Friday, July 07, 2017


Several years back a friend and I used to work closely together.  We did our own thing, but every three weeks met, and gave ourselves exercises to stimulate thought, work, and discussion.  Life got in the way, and the close association dissolved, and I do miss that constant stimulus.
Of late I have felt myself on a kind of plateau - plenty of projects to process, but a whiff of same-old same-old creeping into my horizon view.  So, I decided to do two positive things. 
First I shall not fret.  I have a lot to be getting on with, as is the way with hand work - so on with that I shall get.  Meantime I shall set myself exercises.
A long time ago when I was similarly in the doldrums about what new fiction to read in order to widen my experience, I set myself the exercise of for instance buying the thinnest book on a shelf, or one with a red cover, or the first one I saw with something specific in the cover design, or title, ... etc.  I encountered very few duds, and enjoyed the stimulating experience greatly.
So, for my first exercise I chose a square sketchbook (from my embarrassingly large pile of empty or almost empty sketchbooks!), pastels, made myself a stencil, and was to use at least one postage stamp (from a collection my brother and I had as children - he does not want them, and I am thus slowly disposing of them).  The stencil I made is of a group of five running figures.
The image at the top of this post is the first attempt, with a stamp of one of my favourite mosaics.  I decided that the stamps I chose should have some personal meaning for me, and the one below reminds me of the hours I spent in Singapore airport in the mid-1980s!  (I was flying out to Jakarta for work every couple of months, with an eight hour wait at Changi between planes - those trips involved me watching a lot of tropical fish!)
After my first attempt at the exercise I wanted deliberately to do something that needed 'editing'; working on in some further way.  So this was a lot looser in approach. 
I tried not to have any idea of what that further work might be, but as I scanned the scribble this morning my memory dredged up a photo of water lily leaves I had taken a couple of years ago.  So I had a little play with that.


  1. I like these very much, Olga.
    Sandy in Bracknell

    1. Thank you Sandy. It is turning out to be a fun exercise.

  2. Olga, I like all three. I like the simplicity of the first one (with the contrast of the complexity of the image on the stamp), I like the blue (with a little yellow) background of the second, and the third one is complex and mature - the ghostly outline of the water lilies, an inspiration.

    1. Yes Eirene, I too am fairly pleased with the top one for the same reasons as you. I was delighted to find that stamp in the perfect colour too, as I had started with the pastel drawing before looking for a stamp.
      I must admit that I was pleased to find how well the photo of water lilies fitted the second one. So, the exercise is certainly proving to be stimulating - in the short term at least.