A time for tesserae

January 31, 2011

Mosaics have long been on my ‘learn to do’ list. Images of amazing walls and floors in Roman and Moorish and many other buildings, and Gaudi’s wondrous works in Spain have fed my longing to travel to places far away from here.

When I was in my teens, Dad made a large table for the verandah. It was a triangle, equilateral, and it weighed a ton – he always made things to last. It was a bit high to sit at – I recall having to stretch up to lean on my elbows. (Perhaps that was before the growth spurt that grew me into maybe the tallest girl in my class.)

The top of this table was to be covered with ceramic tiles, so a design had to be developed and I was called in to help. These were my favorite times with Dad – creative collaboration. We also chose the wallpaper for the house, a dubious claim to fame despite the gameness of the choice – it was the seventies.

Several possibilities were drawn up – geometry at its finest – coloured pencil triangles on thin white paper.

triangles group of 5 smalltriangles 5 6 smalltriangles 12 smalltriangles 3 4 small

And finally we chose one of them.

triangles 7 small

It had the required symmetry, it had intrigue, and it was enough of a challenge to warrant the work ahead. I don’t remember helping with the actual construction however – Dad was a perfectionist.

So, a couple of months ago when my friend invited me to a mosaic workshop, I became very excited, and found 2 small books that I bought many years ago, and read them again, this time knowing that I would actually be applying what I read. Here’s what happened last week. I’ve yet to apply the grout and I’m hoping it’ll be beetroot red.

Copy of mosaic Jan11 ungrouted

It has the required degree of wonkiness, no intrigue, and for a first attempt it was just challenging enough to be fun.


What we miss #2

January 27, 2011

So much rain now, this half of the country is overflowing.

But not so long ago we missed it terribly.

Copy of what we miss rain b

Post-it notes on the train

January 19, 2011

I’m loving my friend’s train stories. Check out the link under all of this.

Copy of DSC06913


January 18, 2011

Something strange is happening when I drive out in the countryside lately. A light roar of tyres on the road surface like background music, and a feeling of floating like when I ride my bike with ear plugs in. A waking dream, senses alert.

I don’t think the cars or the road have changed, but something has.


When I was a girl it was easy to fall into a reverie. It felt as though the whole universe was passing through my mind in an easy flow, cleaning me out. Sometimes I would sit on the concrete bench that Dad built aroung the barbeque, under the Boobialla, and gaze at the garden. At times my head was full of difficult questions, but mostly those hours were about floating and soaking.

On long weekend drives to the bush or the beach, a car full of kids all sleepy on the way home, I would cup my hands to the window and get lost in the dark blue of the evening.

The thing about those experiences is that I was completely there in those places in that moment, and at the same time I was everywhere else. Open.

Anyway, the feeling I’ve been having in the car lately is like that, only I’m a fully functioning driver as well. And the thing is, I’m not trying do it, like trying to retrieve my childhood clarity. It was just there suddenly, a week ago.

Sit for me.

January 14, 2011

It’s January. A year before me. And what shall I do with it? Paint people that I like and who will sit for me. It’s time.

As every artist knows, the best model is the Self – doesn’t have to be anywhere else. And looking back at the many Selfs, it’s a story line, a diary. Some are very scary, some odd, some sad, most very serious. (Try smiling endlessly at yourself.)

I like stories. Not just my own. So I’ve begun. My first sitter has gone on holidays. Her image waits on the canvas, half alive, small and thin. Ready for another layer to be painted on, another veil removed.

Who will be next?

Last year I trialled a couple of methods, restricting my choices. To take the pressure off when there’s a sitter, waiting to be painted.

self blue 2010