Sunday, May 16, 2010


Happiness is riding my bicycle home late on an autumn night through the streets of suburban North Canberra, underneath canopies of still-leaved deciduous trees that muffle the street lights and allow brief glimpses of starry night, no traffic to endanger me as I ride looking up, listening on my ipod to Grizzly Bear and breathing long curly breaths of pale dragon smoke. It's cold enough for the hat, scarf and gloves to be comforting, but doesn't leave the tip of the nose frozen. I've had enough wine to be enchanted and dreamy, but not so much that I stray from the left hand side. The shame is that home isn't very far away, so it's only a ten minute ride, and I'm trying to ignore the reality that dragon smoke sometimes fogs up my glasses, but looking up helps a lot, and knowing my way home so well, it's a bit like walking around the house with my head in a book.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but when I remember, I collect amusing baby names from the Births column of the Canberra Times. Having named my own baby something suitably amusing but interesting, I'm always on the look out for other examples, or quite the opposite: disturbing trends. Today, reading yesterday's paper (after BB left me to sleep in -- until 9.15am!!! Bliss!!) I felt quite disturbed.

A few years ago (I don't date my finds) there was a Saxon and a Jaxon in the same day's newspaper. Yesterday also had a Saxon and a Jaxon! [hums theme to the Twilight Zone to herself.]

Also: two different families calling their baby girl Mackenzie, with a little brother called Liam!! Is there some famous partnering of Liam and Mackenzie that I don't know about? Seems very odd.

I was working on my monoprint editioning yesterday, trying to draw hands on my inked up plate fifteen times in a row. I like drawing hands when I do life drawing; they are the weirdest things when you look closely at them. But reproducing them from pulling back ink (a bit like burnishing back from a mezzotint plate) and thinking in reverse while doing so is a bit past my dubious drawing talents. The hands always looked good on the plate, but when printed went all lumpy and odd. Sigh. I'm going to go back in today and agonise over yesterday's efforts. Still, they're meant to be old hands, so maybe I'll be kind on myself and let them pass the spiky gates of Doubt.

hands plate
This is the plate, rolled up with ink and then 'drawn' on by using a rag and some cotton buds.

learning hands
And here are my various wonky hands. Not brilliant (especially my first attempt at the top left), but actually not so bad now that I look at them rather than recall them, and they are meant to be old, gnarly hands... My consolation is that the book readers only get to see one print at a time, not a batch like this.

One more printing session, and I'll be through the images, which are always the least amusing part of book making for me (one of the many reasons why I collaborate with others). Then I can print the text and bind it, and that's another tick off the List!


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

J.K. Rowling has a little Mackenzie. Not sure about Liam though.

Nigel said...

I completely adore the first para in this post. Having been away in Tasmania for the last month, and treadly-free, I had my first ride on the streets of the Inner North this morning...AND HOW GOOD WAS THAT! There's something about bicyling in Canberra: the quietness, the stillness, the freshness. It's just so god-damn - oh no, he's going to say it - POSITIVE.

pk said...

The hands are like the hands of the old couple in 'When the wind blows': not sure at which stage of the to have seen you with your head back, singing and weaving,wreathed in mist and not looking at all batty.

Ida said...

thanks for the link to grizzly bear. great sound.
i love the hands! but i know what you mean about 'least favourite part of the process' - mine is preparing pages for a book - i always f#%k it up somehow,

Ulrike said...

Canberra is such a nice place for riding a bicycle.

Making monoprints drives me crazy, but yours are lovely. The hands are great and I really like the little changes from print to print.