Elaine Watts
Watercolourist and Printmaker


(posted on 15 Jan 2017)

Happy new year to you all, wherever you may be in the world, in your life, in virtual or other reality. Hard to believe we are well into January and I am in my "other life" Down Under.

Happy to see my beloved gum trees (Snow Gums, above, was sold after a Christmas show) rather than winter birches!

Already I have seen 39 degrees, torrential rain, a mini tornado and two weeks of struggle against a particularly strong cold which has hampered my attendance and energy for a papermaking course last week, as well as my enjoyment of arriving into summertime. Still, after last year's theme of "A Year of Adventure" I am happy to be on the road again.

I wanted to show you the beautiful photo by neighbour Elizabeth Wrobel, of the beautiful art installation at its best, produced for the Summerland Arts Council by artist Sophia Zang and myself along with a cast of many!) It was a fine way to light up the dark days of winter for anyone passing by.

Part of the illumination in my mind was about my theme for this year--"Believe". A simple word, perhaps a bit abstract, and subject to the inclinations of the individual. Somehow this idea came to me, as they do, in the depths of winter, looking at the year to come in the aftermath of some wild and crazy world events. How to make sense of all of this? Where will these international upheavals take us? Sometimes it's hard to believe in positive futures, in a positive life, that we can find our way, our best self, good solutions, gain some power and momentum in this unpredictable era. And yet, underneath, I still have faith (one type of belief, perhaps without lots of immediately compelling evidence!) that we humans can find a way. And as individuals, if we examine our own beliefs and find ones that serve us well, affirm our own worth and direction, those beliefs are the ones worth holding onto, affirming, strengthening.

I was pleased to read President Obama's speech in Chicago, as in his closing remarks he also expressed the idea of believing being a powerful force . It is a challenge to maintain constructive beliefs and not fall into the hole of negative ones, under pressure, I have noted recently --when I'm not feeling well, when there is adversity, bad things happening--but perversely those times are the most valuable to hold on. "This time too will pass", or, "one day at a time" are other annual themes that friends have settled on. Have you got a sense of a theme for yourself for 2017? Let me know!

So, back to the

Here's a piece of plant-based hand-made paper, molded against a sign, that I made at Bellingen 's amazing Camp Creative last week. I have a good selection ready to use for collage, printing, and mixed media work going forward. Here's a page from my sample book that I quickly stitched together myself on the last morning, with a mold/stamp I also made yself printed on top.

I loved learning more about the process of papermaking, since I do love working on paper. You can see the texture, the fibres and natural colour of the top sheets, accented by the pulp-based handmade orange paper which is also part of the bound book I made.

However this rough natural paper is not suitable for my watercolour work, and only the smoothest is good for printmaking, a little of the thin ones will apparently work for chine college, so using these pieces may be my creative challenge this year. I must believe I will find a way!

Cheers to you all, I hope you've had a healthier start to the year than I have, and that you are cooking up something wonderful for yourself and for the world!