Sunday is studio day

I remember when I was just a little Emily, maybe 10 years old. I looked up the meaning of my name in a book, filled with definitions of flowers, oceans and honey bees. And then I found it. Emily! Completely deflated in that moment, as I read the word ‘industrious’. What the actual f@*k?! Who names their baby after a factory? Mum. And Dad.

It took years to process this information. And I questioned their brick and smoke stack decision for many years. Until now. Now I’m ready. Ready for industry. Ready to be industrious.

Today was a great day, blissed out on ink fumes, while being absolutely Emily. Industrious.

Didn’t get any washing done. Let the chickens free range instead of feeding them. Didn’t mop the floor. And most definitely did not qualify for a 10,000 step kind of day. Did I mention my pyjamas? They stayed on way longer than they should’ve too. 

I had made a few mid week carves and come up with two Lino cuts and was pretty keen to see how they turned out.

This one was first. And surprise… it’s me. It is. Morning functioning is not my thing. Unless, coffee. I’m lucky to have a partner who knows this, and delivers one every morning to the cranky, bleary eyed monster that I am in the a.m.
The next one – a little more depth involved. I have been drawing up a storm over the last month. Filling pages with parts of me, once upon a time.

 In this one I was remembering, the absolute agony of the loss of a great love. Remembering the feeling of cushioned lips pressed on a warm forehead. The forehead kiss gives the gift of many things; calm, comfort, patience, respect, adoration, preciousness and love that seems truthful and unconditional.

Heavy and light hearted – one balancing out the other.

A Sunday session ensued, slowly reclaiming my studio from being a Winter snuggle space to a Spring hang – taking the tape down in one long strip that had lived firmly for 6 months between the joins of the doors to keep the chilly drafts of  minus degree months out.

With these two cuts in tow, I inked up and waited for the ultimate treasure to reveal itself. Printing is like opening birthday presents, taking a blindfold off after whacking the belly out of a piñata. The uncertainty and following reveal is a bit of a high that I don’t usually experience on a Sunday morning. Noted….aaaaand happening again soon, make no mistake.

Found me some Mansionair and rolled like the dickens to reveal these treasures. I pegged them up to dry and drew up my next batch.

‘Exit song’ October 2016

‘Remedy’ October 2016

‘We are the tide’

I started by naming this drawing, ‘Saucy minx goes swimming’. I have tossed aside mosaic, and have found a new love; printmaking. I adore dry point etching and lino printing.

I hit the Art shop, and got the sweetest Swiss tools – which make the whole process so much more intuitive and simple, because they cut so well and fit in the palm of your hand. I decided on this image, pending Summer always brings out the water loving images in me. I gave her ruffle bum black bikini bottom to add a bit of mystery to her as a woman. And to ensure the focus wasn’t on her bum – even though it was.


So, I whipped them off and started cutting away, leaving her with a great bare bottom.


And here she is. Amazing what can be done in a day.


I renamed her, ‘We are the tide’. I’m always listening to music when I make. And this day was no different. A lovely chill song by Blind Pilot. Thanks guys – great title. It’s always nice when the songs find me working, and leave no doubt in my mind that they belong to my art.

Lino cut

A busy day at work threw itself at me. I almost let it get to me. Instead of cranky, I got creative. 

I had a piece of lino in my hands, and a head full of ideas. For some reason a cat got stuck in my mind – and wouldn’t leave. I quickly scribbled up an image that made me smile, and always will. My cat Jeffrey, the sea horse.


I started cutting away with tools, and immediately fell in love with the process, all over again. I haven’t made a lino cut in over a decade. How does this happen?!


Here is my image of Jeff, loosely based on the photo, in her best sea horse pose frolicking amongst nasturtiums and ferns. Jeffrey turns 17 soon, and I thought it would be a lovely homage to our old girl – should she choose to shuffle off anytime soon. (Yes, we are well aware Jeffrey is a masculine name and our Jeff is girl. Long story.) It was such an engrossing process I sat in silence for a few hours without realising everyone had gone to bed hours before. The heater was off for the night, and my toes were cold before I saw reason and headed off to bed. Leaving this half done was fairly torturous. 

I love this form of print making and felt so satisfied finishing it in a few hours over two evenings. Yes, I ignored my family during this time and I believe was a much needed break from each other. And with a major pain-in-the-ass-teenage-man-child in the house, fairly necessary in my opinion. I haven’t made a print yet of Jeffrey, (I am going to scratch out a bit of her fur to represent Jeff’s tortoiseshell red fur before printing). Hopefully tomorrow there will be time to squeeze this cut through the press, as actual work got in the way of art today. 

Why mosaic? {making}

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.

‘Sweet thing’ 2016


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.

‘Sweet thing’ 2016


Slowing down is good.

‘Sweet thing’ {making}

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.

‘Odette’ {making}

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’.

  
This Odette has turned into a bit of a comedic kind of swan, full of whimsy, just the way I like it. 

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.