Monday, August 10, 2009

Grace Cossington Smith (Thanks,Matt)

Let's see.

Oh! Before we start on Grace Cossington-Smith, I have news.

My books finally arrived...well, some of them at least. I'm so happy about that!

I'm reading a science fiction/fantasy book now by Jay Caselberg. It's pretty good.

Okay. Now that I got that out of the way, I can go and find out who Smith is.

She's another artist.

Matt must be into art. I didn't know that. Or maybe he just had art on his mind when he was giving me name suggestions.

I don't think Smith was part of the Heidelberg School. From the quick glance I did, she seems to be Sydney centered rather than Melbourne centered.

Baby Grace was born 22 April 1892.

Birthday website time!

She's a Taurus.

She's a 1 like Tim. I feel like I'm getting a lot of 1's lately. Is that my imagination? I don't think so.

Lord Wiki doesn't give me much about her beginnings. I'm sure I'll find out more later.

For now, I got that she grew up in Neutral Bay. Their house had a name...Cossington. The house was on Ku-Ring-Gai Avenue. The name of the suburb was Turramurra. That's an awesome name. I guess they got themselves a bay name AND a suburb name. That confuses me a tiny bit.

Well, Lord Wiki says Neutral Bay is a suburb.

Maybe Lord Wiki is a bit confused. Perhaps one part of him felt Smith grew up in Neutral Bay, and another part of him felt she grew up in Turramurra. Lord Wiki does that sometimes. He disagrees with himself. Don't we all though? Well, I do.

I am confused though. Google Maps says that Neutral Bay is about 20 minutes south of Turramurra. That's a pretty big difference. I had thought maybe Cossington kind of sat in the middle, so Lord Wiki was confused. But it doesn't. They're fairly far from each other.

The thing is though... Turramurra has the Ku-ring-gai Council. So I'm guessing that's where she did live. I think Neutral Bay is a mistake.

Oh shit. I think I got it now. She lived in BOTH places, and in both places they called their house Cossington.

Okay, but it's not totally my fault. Lord Wiki does say she grew up in both places. When someone says grew up, to me that implies they spent the majority of their childhood there.

Maybe not. I moved around a lot...didn't have one consistent childhood home. I'm trying to think of whether I say I grew up in so and so......

I'm embarrassing myself here. I should just shut up and move on.

Where did the name Cossington come from? It was her mother's house in England.

I'm so dumb. I just noticed that Cossington is the same name that is in Smith's name.

My brain is not working this morning. It's really not.

Her mother must have really loved this house in England. She names her daughter after it. Then she names two of her Australian houses after it. I'm guessing the woman was a bit homesick.

The school Smith attended was Abottsleigh.

The ex-teacher in me is very distracted now because the school site mentions a early childhood program they're going to be using in their new daycare center. It's called Te Whariki. I've never heard of it before. It comes from New Zealand. It sounds good. They emphasis the role of parent's in their child's education. I like that. Their five key words are: well-being, belonging, contribution, communication, and exploration.

I need to move on before I start over-obsessing about the school stuff.

Lord Wiki's entry for Smith is weird. It's different; not what I'm used to. Maybe that's why my brain is so jumbled this morning.

I think I'm going to skip the rest and move onto another website. Maybe the biographical dictionary thing.

I hope Lord Wiki doesn't get mad at me. He's one of my best friends. I couldn't bear to lose him.

Here's the biographical dictionary site.

I'm already getting conflicting information. They say she was born on the 20th of April and not the 22. That might change both her astrology and numerology number....definitely her numerology number. Oh well. What can I do.

Smith was born in Neutral Bay. She was the second born, meaning there was an older sibling waiting for her. Later, her parents had three more kids.

Her parents were both from England. Daddy Smith was a crown-solicitor. What's that? Maybe it's a lawyer for royalty? Lawyer for government?

Mommy Smith was the daughter of a rector and squire...of guess where? Cossington. I have no idea what a rector and squire is. I'm so not educated in British stuff like that.

Lord Wiki says a rector is a leader. A squire is a knight.

I'm picturing castles and other fun stuff.

Here's a website about the ORIGINAL Cossington--the one that Daddy and Mommy Smith loved so much. I wonder why they left. Maybe they didn't love it UNTIL they left.

Last year when I was desperate to move to Australia, some people had the idea that once I was there, I'd finally realize how much I love Texas.

I didn't think that would happen, but you never know. Maybe I'd end up naming our house Texas, and maybe we'd name all our future kids Texas as well. Although we're definitely not planning on more kids. It would have to be something like our pet goldfish.

While at Abbottsleigh, Smith took art classes. Then she took classes with an artist named Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo. Who is that? I don't know; but he's famous and important.

The website says Rubbo provided classes for young ladies. Interesting. Were young men not allowed?

In 1911, the Smith family moved to Bowral.

I'm so confused. Bowral isn't even in Sydney. It's two hours away from Sydney. Yet the website says that Smith continued to take classes with Rubbo after they moved. She went back twice a week.

That's crazy. And I'm sure transportation was much slower in those days. She did all that traveling twice a week?

Something is not right here.

The only thing I can think of is that her family moved to Bowral, but Smith herself stayed in Sydney. In 1911 she'd be nineteen. Yeah. I guess that's possible. I think the wording here on the site is just a bit confusing. But if I use my brain, I can probably interpret things okay.

In 1912, Smith and her sister sailed off to Europe. They spend two years in England, staying with their aunt.

I wish I had done something exciting like that in my youth. I hope I do it someday. I don't have much hope in actually becoming Australian. I've kind of lost that dream. But I do hope to at least be able to spend a big chunk of time in there for awhile. A few years would be great, but I'd be also satisfied with 3-6 months.

Maybe one day....

Smith also spent some time in Germany. Her experiences there had a strong influence on her later art.

In 1914, Smith returned to Sydney. And this is where Turramurra comes into the picture. Her family had rented a home there. It was at 43 Kuringai Avenue. So, Smith had NOT grown up in Turramurra. She didn't get there until her adulthood. I had every right to be confused. I feel better now. I'm not going to blame my brain. I blame the stuff I'm reading today.

Smith did more work with Rubbo.

In 1920, the family bought the rental house and named it Cossington. Before the Smith family got their hands on the house, it was used to hold Quaker Meetings. I love little facts like that.

If I'm reading this right, Smith wasn't born Grace Cossington. Her mom later suggested that she add Cossington to her name; use that as her artist name.

There's a lot of stuff about her paintings here.  It's hard for an art-ignorant person like myself to understand it. I'll try to read more about this as I look at her paintings later. Right now I'm kind of just digging at this site for the personal stuff.

She lived a pretty long life...didn't die until 1984. That means she was ninety-two. She spent most of her life at that Cossington house. Eventually though, she ended up in a nursing home.

The website says she didn't become widely known until the 1960's. Then she stopped painting in 1973. If I'm reading this website right, she seems to have had a bit of resentment that she was noticed at such a late age. She was already eighty-one. I guess later is better than never though.

Here's the Australian government website. Maybe that will give me more insight.

They don't clear up her day of birth. They just give the year.

One of her famous paintings is The Sock Knitter. The colors are very deep. To me, it's okay. It's not my type of thing. I probably wouldn't want it hanging in my home.

The website says she's known for using vibrant colors, and painting everyday domestic scenes around Sydney.

She did more interior scenes than exterior.

Her most famous painting is called The Bridge in Curve. It was done in 1926, a few years before the Harbour Bridge was finally completed.

The website says that the reason she became famous so late in life is she was bad at self-promotion.

I think that's like me. I've been a bit blue about it lately. Why? The other day I looked at my screenplay reviews on American Zoetrope. Some of them were very good. People said very nice things about my work. It made me feel all regretful that I didn't become all successful.

Oh well. Maybe someone will discover my writing when I'm in my eighties. That's fine.

The website also says that Smith tended to prefer keeping to herself. She was more of an introvert than an extrovert.

When I rewrote my old novel and tried to publish it in 2007, there was this idea I got from researching the publishing world. It's not enough to write a good novel. You have to get out there and sell yourself. You need to go to workshops. You need to be able to sell yourself to agents and publishers. Once you're published, you need to go on book tours and visit schools.

I don't think that's really right. Some people are shy. And I have a feeling that a lot of writers are shy. The publishing industry might be missing a lot of great stuff out there because they expect people to be brave, loud, and come to them.

I mean I think my stuff might be a little good...probably deserving to be published. It's probably not THAT great. But there's probably AWESOME stuff out there that's ignored because the writer is way too shy.

That's why I love the Internet. People like me can share our writing. These days I can write. People read my stuff. I don't have to deal with publishers and agents. I don't have to go on tour.

Life is nice.

I just thought of something. DEEP THOUGHT. I almost always buy used books. I say that's because of ecology issues. And for the most part it is. I think though that I still have negative feelings towards the publishing industry. I'm not sure how the used book industry works, but I'm betting they get less money from used books than they do from new books. I think I prefer supporting used book sellers than I do publishing companies. Although I'm also cheating the authors, and that's not nice. They don't deserve to be cheated. Yeah, so that's when I tell myself it's about ecology.

We do buy new books every so often. For my last birthday, I asked for used books. I don't think my mom believes in the whole used book thing, so she went on Amazon and bought new copies of the stuff I had on my wish list. So, via my mom, I support authors.

I'm totally off on a tangent here.

I am going to join my family for breakfast. Tim is working at home today.

I'll do that, and then continue talking about myself. Oops. I mean I'll continue talking about Grace Cossington Smith.

I'm back. I had cherries and chocolate for breakfast. I know that's not healthy. But it's the only thing I had a taste for. Plus, the cherries are healthy. Fruit is very healthy for you.

I'm going to see if that art website I loved yesterday has something on Smith.

They don't.

I'm sad about that.

Oh well.

This website looks good. It's the National Gallery of Australia's site. They're located in Canberra.

They have 135 works from Smith. I'm not looking at all of them.

I'll look at a few.

I'll look until I'm tired.

It seems pretty the website from yesterday. It provides information about Smith and her family.

Oh never mind. I was totally wrong. Each picture has the same damn information. They say her family was close. The family liked nicknames and they called themselves the Smithkins.

Each picture says that exact same thing.

I'm just going to quickly look through and see if there's anything I especially like.

I'm not loving anything so far.....

No, I actually didn't find anything.

I guess I'm not a big fan of her paintings.

Lord Wiki and the biographical website had said she had some influence from Van Gogh. I do see his influence in her work. I've never been a huge fan of his stuff either. I think I just like his story because of the whole ear bit. And I also like that Don McClean song.

I do kind of like the bridge picture. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald has a picture of it.

I'm going to read the article as well.

It says that in 1973, Smith walked around an exhibit of her paintings and would say stuff like Oh, how nice! She acted as if the paintings weren't hers. Was that sly advertising? Or was she suddenly surprised that she liked her paintings. I do that with my stuff. I go back and read something and think Oh, this is actually kind of good. My old stuff often ends up seeming better than I expected. Although the opposite happens sometimes as well.

Some Critics said Smith was too extreme. Who decides what's too extreme or not?

Smith never got married. She stayed very close to her parents and siblings. With them, she was able to live a comfortable life and work on her paintings.

It sounds like, for the most part, she had an enjoyable life.