And the cat. She leans through the stair railings and drinks the water.
I’m not sure. I ask myself this question quite a bit.
I’m better at drawing, great with gouache.
It started by accident, has wavered over the years –
but I keep returning.
There’s less control than using a paintbrush or a pencil. And it’s definitely a snail-paced process.
Mosaic has forced me to be patient, stay flexible, embrace the possibility of change (flicking pieces off with a knife that have been glued down hard, when they don’t seem to be in the right spot) disregard ideals of perfection and forget all concept of time.
Slowing down is good.
It’s just one little moment that gets me moving. Once that moment hits, watch out – this is where I transform into a bull at a gate. The impulse is deep and profound. I immediately start fabricating this girl with glass and smalti from an image I’ve drawn years ago in one of my sketchbooks. Without noticing it before, I’ve ended up filling it with ladies. Life drawing was always my thing, but why always girls? Youthful ladies, faceless, with long limbs, engaged in nano snippets of life.
I imagine ‘young Emily’ in these moments and am drawn to recall how I felt at this age. I remember being these girls. I did these things. In my hometown I remember spending hours laying in the grass, with the sun warming my skin, eyes cast upwards to bluebird skies – and spending time just absorbing the shapes of the clouds – and the closest I’ll ever get to meditation.
I would naturally empty my mind once the sun hits my face, close my eyes and quietly engage all senses. From time to time, past conversations and moments would seep in. I would shoo them away again. A constant tug of war between remaining present and overthinking things.
I drew her. Me. Back then.
I moved away from the sun on my face, lying in the grass and a head full of empty thoughts and song, no more cloud absorbing and became a girl with a career. I moved to the big city where I was affectionately labelled ‘country bumpkin’, ‘sweet’ and ‘naive’- because I was. My street smarts hadn’t kicked in yet. I believed people were good and kind, and ulterior motives didn’t exist. Had no idea about networking, instead just doing my own work.
This happened. I was at a ball in a big puffy skirt like this, but black tulle. I was on the fringe of turning my back on the big city, and moving away. After years of racing in traffic, working hard, and complicated weekends – I longed for simplicity and ease. A slower life again. The undercurrent at the ball was beyond me, and here I was again. ‘Naive’, gangly and ‘sweet’ – I no longer wanted to understand the language of the city, I didn’t want street smarts anymore.
So here – still a work in progress, she is. (She was nearly named ‘Something’s changed’ a nod to Miss Sharon Jones.) ‘Sweet thing’ won out, her title inspired once again by Van the man (Van Morrison). Listening to this song – I instantly feel warm, comforted, any troubles are instantly put aside, and I remember, the days of lying in the grass.
I spoke to a young lady on the telephone. Her name was Odette. Seriously, this is one name I’ve never been able to attach to a person before, just a swan. It seems such a magical moniker. Otherworldly.
I tried to put myself in her mother’s shoes. That very moment you are having a first snuggle with your brand new baby perched up in a white sheeted hospital bed. Staring into soul of a little pink faced girl – and declaring, ‘her name is Odette’.
She seems startled, or is it just the giant dolly eyeball I found for her? Odette is wearing a pearl necklace like all good swans try to do; the curve of her long neck and feathered wings don’t seem to make much sense – and that’s fine by me.
I used off cuts and scraps, and Odette was really OK to be the poster girl-swan for reflecting the wabi-sabi technique I tend to favour these days.
Here I am, getting back into it all again; inspiration to create images of the gloriously mundane is no challenge for me.
My latest offering –
‘The greatest view’ 2016, Emily J Hogan.
Reclaimed marine ply, glass, beads, mirror & gouache.
I imagine I find the simplicity of these images satisfying due to my ease of moving in and out of a fairly meditative state, on a daily basis. I need white space, and if I am in a position of being in the midst of chaos, which is a realistic summary of my work days – the switch goes off. Emily is officially off the grid.
One of the things that happens when you are required to spend a lot of time hanging around the art room at school, all in the name of work – is that my hands get itchy. I’m happiest working side by side with students. Lucky me struck a quiet week and a generous co-worker, who suggested, ‘make one!’
So I did.
The last time I did this I was 14, with a completely and fairly permanently stoned teacher assisting the process. Needless to say, whatever we churned out was fine by her. I carved out a giraffe. I was a bit taken by spots and twisty long necks back then.
By the time I had printed out some images today I felt a little bit calmer, a little bit wiser and a little bit taller. Another thing I can add wholeheartedly to my resume, ‘fully competent in the process of dry point etching.’
Printed in brown – black looked best. Discoveries made through repetition.