I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve really been spinning my wheels lately.  A good friend of mine, Lindsay Joy, has been giving me some encouragement to try to jumpstart me out of the slump.  Her latest attempt is to give me some homework, an assignment: AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE. 

Now, if you know me and my work at all, I really don’t do subtle.  I do crazy, cheeky, colorful things, that can’t seem to help but have an element of humour to them.  So my challenge, AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE, really is a challenge to get me out of my normal ways of thinking. And yes, the theme really is capitalized.

So, what does the theme mean?  How will I interpret that?  First of all, what is “subtle”?  A google search gives me a starting point:


Complex, understated, delicate… so, I started to play with my camera.  What fits these words?

Doily and yarn

Doily.  Delicate, intricate, yet unobtrusive. Ok, boring.  What else?

Coffee Stain

Doily, with embroidered coffee stain.  Embroidery is the same colour, and directly over the stain.  Subtle.  Seen it before. Hmm.   (Gotta start somewhere…)

Tears detail

Embroidering symbolic tears.  Ie, blood, sweat and tears. Thinking about the time and skill that goes into these “useless” things, that are incredibly abundant in certain houses.  They’ve also got a certain attitude connected with themselves, cleanness, a little bit of fussy-ness, and “properness.”  They give the impression that the house they inhabit is “as it should be,” by society’s standards.  Anyway.  Still boring.

How can I manipulate these ideas into something else?  I tried altering the structure of a doily, pulling and tying a section.


It’s perhaps more interesting staged, than documented.  I like the textures here.  What else can I do with texture?

Tension and text

Here’s some layering.  Pretty, but has no depth.


What about combining some objects, a still life, so to speak?  The textures here are subtle, yet compelling.

Texture 1

Texture 2

Now, the beginnings of depth, a sense of narrative, or memory, maybe?  And the fortune, a tongue in cheek reference to subtleness?

Keeping Secrets

Then I started looking around to see what else might possibly fit well with these textures, and the white colors…. and found these little heads I’d been making for something else, something much less subtle and much more creepy- dead fairy in a jar, anyone?  😛  (I know, crude. But amusing.)

Feathered faces

Feathered faces 2

Feathered Faces 3


These last three images are much more true to my sensibilities than the earlier images, although I’m not so sure that they’re the best interpretation of the theme: subtle.  But I don’t really think that was the point- the point was to kick start my brain into making something different, which this has accomplished.  However, as the theme is AS SUBTLE AS POSSIBLE, I think I’ve nailed it with these last few images.  What do you think?


I found quite interesting the progression of exploring the theme.  I would have never made the last few images if I had stopped after the first couple.  This is how interesting art practices develop, except on a much smaller scale.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about life after the IMR, but just make stuff and see what happens.

At this point, I’ve got lots of ideas on the go, some completely outside of my current capabilities and skill sets.  While I think they’re interesting, there isn’t much continuity between one and the next, and not a lot of depth right now.  This has been a reminder that that just needs my time and focus to develop.  I’ve gotta let go of this self-imposed pressure to dive into another fully developed, mature body of work, and just let it develop on it’s own.  Part of the cycle, I guess.

Gotta do some more playing.

Lindsay, set me some more assignments.  And what’s my grade for this one?


  1. Yay! I think I’m going to give you an A on this one, because you toughed it out. I knew that this theme would still result in an Obviously-By-Jen result, but those photographs can allow for multiple interpretations.

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