Friday, April 30, 2004

Sweetie Jar took a workshop by Kaffe Fassett in Sweden. She's a former silk painter turned photographer and found his colour workshop working with fabric a huge injection of inspiration. Here are some photos taken by a participant in a knitting workshop in 2003.

I'm a frustrated knitter today because I came to work but with only one needle. I found this great site - Knitty and loved the article about the woman who got an angora rabbit to get yarn from.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

One afternoon about three years ago, while killing time until rush hour, Mr. McDonald came upon a man playing Bach on a cello in the Times Square subway station. The sweet song of this cello, the first one he had ever heard, soared above the train rattle and jangle.

"The sound, the feeling, the intensity, the emotion of it," he recalled. "It was like a wave that came over me. I had never felt that before."

Suddenly, he wanted to play the cello.

When he was a child in a Bronx housing project, he had wanted to learn a musical instrument. But the bleats of a trumpeter-in-training would have been too disruptive for the neighbors, his parents had said, so that was that. Later, as a young man, he often listened to classical music on a transistor radio in his bedroom, recognizing some of the pieces as ones that he had heard in church.

But this cello music.

For nearly a year that subway cellist's music lingered in Mr. McDonald's mind - as he drove, as he ate his salad, as he drove some more. Finally, his passion to learn overcame his fears of being too old. Between one day's rush hours, he went to the New York Public Library and picked a school at random out of the telephone book: The French-American Conservatory of Music at Carnegie Hall.

"They said, 'We'll teach you cello,' " he recalled. "I said, 'I can't play a note, can't read a note.' They told me, 'No problem.' "

Read more here from Danny Gregory.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I forgot about the other freebie I love from Rob Brezney.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Internet freebies
There are some great newsletters available on the internet - here's a sampling of ones I'm currently subscribed to.

Eric Maisel - a coach/author/therapist/novelist who specialises in creativity. He's tough just like his books but gets to the core. He also trains creativity coaches so occasionally through the list there is a call for people who want free coaching from his students.

SARK - the incomparable Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. Her mission is to get everyone to live out loud, creatively, succulently and bodaciously. She has a once a month newsletter and an 'Inspiration Line' you can call (but you have to pay for the call).

How much Joy can you stand?
Suzanne Falter-Barnes has a newsletter which comes packed with tips on pursing your dream and making it real.

Jennifer Louden (writer/creativity coach) has a Daily Dollop a short reflection which is designed to gently lead yourself to yourself and re-design your life from within and a fortnightly longer newsletter.

Molly Gordon
Molly is a coach who specialises in artists and 'authentic promotion'. Either way she has lots of expertise for people learning to work for themselves instead of being an employee. Work/life balance, generating business, and general up's and down's of small business ownership.

Shooting People is bad
But the Shooting People network is invaluable if you are wanting a toehold in the film world in the UK. You can sign up to a general list or specialisims such as Screenwriting, Animation, Music Video, Documentary, Script Pitch, Casting and now there is a dedicated NY listing too. It plugs you into an instant 36,000 strong network. To get the emails daily you need to pay £20 per year but if you are not willing to pay you get the emails sent 3 days later and are unable to post requests.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Money & creativity
I read this blog piece quoted at Willa. From the wonderfully named Dogs Steal Yarn.
My mom, who's actually got quite a gift for making me feel guilty, said something to me a couple of years back that's stuck with me. I was still getting used to the ups and downs of freelance income, and so was being very careful with money. Thing was, I also really wanted to buy oil paint, which ain't cheap. (I wasn't knitting yet. You think knitting is an expensive pursuit? Try painting, baby.) I called my mom (she's a fantastic artist, by the way) and asked her if I was crazy to be spending money on paints at a time when I really shouldn't have been allowing myself too many extras.

She said, "Oh no! Buy the paint. That's like food!"

And she was right. My mother's very frugal. So am I. She and my dad raised me that way. I don't spend recklessly, not at all. I don't take on debt I don't need either. But it's a matter of priorities. Creative expression is important. It's not the same thing as blowing money on yet another pair of shoes, or an expensive meal, or whatever. Are your bills paid? Is there food on the table? Are all the mandatory expenses taken care of? Well, then, make sure you also allow for the tools that feed you--the paint, the books, the yarn. That matters too.

And if you want to feel guilty about it? Well...that's on you.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Now I don't have an appartment in New York
but I've been enjoying this Apartment Therapy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Romancing yourself

Julia Cameron is a fan of the 'Artist Date' a period of time of 1-2 hours perweek doing something you love and enjoy on your own. The point is to fill your interior well of images and experiences which are the basic material of creativity, to refresh the spirit, to give something back to yourself and finally to make friends with yourself. A lot of people are uncomfortable with spending time with themselves which makes it pretty difficult to be creative as most forms of creativity are in part or wholly solitary activities.

JC recommends an all day artist date when doing her course - I did mine yesterday. I extracted myself from the computer and got the train to the next door city. I love traveling by train, the mix of landscape and sky awakens my sense of the visual.

When I got to Glasgow I went by Underground to Kelvinbridge and made straight for Otago Lane. Firstly I went to Voltaire & Rousseau a secondhand bookshop with two shopcats. One orange was sleeping curled up on a pile of books the other a young and fiesty black & white cat came up for head rubs. After some bookbrowsing, buying and cat communing I went further down the lane to Tchaiovna - a tea house which has a small platform over a wooded area which the Kelvin River flows through. A small oasis in the middle of the city. I ordered Rose Pouchong tea from the 80 + varieties and settled back to enjoy the homemade sweetpotato soup, the skyscapes over the city, changing from sun to storm to rain and back again. Finally I left to spend money in boutiques for birthday presents, indulge in excessive magazine buying before getting the train back and wondering if one could fit more pleasure in a day.


Ask yourself when did you last have a day all to yourself, just for yourself?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Thursday, April 15, 2004

20 years of the Scottish Poetry Library

To celebrate this they are organising twenty events at their headquarters in Chrichton Close off the High Street in Edinburgh. Chapman Scotland's leading literary magazine hits its centenary issue soon but its website is a bit out of date. Meanwhile I'm very fond of The Scottish Book Collector.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I crave colour and design

I've been feasting on Sonia Delaunay's colour compositions and experiments.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Playing with colour
I was requested by my mother to get some yellow wool to use as a border on some baby blankets we've been collaborating on. A patchwork of colours donated, and bought second hand and new. Unfortunatly there was no nice clear yellow to chose from so I got a selection. I googled for Kaffe Fassett and found his home site. I drooled over this picture of a stripey blanket knitted in large squares. The squares I knit are 6 inches which are quick enough that i don't get bored and I can use up small pieces of colour.

Kaffe's site is well worth having a wander in.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Going independent...

Indra Khanna

Khanna's first project was FlyPitch, a groundbreaking series of installations in Brixton Market last summer. Over the course of 13 weeks, an international mix of artists showed their work on stalls, rubbing shoulders with plantain and yam sellers, and the general public. Someone asked, "Does this mean something or is it just art?"' she recalls.

Why Brixton Market? 'It was cheap and I wanted to remove the obstacles that stop people going to galleries. For a lot of people, the feeling persists that galleries aren't for them. If you think about it, it's an unnerving environment if you're not used to it: an intimidating white space, nowhere to sit, people wonder where should they stand, are you allowed to talk?'

Khanna, now 43, worked as a painter and printmaker for 10 years and it struck her, when visiting exhibitions, that she could probably do as good a job if not better. So she looked for jobs in arts administration and curating but got nowhere. Her partner, Hew Locke, an award-winning painter, suggested she do a curating course to improve her chances. 'I decided rather than training to curate and paying for it, I would just jump in and spend the money on funding my own project. I realised I couldn't wait for someone to discover me.'

Khanna's next project, funded by the Arts Council, is called the Garden of Earthly Delights and you will be able to find it this summer in the walled garden in Brockwell Park, Brixton. 'I am inspired by places which have their own atmosphere and I wanted to do something bigger than FlyPitch this time. You have to expand or what's the point?'

More here on other creative people outside the mainstream.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


Do you work for yourself? The answer, and the question, may be more complicated than you think.
Consider the office temp who works for 36 weeks a year and spends the remaining time travelling in India. She is much more in the driving seat of her working life than many of the self-employed, who find it difficult to turn down work or take holidays for fear of losing customers or income. Or what about the person who deliberately chooses part-time work so he has more time to pursue his own private passions or family?

Neither of these people is self-employed. Yet in a real sense both are working for themselves. They have achieved a greater degree of autonomy, ownership and control of their working lives than many who enter self-employment seeking the same things. Isn't it this, rather than who pays your wages, which determines whether you truly work for yourself? Because our language lacks a word for this kind of worker, we need to invent one: me-lancers.

From The Guardian

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Artist's Way
The biggest influence on my creative life has been this book by Julia Cameron. Danny Gregory has a great posting today about it.

"I am not, as a rule, a joiner. Nor am I a believer in much. So please take what I say with a healthy dose of salt. Still, whether you begin this program or another or invent one for yourself, I'm fairly certain that you will find that when you give yourself permission to be creative, your life will change. You will either leave or transform your job. You will open yourself up to new people. You will develop new relationships. You will find that serendipity plays a very active role in your life. You will worry less and appreciate the universe more. You may not lose weight but you'll enjoy food more. Your body may not look better but your taste in clothing will improve. You may not become wealthier but money will matter less. You may not improve your health but each day will matter more.
As for S., he's a very nice man, enormously intelligent, and I'm sure his brain will eventually grant him permission to find his calling. As the Buddha said, "There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the Way." "

To read Danny's full post go here.

As it so happens my life has been derailed recently by creative and personal events and in order to get my groove back I'm doing the course for about the 15th time with a friend of mine. We're meeting in a cafe once a week, taking about sychronicity, the results of exercises and most importantly making sure that we both do the Artist Dates. I've seen most amazing results with the Artist Way - I've facilitated 100+ people through the process and it does make profound changes to peoples lives. And the effects continue months even years after doing the course. I know this because I occasionally meet a former student on a bus and they tell me of the things they are doing.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

If you want to read about the content of Van Gogh's letters go here.
Also at the same website found a fascinating history and catalogue of paint pigments.