Thursday, 1 November 2018

(16/100) November is 'Make Art Every Day Month' and That's What I Plan To Do

For the last couple of days, still thinking of Ophelia, I've been drawing female figures from my imagination.  I have LOT to learn about the figure.  So, as this month is  'Make Art Every Day Month' (which I only became aware of today), I have decided to sign up and spend time each day on figure study.  I want eventually to be able to draw or paint a figure with confidence and expression from imagination. I have this, rather vague as yet, vision of creating figurative narrative abstracts. If that is the direction I'm choosing to go right now, then I need to gain some competence in figure drawing. 

Brown Inkjoy gelpen and Arteza brush pens

 As I don't have the option of life class, I will have to use the resources of the internet and use photos for references.  I have a book on anatomy that is a fearful thing, I can't imagine doing drawings from it, but I'll try.  I must also try not to judge myself too much in my attempts and remember I'm learning.  It really doesn't matter if I can't get the muscles and bones all correct, it only matters that I have a better acquaintance with the structure of the body and it's proportions.  I also plan to do straight copies from master drawings of heads and faces.
This all seems a bit rigorous and academic so I will also do some more free and expressive work. There are some great ideas from Access Art with this great resource they added recently  (and it's the reason why I chose Degas as my artist of the month).

While I'm doing these studies I also plan to paint. I'm setting myself the challenge of 30 minutes at the easel every day.  I'm going to paint freely and abstractly.  I'll be experimenting with acrylics and oils with the sole  aim of enjoying the act of painting.  I'm really going to give myself the chance to play and discover.

It's going to be an interesting month.  I'll be following others on the challenge and I hope some will follow me here also. We'll see.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

(15/100) When Out of Steam There is Always the Doodle.

There are still times I come to my sketchbook blank;  meaning both my blank mind and the blank page. So the only thing to do is a doodle.  That's what I did last night.  It had been a difficult 'family stuff' day and I was far removed from thinking about art or being creative.  This kind of day would normally derail me and I would do nothing, but I'm making progress now in keeping to a more consistent practice.  Therefore if the only thing I can manage to do is a doodle (on the sofa with brush pens and in poor light so I can barely see the colours) I will now do it instead of convincing myself it's not worth doing.

While I was making my 'I've no idea what I'm doing' marks I was still wondering what the worth of it was, (and the piece took longer than it might look!) and I'm still wondering.  But I was glad to have done something. Just the act of putting brush to paper makes me feel less out of touch with my creative self.  And today I'm reflecting on this and wondering if there is any difference between doodling and making abstract art.  
I suppose the real difference is that doodling is mainly mindless, it can be anything, can go anywhere and be done in any way.  Doodling is without aim or purpose.  But to create an abstract piece of art the necessity is to make crucial decisions concerning  elements of art and design specifically in order to communicate.  

Paul Klee's famous statement that 'drawing is taking a line for a walk' is both true and not true, it depends on where, how and why you walk with that line that determines whether you are doodling or Drawing (capital D for drawing as in 'Art' drawing)

Paul Klee 'They're Biting'

See here for a description of how this was made,

And here is an interesting article that takes a look at how another artist, Francis Limerat, relates his art to Klee's statement,

 Francis Limerat 'Claire Voie No.162'

I haven't been able to find out about the technique of this.  Is it purely a drawing looking as if there is some 3 dimension, or is this actually a 3D piece?  It's fascinating to look at it not knowing the answer.

Finally, although I talk about the aimlessness of doodling, I think it is that very quality that contains the value of it.  The very 'unconsciousness' of it can bring aspects of the self into light, and could possibly provide clues to unknown parts of our personal creative being.  Deep within lie answers to who we are and what might be expressed, and one way that can take us into that often hidden place is the playful, unthinking activity of doodling.

And so I've answered my own question to myself.  Is it worth doing?  The answer is very definitely, wholeheartedly, a yes.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

(14/100) Whispers From Masters.

When I paint, especially canvas painting, I sometimes feel a connection to different artists.  I felt this when I was painting my Ophelia.  I wouldn't at all call this any kind of channeling, but at the same time it feels like a nudge or whisper to look at their work.  
So today that is what I've been doing. and this is what I found. 

The first artist Gustav Klimt is not one of my most favourite artists, though I greatly admire his artistry. But coming across these paintings done just before he died and being portraits of a young woman who had committed suicide because of rejection from her fiance, has amazed me at the connection to the subject matter and the abstracted expression of it.  

Gustav Klimt  'Portrait of Ria Munk III'  (unfinished)

Ria Munk on the Deathbed(or Ria Munk I)

Here's an interesting article about the history of these paintings.

The next artist, Odillon Redon really astonished me, because I found he had also painted Ophelia, and exactly the same subject, her walking among flowers.

Odilon Redon 'Ophelia Among the Flowers' (Pastel)

What an interesting composition. I'm fascinated to see where he has placed his subject showing only her face, and also how he has smudged her and the background and brought the flowers into focus, showing us what she sees, but the flowers and berries are not realistic, they are a heightened expression, perhaps becoming symbolic of the oncoming madness and death.

And the final artist, Bonnard.
The painting I chose is not such a typical Bonnard, it's unusual to have the drawn lines visible, but the abstraction of the interior and the colour in this fascinates me, although which is the more accurate reproduction? I like the lighter one because the details can be seen better.

Pierre Bonnard  'The Bowl of Milk'

What am I learning from looking at these paintings?  The main lesson right now is the attention to the abstraction around the figure, what is in those shapes and spaces.  Next week I will do some sketchbook studies, and I'm thinking of doing another Ophelia painting.  I have a rough idea of one possible composition. maybe this could be my first series, I've never done a series before.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

(13/100) You Can't Paint When You are Afraid

Yesterday I worked further on the abstract that was not 'working' and I got drawn into following the vision of a figure that began to emerge.  I constantly have this conundrum, to ignore the vision or go with it.  The previous painting I did I allowed for the suggestion of the birds I saw, but in this piece I found myself delineating a figure, I wanted to see her.  When I was done I felt I knew who she was and gave the painting a title.

'Hamlets Ophelia Gone to Gather Flowers as She Descends into Madness'
Acrylic on canvas (9x12 ins.)

The whole time I was painting, I felt my lack of painting skill, but at the same time I was thinking, it doesn't matter because I'm painting what I want to paint and doing it brings me pleasure.  Now I look at it and see the painting as 'weak' in terms of composition, technical skill and resolution, but I'm not unhappy about that, why?  because this painting brings up that important question, 'What do I really want to paint?' 
 And right now I'm feeling the answer is, I want to paint what resides in my imagination, that which I don't even know is there until it reveals itself to me in the act of painting.  That is the mystery that draws me.  Previously I have attempted this but have been held back by my critical judgement of the bad paintings produced in the effort.  I'm not going to worry about that anymore.  I'm dropping the weight of thinking I must produce 'good' paintings (because if I don't, I told myself, I shouldn't even be painting). I'm dropping thinking that only 'good' paintings can validate my time and resources spent doing it.  
This painting is telling me to paint what I want to paint in the way I feel called to paint. 
 Why has it taken me so long to come to this blindingly obvious realization?  Well, there's the whole matter of lack of self trust and lack of confidence, plus the strength of my negative voice, that I believed was telling me the truth, when it wasn't telling the whole truth, and also the influence of contemporary art that made me think my art must be utterly irrelevant.
This thinking made me afraid to paint.  You can't paint when you are afraid.
I will continue to paint. I will continue to make bad paintings. I will continue to make 'irrelevant' paintings.  It no longer concerns me. I only care about painting.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

(12/100) Discovering Through Doodling

I've been doodling in my sketchbook, playing with lines and shapes and creating compositions.  I think I will be doing a lot more of this as I notice there is real concentration go on, (though the results may not seem like it).  I'm not very good at creating out of thin air and drawing like this pushes me and increases my desire to increase my capacity for invention.

I tried to use some of the ideas in painting, but the paints and brushes created very different results.

I'm starting to experiment more now, I'm beginning to relax a little  and not worry about the outcome so much.  This is the result of keeping to a more consistent practice.  

(9x12 ins) Acrylic on canvas board

 detail of a painting that didn't work, but this part I may keep and work into even more

Thursday, 18 October 2018

(11/100) A Simple Thing I Did in My Sketchbook Has a Lesson For Me (If I'm Willing to Learn It)

After my considerations yesterday on getting more clarity about why I would want to get a sketch book habit, I decided to use yesterdays leaf studies as a a jumping off point for creating something from nothing more than the memory, and to play with that.  I had no idea what I would make, I only knew the colours.  I took a big flat brush and made some stripes and worked on from there.  I was uncomfortable not knowing what marks I would make next, but somehow I managed to make them from the memory of the leaves. This was a new learning process having never done this before and there was some real discovery going on here.  I wasn't expecting to make a pattern, but somehow the initial stripes I made seemed to dictate what went on top.  As I was so uncertain about what I was doing I was telling myself it was okay, that I was just practicing brushwork, and although the result is very simple and there was brush practice in the repetition, there was much more going on during this act of getting something down on the page.  It was a beginning, a very small beginning I acknowledge, but nevertheless it was there, of coming to an experience of taking an idea - in this case a simple memory of something observed and making something completely new out of it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

(10/100) Some Thoughts On Getting a True Sketchbook Habit.

I want to use my sketchbooks.  I have many and none of them are full, and many of them not used at all. And so for that very reason, for a 100 day art challenge I chose to do daily work in a sketchbook.  But even after completing that challenge, and this month trying to continue  a daily sketch habit with the goal of completing an empty sketchbook (containing 35 leaves), it's still not coming to me naturally.  So it's time to work out why.  What do I want to do sketchbook work for?  Well some obvious reasons are:-
  1. To improve my art skill level.
  2. To experiment, try new ideas, techniques and  different media.
  3. To make observations, make studies from life.
  4. To play and 'doodle' and discover my likes and dislikes.
  5. To increase my visual vocabulary, explore different ways to make line, shape and texture.
  6. To study master works.
  7. To make notes of what inspires me.
  8. To study colour, make colour notes. 
  9. Try out compositions and ideas for paintings.
All these things I had in mind.  I know how valuable a sketchbook can be in forwarding a personal vision and helping to gain the ability to express it.  
So what is holding me back? 
  1. I'm still afraid of the blank page and I'm not allowing myself to work freely and allow any mess that may come from that.
  2. All too often I come to the page and have no idea of what to place there.
  3. I am not spontaneous in my art practice.  I haven't discovered the usefulness of having an idea and jumping into the sketchbook to explore it.
I'm sure there are other reasons, but I'm struck by number 3.  This is where I'm really not getting it. It's the exploration of ideas that is missing.  All I need is a scrappy notebook and a way of scribbling things down.   The sequence is from ideas to notes to visual thinking, this is what comes FIRST, and from there to working things out according to what is needed to express that idea more fully;  e.g, for this idea do I need more skill in representing a certain animal, or perhaps I need to work out some colour combinations to find what best expresses the mood of an idea more powerfully.  To work this way, from idea first to sketchbook studies and experiments seems to be where I've got this thing completely the wrong way round. 

These thoughts have come about from my last two days of forcing myself to get something into my sketchbook. Not knowing what to do I opted for some studies of leaves from a couple of my houseplants.  But I was wondering what use it all was if I don't want to do realistic, representational painting.  I enjoyed doing the studies, I tried to be as accurate in shape and colour as I could and it was such a pleasure to look so closely at the marvel that nature holds in a leaf.  But I still felt this was not helping me progress forward in my art making.

So now I'm writing this and coming to some understanding about the whole thing.  How I move on from here I'm not yet sure, but I know I will have to come at it differently.  Play with ideas, and then work it out.

Monday, 15 October 2018


When there is sickness in the house and no school for the youngster, my not yet properly established routine fails me when it comes to art.  It shouldn't, and I need to find a way to not let that happen.  Five days have gone by with no art, and I notice the difference.  To get back into my sketchbook I chose a something simple to do, a straightforward copy of a rose from a photograph.  I used Neocolor ll watersoluble pastels, which is a fairly new medium for me, so I was testing them.  I liked how they worked with the washes in the Pink Pig sketchbook.

And I did some  more work on my abstract and changed it quite a bit with the addition of greenish grey.  I'm really not sure what to do with this.  I think I may start to delineate the figure that I see, that has now for me become a child.  I can see some wispy figures top right, it could be a child's dream.  But I fear if I try to bring this more into realization, I will lose the dreamlike, mysterious effect, but I suppose if  that happens I can always return it to an abstract.  There are aspects to the painting I like but I think it needs more strengthening in shapes, it's perhaps too diffuse and soft edged.  But where to bring in some solidity and shape?  I need to mull over this one.  I am liking the green-grey though, but I probably need to deepen the red just a little.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

(8/100) Playtime

I don't know why I followed an impulse to buy a box of fifty Crayola Supertips.  It could be the thought of having all those colours to draw with for such a low price (only £11.00) and maybe some curiosity as to whether having something so cheap and cheerful would help me with the 'play' aspect of art making, something that doesn't seem to come naturally to me.
So that's what I've been doing.   I hope I'm learning something even if it's only going into my subconscious, otherwise there's always that feeling I'm wasting time doing this.  

I have to say it is nice to sit with lots of felt tips in a shoe box next to me on the sofa and, with a brush to wash the colour, work something out with them.

Then I began to add some different media, watercolour pencils, Inktense blocks and white gellyroll pen.

I think with this last one I began to get more adventurous and started to explore the potential of the felt tips more and got something different, unexpected and interesting, so perhaps I haven't been wasting my time after all.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

(7/100) Turning to the Masters

Today before getting to a new page in my sketchbook I did more work on yesterdays portrait, this time away from the reference image.  I worked into the hair and added to the body with clothes to add more life to the drawing, and I think it's better.

 But wanting to improve my drawing, especially faces and figures, I ordered this book and look forward to it arriving tomorrow.

After the effort of trying to draw 'realistically' I wanted to play.  I experimented with some Ecoline brush pens and water.  These are a new medium for me and I had some difficulty using them, I found it hard handling the very intense colour.  I tried to calm the colours down with acrylic paint, but there seemed to be some odd reaction and the paint didn't seem to dissolve!  I'll have to play with these pens a lot more to see how to to use them.

and my 30 minute painting today, returning to abstract and ugly.

I'm enjoying the paint and what I like and don't like with this way of painting.  I thought I didn't like the colour Indian Red, but with this limited palette, (Indian Red, Yellow Ochre and Black and White) I really like it. The hints of green comes from a green under layer that I painted over.  I like the subtle variation of colour as it comes through. Something about the colours and marks remind me of Degas and Rembrandt, completely incidental, but interesting.  I want to look  at their work more closely now.

'Man in Oriental Costume' Rembrandt

Thought to be the last painting by Degas 'Two Dancers Resting'

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

(6/100) From One Extreme to the Other.

Today I was procrastinating, doing unnecessary things to avoid getting to my art, and I began to realise why - because I was so unhappy about the work I did yesterday and I was afraid of doing it again.  Instead of making art I spent time 'researching' about Jim Morrison and discovered what an interesting artist he was.  I noted down some quotes attributed to him.  But it was still procrastination.  As soon as I understood what I was doing to myself, I got to my sketchbook and made another attempt at the portrait, this time in pencil, but although I think there is some improvement from yesterday it is still another failed drawing, but I don't feel so bad about it today.
So why am I finding this so difficult? I have some possible answers. 1) The image I'm working from is very poor and very small.  I can't enlarge it because it's from a video. 2)  Working flat at the table puts it out of perspective, causing the face to be longer and narrower than it is.  3) Trying to 'copy' accurately and get some kind of likeness makes for a stilted unexpressive drawing. 4) the slightest millimetre of wrong placement of line or tone alters the whole look, (this meant I spent an inordinate amount of time fiddling trying to correct miniscule wrongly placed marks. 5) I'm not very good at drawing!  
So what to do?  Obviously I need a lot more practice, but also there was something, some emotional response to the look I saw that was briefly captured on film that I was trying to recreate but I wasn't able to do it by working from the video image. I could perhaps forget about the original image and work  from what I've learned by doing these drawings, and looking to my inner  vision instead.  It seems there is something in me that needs to find the way to convey not only what I saw, but what I felt.  I  think I AM learning, so I want to persevere with this.

'There are things known 
and there are things unknown,
 and in between are the doors.'
Jim Morrison

After this my 30 minute painting session was spent daubing paint with my fingers over a very bad painting, completely obliterating it and finding relief in letting it happen, letting it be ugly, letting it be paint.  Thank you to Louise Fletcher for the challenge to make a deliberately ugly painting,  but the ugly painting was the one underneath, this one is far  more interesting.  No trying, no thinking, just painting.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

(5/100) Today's Failure and Learning it's Lessons

My sketchbook work did not go well today.  Over the weekend I came across a Youtube video of Jim Morrison of The Doors in concert.  I was very struck by his expression before he began to sing (a particular kind of inward concentration) and he also reminded me of a renaissance figure. Inspired by that I got back to the video today, put it on pause and tried to do a charcoal portrait.  At the beginning I almost got it, but then as I tried to work on the nose, I lost it and it went downhill after that.  

What have I learned?  This is a beginning.  I'm glad I felt inspired and followed it.  It's not a loss that it didn't match up to my vision of what I wanted to capture.  I can keep working from here.  It's the expression that I was interested in, but my first unhappy attempt has made him look more like a sullen youth, rather than an artist  going inside to focus on his coming performance. 

I can keep trying.  Cropping the sketch shows me there is something here and his face may arrive in some future story painting but in a more interesting way.  

As for the materials, the sketchbook paper was not the best for charcoal.  I like charcoal, so I should find the right paper for it.  I plan on trying again with pen and ink and also watercolour.  

Yes it's a only a beginning.

Monday, 1 October 2018

(4/100) October Comes With a New Art Challenge

Today sees the start of another daily challenge.  For the month of October I'm making the commitment to fill a sketchbook during this time and to paint at the easel for at least thirty minutes every day.
Today was an awkward day for art making, with a morning visit to the dentist for an extraction, an unexpected visit from a family member in the afternoon and preparations for my grandson's 15th birthday tomorrow.  But I managed to get the work done by fitting it in before evening dinner with the timer set for exactly thirty minutes.

I am still learning to be more at ease with sketchbook work, I find it difficult to let go and just explore and not worry about making ugly messes on the page.  So the only way to do that is to keep the practice going.  

So for this month I opened a brand new sketchbook, a quality one,  a Pink Pig (UK) brand A4 spiral, with 150gsm cartridge and 35 leaves.  I normally buy cheap sketchbooks and pads, so this one made me nervous, but it will be interesting to see how it takes different media. I plan to do many various things in it, from abstract mark making (as I did today), drawing exercises from life,  copying from the masters, sketching from photos, to working out ideas for possible paintings.

Today I tried brushwork with pan opaque watercolour (Arteza brand) and drawing with Neocolor 11 crayons.  I think I could do some more working with the crayon page, I may try adding some pen work to it.

I've been enjoying working with these colours recently, pinks, ochres and browns. I expect I'll be staying with them a little while yet.

For the thirty minute painting I forgot I was meant to be working on a canvas at the easel because of all the activity of the day.  What I did was on a small (9x12") acrylic pad at the table. I made random brush marks and I was not expecting to bring it to any conclusion, but I like what happened and will probably leave it as it is.  I like the curving brush strokes and the patches of texture around the circles.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

(3/100) In Memory.

One of the practices I have been doing over the last few months is creating mandalas.This mandala is all about a very unexpected connection that happened.
I had a random thought (after the feeling of being blank and disconnected to my mandala making). The thought was,  'making a mandala is like going down a mine searching for diamonds and only coming up with coal'. After thinking this I began to remember my grandfather, who died many many years ago and who I hardly knew. He was a Lancashire coal miner. He lived in a small terraced house with an outside toilet and no bath. He came home black faced and a tin bath would be taken off the wall for him to bathe. The blue of his eyes shining out through the dirt is seared into my heart..
I did this mandala in deep connection to him. I was thinking of the helmet lamp, the wooden beams and the journey down the shaft, and his blue, blue eyes.  I don't have a photo of him. so I have been looking at photos of miners to help me make a painting of my memory of him.  I haven't done that yet, but I did a painting of the devastated landscape left behind after the end of the coal mining industry.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

2/100 Finding Inspiration in the story of The Ugly Duckling

I read 'The Ugly Duckling'  (the original story by Hans Christian Anderson) to my granddaughter last night.  The following excerpt speaks so powerfully about the unexpressed self.  The ugly duckling seeking shelter in a storm finds himself in an old woman's cottage, and her cat and hen are utterly perplexed by his strangeness and they wonder, unkindly, what use he is.
'And the duckling sat in the corner and was melancholy; then the fresh air and the sunshine streamed in; and it was seized with such a strange longing to swim on the water, that it could not help telling the Hen of it.
          "What are you thinking of ?" cried the Hen.  "You have 
      nothing to do, that's why you have these fancies.  Purr or lay
      eggs, and they will pass over"

      "But it is so charming to swim on the water!" said the Duckling
      "so refreshing to let it close above one's head and to dive down 
      to the bottom."

      "Yes, that must be a mighty pleasure, truly," quoth the Hen. "I
      fancy you must have gone crazy." '

And so after even more ridicule and admonishment, Duckling leaves the cottage to venture, once again alone, into the wide world.

We humans could live our whole life and never find our way to our true self for fear of ridicule and our seeming 'craziness'.  But if there is that 'strange longing' in us, what will our life be if we don't search after it? 

Today, I remembered, because of this story, a very failed  painting I had made a couple of years ago.  It was supposed to be allegorical, but I hadn't properly conceived what the whole allegory was.  Now I have a better idea of it, and I'm going to rework the painting, and see if I can create a much more abstracted figurative piece while retaining the allegory of the swan as a messenger.  And the message?  Well Hans Christian Anderson told it best.


,    "I will fly away to them, to the royal birds! and they will kill       me, because I that am so ugly, dare to approach them" ... 'And it   flew out into the water and swam towards the beautiful swans.'


Tuesday, 25 September 2018

100 DAYS OF BLOGGING. 1/100. It's Called Feedback

What is this renewed blogging endeavour all about? It is about the quote below. Feedback for myself.

'You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn't very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren't good, the parts that aren't yours.  It's called feedback and it's the most direct route to learning about your own vision.  It's also called doing your work.  After all someone has to do your work and your the closest person around.'  Art & Fear  David Bayles and Ted Orland

And the work I will be doing?  

The idea (at present) is to work on marrying the two genres that have been previously very distinct in my art, the figurative/narrative and the purely abstract.  In considering how I can do this I notice there are two aspects that unite these two very different genres of mine.  The first is that they are both worked from imagination.  My figurative work comes from fleeting ideas and 'dreams' that seem to arrive from nowhere.  The abstract also arrives from that same interior world, it arrives spontaneously and organically.  The second is that they both are deeply connected to nature and it is nature that seems to hold the unifying key.

'The Hidden Pearl'


 For the next weeks I'll be experimenting with working with the figure and story and abstracting it, and vice versa.

Here is the first beginning of this idea.  I already see a figure in here and know who she might be but I don't want to be fixed on this yet, I will have to keep reminding myself this is about exploring and staying open.  Allowing myself to make the 'lots of work that isn't very good' from the above quote.

work in progress, acrylic on watercolour paper

Monday, 24 September 2018

The Completion of a 100 Days Challenge and the Beginning of a New Painting Adventure

I'm picking up this blog again after letting it wither and die about 4 years ago.  Now, after deleting pretty much all my old posts, I'm starting afresh with a new purpose.  It all came about after taking part in Lisa Call's 100 day challenge of art making.  For my 100 days I chose to create a sketchbook habit.  I've never been successful with working in sketchbooks, but after undergoing 100 days and much trial and error, I did manage to work out why AND create the habit I desired.
I had, at the start of the project, images of wondrous sketchbooks, and though I knew in theory sketchbooks are the best place to explore and experiment with no concern for  finished 'beautiful' pages, it was difficult to get myself out of my old mind set.  I put pressure on myself to produce something 'worthy' everyday and around three quarters of the way through I stopped, because there wasn't the enjoyment and the habit wasn't properly sticking.  That was the breakthrough.  Taking those few days away and not feeling good about it, there fortuitously came a perfect piece of writing  in an email from Lisa about creating habits, I signed up for the five day free course offered by Tiny Habits she linked to and I started with a 5 minute practice at the same time every day after making my bed.  It worked, and brought about a radical change in my approach - it had to be MUCH simpler, and I began to enjoy the practice.  Since then I have been extending the time gradually and I have now created a habit of working for 30 mins in my sketchbook pretty much every day, and now it IS all about trying out ideas and making marks and discovering new things in a very simple way.

Now it's time to continue with making painting a habit.  To stop the on and off and procrastinating behavior, and find my way to a committed and consistent painting practice.  I'm returning to this blog to write about it and to get to know myself as a painter and discover what the work I really want to do is.

To get me off to a good start I'm taking Paivi Eerola's 12 week course 'The Exploring Artist'

Today's sketchbook page

My 100 days challenge finished on September 18th

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Its a long time since I read any poetry. Yesterday I got some old books down from the shelves. I've been thumbing through Keats, Coleridge, Byron and Shelley.  These poets are not easy to read because of the classical references and the political and cultural contexts, but if I give them time there will be rich rewards.  There were some lines I came across in a poem by Shelley that I wanted to put on my blog maybe as a 'poetry quote of the week' quote, but today I lost the page it was on. While I was searching I came across a simpler poem, a sort of hymn to nature.

Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
  Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods, and men and beasts have birth,
 Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

If with mists of evening dew
  Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Til they grow in scent and hue,
Fairest children of the hours,
Breathe thy influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

the soul's hunger

I am not a writer, words don't come easily, I cannot express the feelings that are intensely within me.

I think I know one thing, I have a hunger for beauty.

I love the art of the Hindu religion, I'm drawn to the symbolism and imagery, and the incredible rich colour and complexity.  It is always true feasting for the eye, but more than that it is true feasting for a soul that hungers.

How beautiful this vision of Krishna is.  Whenever I see such an image my heart is opened to something beyond what I can understand.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

An Indian classical dance

just because I think this is so inspiringly beautiful

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Return of Persephone

the first 'proper' painting I did when I picked up my paintbrushes late last year after decades of non art, was a painting of Persephone.  It came about after doing some sketchbook studies of pomegranates, and then I became curious about this amazing fruit and wanted to know more and find out how it may be used in symbolism, and thats how I came to learn about Persephone.  I was fascinated by her mythological story, how she was condemned to imprisonment in the darkness of the underworld for half a year every year for all time because to be freed she must not eat,  but she was tricked by Hades the king of the uderworld into eating some pomegranate seeds.

My painting shows her at the entrance of the underworld, ready to step out to freedom, but before she does she is entranced by the pomegranates left on a rock and stops to taste a seed.
  After painting this, (and I never felt I had really finished it) I didn't think it very good and I lost faith in myself.  I thought I needed more tuition to improve my skills, I gave up  imaginative painting as I tried to learn 'art' in a more formal way.  But that didn't really get off the ground either.
Now, when I look at the sketches I did on my route to this painting, I remember my excitement and the sheer pleasure of journeying into that imaginary world.
My painting of Persephone had so much to tell me, but I wasn't listening because I was caught up in judging its artistic 'merit' and so I abandoned her.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

a moment of transformation

The one creative little thing I did today was take a photo from my living room window.  From our first floor flat we have an amazing view of  a municipal car park. Beyond its wooden boundary fencing is an expressway and beyond that runs a railway line.  Past the railway track is the sea, and on the sea's horizon huge wind turbines can be seen.  But this morning the light and the snow made  magic.

Christmas moment

Well the nearest I got to being creative was putting up the artificial Christmas tree.  Little D really enjoyed helping this year so we had a happy time together.
The rest of the day went by in a fog.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

It wasn't the snow that drifted today - it was me

Not one creative moment today.  Feeling grumpy, because school got closed today because of a snow shower - and it made me cross.  First of all what lesson does that teach the children? ' Oh a bit of snow., that means  I can have a day off.'  I thought of going to the woods at the back of the town to see how they looked, but my neighbour came and brought her son to play, so I let the children sit with their Nintendos and I went and sat on my bed and did some reading.

And now I reflect on how I let a day go by with no artwork or any kind of creativity done, not even a photo taken.  So I shall compose a little 'verse' so I can go to bed having created at least something out of the day.

Oh no! it snowed -
not much, just a touch.
But at the school gate,
(and early not late).
The caretaker's there.
We just stand and stare!
 Then turn away.
'No school today'

I started reading Denise Linn's book 'The Soul loves the Truth'.  The beginning storychapter entitled 'Once you're committed keep going' has caused me to realise that I haven't committed myself to this project yet.  I have this idea of wanting to live and express my life through creative expression, but it is still only that - an idea.   I don't exactly know how to turn the idea into action, how to go about doing it - or is that an excuse? Am I just scared?  Scared of the lousy artwork I'll produce if I actually do some? I have very little faith in my abilities, but the whole point of this is to discover what I CAN do, and to accept that as enough.
I need to work this one out.
I need to decide what I want, what I need to do and then I need to commit myself to taking that action -and to KEEP GOING.
What do I want from pursuing the creative path?  Initially I said I would just do it and see what unfolds.  OK So that means just DO it.  But WHAT do I do?
I'm pretty blank at the moment.
So here's an instruction to myself.
Tomorrow  - whatever happens - I will create SOMETHING out of the day.  I will have very little time as it is going to be a busy, occupied day with domestic duties and no real time alone, but I will make an effort to be attentive to things I see, and to the sounds and words that I hear and to the feelings and emotions that arise and note what captures my attention and interest, note what makes me wonder or be curious, and create something.
This is so simple but fundamental.  I have to instruct myself to do it because I normally go through life on automatic, just doing what I have to do and not much else.  This is what I want to change.  This is the reason I want to commit to creativity.