Miss Penny's Arty Stuff is a blog for artists. I aim to promote the many genres of the arts and share stories of interest and relevancy with an artistic community.

The photo above is of the Belabula River, Carcoar NSW where my family comes from.

Friday, July 30, 2010

You Don't Remember Me Do You?

As artists and crafters we are always looking for those DIY ways to reach out to our potential buyers in inventive and hopefully inexpensive ways. As you know I specialise in Arts Marketing and I've recently been lecturing Visual Arts and Ceramic students in ways they can utilise Public Relations and Marketing to cut through the clutter and get their produce noticed in these economically difficult times.

How are you breaking through the noise and making an impression on your potential clients with your message? Is your customer understanding your advertising and answering your call to take action like; visit your website, make an order, sign up for your newsletter etc.

I'll be talking a lot more about reaching your target market in the articles to come over the next week or so.

In the mean time enjoy this fabulous clip from 1982.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Look at Moi!

I feel I should own up to something my closest friends know about me and as you are my readers you ought to know as well. I am a self-confessed Kath and Kim junky. Yes, its true, though its now some time since my idols created new episodes, I’m making do with the oldies and watching repeats with glee.

You may (if you are very clever) capture an odd word here and there, a tiny splatter of the vernacular of these lovable morons from Fountain Lakes slip into my writings. Just yesterday I know I mentioned that I’d be ‘doubly pleased” if something happened, well that’s a Kathism if ever I’ve heard one.

My daughter and I converse non-stop in K & K lingo. Most people seem to be slowly forgetting the beloved tongue of these suburbanites, now that the hornbags are no longer on the set, but not us, no way! We are finding we get a few odd looks when we break into our ‘down to a tee’ take-offs of our favourite small screen stars. Does no one else remember every single line, is it just us? We suck up every morsel of the script like jackals at a scavenge. It must be all that performing arts background kicking in!

In real life, I like to think I’m somewhat refined but if you get Shaya and I going, we are the epitome of Kath and Kim and the best and worst of everything so uniquely and appealingly Australian.

You’ve gotta laugh, well we do, hysterically at ourselves and we have been ever since the series began and it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon, well not until our DVD’s wear out that’s for sure.

We do go to trouble, it’s nice, it’s unusual.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reusable Bags are Great but lets make our own!

I’m so pleased now that some of the big retailers have decided not to offer plastic bags anymore, but offering reusable bags for sale, could lead to an even bigger environmental disaster if people just keep buying them every time they leave their reusable bags at home. I have decided to make myself a bag and take it with me in my handbag all the time, to ensure I have at least one bag on me at-all-times.

Here are my tips on how to make one. I decided on a bag with a lining and an internal pocket, to cover all my shopping possibilities, but you don’t need to go to this much trouble - it’s up to you how fancy you want to get. I bought my piece of fabric at a garage sale, so I’m doubly pleased to be using something someone may have even thrown out!

  • 1.5 mts of 115 cm wide cotton fabric
  • cut 4 pieces 40 cm x 47 cm for body of the bag
  • cut 2 pieces 65 cm x 6.5 cm for the straps
  • cut 2 pieces 21 cm x 17 cm for the pocket
  1. Place pocket pieces wrong sides together and sew along three sides, trim seams and turn inside out. Turn remaining hem, press and sew.
  2. Sew the pocket to one of the 40 cm x 47 cm pieces about 12 cms from the top.
  3. Place this 40 x 47 cm piece right side together with another piece and sew along three sides, this will make the lining of the bag.
  4. You now need to make right angle corners by folding the seams of your bag together - stick a pin through your seam on one side to match the seam on the other, fold these together to make a right angle. Sew through. I hand tack the tip of the corners down.
  5. Take your remaining 40 x 47 cm pieces place wrong sides together and sew along three sides, this will be the outside of the bag. Finish with angled corners the same as the inside of the bag.
  6. Fold the upper edges of both the inside and outside of your bag to the wrong side, measure to make sure they are both the same. Turn the outside of the bag the right way out. Place the lining of the bag, inside of the outer bag and match up the top edges, pin together.
  7. Sew a line of stitching right around the upper edge.
  8. Prepare your handles by ironing in the raw edges 5 mm to the wrong side all the way around your 65 mm x 6.5 mm pieces. Now fold this piece in half and iron again. Sew along the three sides. Iron again.
  9. Sew the handles to the bag 9 cms from the outside edge.
  10. Your bag is now finished, give it a quick iron.
  11. You could make a little zip up bag to keep your shopper bag handy and stow it away in your handbag, like I have pictured here, its just a simple rectangle with a 20 cm zipper. Overlock the raw edges.
  12. You are now ready for some environmentally friendly shopping, well done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some Wishes Come True

Two of my long held wishes came true this week; my eldest son graduated from university with a Bachelor of Business and my only daughter completed her apprenticeship becoming a fully qualified hairdresser.

When I was a young mother I felt, at times, overwhelmed by the responsibility and the enormity of the job ahead, at other times I was delighted by the challenge of raising my children. Today I am mostly filled with pride in myself for being brave enough to tackle the hard stuff and showing enough love and commitment that my children survived education and came out the other side successful.

I am proud of the people they are and I’m grateful that they are strong, kind and generally happy. Congratulations Rhys and Shaya!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Invited as Guest Lecturer

I was delighted to be invited as guest lecturer for the Diploma of Visual Arts students at Noosa TAFE. I attended today to give a talk on the benefits of Public Relations for the Arts sector. I spoke of the changing landscape for promotions today with the juggernaut of Social Media rapidly changing the way we communicate and how we can harness this to promote ourselves, our artwork and our arts practices.

My audience were delightful and appeared to be very engaged in my discussions. Any extra education in Marketing and Communications can be extremely valuable for emerging artists and though some of them admitted, it was a lot to take in, I feel they have gained more general knowledge about networking and relationship building that they will be able to utilise as they build their own arts practices.

I will be returning to give another specific lecture on writing practice and some legal requirements of running a business in the weeks to come.

Their colleagues from the Ceramics course will be hearing the same lecture next week, so I do hope my friends from Visual Arts will give me a good wrap.

Here they are pictured following the lecture, testament to the fact that they survived very well indeed.

Thanks for having me Noosa TAFE and all the very best in preparation for your end of year exhibition.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Our Janey"

I see part of my role these days, as a talent development officer and, wherever possible, I aim to assist and encourage young people with outstanding ability to access opportunity.

I spent this afternoon assisting a young singer from my local community to further develop her musical theatre item for the upcoming Vocal Eisteddfod. Jane Magao is an outstanding talent and a delightful and humble young lady, we spent about an hour working together on some movement to enhance her chosen song.

Wherever Jane sings she brings delight and sometimes surprise to her audience, most people are quite shocked to hear such a strong and developed voice coming from someone so young.

I know one day the Sunshine Coast will state a claim to ‘our Janey’, and I will be able to say, “I knew her before she was famous”, now there’s a prediction to put in your books!

Here's Jane pictured at the En Pointe studios in rehearsals with Miss Penny this afternoon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Amazing Kaleidoscope of Tap Dancing by Emmy Award winner Jason Samuels S...

I'm having a field day on YouTube at the moment and I've found some sensational dancing. This clip actually reminds me of one of my former students, in the style of the dancer. Hey Aaron - I'm talking 'bout you Man!!!

I have always had a love affair with buttons, it’s an inherited thing. When I was a child my mother kept a large plastic container full of buttons, which she had collected or harvested before disposing of old clothes. Some of these buttons were absolutely gorgeous, much more beautiful than those plastic things created today. I would lovingly draw them from the old treadle sewing machine cupboard and imagine the splendid garments I could create using these gems.

When I grew up I started my own collection. However, I’ve found I just can’t part with any of them. I can’t use any of the ‘special’ ones on anything I intend to sell. If I use them on a garment for myself, I like my mother, remove them before disposing of the garment.

One day recently, I asked my mother if I could have her collection now that she no longer sews and she reluctantly handed over a few of her beloved buttons. By the time I got back to Queensland she had, apparently, been down to the store to replace the buttons. Oh dear, the addicted had kicked in. We are button maniacs, mother and I. Is there a cure? I hope not!

The photos show just some of my buttons. The dragonfly buttons are my favourites. I also collect sequins and beads. My studio strains under the weight of my storage issues. Groan!! But I cannot and will not change. I love my stuff!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Begin the Beguine

A Sunday afternoon could not be better spent than by watching old musicals. Oh how I loved being a child and being full immersed in the magic of the Hollywood era. I looked up to my idols, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell and many others like them as they whirled and twirled around the dance floor with a dreamy fluidity. These two were remarkable dancers. Another clip I recommend is Eleanor in Fascinating Rhythm - it's too large to load to the blog, but go to YouTube and check it out, especially if you are into Tap, you will love her, she's special!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feeling good about Chooks

Recently, we bought some chickens. I didn’t realise it would be so much fun, and it sits so well with my interest in recycling arts. I feel all warm and satisfied with myself when I’m doing something that aids the environment and keeping chickens is definitely a good thing to do. You can feed them all your kitchen scraps (cutting down that household garbage) and they reward you with lovely organic eggs. What a great trade agreement.

I’m thinking these chickens will make beautiful subjects for paintings one day soon and the eggshells and feathers will be pleasing additions for my mixed media work too. It’s a win-win situation.

My little boy, Hugo is a natural chicken farmer. He has them trained already, they seem to love being picked up and patted. It’s just too cute for words. And each time they lay and egg he is over-the-moon with excitement.

Their names are; Daphne, Daisy, Ginger and Dot (changed to Dash - because she runs fast), which has a certain reference to SOS code, but hopefully we don't need our souls saved just yet, we're doing our bit for the environment in this small way.

Might put a worm farm on the shopping list!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back to Ballet

The studios of En Pointe Classical Ballet Coaching, Queensland were buzzing with excitement when I arrived today. The floor of the dressing room was strewn with shoes and tights and all things dance related. There were brand new photos on the walls baring the successes of the most recent competitions and events. There was tapping sounds emanating from one studio and classical music coming from another. What a wonderful atmosphere enveloped me as I entered.

Today the 'newbies' were joining the crew, new recruits who have taken the plunge to become 'full-timers', following their dreams. Full of hope and nervous energy they eagerly awaited each and every moment of the day's undertakings.

I sauntered in and took up my place feeling every bit at home in this warm and welcoming place. Comfortable in the knowledge that I am exactly where I should be.

What a lovely day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Georgie's Shoes

The owner of these shoes, the lovely Georgie is one of my students from En Pointe and these shoes represent her will and her desire to achieve.

They speak of her strength, of her push and explosion, her artistry and her fluidity.

The shoes that carry her through her dance can also tell of both her quiet beauty and of the power and strength she shares with her audience. They are the elements of song, the stories of love and loss, the whispers of emotion that carries the souls intent and charisma out to the viewer.

Shoes are much more than a covering for the feet, more than an allowance to come up onto pointe, they are the effervescence of the dancer that inhabits them, they are the ghosts of something past, they hold within them a memory, too magical to be lost.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Art is like a broken bike

Sometimes it feels as if I’m chasing an impossible dream, on a bike that’s no longer road worthy.

Each time I finish an artwork I am compelled to start another, unsatisfied and sure that I can do better. Full of hope, I start again like a drug addict chasing a fix, unable to attain a goal that is out of my reach.

As a young dance student I was often told that my performance was acceptable, but I should strive to do better. I wonder if this has set me up for a constant longing for perfection? It drives me on and has me searching for a better way, a more interesting dynamic, a richer combination, a fresh interpretation.

Whatever I desire, perhaps the journey is more enriched for the search? I hope so!

Who knows, but without this inner drive maybe I would not continue to be an artist, is it even a choice? Who’d pick a broken bike?

If you are wondering, this photo was taken in Sofala, New South Wales. It's a cracker don't you think? If you haven't been there, you should go.......

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sophisticated Black & White

Don't you just love black and white? It's timeless and you always have something gorgeous and 'black' to wear it with. I almost wish I could keep this bag, but I made it for a friend, it was a commission.

It's possibly turned out a little more 'evening' than she had in mind. Mmmm.... I might be back at the machine attending to the original brief a little more closely before long. Whoops, I think my creativity may have got carried away on this project. But then again, it could be one of those wonderfully versatile 'day into night' bags.... yes, that's it! What do you think?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Margaret Ellen Turner

I had coffee today with one of the Sunshine Coast’s own contemporary visual artists, Margaret Ellen Turner.

It was great to hear what’s instore for Margaret in the coming months and in fact, I will be working on a media campaign leading up a to an exhibition of Margaret’s work at the Noosa Regional Gallery in September.

It’s so exciting to talk with and work along side artists that I hold in such high regard. Margaret is in fact one of the most respected educators in the arts on the Coast, having worked at both the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast Insitute of TAFE.

I’ll be telling you more about Margaret’s work soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Today's efforts - One frilly bag

I hope you like what I made today. It wasn't an easy day's creativity - it was one of those frustrating - break the needle on the machine and curse days - I hope you know the type. Anyway, at least I have one bag to show for it, a little offering. Tell me about your days at the wheel of your 'creation station'. I'd love to hear from you.......

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some like to Cook!

I am fascinated by the differences between individuals, the variety of things that capture our soul’s intent, that take hold of our spare time and sometimes even become our careers.

I’ve found it incredibly interesting studying the pursuits of my own children, the things they were attracted to from babyhood that have stayed with them. Three of my children are adults now and I am seeing these interests still running strongly within them.

Now, I’m in the midst of raising my fourth child (aged eight) and I often wonder what his life will bring and therefore I was alerted to a possibility when he was watching Masterchef (which he rarely misses). He was so intently fascinated with the masterclass in terrine preparation, that I was quite astonished.

I had been blissfully sewing my crocheted squares together for a granny blanket, I truly couldn’t give a fig for a cooking class and hadn’t given any attention to the television at all but as his passion became apparent (through numerous comments) I began to take notice, for example, “Oh look at that terrine mummy, it’s so beautiful, that man is treating it as if it were his wife.”

Now this is a statement worth looking up from the sewing for. He then continued with other statements of utter rapture. Goodness I thought, this child is in passionate love with a terrine. I asked him if he always felt really excited about food and cooking, and his answer was an unadulterated yes.

My husband is a very dedicated cook making many homemade meals including beautiful breads. Hugo has been participating in this cooking of late, which I assume has sparked some of this enthusiasm.

As you know cooking is NOT my passion, as I’ve confessed previously. I eat only to keep up energy levels to enable more dancing. I generally find eating an annoying waste of time and my husband is sometimes cranky at me for not stopping to have lunch. How different we all are.

Hugo asked me what I got excited about and I replied, bright colours. It could be bright coloured wool or tubes of paint or fabric or papers. I find them irresistible and I own more than I will ever have enough time to use. And dancing of course, I’ll never tire of dancing, not in a million years.

What a wonderful diverse and colourful world we live in and thank goodness we are all so different. Perhaps my Hugo will be a chef one day. We’ll have to wait and see.

Star Motif Bag

I'm using crocheted elements more and more in the bags that I'm creating due to the fact that crochet is just so appealing and so in vogue at the moment.

This bag is my latest creation and I found the pattern for the star design in the June edition of Notebook magazine. I did increase the size of the star by making the trebles into double trebles and BEWARE there is a mistake in the pattern on the third round. Don't you just find that sooooo annoying? It's not really a problem for experienced crocheters, because we can work it out from the picture, but I do feel for people on their L-plates, it must waste so much time.

Anyway, good luck finding all those funky options for your beautiful crocheted motifs - there must be millions.