Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Origami Window Stars

 I fell in love with some paper stars that were stuck up in the window at art class this week.
When I got home I did an Internet search to find instructions on how to make them.

It is suggested that you use tissue paper or kite paper (which is said to be better).
I didn't have either but couldn't wait to make one, so I used some trace that I tore out of a paper sample catalogue I had in my paper stash.

Instructions for this basic star can be found on the Duo Fiberworks website.

I think they would make lovely Christmas decorations.
I'm itching to make more and to try different designs, sizes, papers and colours but I have some work that needs to be done first. :)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Self Portrait

The project in one of my process art classes a few months ago, was to do a series of Self Portraits using clay, charcoal, and tea, coffee and ink.

For the first one we were given a mirror and a large lump of clay.
Sitting comfortably and holding the clay in our hands, we did a guided meditation.
We then placed the clay on the desk in front of us and with our eyes closed, were instructed to carefully and slowly feel our face, ... our ears, ... our head ... and our neck. We did this a few times using both our hands, first our fingertips and then our whole hand.
When we were done, we started to mould the ball of clay into a self portrait. We could look at our refection in the mirror and at times we closed our eyes and worked intuitively, feeling our way around the clay and occasionally referring back by feeling our faces and heads with our hands.

You would think that with all this care taken to explore your own face, and to carefully mould it out of clay, you would manage to achieve a pretty close resemblance of yourself  in your final sculpture.

So, I ask you, with tears in my eyes...

Who the hell is THIS Guy !??   LOL

Self Portrait in clay

Self Portrait in clay - side view

Charcoal sketch of Self Portrait in clay

Self Portrait in charcoal

Self Portrait - wet on wet using tea, coffee and black ink

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Last Dance - mono prints

Printmaking (or Graphics as it was called) was my favourite subject when I was in high school. I've done the odd etching, woodcut and lino cut over the years and have always dreamt of one day having my own press. It is therefore not surprising that my favourite Process Art classes have become the ones where we work with Mono prints.
The class started with a guided meditation, which I always find really helpful. It calms your mind and helps you to switch off, or change gear, after a busy day.
We spent some time paging through magazines and tearing out pages of colour, texture or images that grabbed our attention. There was also a selection of items such as bubble wrap, textured fabric, lace, flowers, leaves etc. that could be used to make texture or patterns in the ink. We were free to experiment printing onto different papers, including the magazine pages we'd torn out.
My many printing experiments done on various papers, including some magazine pages.
When we were done, we stuck all our prints up on the wall and quietly sat and looked at them. We were to choose two prints that could then be worked into by adding colour with ink or pastels.
These were the two prints that stood out for me. They felt like they belonged together.
Last Dance
As always, the artwork that I do in these classes ends up reflecting something that is on my mind or in my subconscious at the time. In the days before this class I had been thinking and worrying a lot about my father who is ill and was due to start radiation therapy. I had been preoccupied by thoughts of human mortality, the fear of death, and the fear of, and inevitability of, one day losing my parents.
I called this work "Last Dance".

Monday, 30 September 2013

RAZIEL (by Anonymous)

I have been receiving some wonderful feedback about my blog posts to do with the Process Art classes that I am doing.

This message really made me smile... :)

"Hi Wendy I just wanted to share with you how you inspired me to join ASTAR. After your initial classes you shared your journey and I was intrigued. I found classes close by and have completed 2 courses and all I can say is WOW! And thank you for the inspiration. It's been an incredible, symbiotic, spiritual and artistic journey xxx"

I was very excited to hear that someone reading my blog had experienced something similar to what I'd been experiencing. Something magical. I was even more excited when they agreed to share their profound experience with us, here, on my blog. :D  They would like to remain anonymous.

Here is their story...

My ASTAR experience has been a deeply profound and spiritual one. The art has opened the spirit and the spirit has embodied the art.

The last course I attended was Chance Art and as a natural control freak I found the "letting go" to be most exhilarating and terrifying. Each lesson revealed a deeper understanding of myself and culminated in a mind blowing experience which I am still wrapping my head around.

The exercise involved cutting up our "poems" we had written through the previous weeks, putting all these individual words into a bowl, we sat with this bowl and then with eyes closed pulled out eight of these words.
We then strung these words together to make up a coherent or semi coherent sentence, after which we wrote this sentence over and over again on a sheet of paper using wax, bleach, ink – whatever we wanted to use. Once the entire sheet was haphazardly filled with these words we filled in the blanks with colour ink, coffee, tea, more bleach again whatever we wanted. By the end I thought my sheet looked like a morning after a heavy night.

After tea we sat quietly looking at what we had done as if we were cloud watching, forming images out of shapes and shadows.
When I looked, all I could see was the outline of a face and the suggestion of wings. So in the spirit of chance I went with it. The entire experience was out of this world. I did not feel as though I was doing it, as I followed the lines I found that the shadows that were there already revealed the lips, the eyes and the body. It was surreal.

After class I was exhilarated, and in the week following I kept thinking about my angel. During a meditation the letters RAZIEL flashed in my mind. I wondered if this was the name of an angel so after swinging between wondering and telling myself I was loosing my mind, I decided to Google it!

And there it was. Raziel, the angel that holds the messages of God. The angel that opens the third eye.

This experience has challenged my spiritual beliefs and has opened a whole new world of wonder to me.

Dear anonymous.
This is so SO beautiful. It gave me goose bumps.
Thank you so very much for sharing.
xxx Wendy

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


As I mentioned in my previous post, "Geisha", the second term of my process art classes focused very much on letting go of our inner critic. This was done in a number of ways, from passing your work around the class where each student got to add something to your work, to working with a blindfold on.
In this class we started off blindfolded once again. We used inks, tea, coffee, charcoal and chalk pastels to fill the page with random markings. We covered a number of pages, working fairly quickly, without much thought given to what we were doing.

The pages looked something like this:
One of the textured pages created using a mixture of tea, coffee, inks, charcoal and chalk pastels.
We lay the pages out on the floor and were asked to choose one that "spoke" to us. One that seemed to have a hidden image or images.
I unfortunately don't have a photo of what my chosen page looked like before I worked into it, but what I saw at first were 3 GIRAFFES! Two of them were quite humorous and cartoon-like, and another was more realistic. I also saw a couple of birds. I used a wash of black ink, some charcoal and chalk pastels to help define the shapes that I was seeing.
My final artwork, "Giraffes"
I was horribly disappointed at the end of this class. Not only did I end up with what I considered to be a really ugly picture, but I also didn't see any obvious meaning or feel any connection with the giraffes. The end result is not meant to be important, but it is always a bonus if it turns out well. I hadn't particularly enjoyed the process either, so I went home feeling rather cheated :(
The following day, on Facebook, a friend shared how her daughter had been gored by a tame boar and needed stitches in her leg. In her status update she said, "It has forced us to slow down. Assess, and figure out what this "Boar Medicine" means."
Boar Medicine? I had no idea what that was so I did an internet search. My search took me to a page about Native American Animal Medicine where I read,
"The Native American practice of "animal medicine" embraces an awareness that reveals itself when a certain animal crosses our path."
" Animal Medicine is that which you need to learn RIGHT NOW! and the lesson that is coming across your IMMEDIATE path. Another animal may come cross your path tomorrow. Your attention may be called to one of these animals through television, conversation, daily experience, etc. Regardless of how one of these animals comes across your path, study the message and apply to your daily Life . . . they have a message for you!"

Detail of "Giraffes"

The Giraffes...
Okay, so it may have been a bit desperate of me and really silly to have wanted to find meaning in the work I'd done the previous evening, but I couldn't help myself...
I looked up "Giraffe Medicine" and found this:
"Today Giraffe is letting you know that it's time to stick your neck out. Start making new connections, stretch yourself, reach as far as you can. You are up for the challenge."
And yes, of course it made sense to me... I'd just finished making a list of gift shops, online shops and markets that I could approach about selling some of the goodies that I make. Seriously!
So, the next time an animal crosses your path... ;)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


During the second term of my process art classes, the focus was very much on letting go of your inner critic. It was about surrendering to the process and not worrying about or planning the end result. This was done in a number of ways, from passing your work around the class where each student got to add something to your work, to working with a blindfold on.
In this class we prepared pages of rubbings, blindfolded. We chose various textured or patterned objects beforehand that could be rubbed over with wax crayon. We worked quickly and filled each page without much thought given to what we were doing.

The pages looked something like this:
Page of rubbings done with wax crayon.
Once we'd filled a number of pages with texture, we lay them out on the floor and were asked to choose one that "spoke" to us. One that seemed to have a hidden image.
I unfortunately don't have a photo of what my chosen page looked like before I worked into it with tea bags and inks.
I saw the outline of a woman's face with her hair pinned up. She had a thin elegant neck and her eyes (the birds) had luscious false eye lashes. I darkened the background with a wash of black ink to bring her out into the light.

The final artwork called Geisha

Detail of the face with the 'bird eyes'

Another detail of the artwork 'Geisha'

The week before I did this artwork, I bought a pair of false eye lashes made from feathers for a friend. She was going to Afrika Burn and I thought they would be a great accessory to add to her fancy dress outfits. Of course I wasn't thinking of the false eyelashes at the time of creating this artwork.
When I looked at the woman in my final work, the name 'Geisha' immediately sprung to mind even though she does not look Japanese or have black hair.
The term "geisha" is made of two Japanese words, (gei) meaning "art" and (sha) meaning "person who does" or "to be employed in".
The most literal translation of geisha to English is "artist".
Well, I suppose I am a "Geisha" in training. :)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Boat Floating kiddies party

A friend's son was turning 4 and she asked if I would make some Origami Boats that the kids could float down a little stream where the party picnic was going to take place.

What a fun party idea! And a fun project for me.

It turned out to be a lovely, sunny winter's day. The setting (in Tokai forest) was beautiful.
I set up a small table where I could help parents and their children to make and decorate their own boats. I made a poster with all the folding instructions for parents to follow.
The boats were made from sheets of coated paper that had a plastic feel, which was perfect because the paper didn't absorb water. I used toothpicks and electrical tape in different colours to make the flags, and the boats were named and decorated using permanent waterproof markers.

Making the boats was a lot of fun,
but the MOST fun was had during the much anticipated BOAT RACE!

The kids (and adults) had an absolute ball running backwards and forwards watching their boats floating down the stream. Again, and again, and again....
The boats, I'm pleased to say, were a great success. Even the ones that had capsized or been sunk by a mini waterfall (and rescued by a kind dad with a long stick) had survived and were still in one piece by the end of the party.
Our 3 kids were excited to be taking their boats home and were looking forward to playing with them in the bath... which they ended up not having... because they all fell asleep in the car on the way home, and went straight to bed after a quick wash of their muddy feet :)
Thanks for a really great party. xx
Photographs: courtesy Sally Petersen and a few of my own
Here are some examples of other Origami Boats that I make to sell:
If you would like to see some other examples of the Origami goodies that I make and sell, please go to my Facebook page by clicking HERE. :)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Full Moon Love Mandala

Back in April this year I was driving to art class in the direction of a giant, rising, full moon. The traffic was slow and every traffic light that I came to was red, so I had plenty of time to gaze in awe at how beautiful it was.
Coincidence and synchronicity have become very much part of my experience at my weekly process art classes. I have almost come to expect there to be some sort of coincidence. So when I arrived at class and found a large circular (full moon shaped) piece of paper on my desk, I simply gave a quiet little "huh".
We were going to do mandalas. (Mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle.")
We started off, after a guided meditation, paging through magazines and tearing out pages that resonated with us. A smaller circle had been drawn in pencil in the middle of our paper. We collaged some of our magazine pictures into this smaller circle.
But THEN, the class took a whole new direction! We were instructed to pass our work to the person next to us, and in so doing we received someone else's work. We were then given a few minutes to add something to the work in front of us, using magazine pictures or ink. We passed each work around the class, stopping to add something to each person's work.
By the time your original work came back to you, it had taken on a new life and may have gone in a totally different direction to what you had "planned". (shock horror!) Which was precisely the reason for the exercise. You are not supposed to plan your work in these classes. It was a good way to force you to LET GO and to not be too precious about the outcome of your work.
The "gifts" I'd received on my mandala by the time it reached my desk again where lovely.
Someone had divided my page up with some ink lines which made me think of a clock. Time.
Someone else had painted an ink heart. Others had added magazine eyes, a picture of a fig, a stick like figure and star shape.
Funnily enough, the magazine pictures that I'd torn out at the beginning of the session, and later added to my mandala, worked very well with what had been added to my page by others.
My end result included many hearts, Cupid's arrows, men making eyes at and flirting with voluptuous women, rock paintings, two stags with locked horns and two Greek stamps with a picture of a centaur, the symbol for the zodiac sign of Sagittarius.
I made this mandala a few days after spending a lovely "date day" with my Sagittarius husband.
(I posted some pictures from that day here.)  I called it "Full Moon Love Mandala".
We have 3 young children who keep us very busy and we hadn't spent quality time together, just the two of us, in a really long time. Our "date day" felt a bit like starting from the beginning again. Courting. Flirting. Falling in love.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Collage work - Process Art classes

Earlier this year, in the fourth Process Art class that I attended, we were required to do a collage using pictures from magazines.

We started off (with the help of a guided meditation) by writing about a memory from our childhood to do with a book or story that someone had read to us or told us.
Mine was 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'. I used to have a recurring bad dream about that story when I was little. In my dream the bears were at our front gate, coming for me, and I had nowhere to hide and nowhere to run to. I felt such fear of getting into trouble for doing something I'd been told not to do.

We paged through magazines and tore out pictures that caught out attention and resonated with us, not necessarily pictures that illustrated the story.
I was never a huge fan of collage work and found it hard to get into. I did not enjoy the class that much. I was also disappointed with my work at the end of the lesson.
In those early days of Process Art classes I was still hung up on the final artwork or end result and hadn't quite got into the 'process' yet.

The collage that I did in one of the first Process Art classes.

A month later, we did another collage. This time we started with wax crayons, inks and bleach before paging through the magazines and tearing out pictures to paste onto our work. Amazingly, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was completely unconcerned about what the end result would look like. I was actually humming happily (but very quietly) while I worked. I was surprised at the end result but this time did not focus on it as an 'artwork' or place any judgement or criticism onto it.

The collage that I did a month after the first collage.

At the end of that term we were given all our work back in a large brown folder. I laid my work out on the floor to get a good look at what I had achieved and it immediately struck me that these two collages had strong similarities.

All the work done during the first term of my Process Art classes.
From top left: Guardian Figure, Flower - Symbol, Silenced Love, Gateway, Flow, Immerse Yourself, Creative Block, Untitled

The Two collages:

Both collages have a path leading to an open doorway positioned more or less in the middle of the picture.
At the start of the pathway in the first collage, is a jumble of torn pieces from a picture of dried autumn leaves. They look a lot like flames.
In the second collage there is the shape of a lotus flower made up of petals cut from a picture of flames.
In the first there are rays of light coming into the picture and in the second there are rays going out from the centre of the page.

While doing the first collage I felt stuck, frustrated and irritable. While doing the second one I felt free and full of joy!
I can read a lot more into both of these works, but for me the most exciting thing is the idea (or even the proof) that my subconscious is hard at work during these Process Art classes.

A friend asked me what it is that I gain from doing these classes. What 'therapy' am I getting from them?

I think what it is, is that I'm giving my subconscious a voice.
 A bit like analysing ones dreams?
A way to feel connected to something greater.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Daddy's Little Angels

A couple of years ago I did a sweet little photo shoot with my 3 children. Our twin girls were 6 months old at the time and our son was 3 and a bit. I wanted to make a card for their daddy's birthday.

It will be Father's Day here in South Africa on Sunday 16th of June, so I thought today would be a good time to share this with you.

I bought a pair of Angel Wings, made of cardboard and feathers, from a toyshop that also sold fancy-dress bit and bobs. I lay the wings down on my bed and put one of the girls on top to see if my idea would work. I wanted to photograph them to look like little angels.

I decided that a black background would work well but didn't have any black fabric handy. I ended up using our dark blue denim play mat and lay it down on the floor near to a window so that I could make use of the natural light.

I took lots of photos of the girls lying on the angel wings gurgling away with arms and legs flailing in all directions. They were being adorably cute.

My 3 and a bit year old son was not in his most cooperative mood and I only managed to get 3 photos of him before he rolled away, but they were cute enough.
Once I had chosen a few of the best shots, I opened them in Photoshop where I converted them to greyscale. I adjusted the levels and tweaked the brightness and contrast. I was then able to paint out the background and make it a solid black.

I chose two photos of each child for the final card. I added some text which read "Daddy's Little Angels" in red. (I was very tempted to put two little red horns and a tail on our little boy :) but didn't want to upset him)
Daddy was pleased with his Birthday card.
(I also made a version that read "Little Angels" which we used for our family Christmas Card a week later.)