Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Joan: the making of a story

Today as I was urging my bike against the wind that hurtled across La Vallée de la Save, my mind was frequently peppered with the words and images I was going to use to describe the incredible transformation of Joan (you haven't forgotten her already have you?). 

And as I huffed and puffed pedaled, I realised that the transformation 
really isn't Joan's, but my own. 

'Huh??' you ask, 'Oh no not another Reality TV, Ange bares all confession!!'
Keep reading - it's not that bad I assure you ;-)
Let me use the words of one of my favourite artists to explain it instead:

The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it.

(OK - that's not entirely true in Joan's case but she's an exception. I had no idea in the beginning what I wanted her to look like, nor what I wanted her to say. She told me herself.)
The first attempts are absolutely unbearable.

I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose.
Vincent Van Gogh


Am I going to elaborate further? 
Just kidding. Actually - in Joan's case, I've purely and simply enjoyed a process of playing around and trying stuff out, which is something I NEVER allow myself to do. I encourage my kids to do it. Encourage other grown up types to do it. And never find the time to do it myself. Funny how we are programmed to think that the 'fun' is only 'allowable' if it's definably productive.  Yet it's been sooooo necessary. Why - I may never stop!

My intentions for Joan then? 

1) play around and see how many layers of paint and text I could put on one piece of wood.
She now has officially 8 coats of acrylic paint and gesso in varying degrees of disrepair. 
2) make her look like someone had randomly scratched a message into the paint.
3) make her look like a sort of guerilla art/improvised object that you might find hanging nonchalantly somewhere beachy, on a beach hut or batch - for you kiwis, a weather worn fence etc ... to give some food for thought to passers by. 

What I actually got out of all the playing was much more than a shabby Joan, but rather a knowledge of which instruments work best on the irregularities of wood other than the fine brush I am used to calligraphing with. I got to find out that drawing gum works as well under gesso and thick layers of acrylic paint as under watercolour and ink. I got to enjoy trying lots of different alphabets - none of which were suitable for my purpose but which will look great on other pieces later on. And I got to wallow in indigo, pthalo, ceruleum, turquoise and Hoggar's blue - some of my all time favourite colours. Not to mention allowing myself an hour's hard bike ride because I'd been a good girl and 'discovered' stuff that might just save me time on future pieces! Oops! Have to justify - can't help myself. 

I still don't know if calligraphing is a real verb either... 
Why am I boring you with all this two posts in a row?
Do you really need to know all the nitty gritty psychological benefits of my playing around with paint and wooden objects?
Do you not have busy lives full of much more important things to read - like fashion magazines, recipe books, Ikea instruction manuals... ?
Of course you do!
But thanks for reading anyway.
I've got a case of ...
... NERVES! 

Nervous about what I have to reveal to you (my REAL direction and purpose - or one of them at least) on Thursday just before I disappear for two weeks holiday, leaving the messmonsters in the extremely capable hands of the very overworked Beaker!
I think he will be needing some of this:

Watch this space...
Time to pack my bags.
See you Thursday.

PS - for the curious person who asked me what drawing gum was. The English translation on my French bottle says, Liquid Frisket. The mind boggles ;-)


  1. I will nevereverever tire of reading about/watching your process, Ange! You can write about it every day and I will be quite happy.

    Joan is fascinating--and she speaks straight to my heart as I revise and revise my novel. This idea of playing around, seeing what will happen, it is so much a part of the creative process, is it not?

    Thanks, as always, for leaving me inspired. xoxo g

  2. i would not miss one moment of this saga...you are leaving? I'll wait...

  3. LOVE that Vincent VG quote! It really is cool to have something brewing in your mind that needs to get out ~ whether it is in words, in paint, in clay, WHATEVER medium it takes to sing to the world. I wonder where your mystery trip is taking you? Looking forward to hearing more!
    xx Suzanne

  4. you just might be the most creative person I know. really.
    but did you have to go and remind me that you are going to be away for two weeks? will french husband be your guest blogger while you are away? :)
    big love,

  5. I just love to hear what you have to say....its meaningful....you can’t deny that...stay true to who you are cause your great!

  6. You are such fun to read!
    And frisket? Also called rubber cement,masking fluid, liquid latex. And much more pithy things when it spills in your art bag!

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed every single word and I was spellbound right to the end. You have a lovely way with words, painted or 'spoken'. I love your Joan. And one day soon, I'm going to revisit painting, not because I'm good at it but just because you've made me remember the pleasure it brings. Have a wonderful trip.

  8. Ange, Joan is awesome and so deserving of all those layers. We ourselves have many layers, so why not Joan. I'm happy you got to play. It's highly under-rated and something that I need to get back.

    Enjoy your holiday. I'll be waiting for your next post. :)

  9. I love to hear it too and I shall wait your return! ~lulu

  10. it is simply delicious to read of your work...and your rides...and to live vicariously for a moment.
    ahh to spend some time being creative is such a delight.
    and so are you.

  11. You've inspired me with your work on Joan, but you also have me intrigued about what you will reveal on Thursday! So many interesting mediums you use with your calligraphy, they sound so exciting! I love how you always ride your bike hard, and especially that you view it as a reward, you're one tough lady and I admire you! ~Lili

  12. Wonderful Ange!
    Are you coming to visit me?

  13. Dear Ange
    I know exactly what you mean... the process of creating and recreating without intention for the end result spells FREEDOM to me... and one I've only just discovered this last year.. through art...

    Joan is just like all of us... needing to try on different personas and careers till we... find ourselves.. and she's looking wonderful at the moment!!! You have listened to her heart!!

    You have me intrigued with you being nervous!! I can't imagine you nervous.. hahaha...I know we will miss you whilst you are away... xxx Julie

  14. I was really hoping for a confession, Ange. Come on, now!

    And must you stay away so long? What will I do without your wit for two entire weeks? Seriously, now.

  15. Great post Ange, you let us feel how you work through the creative process without letting t become too intellectual. Joan's a lucky girl to get this much attention! Each time I see her I think she looks fantastic!

    Have a good holiday

  16. Ange, it's good to allow yourself the time to explore your art. You are so right about sometimes forgetting the joy in creating art. Playing with all those shades of blue would have been fun. Very curious about your escapade too....

  17. It's nearly Thursday. Stamps foot, glances impatiently at watch, eager to find out Thursday's revelations. And two whole weeks?! You lucky thing.

  18. Dear Ange,
    Isn't every piece that an artist produces a journey and something that has to develop over many stages ?
    An artist friend of mine told me that, each of her pieces ended up being a more complicated version of the simple idea that it started out as.
    Joan is going to look fabulous when she comes to the end of her journey. XXXX

  19. Ange, you never have to justify your creative process to me! And that story in you, is certainly coming out. Can't wait for Thursday's reveal, and I really hope you're coming to see me!


Can't think of a famous quote that says 'communication makes the world go round' so you 'll just have to get my clumsy way of putting it instead ;-) Your comments are precious. Thanks for dropping by!