Downsizing Difficulties

Since starting the many tasks of my downsizing project, I have been struck again and again, by just how difficult it is for me to throw any thing away that might still have some value, some use to someone else – if it was still “good”.  And after a bit of pondering, I have a theory.  So what follows is the “why” I hinted at in a previous post on repurposing the frames of old, unsold art.       

Plastic Game Pieces I didn't want to bin.One successful solution

Here is an example of something I was loathe to bin – useless stuff but not actually broken. They are plastic board game pieces.  My inspiration for what might be done with them went years ago, but hey, this stuff was still good, even if I no longer wanted it. Someone might use them for an assemblage or something.  (For goodness sake!)

Necklace made from Plastic Game Pieces I didn't want to bin.

 

So my issue was not “Take courage, Jacky, just bin this plastic stuff”, but “Who could I give it to?”  And then I thought of mixed media artist Denise Lamby who repurposes all sorts of materials. (See more of Denise’s work here, and on her Facebook page.)  At the time of writing, Denise had made this wonderful necklace, and I am eager to see what else she may come up with.  (Image credit: Denise Lamby.)

Where things really are still truly useful, like fabric and embroidery thread, I don’t actually have a problem. My preference is to sell that sort of stuff (I always need art money), or to give it some one who would like it, or to donate it to the Op Shop. It’s not being wasted.  The resistance is with chucking out stuff that isn’t broken, is still “good”, and just might be useful to some one (if I only knew who).

So what is going on with you, Jacky

My simple theory is based on the idea that what was emotionally important in one’s early childhood is deeply influential and becomes a vital part of your world view.  I was born in the Netherlands during the German occupation.  Life was difficult, and there were shortages of food and other things.  Being frugal and finding a use for everything was a necessity. 

My parents spent a few years in Indonesia, before ending up in Western Australia in 1951, when I was about six years old, going seven.  It was difficult then as well, for my parents to start afresh with (then) three young children. Things continued not to be wasted, and one made do with what ever was to hand. This was normal during my formative years.

It was only quite recently that I realised this “saving anything that is still good” bug was much stronger in me than in my mother. She actually had had a relatively privileged childhood as a daughter of two doctors in early 1900s Holland.  What was just a necessity for her had become a part of my world view through early imprinting. 

And now, from necessity, I am becoming much more discerning.  As I keep sorting through stuff in preparation for selling the farm, anything I can’t find a home for or that doesn’t sell, is going to the Op Shop, or into the bin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambivalence towards Cotoneaster 2, a collagraph print

Ambivalence: the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone … . 
We’ve all experienced this at some stage, and that’s the way I feel about my latest art work.

Cotoneaster 2 Plate, a collagraph printing plate.

My initial intention when printing Cotoneaster 2 was to get the colour from a surface relief roll, rather than my usual wash of background watercolour. It’s another way to get strong colour on a collagraph print. And I was pleased with the first print, even though it was difficult to apply the colour.

But the second print didn’t come out so well – and I gave up to go back to my usual background painting. But I still really liked the effect of the red surface roll (tomato red is my favourite colour).  So after completing an edition of six prints, I experimented with a dud print to find a way of perhaps salvaging the not quite successful surface roll images. I painted the leaves a pale grey, to give them more definition – not something I would usually do – and the effect is an improvement.

Here you can see the two proofs, and the EV1/6 of the edition.

Cotoneaster 2, Proof 1

Cotoneaster 2, proof 2.

Cotoneaster 2 EV1/6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this is my ambivalence – I do like the hand-painted edition, but I really, really like the strength of the bright red surface rolls on the proofs. And I regret not having stayed with the surface roll technique long enough to gain more skill and to iron out the difficulties. (These prints are for sale at AUS$50 unframed, plus P&P. Contact me to purchase.)

But not all my chances are blown.  There are another two Cotoneaster plates that I can use to get the strong images I love.  I’ll show you the results when they come in.

Cotoneaster 4 collagraph printing plate

Cotoneaster 4 collagraph printing plate

 

 

 

 

 

On Freedom and Grief in Destroying Old Art Work

Or Repurposing The Frames Of Old Art Works

It’s taken me a long time to come to a place where I am willing to let go of old art works for the sake of their frames; to recognise that while I might like the work, I can’t keep hanging on to stuff that is not selling.

Collage to be covered by collagraph plate of a fernWhat happened was that I wanted to enter an informal Arts Connect Inc. Members Exhibition. One of the criteria was that the work be made in the last two years.  But I didn’t have any framed recent works available.  And for all sorts of reasons my usual framer was not available.

Solution – re-use the frames of some old art that hadn’t sold.  I have some print-based collages made some 15 years ago. At that time I was framing works on paper without glass.  I figured that if I covering the work with several layer of gloss acrylic medium and then several layers of mat varnish, they would then have the same surface characteristics as an acrylic painting, and be more visible without the barrier of reflective glass.  (I don’t do that any more – I’ve come to see that it really is more professional to present works on paper framed behind glass.)

But my used collagraph printing plates have always been framed without glass, so I decided to find old collages with a frame that matched a used printing plate, and specifically for the plate I wanted to enter into the exhibition.
Image above: The collage “Gate Latch” with the plate for “Conondale Fern”, which was to cover it. This work was going into the exhibition.

"Bauhinia 2" printing plate to be glued over "Marching Now" collageSo I was surprised to find a tinge of sadness and a little anxiety in doing something so irrevocable.  Perhaps I need not have felt surprised, as I tend strongly towards saving and not wasting things. (The why of that is another story, which I may tell some other day).

But I went ahead any way.  And then came a sense of freedom and liberation, as I let go of something from the past that hadn’t sold, was not needed and had become a burden. What I was doing fitted into my current phase of down-sizing and being more focused in my art practice, and that felt good.

I needed only one frame for the exhibition, but having started I was on a roll, searching for matches between frames and used collagraph plates.

Image right: The collage “Marching Now” with the plate for “Bauhinia 2”, which was to cover it. (This plate has been sold, but the similar “Bauhinia 1” is still available.)

What I found was that mostly, although a frame and plate would match, the plate could not be simply glued over the old work because it was larger than the plate.  So I began to take the old works out first, meaning they were not actually destroyed.  So I still have them … . It is very hard indeed to destroy old art work.

Here is an example.


Albany Sedge 4 collagraph plate, in a repurposed frame.The collage removed from its frame for Albany Sedge 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: “Albany Sedge 4 Plate” in “Finger Pointing 2″‘s frame (above)

I feel that I’ve made progress, even though I have kept another 5 little collages, removed from their frames for collagraph plates. I suspect that these little collages will probably end up being discarded eventually, rather than being reframed. I still have a way to go.

If you have ever destroyed old art, I’d be very interested to learn of your experiences and feelings.  Especially if you managed to repurpose the art, as well as the frames.

Ponderings on Procrastination

My last Newsletter started with a sincere hope that I still have – that everyone of you is well and keeping safe; that you are managing physical isolation while maintaining social connectedness.

Conondale Fishbone Fern EV1-6 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll

Image left: Conondale Fishbone Fern, EV1/6, ©Jacky Lowry 2020, Collagraph Print with Relief Roll.

Like so many others, I’m using Zoom meetings more frequently, and in some ways feel more connected to interstate and overseas family than before!  My art groups are using Zoom for monthly committee meetings as well. In my Newsletter I noted how the current health crisis, with its attendant physical distancing, was leading to an increased valuing of social connection, which got me pondering on the contradiction of my erratic Newsletter and blog post writing. I wondered what was going on with this procrastination, and what the basis of the underlying fear might be.

So I did do a little writing around the issue, to gain clarity around what might be happening, and to find some solutions.  Perhaps this experience may speak to some of you, and prove helpful. This opportunity for reflection is one good thing to come out of Corvid19 lockdown.

 Wild Raspberry 1_2-7 Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph with surface roll

Image right:  Australian Wild Raspberry 2/7 © Jacky Lowry 2020, Collagraph Print with Relief Roll.

First, I think this tendency towards procrastination is rooted in an exaggerated sense of responsibility to perform.
I think the roots of my procrastination may go back to a very early childhood decision that I have to perform and win approval, in order to be loved.  I know for sure now that this isn’t true, that God loves me, and that performance is not needed.  It is truly an unconditional love. But a little child does not know this, and can’t think at that level, in any case.  It took a long time for this understanding to seep into my mind and be truly believed.

Add two developing fears – a fear of being judged, and a fear of never being quite good enough.
I grew up experiencing  quite a lot of criticism
, which would have reinforced that performance was necessary for approval.  With criticism comes a fear of being judged, and found wanting.

Giant Maidenhair Fern EV 1/8 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Handcoloured Collagraph Print

These  fears were reinforced with schooling.  Academic success was very important to my parents, and they believed, mistakenly, that we children would be spurred to greater effort if our achievements were downplayed.  Instead, I learned that my best efforts were not good enough, and so, at a subterranean level, the fear that I, as a person, was also not good enough, and couldn’t be loved became embedded.

I think this fear may have become generalised, leading to a sense of hopelessness around any activity where success was uncertain, projects that felt difficult, or were new, so that the risk of failure seemed greater. There is no point in doing something if at a semi-conscious level I expect to be judged, criticised, and seen as not good enough, even if it is my best effort.  I suspect that such fears, developed when very young, are particularly hard to let go of, even when they are not appropriate or true, because  taking note of fears is part of or our innate survival kit.

Image above: Giant Maidenhair Fern EV1/8 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Handcoloured Collagraph Print.

Fresh Growth: Treehaven Farm Bottlebrush EV1/4 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with surface roll

There is one other thing of fairly recent origin, that anyone who has been very fatigued may relate to.  When I was very tired with chronic fatigue, I coped by just putting aside things. “I don’t have to do that now” became a routine way of thinking. There was just way more to do than what I could manage, so I would put it aside. During that time so many tasks accumulated, that in some ways a sense of overwhelm never went away, even though recovery is now very good. There is still so much that needs to be done, and the default “I won’t do that now, later, some other time” comes up all too easily.  And especially if the project feels difficult or is new.  The old subterranean fears of being judged, which still lurk around tend to kick in, and I procrastinate once again.

Image right: Fresh Growth: Treehaven Farm Bottlebrush EV1/4 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll.

Rough Maidenhair Fern EV1/6 ©Jacky Lowry Handcoloured Collagrph Print

In the past I have worked on my issues and learned a lot about dysfunction and behaviours I wanted to change (and that learning is still useful). But procrastination wasn’t much of an issue. I just followed my interests and made art.

But a few years ago it became obvious that our limited retirement income could only fund very limited art expenses. If I wanted art materials, or to frame art, the art would have to at least partly pay for itself.

So began the idea of building up an art business, and learning what was needed.  I enrolled in some online courses and built myself a website (still a work in progress).  Everything I tackled was new, and much of it was hard.  For the first time, my propensity towards procrastination became both obvious and a real problem.

Image above: Rough Maidenhair Fern EV1/6, ©Jacky Lowry Handcoloured Collagraph Print.

Wild Raspberry 2 1/7 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print wirh Surface Roll

      So working on these courses brought a problem to the surface. But they also had within them some solutions.  I learned – and am still learning about planning, and scheduling, and organising my day.  This provides a structure that lets me see very clearly when I experience resistance to a task.  The structure has not only improved productivity; it has also encouraged me to notice when purposelessness arises, and to challenge the resistance.

      Writing about my procrastination also helped me see some other unhelpful ways of thinking.  I have a tendency to see projects in their entirety – an overwhelming point of view.  Being sick and tired could get me out of tasks, but it is a most dysfunctional solution.  No longer an option! Learning to break projects up into smaller tasks has been most helpful.

      Image right: Wild Raspberry 2,1/7 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll

      I also saw I expected control over the outcomes of my actions, and to somehow feel that if my desired outcomes were not achieve it was my fault. I actually do know intellectually that I can only control my own actions and responses, but this does not always translated into behaviour and feelings.  If what I was doing was hard and/or new, I just wouldn’t do the work.  I’m having to take ownership of my thinking and beliefs. The writing that I did helped me see that I really am responsible for changing unhelpful thinking patterns, and for doing the work, even if I can’t control outcomes.

      So that is where I am at – planning my days, doing the work, challenging resistance, and asking God for help. It’s early days, and I am making progress.  Writing this blog as planned is a win, because writing is one of the “hard” tasks (although ironically, once I get going I enjoy the process; it’s something in the mind before I start).  And importantly, now that the issue is being faced and is out in the open, no longer lurking as a vague, subterranean fear, the hard tasks are actually not as hard as I expect.  I am receiving the help I need.  I am grateful.

        Details of the art pictured above.
        All these fine art original prints were made between January and April 2020.

        Please Contact Me to arrange a purchase..

        Fresh Growth: Treehaven Farm Bottlebrush EV1/4 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with surface rollFresh Growth: Treehaven Farm Bottlebrush EV1/4 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll.
        Image size:  29 cm  x  21 cm
        Paper size:   49 cm  x  38 cm
        Paper:           Somerset Velvet 250 gsm, Antique
        Price:             AU$205 unframed, plus P&P.
        (Print EV1/4 is sold; Prints EV1/2 – 4/4 are available)

         

        Conondale Fishbone Fern EV1-6 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief RollConondale Fishbone Fern EV1/6, ©Jacky Lowry 2020, Collagraph Print with Relief Roll
        Image size:  19.5 cm  x  15 cm
        Paper size:   35 cm  x  29 cm
        Price:             AU$110 unframed, plus P&P.

         

         

        Giant Maidenhair Fern EV 1/8 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Handcoloured Collagraph PrintConondale Maidenhair Fern EV1/8 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Handcoloured Collagraph Print
        Image size:  19.5 cm  x  15 cm
        Paper size:   35 cm  x  29 cm
        Price:             AU$110 unframed, plus P&P.

         

         

        Rough Maidenhair Fern EV1/6 ©Jacky Lowry Handcoloured Collagrph PrintRough Maidenhair Fern EV1/6, ©Jacky Lowry Handcoloured Collagraph Print
        Image size:  19.5 cm  x  15 cm
        Paper size:   35 cm  x  29 cm
        Price:             AU$110 unframed, plus P&P.

         

         

        Wild Raspberry 1_2-7 Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph with surface rollWild Raspberry 1 1/7 Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll
        Image size:  19.5 cm  x  15 cm
        Paper size:   29.5 cm  x  21 cm
        Paper:           Somerset Velvet 250 gsm, Antique
        Price:             AU$110 unframed, plus P&P.

         

         

        Wild Raspberry 2 1/7 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print wirh Surface Roll

        Wild Raspberry 2 1/7 ©Jacky Lowry 2020 Collagraph Print with Relief Roll
        Image size:  30 cm  x  19 cm
        Paper size:   50 cm  x  38 cm
        Paper:           Somerset Velvet 250 gsm, Antique
        Price:             AU$195 unframed, plus P&P.