Little Footsteps Make Stamps in Your Heart

Little Footsteps Make Stamps in Your Heart

Art Making as Memory Making

I look at the art I've made over my life and each piece is like a diary that brings back memories clear as day, albeit the diary has with plenty of blank pages broken up by fertile periods. Art was going to be my career, before I fell under the spell of singing in harmony and it drew me down its melodic and merry path. I took classes in my gap year between high school and university, while I was figuring out my plans. I couldn't get my head around back then the idea of pictures meaning anything - as far as my teenage self could see, if you could draw something that looked like real life, that was the point and the reason and accomplishment itself! So my favourite format was self portraiture, long before selfies became dime a dozen, and tossed into the airstream of the world like candy at a lolly scramble. This kind of selfie entailed careful positioning of oneself with a mirror, sketchpad at the ready, playing statues til you possibly found the likeness, or the light changed and you had to start again. I did discover Photoshop at university (not for photoshopping myself I might add, for creating fantastical scenes and generally conjuring up what might be), and that has been my favourite graphics tool all through my professional career in media, with the addition of illustrator and procreate more recently.

Since having children I've tried taking up sketching again, to capture their mercurial expressions, but photography wins most times, my pen too slow to keep up with their lightning fast movements. Their art making is so inspiring though, and I've loved documenting the progress of various expressive stages through lines and circles and light and shade. It has also encouraged me to find my own way back to art making as well. 

For the music projects, I started by making watercolours for album cover art designs for Little Wild Lullabies, before resorting to help from my colleague Hayley to vectorise the designs since we planned to print CD's and I struggled with getting the design print ready based on high res scans. The document just got too big. For the next album Little Wild Universe I discovered procreate, and drawing on my ipad with an apple pencil which offers layers and all kinds of digital possibilities, that I could also make together with the kids involvement. Big win!

I also started trying some lino cut designs again, kind of just for fun. Lino printing is a printmaking technique I loved in high school, making reductions. I discovered one of our family's ancestors J A Fairburn made a series of woodblock prints as part of his ouvre, and that got me thinking and working on it again. I carved out a bundle of small icons based on the little wild lullabies album art, and steve helped me create some wooden stamp handles for them out of offcuts from building our house, so I could use them practically to print cards, and gift tags and wrapping paper to give my album away with. I love the tactile process of this printmaking, so I then got a small A4 press to ink up bigger lino and woodcut designs, with a view to trying fabric printing.

This experiment was sidelined a little through the pandemic, with my focus switching to collaborations on the 3 big album and songbook projects. Working with artist Elise De Silva it has been a satisfying team exercise getting to collaborate and commission multiple small art pieces from her for all the songs, then scan them, clear cut and adjust where needed and insert into the bigger designs. Working out a process for dealing with high res RGB artwork within illustrator and indesign in the book design process has been highly taxing on my computer that is for sure! It's all a good learning curve. 

So for my next art challenge, I'm envisioning a very tangible, tactile, hands on physical art making process for as much of the experience as I can before I take any elements digital, so printing press on the shelf, you're coming down and the dust, and wood chips will be flying! can't wait to press the grooves of new designs, like little footsteps making stamps in my heart.  🥳🌸🌼🌿



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