Artist Antony Gormley recently wrote about “affordances”- the things and situations that your current reality permits. He included in his idea of “affordances” the ideas as well as materials that you can bring to bear on your art: local materials, local energy (one’s own!) and of course, the environs themselves. And naturally the affordances offered to us all in every respect, not only our art, by The Lockdown. Antony found that he was very ok with the new limits placed by the COVID on his hectic life travelling the globe for his art. I liked very much Antony’s concept of “affordances” and its positive orientation.

Time for an photo, right, dear Reader? And a welcome and thanks to all my new readers. I would like to begin my post with an image or two of my favourite affordance, the garden which supplies much of my art materials. Not to mention my sanity, my inspiration…on and on. What are your favoured affordances?

The front yard in early June with blue irises just starting. The white blossoms on the pagoda dogwood are now giving blue berries good for dye or ink.
(It was a long wait in spring 2020 for this view)
So far this year, I have not made too many new inks or dyes from the garden’s “affordances”. Instead, I have taken stock of the inks made since Fall 2018, 2019 and earlier in 2020, as well as making new paintings with my stash of inks and papers. One project I really enjoyed was constructing little portfolios to hold the many, many ink swatches I have collected since I began making inks. So I have lots of photos of these below.

Maybe you are like me and have lost your face-to-face opportunities to show and sell your art. I had six or seven events planned for 2020: two are now postponed, two cancelled, two made “virtual” and one – who knows? My inks are still stored in my fridge, though a few have left me by mail for new homes. Accordingly, my inkmaking plan for the next while is to use up as many inks as I can on my own work before making new batches – an affordance that has met its time. So in this post I share some of my newer ink paintings.

I start with the swatches of my basic colour palette. My aim in making ink colours has been to develop a limited palette based on what my garden and my local environs afford me in the way of native plants but without scorning international food items or nuisance invasives like buckthorn. So with seven or eight plants (for now), I have been able to assemble a dependable couple of palettes and then modify their basic offerings by mixing inks or using pH uppers and downers and/or iron to change colour, shade or value.

Each of the accordion portfolios above contains swatches of colour mostly from one plant and on various types of paper. The composition of the paper strongly influences the ink colour.
From the bottom: walnut and wild grape; avocado red; hibiscus pinks and blues; iron gall blacks and greys; buckthorn greens and other with pH modifications

Two more kinds of swatching. On the left, a portfolio of several pages gate-folded around each other without any sewing. Dabs, stripes, strokes, dots, lines, triangles of colour. On the right: a classic “wash” swatching with modifier action ( lemon for low pH or baking soda for high pH). The indigo ink is made by Wallace Seymour of the UK. Indigo ink making on my “To Try Later” list – using persicaria tinctoria that I grew in pots.
Each ink colour also has its own portfolio. This one is for coreopsis verticillata which gives a lovely orange red, and, if you do not know what you are doing at first ( moi) you will end up with a lake colour, as here. ( Making lakes is all the rage now on IG)
This little booky wraps around three walnut swatches ( Later I will post pics of the swatches inside the wrapper here and below). I like the simplicity of making a wrapper with an interesting paper or cloth and adding a printed/dyed paper closure. This closure is printed with hibiscus, walnut and buckthorn.
Here is another simple wrapper with and inked and sewn paper band as closure. Inside is an indigo inked accordion (pics in a subsequent post)

This portfolio is a paper slipcase made using Hedi Kyle’s instructions. I have made several of these to hold acccordion book structures. Make two and one is a cover. This accordion is swatched with wild grape. (Could not capture the purple colour well in this photo…will try again – the grape is lovely)
This is a darling mini slipcase made with vintage linen, rust-dyed. It holds the buckthorn green and coreopsis orange accordion swatch. Tiny!

And now to some newer ink art work other than swatching and portfolio making.

Below is what my studio wall is looking like while waiting for the fall studio tour that might never happen…Gotta put that excess art inventory somewhere else besides under the bed. ( Where do you keep yours, dear Reader? ) Many of these works on the wall have been shown in previous posts so this photo saves you looking back. Following this photo are several newer pieces in my CONTAINED/UNCONTAINED collection. The ink colours show the range of the basic palette.

And that is it for today, dear Reader! Thanks for following along on my journey. I wish you all your own rich affordances in this period of limitation. Venceremos!

And if you do Instagram, scroll down here on the right for lots more photos of art and stuff. If there is anything you like enough to consider buying, email me for details or DM me on Instagram! I would be delighted!




8 thoughts on “Affordances

  1. Dear Wendy. How lovely to have your THREADBORNE arrive on my email!! In this ‘new normal’ we find ourselves inhabiting, to read and reread all your wonderful info was/is such a pleasure. Thank you so much. Best wishes to you and yours.

    1. Thank you, Maidi! And you, too.,It is so good to be in touch with readers again. I am grateful to have been able to bring up water from a deep well at last!

  2. Hello Wendy,
    Thank you for the beautiful ‘affordances’ email.
    I love eco printing, dyeing and making books although many of my efforts are disappointing.
    I think your little books of swatches are inspirational, especially as they are hand made. Your photos represent an enormous amount of work and you must be very pleased with the results.
    Again, thank you,
    Gloria ( in the UK)

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Thank you, Gloria! I wish you joy in the making of your eco prints and little books. I find when you love what you do, it seems not to be work at all (ha ha, most of the time…) “Patient endurance attains all things” as Teresa of Avila says in her wisdom. One of the features of those little books that I love is their simplicity – a large sheet, folded…in simplicity, opportunities for disappointment in ones output get dialed way down…I am going to try to take my own advice and Teresa’s vis a vis my erratic schedule of blog posts!

  3. What a beautiful way to preserve and present all your sample Wendy! So glad you are keeping well and busy in these strange times. Didn’t realise you were on IG – just followed you and look forward to your posts! Kim x

  4. What a wonderful post, Wendy. Thank you so much. I love the idea of affordances. It really resonates with me, and now I have a name for it! Your work is so great. I hope one day, after this pandemic is over, that I can take a face-to-face workshop with you, if you offer them. Happy long weekend! LeeAnne

  5. Thank you, Leanne! Plans tend to be pretty short term during COVID, right? Meantime the plants still grow and “afford” us their gifts. I am grateful to be able to use the term “affordances”: it helps me look at what I have and not at what is lost or limiting. I think you have discovered that, too

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