I seem once again to be crossing many different ideas and media with my work. Lately I have been struggling to finish my paintings. I sometimes take forever to decide if I am happy with the image that appears on the canvas or paper. As I look around my studio now, I see so many paintings in that 3/4 mode. I have a couple of shows coming up and a few commissions, plus a few shops wanting new pieces to sell. So I have a lot going on, but it feels a bit like a bric and brac shop in my space right now. And I feel a little like I could fall into that ‘paint and repeat’ mode because of demand. Demand is a nice place to be, don’t get me wrong, it makes you accountable and we live in a world where being accountable to others is important.  But I don’t want to have a cookie cutter scenario going on here.

People often say to me how prolific I am. Honestly, I am always amazed to think they think that.  I might appear to have plenty going on in what I post on Instagram and Flickr but the reality is I feel like a turtle… I’ve always been a plodder, happy to go at my own pace. Perhaps prolific in experimentation, but not so much on the business end.

I choose to paint for the love of exploration and interpretation not to make a quick dollar nor to grab some kind of social media success. There are many opportunities for me to keep painting works and passing them onto retailers and galleries, but sometimes I feel that it all becomes a little too forced and that leaves me with thinking, ‘what is the value of my artwork?’ Not the monetary value, the deeper meaning value? Why am I doing this? What does it mean to be an artist?

At the end of my career I want to be able to look back and say, “I chose to be an artist to express and explore ideas using a range of materials. Not only to make something appealing, but to make others think about how an artwork can emotionally connect with them.’

I feel challenged by what I do right now and this has lead me to a great deal of experimentation. The idea of translating my marks in other ways has been keeping me busy. I’ve been machine and hand sewing, painting onto a range of fabrics, I’ve been smashing and manipulating metal, creating with polymer clay, drilling and engraving into paper and wood, weaving threads and found objects from my garden, making artist’s books and much more. None of it has come to a point where I feel like I’ve reached an end or resolved what is in my mind. My journey as an artist will continue on in this way forever I hope.

I do think that by making a decision to not pump out similar works all the time, I will be far happier in the long run. Filmmaker, Woody Allen, said ‘I am always disappointed – there is always a big difference in what one sets out to make and what one ends up with. What you set out to make is in your mind… in fantasy, it is what exists on paper.”

Below are a few photos of some of my experimentations:blog_july1

 

I’ve certainly been on a path of self analysis of late. It’s March and I honestly don’t feel like I have achieved that much. Re my work anyway. I’m on that rollercoaster of being an artist and was completely at a standstill the other week, but now I feel like I am on the move again. Having those back to back days of studio time really makes a difference to my energy levels staying even keeled.

I’ve been in need of some inspiration. Perhaps not so much on a visual level, that I have enough of (see previous post). More so in need of some mental inspiration to help me, (40 something female artist) try to make this gig work!  So I’ve been podcasting. I throw my headphones on and  listen to a range of podcasts whilst I paint, draw, clean and cook. My current obsession is a site that has been created by Monica Lee called Smart Creative Women . Today I listened to her podcast with Grace Bonney, the person behind Design Sponge and the  brains of a recent book, which I would really love to get my hands on, In the Company of Women. So good and exactly what I need to hear right now. So many valid points and head shaking going on.

Other great podcasts I listen to, whether they be about creative women or not are, The Jealous Curator, TED Talks , Life Matters (ABCradio) and Conversations with Richard Fidler (ABCradio).

Any others you know about? And also…for those who have commented on previous posts, many thanks. I have been replying to them via here and wondering are you receiving the replies in your inbox?

 

top left: new work by tiel seivl-keevers. Top right: Monica Lee with her painting. Bottom: Grace Bonney's In The Company of Women

top left: new work by tiel seivl-keevers. Top right: Monica Lee with her painting. Bottom: Grace Bonney’s In The Company of Women

In my previous post I mentioned that I wanted to draw, paint, sew, build, and find a more consistent approach to my work. I love that I can move across different media but I really struggle at times to find direction.

I would like to be more diligent at filtering my ideas and sticking to them. And that goes with how I make art. Right now I can’t seem to shake the idea of incorporating more stitching into my work….it’s been on my mind on and off for about 7 years…and it is back with a vengeance. However, it has never come to fruition. Not as I see it in my head.

Whilst cleaning out my ARTWORK folder on my computer…because I was looking for an image that I wanted to print….I came across the top image of some vessels I painted in 2011. This was obviously painted when I was in a calm mood, where there were no interruptions of disturbances in my day. I allowed myself to set up a still life and paint with slowness and precision. It was quite a methodical approach that brought me peace. That’s not to say that I treat my other work in a less considered way…it’s just different. It reminded me that when I get to be in this situation, I am happiest. I honestly believe that my non art life in which I can’t seem to separate from for a long period of time, impacts not only my approach to what I paint, but how I paint. The marks I make.

So perhaps the reason I haven’t yet made the stitching concepts truly happen is because I have to box away my other ideas and push out those interruptions with more force. I admire artists that can do this. Abstract art gives me the freedom to produce at a rate that works with all that other day to day stuff. And the finer details in my work, the smaller scratchings and illustrative layering, happen when I have full, uninterrupted time. It is very meditative and rewarding to let this happen. My visual diaries show evidence of this too. Pages of random mark making, colour studies, the fast and the furious of smashing out ideas. Then flip a page or two and I’ll see a softer, more detailed drawing of a flower or leaf created with a more illustrative or graphical approach.

Some artists have a set aesthetic. You look at a Jeffery Smart or Egon Schiele painting and you know it is their work instantly. Maybe one day all of this madness and frustration will align and I will stand back and see that I too have a recognisable aesthetic. Perhaps I am just too close, and can’t see the overall picture. All of my play and interruptions will develop into a more resolved body of work. A work that has only come about because of all the other factors. In the meantime I am happy to explore and need to remind myself that the journey is as important as the destination.

art by Tiel Seivl-Keevers

It may have been January, I don’t recall and it does’t really matter, when I discovered how big my pile of visual diaries had become on my bookshelf.

I’ve always loved buying cotton paper journals beautifully bound in leather or fabric with the intention of filling everyone of them. But a third of the way is as far as I get.

When I was a teacher I would tell the students all the time to fill their journals with drawings, clippings, words, anything that would help to show their process of art practice. In fact it was apart of the curriculum and they were assessed on this task. There were those who failed to hand one in; those who filled in a few pages; those who obviously did it the night before in front of the TV and a small handful who actually completed the requirements and showed evidence of their ideas and concepts. Filling a diary isn’t just about communicating to your teacher but a way of communicating to yourself.

I’m in a place in my art journey where I feel like I have a smorgasbord of ideas in front of me. Some I haven’t been able to shake for years, ones that have never been fully resolved. I want to sew, emboss, paint, draw more, engrave, build,  develop more consistency (more on this later) and so on and so on. This idea of harnessing my thoughts is proving to me to be very difficult at times. Of course there is the fact that I have other shit happening in my life. Constant interruptions that aren’t work related. So one minute I’m researching art theory and techniques and the next I’m sorting underwear, trying to understand the financial details of equity loans and taking dogs to the vet. And this is normal for most women in my demographic.  I get that….I just can’t seem to get over it.

So back to the visual diary. I need to collectively put all my ideas as they come to me in one place. I have drawers full of half finished paintings, bad ones, good ones. I have magazine articles, weaved items from my garden, embroidered linen draped across chairs and plenty more tucked away in no apparent order. I’m even cutting and pasting large paintings. Sacrifice the old to generate the new!

Hence why I am being diligent about filling my visual diaries. I’m not going to commit to an every day, must do task. I know I will fail. So I’ve decided to set myself a due date. The first one will be by the end of Easter holidays. Maybe returning to regular blog posts is also apart of this process.

Are you an artist who keeps a diary? What are your methods? How long have you been doing this for? How valuable are the older ones to you?

blog_feb2

Since my recent trips to Japan and Shanghai my love for Asian textiles has grown.

I’ve been dabbling with indigo, pattern, and still life concepts. Asian ceramics are another inspiration for me.

So from time to time you’ll see a blue series appear.

 

blue series

January also saw a change in my working day. School holidays are time for me not to get into the studio for long periods of time. I try to spend as much quality and chilled time with the children if we are at home. I often feel the pull behind my chartreuse studio door. Somedays I can’t resist. So I make marks. Concentrate on how to hold a pencil or pen in a different way.

Draw differently, be free to open up my wrist and make mistakes. Line is the element I’ve enjoyed playing with this month.

Magnolias have been my garden source of inspiration. The Sharpie my tool of choice.

Artist’s books seem to be my muse….perhaps more of this to come.

blog_jan2

 

 

2017 seems to have ruled my creative feather in a way that has stuck. It’s March tomorrow and I still seem to be thinking about new ideas…but the same ideas. TI think it will be a year of reflection.

collected monthly snaps:

It was hot…as to be expected. We went to Melbourne. Always good for my soul.

blog_jan1

 

Last week I spent 5 days in Shanghai as part of a conference with my husband and a few hundred other people. I managed to spend some time out on the streets of this gigantic, newish city of China even spending some of the hours walking along the Bund to the YuYuan Gardens by myself. I’ll always be a city girl but I don’t like being away from the calmness and beauty of nature for too long. Language and culture, architecture and foreign food are the gems of travel but without embracing the natural world, I go a little stir crazy.

When we weren’t networking and ‘conferencing’ we had an amazing time sight seeing. Highlights included these gardens, although not comparable to anything in Kyoto, Japan; The French Concession with all its tree lined streets and Art Deco architecture; rooftop bars on The Bund and the never ending hustle and bustle of the place. The Mogenshan  Lu Art Precinct or M5o  was interesting for me and I loved the shops at the Tianzifang. The barges on the Huangpu River never stop, and neither do the taxis for foreigners. Tip: go to a local 5 star hotel and stand in line, you’ll have better luck then trying to tackle one amongst the battery operated scooters who will not hesitate to run you over. It is not a city for meandering quietly through. With a population as big as Australia’s it is a city not for the faint hearted, but once you scratch the surface and accept the poor air quality you will find treasures. It seems that Shanghai is still is very disconnected from the West, which is a great thing, but it can be quite daunting and bewildering to embrace.

Food wise, all I can say is we are so lucky to live in Australia where we have access to authentic Chinese cuisine. Yes, there are some bad bao to be had here, but generally I wasn’t wowed by my limited taste of Shanghai delights. We did manage to squeeze in a food tour with Untour food tours and that was a great fun night that I can highly recommend if you want to see it all first hand and not have to worry about the language barrier.

I would go back, but perhaps go beyond the high-rises  to see some of China’s rural and historical areas. Maybe my Mandarin will need to be slightly broadened beyond, ni hao, xiexie, ganbei and zaijian. (That’s hello, thank you, cheers and goodbye…essentials in any new country)

New ideas are already flowing in regards to by art but Japan you still have my heart.

 

shanghai