welcome!

Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Monday, 11 August 2014

what's in a name...

The blinding August sun is not so bright for me today. Last evening I burried the sweet cat that died in my house from extensive internal injuries after (probably) being hit by a car.

Everyone who donated to help save him has agreed that I keep the money for future emergencies and again I would like to thank them for their warm generosity. It has meant the world to me.

This morning I had an idea. Most of the street cats I look after don't have a name, sometimes I come up with a name for some of them but not always. So now they will be named after the wonderful friends who contributed to create my 'Cat-Care Fund'. All donators were ladies (women rock!) so the male cats will have to settle for a name they may not find quite fitting though I think they won't care. They are wise enough to tell the important from the superficial.

The words 'friends online' has never meant so much to me before.

There are many, many wonderful things in your names.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

farewell, kitty

I have been trying to start this entry for about two hours now and it's required a great emotional effort. The injured cat died early this afternoon. Rest in peace, my sweet. You didn't deserve to die like that.

I had to work at the Exhibition Hall this morning so I wasn't with him when he died. I regret it terribly.

Your loving, kind donations raised a third of the amount required for his care. I am emailing each one of you privately but I would also like to share my idea here. Is it ok with you all if I keep the money for possible future emergencies? There are more street cats I feed and try to protect and they are all exposed to the same dangers. Your donations will become a fund that I'll keep for their sake.

I have already removed the Donate button from my blog. I am deeply grateful for your help and consideration and it saddens me so much to have to share these bad news with you. You did make me feel less alone in my effort and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

Only this morning I was able to locate a veterinary about 100 kms from here who collaborates with an association dedicated to animal care. She would have been able -and willing- to help at a lower cost. I wish I had found out earlier. Nevertheless, I'll know who to contact immediately if anything happens to the cats in the future.

I really can't write more on the subject right now, I feel devastated.

THANK YOU.

Friday, 8 August 2014

injured cat - update

*Donate button at the top of the right-hand column of this blog*

This is a rather short blog post to update you on the state of the street cat that I am nursing at home.


I have received a few donations already and, though I thanked each generous contributor by mail, I would like to aknowledge their caring gesture through my blog too. They know who they are, and they are wonderful!

I now have about 10% of the amount needed to take proper care of this sweet animal. I called the vet again yesterday to ask if maybe I could pay them by instalments but they haven't given me a definitive answer yet. Judging by their initial reaction, I'd say it's not possible. But then again, let's be optimistic. Even two instalments would be of great help. I'll also keep you posted on that.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I keep the injured cat in my storeroom because of my own three female cats, very jealous of their territory. They would never assault him or hurt him in any way but they could scare him and make him feel like running to hide. Since he can't move, any simple physical reaction would set him crying in pain again. To avoid that, I isolated him. I go into the room two or three times an hour, too often probably, I think he'd rather be left alone for a while longer.

He's on antibiotics already and they seem to start making some effect. He can (very) slowly shift position on his own and his gaze is sharper. He refuses to eat or drink any water but just a while ago I was able to feed him some chicken broth. He really liked that! He can't eat much in one go, so I'll feed him a little bit every couple of hours or so. I was worried that he might throw up the antibiotic but he didn't. He's a good patient!

I will be grateful to anyone who would consider the possibility of donating even the smallest sum. Please remember that any amount raised will be entirely for the cat's benefit and that I will remove the donation button as soon as the necessary funds are collected. (That would be about 300 euros.)

Thank you!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

injured cat, call for help

Hello everyone! This is an urgent call for help. Some of you may remember from previous posts that I look after a group of street cats that live near my home. Looking after them basically means that I feed them and deworm them when necessary. Sadly, I can't really protect them from the many dangers looming over them in the street. Passing cars, dogs, downpours (two kittens almost drowned to death a couple of months ago while I was watching the pouring rain from my apartment, marvelling at its beauty and power!)


This is a photo of one of the male cats. He's a sweet, cuddly animal about a year and a half old. I can't be sure about his age. Someone abandoned him right in front of the apartment building last autumn (they actually abandoned three cats, two females and this little dear) and they all seemed to be about seven or eight months old back then.

When I went down with their food this morning I found this young male lying in the makeshift shelter I made for them last year, mainly to protect their food from the rain and the sun. He couldn't move. When I tried to move him he started crying out in pain. I panicked. It took me several moments to calm down and think what I could do for him -if anything.


He can't move the rear part of his body without severe pain, the front part seems to be ok. I felt his body very gently and could not feel anything like a broken or dislocated bone but I didn't dare press harder with my fingers. I think maybe he was hit by a car? I gave him some water and he drank heartily, I thought that was a good sign.

I went up home and fetched a thin wooden board, the backside of a large picture frame actually. I managed to slowly slide the board under his body (oh, I did hurt him a bit, in spite of all my efforts) and then, using the board as a stretcher of sorts, took him up to my apartment. I couldn't just leave him in such a helpless state in the street, I would be condemning him to a long, painful agony.

He is now lying on a flat cushion in my small storeroom. He hasn't had any water or food since noon (it's almost half past six in the afternoon now) but he's calm and seems to be napping most of the time. He purrs happily when I go in to see him. Every time he tries to move though he still cries out in pain.

I called the veterinarian and she recommended an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medicine. What he really needs though is a visit to the vet's, some x-rays and probably some additional tests. The trouble is, I can't afford all that. It could easily go up to 300 euros or more. So I added a PayPal Donate button to my blog, very easy to locate. It's the first one up on the right-hand column. If you feel inclined to help save this sweet, affectionate young cat, please click on the button. The quantity you choose to contribute is up to you, even one dollar or one euro would count, and I would deeply appreciate any help. Needless to say, he would too!

*You do not need to have a Pay Pal account to donate, just click on the button and Pay Pal will do the rest.*

I will let you all know how things are going and I will remove the button immediately as soon as I have the money necessary for his care. This call for help is meant for him and only for him.

I hope that our joined efforts will help save the life of this young cat. Thank you all so very much!

Monday, 14 July 2014

adventures to come - in a journal form

I keep meaning to share some shots of my work-in-progress for the Personal Histories project and I also keep avoiding it. Something is not quite in place yet. I am not talking about the physical elements in the work but rather about the heaps of ideas and emotions that the title stirred in me and that required a long, complicated process of clearing and sorting out. A bit like opening a path through a thick jungle.

Because, Robyn: What a title! I could cover the distance from Spain to Australia with pages from a book on my personal history. Fortunately, logic prevailed and I decided on a much more abbreviated version of the vertigo that can be anyone's life story. More to come on the subject when I finally decide to share those WIP shots with you all.

In the meantime, I've been creating some small works, most of them for my shop, and a few just for the fun of it. If you've read my previous post, you can guess that fun was a scarce commodity around here lately.


What I'm showing you here today are a few scanned images of the covers of a journal I decided to start. Being a serious and ordered girl, I started with the covers, of course. This is the stainy, rainy look of decoloured silk cloth on cardboard.


A light wash of acrylic ink on the corner because, as you already know, I can't leave well enough alone.


The journal has 22 sheets (that's 44 pages) with alternate sheets of tissue paper and, knowing me, it will be a long time before I finish it. Each page is 24.5 x 25 cms (9.7 x 9.9 inches) and the journal will be spiral bound.


This is the back cover (nothing really new here, I just felt like sharing it too) and this particular scan looks a bit oversaturated. The ochre-yellow colour of the other images is much closer to the real thing.


The initial idea is to record here many of the chaotic, half-forgotten moments and impressions of my personal history that cannot fit into my work for the project. There may be overwhelming moments ahead, believe me. I take memories very seriously. Let's see if I can sort through them with a sense of humour.


The covers are not finished though I may have to wait till after I've worked on some of the inside pages to get back to them. Some sort of title? An image maybe? Or a brutal tear on the silk? Expect anything. I do too.

Monday, 7 July 2014

update on life

Hello dear friends. I haven't been around here for a long time, I have missed volumes of your blog posts and my work has also suffered the effects of my absence. Because this is how I generally felt all this time, absent and somehow inconsistent. Τhings have been difficult.

a passage along Villanueva St., Beceite, Spain

Two friends died in May, the first one quite unexpectedly. She was also a neighbour in the same apartment building where I live, a member of our local artists' group and my fellow cat-keeper as far as the street cats are concerned. Her name was Lilianne and she died from a heart attack, she probably never realised what was happening. It was me who found her in her apartment two days later but I won't go into details. It was a shock and we were all stricken by her sudden demise.

Then ten days later, on 21 May, another friend passed away. Isabel's death was not unexpected, she had been sick for a long time but still, it was a blow. She was the long-time partner of one of the members of our group. After attending the funeral, I think we all looked furtively at each other wondering if these things always come in threes. May seemed a bit colder and the poppies looked a bit darker this year.

bright, cheerful poppies belie our gloomy feelings

Many street kittens born in April died too, some of them tragically. I won't go into details here either but each little death was a very sad blow and it was me again who found them -being the person who takes care of them and is closest to them. I wish I had a house with a huge garden, then I'd take them all in to shelter them from danger. By mid-June it felt as if a huge vacuum cleaner had swooshed over our heads sucking in lives.

Those events have a lot to do with my absence online and also with my difficulty with carrying on with my projects.

poplar trees and exhuberant Spring growth

On Friday 20 June I started working at the Exhibition Hall again, just in the weekends. The photograph above is my view from the entrance to the Hall, an optimistic sight to sooth the spirit. On the left, barely out of the frame, is the gravel path that leads to the venue.

wildflowers, wild patterns

Wildflowers grow along the edge of the path, at the feet of an old stone wall. This shot is from a previous year but things look pretty much the same every Spring. The rhythms of time, a diary of life and colour.

I am working on my piece for the Personal Histories exhibition. It was also on hold for some time, unable as I was to free my feelings from sorrow. A certain melancholic mood can be very inspiring for me (a romantic in disguise) but downright sadness is not. I guess writing this post means I am opening to the world again.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

a gelli print called desire

Blogging on a Sunday afternoon again. I worked at the Exhibition Hall this weekend and now I'm free again to roam the cyberstreets. 'Free' is not a word I used by chance and it has a lot to do with the title of my latest gelli print, that I just decided to name 'desire'. I could have also named it 'hope'.

'desire'
double gelli print and graphite on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper
Blogger still shows the backgrounds grayish, grrr...



Edit: I couldn't resist embedding this same image from my Flickr photostream, where the background is brighter and the colours more clear. Sorry for insisting. Does anyone know why Blogger alters the hues?

It's almost nine years to the day since I left Barcelona and moved to Beceite, the village or very small town where I've lived ever since. Moving away from the big city was a relief in many ways. Barcelona has become a huge 'shop window' of sorts, a display of design and grandeur, a product to be consumed by tourists. I think that was what drove me away the most, it stopped being a civic space where people lived and worked and enjoyed themselves to become a brand, a well-marketed product. It's a known fact that dozens of thousands of citizens feel uncomfortable in that environment. I was one of those who managed to get away.

Getting away though had its downsides too and maybe the most important of them is that I gradually lost contact with many people I knew, even with some dear friends. It happened slowly, over the course of nine years, and it became part of normal life. A fact that sometimes crossed my mind but was soon brushed away by things present.

A couple of months ago I found in the bottom of a drawer a short story I wrote years ago, when I was part of a Creative Writing Group in Barcelona. The memories that rushed through me were way longer than that text. What a flood of recollections! People, words, jokes, excursions, conversations... A world half forgotten and yet so meaningful, so full of life and potential. Oh, my god! Was it really gone?

I decided to Google the name of a friend and when the hundreds of results came up I felt a surge of happy excitement. And an instant inhibition. Should I really call her? We had lost touch even before I left Barcelona, should I risk disturbing her? Should I dare?

I didn't. Something held me back and, not without sorrow, I decided to heed it. And that moment was forgotten too, swept away by things present.

Then on Friday 2 May she emailed me!!! To say that I was astounded would be an understatement. Some kind of telepathy seems to have worked between us. I was delighted to read her message, I called her immediately and in these two short days we have spent over 3 hours talking on the telephone. I am still astounded. She answered the call I never made!

And this is where hope and desire come into the picture. The desire to do meaningful things, work that is relevant in many more ways than just earning a living, the hope of a happier creative future. Remember: this is Spain, still in deep economic crisis.

Alejandra (that's my friend's name) and I are already contemplating common projects, workshops and activities to offer to children and adults alike in the area where I live. Budding projects that I cannot yet describe in detail but that I can readily name after this gelli print: 'hope and desire'.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

sea mosaic and spring folly

As I mentioned the other day, there were two more gelli prints awaiting to be finished so I could show them to you. They belong to my 'green period' prints, since I created them to use up the excess paint I had poured onto my palette.

'sea mosaic'
single gelli print, graphite and collage on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper

I've been deliberately more careless with my brushstrokes and even added a touch of painting on the dried print. It's the narrow whitish band in the middle, painted with white acrylic. I used a palette knife to create the relief that may be seen as a surf line. The mosaic on the right is a collaged piece of paper that I painted a long time ago.

'spring folly'
single gelli print, rubber stamping and graphite on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper

Extra-careless brushstrokes here and a mistake I decided to endorse. The printed area was supposed to be centered on the paper but I didn't place it correctly on the gel plate. These papers are smaller than the plate, so this mistake was bound to happen at some point.

The small grungy square on the lower right side of the print was stamped directly onto the paper using the flat 'bottom' of a rubber and a grungy black ink pad.

The urge to go back to the greys and grey-blues is quite strong but I am resisting it, I don't know for how long. There's something more I need to do with bright colours, though I won't find out what till I actually do it. I've been eyeing my little bottle of bright red liquid acrylic with wonder and, as we all know, there's no telling what red is capable of.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

painting with a gelli plate

Am I becoming a single-issue blogger? Don't answer that, I know I am, going on and on about my gelli prints and how much fun I am having with them. Though there is something more than fun to them.

Gina, a lovely blogger from Tasmania, featured my prints in her blog the other day: Gina's eye - Visual Artist. I was really delighted with the feature and it was a great surprise! Thanks again, Gina, for your generosity. There are many interesting features as well as Gina's own works of art and poetry in her blog, hop over to see for yourselves.

gel print and random brushstrokes with india ink
on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper

Through my gel plate I have access to a technique I had scarcely tried before. I am not a printer and I don't have a press. I never seriously studied printing techniques and the few things I knew, I had forgotten by now.

Till the plate was served to me.

What started out (and still is) a game seems to be opening up many new possibilities. In fact, I have made very little progress since I started. I am exploring the options at my own pace, which is usually slow. I feel free when I am not pressed for time or results and creativity can only come from freedom, I think.

I didn't use a brayer for any of these prints, I applied the acrylics with a wet brush. There is a tricky balance between using too much water (it almost happened on the blue background here) and too little. With too little water the colours remain too opaque and cover the paper completely. In exchange, you can use that to create a thick brushstroke texture that prints flat on the paper but retains the bristle details.

You will be able to see all that clearly if you click on the images to enlarge them.

double gel print and graphite
on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper 

As you can see, I started experimenting with more colour and less delicacy. This particular print makes me want to giggle, not sure why. It doesn't necessarily indicate that I started following a different path or style (or does it?) but it's certainly a different step on my way. Black and red and blue? Not my usual colours, too bold a contrast for me and yet, I'm very fond of it.

single gel print and graphite
on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper

I pulled this one as a vertical print but then looked at it horizontally and found myself neck-high in a field of tall grass. I liked the feeling and worked from there. A gelli print nature of sorts.

single gel print and graphite
on 150 gsm Stonehenge paper

Still surrounded by tall grass and a few unidentified vegetables. I mixed too much yellow-green-blue in this case and had to pull two more prints to use up the colours. They are not finished yet, so expect yet another post on gelli printing. Moving towards mixed media though, thinking about different combinations, larger sizes, whatever. Oh, dear. I'll be needing an A3-sized gel plate soon!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

japanese dish

Here's me again with my gelli prints. I just can't stop printing, apparently. There are a couple of serious pieces I need to do but I keep postponing them. I have become a gelprintingplateaholic! (Ok, that almost sounds like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, I'm very proud of it.)

Note: I had to embed these images from my Flickr photostream because, for some reason, Blogger showed the backgrounds gray and I hated that. As a result, I cannot centre the images. No problem, right?

Japanese Dish
gelli printing and graphite on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper



This single piece took me two days to finish. Fitting the two colour templates together was extremely difficult for me, I had to throw several trial prints away. Eventually, I started asking myself why on earth I suddenly wanted such a perfect print and the only answer I could come up with is that I needed to create at least one smooth, non-blotty, non-bleedy print. I finally managed it.

the perfect print

 
As you can see here, the forms and lines match perfectly. I had triumphed! But I had also killed the work.

Perfection is not very interesting, is it? No blobs, no play, not a hair out of place. So what could I do to bring my Japanese Dish back to life? I needed two days to figure it out. The final result is the first image. I think that thick, wavy line did the trick. That and a couple of tiny dots on each side. Of course I could always change my mind tomorrow and think it's worthless but I probably won't. It's finished, it's simple and it may well be the last perfect print I'll ever try to pull again.


I titled it 'Japanese Dish' after this fractal that I created a long time ago. It's probably my absolute favourite of all the fractals I did back then. The forms for the print were taken from this fractal, though simplified.

The Exhibition Hall will open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I'll be working there from 11:00 - 13:30 and from 17:30 - 20:00 in the evening. I'll probably be able to go online there for a while but, in case I can't, enjoy your Easter holidays!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

gelli printing continues

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and your preparations for Easter, those of you who celebrate it. I believe all three Easters (that sounds really strange) coincide this year.

Acrylic paint and graphite on 250 gsm Stonehenge paper.
The slight colour bleed around the lower part of the print was intentional.

This is a short blog post to share my two latest gelli printing experiments with you. They are twins, in a way. Playing with positive and negative space though bending the rules a bit.

Acrylic Baby Blue paint (you babies rock!) with a couple of drops of black. The resulting grey has a subtle bluish tinge that I really like. Again 250 gsm Stonehenge paper.

The hand-written word on the upper left means nothing, I just added a bit of asemic free calligraphy to the work. I also added water again to the acrylic paint and applied it to the gelli plate with a brush to create this bubbly, random texture.

On a sidenote, something strange has been happening lately with my blog. Pageviews are going up by the hundreds, I have no idea why. Nevertheless, it's a real pleasure and I thank all those anonymous viewers who spend some time in my corner of blogland. Thank you, guys!

P.S. I am strongly tempted to experiment a bit with crazy colours. You have been warned.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

gelli printing experiments

About 200 years ago I bought a gel printing plate. Ok, I'm exaggerating, it was probably only 150 years ago. Apart from toying with it a bit to see how it reacted and whether it was an alien or a deep-sea gelli plate, I didn't do much. Other things got in the way.


Mixing colours on the gel plate with a very wet brush. The water won't stick on the plate and, as a result, it creates these stainy textures that I really like. The colour bleed outside the templates was deliberate.

Then just a few days ago, while working on my 'elements' series, I felt I needed a break. Take a load off. I opened one of my many drawers crammed with different kinds of paper to take out some humble photocopy paper sheets and suddenly there it was. My gel plate, neatly tucked in its casing, peeping at me from the bottom of the drawer.


I only used acrylic paint here but applied it with a brush. I wanted the brushstrokes to show. Why this unexpected green? I don't really know, it was unexpected.

You can imagine the rest. I forgot about my plans to draw and doodle and do some impressive mark-making experiments and started printing instead. These simple prints, no busy backgrounds and high contrasts. After pulling a couple of trial prints on photocopy paper I decided to use 250 gsm Stonehenge for the rest. Printing paper after all, it takes the colours much more gracefully.


Oh, I didn't use the gel plate for this one. I stamped a distressed-ink pad directly onto tracing paper. The actual work looks better than the scanned version.


The pale blue-grey and light green squares were printed following the rules. I spread the acrylics on the plate with a brayer and pulled two well-behaved shapes. But it's me. I couldn't leave well enough alone.

This one is a combination of gel printing and ink pad stamping. The pad fell off my hand and onto the paper leaving a mark that I tried to incorporate into the composition. I believe this is called 'accidental art'.


Trying my hand with gradients in the ochre shape. A (deliberately) poorly coloured brayer in the violet one.

I pulled this one today, the latest but not last in the series. I want to further explore the texturing possibilities and the unorthodox use of watercolour.

I confess I started experimenting before reading a single entry in the Printing with Gelli Arts blog. They are in no way responsible for my skewed interpretarion of their technique. They are entirely responsible for this beautiful, fascinating method of creating prints without a press.

EDIT: I replaced the original JPG files with PNGs and the grayish overlay has disappeared. Phew! This is what my prints really look like.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

elements - a new line of work

I just announced a new line of work and the doubts are already circling over my head. Will I be able to continue? Creating has become very hard. Garibaldi's death, added to the thousand and one problems that daily life generously provides in Spain, weighs greatly on my mind and feelings. Hard as I try, there is a sense of ending tailing my actions through the day like a faithful ghost.

elements I
heavyweight handmade paper - Kozo paper shreds - watercolour - embossing

I am well aware that we are not supposed to dwell on unpleasant feelings and events in our blogs. On the other hand, I see no purpose in lying, in wasting precious efforts to create a false reality that will disguise the truth. The truth that also explains why I've fallen so far behind in reading your blogs and appreciating your works. I'm sorry for that, I'll try to catch up. I will try.

I have piles of torn papers on my table, little painted failures, unconvincing sketches, meanigless trials. I start out each morning full of hope and give up in the afternoon with a deep sigh. I don't throw anything away, just in case. I do wonder though if my little 'ghost of ending' feeds on the energies wasted on those papers. There's something suspicious about them, they lurk in plain sight, they are greedy and demanding. Papers demanding meaningful work. The other day I cut my finger with an edge and paid a tiny tribute in blood. What else do they want from me?

'elements I' is the only valid work I can show for these past 12 days. I wanted it simple and simple it is. It is inspired in my WIP for the 3 territories contest and I like it quite a lot. The name 'elements' may refer to the compositional elements used or, better still, it can be interpreted as an abstraction of nature or of out basic thoughts and emotions. In this case, the elements were not against me, methinks.

I increasingly find myself attracted to Japanese aesthetics, as many of you do too, I know. After reading and re-reading 'Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers' by Leonard Koren and 'In Praise of Shadows' by Junichiro Tanizaki (these books are a bit worn by now), I recently started Donald Richie's 'A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics'. Simple books, easy to read. But oh so difficult to understand in depth. We need to understand the philosophy of a different culture that, in many delightful ways, is opposed to ours. Learn how to push our logic out of the way to make room for intuitive perception. Even maybe embrace the little ghosts of ending that gnaw at our souls and papers. In praise of ghosts. The Japanese principles of humility, imperfection and the unfinished -don't they imply the acceptance of death?

I miss you, Garibaldi. Stop gnawing at my papers. Create with me.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

goodbye, Garibaldi

My dearest cat Garibaldi died on Friday 28 February at ten past three in the afternoon. He was 15 years old. He was born in my Barcelona apartment in March 1999 and spent his entire life with me. He basically died of old age.


He started feeling sick last Tuesday and after that it was a quick way down. I stayed with him till the end.


I haven't been able to do much these past days, nothing creative anyway. I feel very sad and I miss him enormously.


Photographing my cats has always been very difficult, because they get up and come close to the camera as soon as I take it out. Sketching them is even harder but sometimes I manage it.


Garibaldi is now resting under this almond tree in bloom. The spot is not far away from home. Be happy wherever you are, my love.

Friday, 21 February 2014

3 territories: more than an art contest

Hello, hello. I haven't fallen off the face of the earth yet, I'm holding on to its edge with my nails and teeth. And if you think the earth has no edges, you are quite mistaken. It has way too many. It's an edgy affair, it is. Or is that life?

Well, in the middle of this edgy love/hate affair with life that I will not write about today, art is churning out events and opportunities. That's very nice of her (I can't imagine art to be anything but a 'she', probably because the noun is feminine in Greek and I'm Greek, remember?) So, after our un-meeting with the gallerist at the beginning of the month and while I was trying to create a layout of sorts for my Personal Histories book due in August, art threw a contest our way. 'Our' as in 'our local group of artists'.

wip - the Iberians, wine and olive oil

The Iberians were the people that lived in the Iberian peninsula from the Neolithic period up to the 2nd century B.C You can find more information through the link, that will take you to a Wikipedia article on them. They occupied different parts of the peninsula and one of those parts was Northeastern Spain, the area where I live now. Their culture was not sophisticated and they were greatly influenced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Romans when they successively colonized the peninsula. Among other things, they learned how to make wine and olive oil.


One of the very simple decorative patterns they used was a jagged line, coarsly engraved on their urns and other ceramic vessels.


They used archaic characters to write with but the meaning of their writings has not been deciphered yet. There are not enough bilingual documents - Iberian/Greek or Iberian/Roman - to help interpret their texts. The Iberian letters were mostly drawn with straight lines, I haven't been able to find any curved letters among them.


The art event that has been organized on this subject brings together artists from 3 neighbouring territories: the Matarranya (that's where I live), the Terra Alta and Morella. And we all have to create works inspired on the Iberians and the cultivation of vines and olive trees, that are still two of the main products of this area. Any type and number of works can be presented by each artist and what you see here is a mixed media piece that is still in progress.

Or maybe it's finished. It's still too soon to know, I need to let it breathe for a couple of days and see what it says to me.

The elements are obvious, I think. Branches of what could be a vine or an olive tree (no realistic intent here), the black beads can easily be seen as olives, fragments of Iberian writing partly covered by acrylic gesso and a ragged line beneath, deliberately embossed by hand to look rather coarse.

I would like to create two more works of a very different kind. A tall paper and fabric urn, reminiscent of the ceramic urns they used to keep in the ashes of their dead, and an artist's book that is still very undefined in my mind but will probably include collage, fragments of Iberian writing and... I'll let you know as soon as I do!

There will be a quite tempting prize for the winner, who will also need to create 4 smaller works that, in their turn, will be the prizes for the winners and runner-ups of a literary contest to be held in August. Not bad at all, right?

And a very important footnote: one of the members of the jury is... drumroll... the Un-gallerist!

No further comments.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

paper bowls - how I make them

Here I am again, only two days after my previous post. Not feeling upset anymore about the un-meeting with the gallerist, since I vented my anger here the other day and I felt very supported by your comments. Thank you, my friends.

Today I'm here to show you a couple more of the paper bowls I made for the Art Market. I haven't made any new ones since then but I will, soon I hope. To me, they are small paper sculptures that may or may not be put to practical use.

strips of tissue and craft paper / broken twigs

I had to force myself to work with materials other than white but the results were rewarding. I enjoyed discovering how the different types of paper reacted to the pasting and how each one of them stretched or crumpled in a different way. The tissue paper here is white and very thin, so the warm earthy colour of the craft paper shows through.


I used a very easy, crafty technique to make my bowls. I simply glued multiple layers of paper strips on an inflated balloon. Once the paste is dry (it takes several hours to a day to dry completely) you simply burst the balloon and remove the shreds from the inside of the bowl. You can then continue working on it in any old way. In this case, I added a few twigs I picked up during one of my walks.


It's funny but the major difficulty while pasting the paper was to keep the balloon still. You need to place it bottom (round) side up and find a way to avoid it moving. I stack the lower side into a tightly-fitting jar but still had trouble keeping it in place. As a result, this particular bowl came out rather tilted and I placed a pebble inside so it would stay upright.

The truth is that I like the tilted bowl much better, it comes through less like a utility object and more like a piece of sculpture -decorative as it may be. The pebble was my concession to the commercial side of the Art Market.

strips of kozo paper / chiffon gossamer ribbon

Yet another non-white bowl. The strips of fabric are from an olive-coloured chiffon gossamer ribbon. I like its semi-transparency and the way it frays at the ends.


Kozo paper is a delight to work with, either pasting it or painting on it. I am running out of stock and need to buy some soon. I do have a large stock of silk sari ribbons, I bought them just because I liked them but had never quite found a use for them till now. Expect more paper and fabric bowls/sculptures from me in the near future!


Since this blog entry is dedicated to my paper bowls, I hope you won't mind if I include a couple of pictures of the white ones, that I already posted in my previous entry. Just so that they can be all together.

strips of Kozo paper / shreds of scrim



I'd like to be more specific about the kind of glue I used. Just plain acid-free PVA glue mixted with some water, about 50% of each. I applied it with a flat brush, about 2 inches wide, the kind that you can get at any paint shop.

strips of Kozo paper / shreds of scrim

So there is really no mystery to it. Paper bowls are easy to make though the process requires some patience. What makes them special are the decisions each one of us makes about the materials to use, the way we combine them, the additional work on the object once it's dried, etc. That's what can turn a nice crafty object into something more personal and -artistic?


As I mentioned in my previous entry, these bowls are quite sturdier than they look. They can hold small items like keys, jewellery, beads, pebbles, nuts, etc. Or they can stand alone, small pieces of sculpture on a tabletop or shelf. Of course, if anyone is bent on breaking them, they will.

Handle with care but I assure you that if they fall on the floor they won't break. They won't even dent.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

the un-meeting with the gallerist

I've been procrastinating (definitely need to look up the etymology of this word) for several days but now the time has come to tell you about the meeting with the gallerist last Sunday, 2 February. It's yet another dark day, not too cold but quite wintery, so opening my blog's window to the world is like a flash of warm light in my attic workspace.

strips of Kozo paper and shreds of scrim
14 cms wide x 10 cms high ( 5.6" x 4") approx.

Since the meeting was strange enough to be called an un-meeting (Alice in Wonderland-style) I don't mind illustrating this entry with some of my work that has nothing to do with painting. Or doesn't it? Anyway, what you will see here are some of the paper bowls I made last December for the Art Market. Taking nice photographs has been a challenge in this endless series of dark days and lots of editing was necessary to compensate light, texture, definition, etc.


So. A few artists of the area were going to meet with the gallerist last Sunday morning. We were all looking forward to it. I spent the entire morning/noon waiting for her to appear. I skipped lunch so I could fully dedicate myself to waiting. At three o'clock in the afternoon I finally had a couple of toasts with butter and fig marmelade, mmm, delicious. A second breakfast of sorts. And then went on waiting.


At five o'clock I got a phone call from one of the other artists asking me if I could take my work to their house, a short 6 km drive from home, by around seven. No problem, I said. I put everything in a folder and off I went.

inside crudely painted with acrylic gesso

The gallerist finally showed up at half past seven. We were all very curious and a bit tired by then. To make up for the delay, the gallerist arrived accompanied by her son. The new gallerist! A twenty-something young man with a very serious countenance and a very low-waist pair of blue jeans. I confess that their dénouement had me intrigued for quite a while.

different bowl, same materials: strips of Kozo paper and shreds of scrim
16 cms wide x 8 cms high ( 6.4" x 3.2") approx.

As it turned out, the Gallerist Mother is turning over the business to the Gallerist Heir. We took turns in showing them our work. Rafa's photography, Silvia's paintings and installations, and my watercolours and mixed media pieces. The Heir looked long and hard, he studied the array of artworks and photographs thereof and reached a decision. 'Off with their heads!' he cried.


Then he solemnly stated that he was looking for higher quality art. He straightened his back and stretched his neck so high that I thought those pants were definitely going down. They didn't. They were high quality jeans.


I felt quite frustrated, because the Gallerist Mother did like many of the artworks she saw and most of mine. 'I wouldn't dismiss this one', she whispered again and again. So, if she weren't retiring, us poor artists would stand a chance. But she is retiring. And the Gallerist Heir only appreciates realistic, representational art. Traditional landscapes, portraits and still lifes. He proudly informed us that he was planning to visit ARCO, the most important contemporary art event in Spain, celebrated annually in February.

I'd love to go with him. His pants will definitely go down there.

P.S. I have more paper bowls but I'll leave them for a future entry. These two are probably my favourites. White on white, right? And they are quite strong, considering that they are made of paper and scrim. They can hold keys, jewellery, little decorative stones or beads, walnuts, etc. You can clean them with a soft, wet cloth.

P.P.S. I hope you'll forgive my sarcasm in this entry. No names are mentioned, no identities disclosed. Only statuses and heights.

P.P.P.S. There is nothing wrong with representational art and there are many realistic artists whose work I admire. The conceit though, I don't.
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