also frustration, sadness and inadequacy. Within the hour I made this little snippet of work. It is not supposed to be overly negative but was slightly cathartic in it’s making. I was confronting the basic fact and in my mind as I made the piece, the next question was ‘So what now?’

In an age where it is so easy to share these aspects of of our lives in a public domain – often in the form of social media, I was aware that I could have written much more. This could have been my Facebook status where I probably would have elaborated and got a response . Instead, I have just written a simple fact and shared it here. I have always been intrigued by art that leaves the viewer asking questions and believe this can be a good way to promote discussion and change. This is a personal piece made public.

Where do the plants come in to this piece?

This was another spontaneous work. I have been in two minds whether or not to post it on my blog because it doesn’t quite seem to fit in with my other work and themes. I decided, however that variety can be refreshing and I have used recycled materials- in this case an old piece of table cloth.I have used pigment from some peonies and hand made charcoal from some twigs and a candle flame. Therefore there are some of my initial aims that are realized in this experiment.

Under The Shade of a Cherry Tree

cherry, colour, purple, writing, experiment, Jessica Caudery, Artist, Art
Under the shade of a cherry tree – trying something different.

A couple of weeks ago I met some friends for lunch and we sat in the shade of a cherry tree by the ferry. (I don’t think it was actually a cherry blossom tree but that seemed to come naturally as I wrote.) When it was time to go I stood up and laughed at the cherry stains all over my leg, then it dawned on me that this was calling to be tried out as another pigment.

I was able to get some strong purple tones by squeezing the juice straight on to paper and managed to get enough colour to write a short sentence from a very small handful of cherries.

I mixed some of the left over cherries with some boiling water and had a try at some different mark making using  grass  as a paintbrush. Initially I was able to get a lovely rich purple hue from the cherries and water. After being left in a jar over night however, it seemed the colour was starting to brown.

Mark making, with cherry water colour and a paintbrush made from grass
Mark making, with cherry water colour and a paintbrush made from grass
After the cherries and water solution had been left overnight the colour started to brown
After the cherries and water solution had been left overnight the colour started to brown

‘Fine and dandy’, The Dandelion

The humble dandelion has been my first source of pigment – you can see the results of this in the photos below. I had read somewhere that dandelions can be left in water to make a kind of water colour paint and produce a shade of yellow. Well, from my rushed attempt I got more of a murky brown colour. (Which seemed no better after leaving the petals to ‘brew’ for longer.) for this particular arty session I was feeling impatient and spontaneously decided it might be just as effective to pick a dandelion and literally draw with it straight on to paper. Probably a more similar way of working to that of our ancient cave dwelling ancestors. And guess what? It worked.  The colours were still not as vibrant as the preconceived image in my head but the result was pleasing none the less.

I may come back to the dandelion at a later date and work on getting a stronger yellow  so watch this space. (Alternatively just keep reading this here blog.)

dandelion drawing, natural pigment , trouserbee, Jess Caudery, artist, art
Dandelion – drawn with a dandelion plant and a little paprika.
Trouserbee, dandelion water colour, Jess Caudery Art
Dandelion water colour – a first attempt.

Come join me on my journey…

I have begun work on a new project. It might be art or it might be science even, but it’s mainly me experimenting.

For a while now I have been intrigued by the idea of using purely natural and biodegradable low impact materials to create work. Now I want to pursue this idea and start making.  My initial aims and ideas are:

  • To find lots of natural pigments from biodegradable plants;
  • To experiment and develop ways of getting the pigment from plant matter on to paper or any other chosen medium;
  • To find ways of using these natural dyes so that I can still be expressive and not feel limited in my methods of creating work.
  • To continue with handmade recycled paper making. To perfect this and eventually combine the paper with the natural pigments I discover.
  • To be informative and inspire people who read my blog.
  • To be informed and inspired by anyone who reads my blog and wants to give any advice, or who is on a similar journey. To be open to ideas, suggestions and constructive criticism.

Some of my reasons for this new pathway of mine is environmental concern. I want to be able to create work that is made with low negative impact on the environment and which has a low negative impact on the environment when it is made.  The phrase compostable artwork has been echoing round my head for a while now…

I do not profess to be an eco-warrior, gosh, I could probably write a book on all the little hypocrisies that exist in my way of life if I pretended that was the case. I do however think about our effect on the planet and realize that even in my art practice I effect our environment. From the tubes of plastic, chemical paint I buy to the amount of waste I produce. I do want to challenge this in my work and share my findings with you.

I am by no means an expert in any field. (Oh dear that could almost be an awful pun…)

I am in fact, at the very beginning of a new creative journey and I would like to invite you to be a part of that journey.