book of the (few) month(s)

So I know I planned to do a book of the month type deal on here. But that was after January when I read tons of books. And then in the following months my reading pace slowed as I discovered art and found myself trying to write up a thesis.

But now I think I’ve read enough books that I can pick my next favourite. And honestly, it is very (very) easy. I enjoyed The Night Circus, and Neverwhere was fascinating (in both book and radio form), but the winner is…

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…i don’t own a copy of the book and didn’t take a picture but i wanted you to scroll down…

 

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How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly.

It is a huge non-fiction collection of lyrics and anecdotes and I loved it. It took up all my free time for three days. Here are some things I learned about: Australian history, modern Australian music, Aboriginal cultures, Italian art, and Catholicism. The stories snuck into my thoughts and have been popping up regularly ever since. Paul Kelly is one of my favourite musicians/songwriters and the book felt like a monstrous extension of that. The point is that the guy knows how to tell stories and now I know he can do it in prose form too.

The above song is one of my favourites and the title song of the book. Other songs I highly recommend are: Careless, Dumb Things and From St Kilda to Kings Cross. 

 

project complete.

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Well here they all are. I’m really happy that I made them, happy that I started it and finished it, and happy with how they turned out.

And while I knew they were going to be used, and that some were used even before they were finished, the realisation that they are useful really only hit me when my Mum sent me this picture:

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She’s printed and laminated them at playing card size!

how does my garden grow?

Creating a balcony garden was one of the items on my “Things To Do This Year” list. And it’s going really well. We’ve used the mint a lot, thanks to its place in a delicious iced tea recipe. The radish all turned out quite tiny but they tasted good, so that’s something. The basil is growing well and I’m hanging out for the day I can start picking it. Oh, and we’ve used the oregano a few times in pasta sauces. But mostly I just like to sit out there with the plants and relax. That’s their real benefit.

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on the maths front

I’ve changed my PhD to a Masters. Not officially, yet, but that is now the plan. And there was a thing I realised just the other day.

I think I’m getting better at distinguishing between the things I am good at and the things I enjoy. Sometimes they overlap, but not always, and it’s kind of freeing to realise that just because I can do something, it doesn’t mean I have to. (EDIT: I still like maths. In case anyone was taking the wrong message away from that.)

So anyway, just thought I’d let you know. It seemed the sort of thing to blog about. Here, have a picture of me from Berlin.

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i’ve been drawing more than writing.

I am sitting at my desk with a cup of peppermint tea to my left and the rain drizzling outside. It feels like summer is over and we have returned to Perth’s other season: the AutumNotReallyWinterSpring that’s made up of a smattering of rainy days spaced out by plenty of sunshine days with cool mornings and warm afternoons. I don’t mind it. The rain is comforting.

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I’ve been drawing more than writing in the last few weeks. After a furious foray into making art for Neil Gaiman’s Calendar of Tales (including the picture above), I had been wondering what to use as inspiration next when my Mum suggested a bunch of projects she could use while tutoring primary school kids.

First up I decided to take on the task of creating a (very) different piece of art for each of numbers 1-12. I’m not halfway yet but I’m having a lot of fun. My main aim, in art at the moment, is to learn as many styles as possible. This project is definitely helping by forcing me to look away from the techniques I used in the Calendar of Tales and find new ones.

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I’m feeling a little hampered by only using GIMP and Inkscape though. Does anyone have any suggestions of their favourite (preferably free) digital art programs?

sculptures by the sea

This month Cottesloe beach is hosting Sculptures by the Sea which is exactly what it sounds like. At a guess I’d say there are about 50 pieces of art up, scattered over the beach and foreshore, and it’s a lot of fun to wander through them taking pictures.

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My favourite actually has an Indonesian title: “mengenang”, which means remembrance. It’s made up of tall bamboo poles, each with a wind-chime-thing at the top, and each pole represents the life of someone who died in the ’02,’05 bombings in Bali. The ‘meaning’ kind of irked me. I’d been running around the sculpture feeling free and perfectly happy and, well, the little sign kind of ruined that. But at least there are the right number of poles (I had cynically feared they would only represent the Australians) and it’s not my art so who am I to say how it should be displayed. Maybe it will bring comfort to some people. Maybe it already has.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a really amazing exhibition. It almost (but not quite) makes up for missing Fringe and Womad. And I still have plenty of really cool sculptures left to photograph 🙂

art

I’ve never thought of myself as a person who could create worthwhile visual art. Sure, I would have admitted that, given some training, I could probably produce something that wasn’t disastrous. But I didn’t really believe it and it’s not like it bothered me so I never took any steps to become a better artist, or become a visual artist at all (beyond photography).

But I think we all know that I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman and this week he inspired me to create art. He’s doing a thing with Blackberry, a calender thing, and here is how it’s working.

A few weeks ago he took to twitter to get inspiration by asking questions. He then chose an answer for each month and used that as a basis/starting point/inspiration for a short story. Now, the world at large is being asked to participate again, this time in the form of contributing an art piece inspired by one of his short stories.

For example, the question for October was: “What mythical creature would you most want to meet in October? (& why?)”  and the answer he chose to inspire his story was: “A djinn. Not to make a wish. But for the very best advice on how to be happy w/ what you already have.” (@elainelowe). You can read all the stories here.

And I made this,

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Her face is based loosely on Rihanna and I sketched from a bunch of different pictures (thank you google images). The lamp was basically out of my head and, if I’m honest, I don’t like it as much as the woman’s face.

But I made it, it’s mine. And it turns out that art is fun, totally unlike the stressful panic I remember from art classes at school. Then I thought, people are always colouring pencil sketches in using their computers, maybe I could do that. So I did. This was a little more stressful (mostly just the step of transferring the sketch to a black-transparent layer) and I think I still like the pencil sketch better but it was also SO MUCH FUN. Who knew?

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Art submissions for the calender are open til March 4th and, even if you’re not interested in that, I highly recommend checking out the stories.