Making Space aka Decluttering and Letting Go

I’ve been aware of 100 day projects for a while now. The ones that help creatives (or not so creatives) create creative habits. The one I discovered and have decided to commit to is #The100 DayProject -starting (yesterday) April 6, 2015!! luna-100dayproject-pledge1

Artist Elle Luna came across the idea while at Yale School of art thanks to teacher Micheal Beirut who sets this assignment to graduate design students. He says he was fascinated “with the ways that creative people balance inspiration and discipline in their working lives” and describes the experience and some of the results in this article on The Design Observer.


I tossed around a few ideas along the creative lines of making a collage, doing a still life, organising and photographing the bucket of scissors I bought for $20, choosing one medium like watercolour or coloured pencils and playing with that, making patterns, exploring hand lettering – all worthy projects and I’m sure I will do some of them. One day. But I felt the need to be challenged. A need to do something that I really want to do but procrastinate about.

I realised my fascination with this idea was around the psychology of forming a new habit. The project (or challenge) is really about perseverance – steady persistence in a course of action in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. (Thank you There’s all sorts of watercooler wisdom about how long it takes to form a habit (21 days is a popular response) but a study done in 2009 shows that it’s more like 66 days and some types of habits take longer to establish or become automatic than others. So 100 days might be long enough for me to change from procrastinating about making space to actually achieving it.

And the reason why I need to make space? To not be constricted. To embrace growth and change. To have a functional, private, working space. There’s so much energy embodied in all the stuff I’ve held onto for years, a lot of negative emotions like disappointment, grief, sadness and frustration. In the end the goal is to support my art making – to have the energy and space for all those other 100 day projects or even 365 days of… or 52 weeks of…

If you’re on Instagram follow #The100DayProjectMakingSpace where you’ll get a daily update of what I’ve done. On the blog I’ll pop in and update my progress every 10 days.

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Getting organised and inspired


This Robert Downey Jnr meme is going around Facebook at the moment.

The version I saw used the word malarkey instead of bullshit. In this instance I prefer: “New Year, New Me Malarkey” – maybe it’s the alliteration but it also seems to refer to things people do that they don’t want to admit to and a sense of the to-ing and fro-ing that I think many of us go through in relation to our idea of self and possible improvements on our current state. There’s always something we want to change about how we go about our lives, and the craziness that happens in the lead up to the holiday season can put people out of kilter with their good intentions. And if we’ve struggled with those good intentions over the previous year, then we’re ripe for making resolutions just as the silly season comes to an end and a brand new year beckons.

Quote from Kikki K's Goals Journal

Quote from Kikki K’s Goals Journal

So I’ll out myself: I’m up for change. The mantra of my adult life has been “I’ve got to get organised” so I’m a sitting duck for planners, list making, diaries, anything that will support my desire to be “organised” which really means making the most of my time so I can focus on doing what I love most – make art. And I want the process to be as enjoyable as fooling around in my sketchbook!!


journal and gel pens journal cover






A few months ago I went to a Goals Workshop run by Kikki K. and walked out with the lovely Goals Journal, focus, resolution and a packet of rainbow coloured fineliners feeling inspired to make monthly goal setting a little more fun. That was mid-way through September. I managed October and November but didn’t do anything for December and figured I’d start again in January. New Year. New Start. New Resolve. New Planner.

This is how the Kikki K Goals Journal is organised for each month. There's a whole lot of helpful information and activities to do on goal setting before you get specific for each month.

This is how the Kikki K Goals Journal is organised for each month. There’s a bunch of helpful information and activities to do on goal setting before you get specific for each month.

A New Planner??* Yes! And yes I intend to keep using the lovely hardback Goals Journal. But I discovered Leonie Dawson’s Life and Biz Workbook and not only do I feel even more inspired to make more art next year and to share it more widely, I have a feeling this might be the secret ingredient to help me. The  workbook does look kind of kooky but Leonie is so down to earth and successful in her business (ie she clearly knows her shit) that I decided to buy the e-book version.

leonie dawson planner large rectangle

*Just so you know all the links to The Life and Biz Workbook are affiliate links, meaning I get some pocket-money (for art materials) if anyone purchases with that link.

I have yet to start writing (typing) in it but I have been seduced by these words:

“This workbook is going to take you through the essential questions you need to answer in order to shift your business (and life) into something incredible over the next year. I know it works, because I’ve been using the same questions every year to double or triple my business every single year. And all while working just a couple of hours a day.”

I actually like the idea of shifting rather than changing. It sounds gentle and as if you’re just exposing, uncovering, discovering, something that was already there (which is quite a bit like the unfolding process my art goes through.) And I think this is what underpins our annual re-assessments and resolution making – it’s about rediscovering – and then revealing the parts of ourselves that we keep pushing down.

How do you feel about planning, goal setting and New Years resolutions? I’d love you to share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.

PS Just so you know all the links to The Life and Biz Workbook are affiliate links, meaning I get some pocket-money (for art materials) if anyone purchases with that link.

book pages collection cover page

My current cover image on Facebook. Recent work on book pages.

PPS If you’ve come here via my Facebook page, it would be lovely if you followed my blog (ie subscribe to email updates), and if you discovered my blog and haven’t “liked” my Facebook page I’d really like you to like me! Like thanks!





December 28, 2014 · 11:58 pm

Put a bird on it – the trials of pricing artwork







Straightforward: delivering three artworks to Linden Gallery for the annual Linden Postcard Show.

A little challenging: choosing the work. All work had to be 8″ x 10″. Fortunately I had a sketchbook the right size, but I didn’t want to rip the pages out. Solution: good quality digital prints from fine art imaging specialists Imagescience.








Pretty easy: the entry process this year was via a gallery website, so you can see the works here.

The hard part: pricing –  a figure that was fair to me, and reasonable for a work of this size to an art lover.

If this were a conversation it would go something like this:
Me: (thinking – add up the costs of entering the show ($77 for three works plus 30% commission and 10% GST on commission and the cost of getting prints made, umm lets try $100, no I need to earn a bit more than that…I know!) $120 each please.
Imagined Art Lover: Hmm $120…I’m not sure…they’re Prints, not Originals.
Me: Oh okay, what if they were less than $100, do you think that’s more reasonable?
Imagined Art Lover: Yes, that sounds good, going over $100 will put a lot of people off.
So I made them $95 each.

But even then I struggled, making the mistake of dividing the entry fee and printing costs for a per/print amount. If you’re not an accountant you might be wondering why was that a mistake. It’s all about being “out of pocket” – I’m out of pocket for a fixed amount no matter how many I sell. I’m not out of pocket one third of $77 plus one third of the printing costs plus the commission costs. Clarity: now I could see how many I had to sell to cover my costs and when I would start to earn something. And I decided to go low, as low as was bearable for me. And I’ll have to sell three prints to (almost) break even, rather than two.

There’s been loads written about this by other artists, artist coaches, critics, gallery owners, arts organisations, journalists – everyone seems to have an opinion. There’s advice about figuring out how much your materials and time are worth, plus the intangibles like the reputation of the artist (established, emerging, popular, amateur); the kind of work it is (painting, print, photo, sculpture, installation, commissioned); the size of the work, when the work was done….

So how low did I go? I decided on $60. If I sold all the prints at this show (which is not likely) I’d end up earning about the same as three days teaching.

Do you think I should give up my day job? Or just put a bird on it?

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Getting back in touch

Hi there! I hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at the recent addition to morepressingmatters – a page titled artwork. For my artwork.

When I started this blog, I made up a rule that my work wouldn’t be a part of it – because back then I had a website ( – which doesn’t exist at the moment). As an artist, I love to break the rules and see what happens. I have a few things to write about so I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime, I’d love to know what you think of the new page.

Studio - south wall and door

My old studio. I miss the space and fellow artists. This photo was of a show I had there before I moved my studio to work at home.


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It’s been a while

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. After coming back from my trip to the States and Canada I was super busy with a solo show and group shows and then a studio show at the end of the year. I was exhausted and lost my mojo for lots of things – writing blog posts was just too hard.

This year I haven’t printed very much. And I haven’t seen very many shows. When I do go to a show I’m just wanting to soak it up, so I’m not thinking about how to write about it. Hopefully that will change and I can get this blog back on track. I’d like to reflect back on some of the things I did on my trip (there are some blog posts waiting to be tweaked from back then) – I can’t believe it was over a year ago!!


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Behind the roller shutter

I mentioned my heart dropping disappointment when I found what I thought was Guerra’s windows covered by a roller shutter. When I left Guerra, those roller shutters were up revealing a truly magical sight. I saw shiny glass objects, quite large and in the most beautiful organic liquid shapes, almost oozing, on the floor, on benches, on shelves. Inside these forms: green, growth – live plants. The space looked like some kind of crazy botanical laboratory. It was the studio of Paula Hayes. I was very tempted to ignore the “by appointment only” and knock on the door, but laden with bags of art stuff, my aching arms meant good manners prevailed.

A gallery version of what I saw

Next time.

In the meantime I watched this: 

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Finding Luscious Pigments

(c) Sebastiaan Bremer 2008, "Little Silver Breakfast," silver leaf on vintage Yamato paper, 24.5" x 36" image and sheet.

When I visited The Lower East Side Print Shop I admired the print “Little Silver Breakfast” by Sebatiaan Bremer.  I was trying to figure out how it had been made, as  it was intriguingly described as being made of silver leaf. I gave up, asking Christine Walia who had shown me around if she could please tell me about the process. She looked up the record of the work stating that a patent silver imitation leaf made of aluminium pigment had been brushed onto screenprinted Rhoplex adhesive medium. She also fetched one of the technicians, who talked to me about the process and the artists interest in using unusual pigments. He showed me pulverized rubber from pigment manufacturer, Guerra, down in the East Village which I decided I had to have!

Yes! Open!

On my art material buying day I headed down there and after having my heart sink because I’d found 510 and the roller shutter was down, I realised I was looking at next door.

Guerra was open and I felt like I’d walked into Aladdin’s Cave.

The seductive sample wall.

On my left, the wall was covered with large samples of the different pigments showing changes in intensity.

I wished I had the skill and patience to make my own printmaking inks. A good-looking man in paint spattered clothes (what else – this place was down and dirty genuine) showed me the pulverised rubber and talked about the pigment business. There are some links to great articles on the Guerra website for more on this.

I was then given a demonstration down the back of the store, of how to use an acrylic medium and a surfactant with the rubber. But I didn’t need a mixture, just the powder. (This sounds like some kind of illicit activity – I swear it was innocent!!)

They have an extensive catalogue to fantasise over (and then order from!) Does anyone else lust after colour and pigments like I do?

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A pressing place

Lower East Side Printshop open access studio

Got here. Eventually. To a”printshop” the word used more often than not in the local (North American) parlance. This one is the Lower East Side Printshop.
Also in NYC there’s The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio -the exception that proves the rule? In Australia we usually say “printmaking studio”, rather than printshop. Or if you’re in a French speaking part of the world, just let “atelier d’estampe” roll off your tongue.

Squeegee wall

The Lower East Side Printshop,  is no longer on the lower east side, having outgrown the original premises in 2005. Like the other places I visited it’s in a non-descript building up a few floors, but it’s a clean, light-filled welcoming space. There were only a couple of people working there when I was shown around by the incredibly helpful Christine. She filled me in on what the printshop offers – 24/7 studio access, classes at all levels, residencies (- available to legal US residents), master printing and of course details for all of these services are available on the website.

Exhibition space with "Collaborations" show on the walls

"Collaborations" in the exhibition space. All works (c) the artist

Apart from the etching presses, silk screen printing area (and areas for processing plates and screens of course) and digital facilities (complete list of facilities?: yes on the website), there is also an exhibition space.

The day I visited, I saw
“Collaborations” a selection of work done by artists working with the master printers in the Special Edition or Publishing Residency programs.  Pictured L-R: William Powhida, Ars Magica, 2010, screenprint, portfolio of 13,(I loved the humour of this work) Joe Fig, Inka’s floor, 2008, screenprint, Joe Fig, Brushes (Bill Jensen), 2008, screenprint, (stunning use of colour in these prints about the mess and well, colour of the painting process) and Sebastiaan Bremer, Little Silver Breakfast, 2008, silver leaf (loved, loved this! Technically intriguing and beautiful -more about this work in a future post).
You can see these and more artists works on the website, biographical details about the artists and purchase work through the online store. Other artists in this show were Emilio Perez, Havard Homstevdt, Joan Lindner and Amy Cutler. Each artist has used different techniques in their work – evidence of the breadth of technical knowledge available to artists working in these programs.

I would love to come back and do some work here… maybe when I find a patron or win the lottery! It’s just a bit far from home for me, but if you’re in NYC I’d recommend doing some printing here!

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A visual feast of folk art – Part 1a

American Folk Art Museum exhibition flyer

EvB exhibition flyer

I neglected to provide a link to The American Folk Art Museum. That’s because the information about the exhibitions is not very informative and in regards to Eugene von B. the information is the same as on the flyer you pick up at the entrance. I was so curious about how this man’s work was discovered, so I asked the woman who I purchased my ticket from, thinking that she would have to know something. After all the only other staff there were the coat check girl in the basement and the gallery guards.

Giving out information was clearly not in her position description as she knew nothing! She didn’t even alert me to the links on the Museum website, nor the catalogue on sale in the bookshop.
So, I’ve done some research for you. You can read Wikipedia -it’s pretty basic but gives you some background information. I’ve also read the articles linked to the museum website and recommend reading this one from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There’s a few images of his work (photography was not allowed in the show so if you want to see more you’ll have to follow the links), and some of his life story but there are also links to other shows that his work has been included in as well as the review in the New York Times. And if that’s not enough The Frieze review has some beautiful and evocative descriptions of the work in the New York show. Enjoy!

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Stitched and stuck together – a visual feast of folk art – Part 1

It was late -not enough time to jump into MOMA, but enough time to enjoy what was on offer next door at a great little place –  The American Folk Art Museum. Just a few long, narrow floors that  are divided into an exhibition space and a walkway by an atrium displaying weathervanes and other large objects. There were three exhibitions to check out: a collection of work by self-taught artist Eugene von Bruenchenheim,  a show curated on the theme of the figure in folk art and a beautiful exhibition of quilts – this being the year of the quilt.

Painting by Eugene von Bruenchenhein from the "Into the Life" series.

I had never heard of Eugene von Bruenchenheim, but then then that’s the thing with “folk” or “outsider” artists -they aren’t “known”, they just make. He was prolific, producing drawings, photos, sculptures, paintings and poems!! Fifty years worth of sustained and energetic creative output was sitting in his Milwaukee house when he died in 1983, with just his family and a few close friends knowing about his work. An online collection of his painting with a fair bit of info on him, states that he did attempt to sell his work but had no success. Lack of recognition clearly had no effect on his desire to create.

The work is unbelievable – the slightly gawky photos of his wife dressed up as different charachters, the lurid rainbow coloured paintings of buildings that look like some kind of drug-induced hallucination, the insane collecting of turkey and chicken bones that are then glued together into towers and thrones and coated with metallic paint, the weird botanical ceramic things (that were apparently made from clay from a building site and baked in his oven!) and the geometric ball point pen drawings in a wallpaper sample book… I walked around unable to really comprehend that not only was this was the work of one man, but it was also a very small sample of his total ouput.

Discovering something that makes you wonder at the complexity of the imagination, something that communicates the joy of making and when you walk away you feel inspired – that’s what going to a show is about for me.


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