A Sense of ‘Vorfreude’…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

After a hectic, but lovely, couple of days away with family, and now, with only 18 days to go (at time of writing) until I participate in the Belvoir Art Trail, my time seems to be filled with all the minutiae that need doing before an event… making sure all work is mounted, framed, priced, wrapped, added to my inventory, business cards sorted etc along with naming some of my newer work…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I only seem to have small amounts of time to make art….that’s why I am attempting Instagram’s #the100dayproject…and chose mono-printing – it doesn’t take long, I can produce 3 or 4 pieces at a time (admittedly with varying degrees of success!!) and at least I feel as if I have created ‘something’…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….but all the while I am busy, there is something simmering underneath the surface, a sense of ‘vorfreude’ (n); the joyful and intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures….I am itching to get really ‘stuck in’ creating, spending time experimenting, developing – what…I don’t know yet, and that’s half the fun…

I have enjoyed the mono-printing – the somewhat unpredictable nature of the work…the contrast…and feel that it is a process that I would like to continue with, either, as I have at present, as an element of collage, or even as the base to develop over…

I have also been looking at other ‘doodles’ I have created, past and present; not finished work, more experimental, to see what it is I like about them…


Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist


Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and it’s the mark making, the loose, expressive quality, the monochromatic nature of them, the importance of the white paper…

Another process I am enjoying, thanks to the lovely Maz Hawes, is the creation of small collages in a sketchbook…

Again, I think it is the ‘space’ in each of these collages that I like, along with the inclusion of graphics… As part of my on/off journaling down by the river, I write words and phrases that spring to mind, and I have printed them out with the intention of including them…somehow…

Caarolyn J Roberts artist

I am not sure how all these processes and interests will appear in my work, or even, how my work will develop…I know I would like to try working larger (which means a radical de-clutter/re-arrangement of my studio space!!) and to develop the courage of my convictions and not make work because I feel that is what other people think I should be doing…

I just know I am eager to get started, to see where my work takes me….meantime, I will just relish that sense of ‘vorfreude’….

 

 

 

 

New Shoots…..

‘Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time,’ – John Lubbock

It’s not summer yet but I have spent time ‘idling’, listening to the murmur of the river, birdsong, watching clouds reflected on the water’s surface, seeing blossom float by like confetti, and this ‘rest’ is definitely beginning to recharge my batteries, spurring me on to take steps to achieve my goals…..

For some time now,  I have been feeling ‘isolated’ as an artist; at university there was always someone around for a chat, feedback or to give support. Working at home has many positives but there are also the negatives; needing clearly defined work time, not getting distracted by all the household chores and of course, the isolation. So I took the step of joining the lovely Alice Sheridan‘s Connected Artist Club…run by Alice, this is an online community of artists coming together to support each other, share knowledge and advice…It’s been great hearing all the other members’ stories, where they are in their art careers, their worries…lots of which are common struggles….the weekly Studio Chats…I have really been buoyed by the support and advice…..

Joining the Club has given me a bit of a ‘kick up the proverbial’ to get on and ‘do’, so, already accepted to take part in the Belvoir Art Trail, I have also applied to participate in this year’s Melbourne Arts Festival – just waiting to hear if I have been successful. Through being a member of the Leicester Sketch Club, I heard about another possible exhibition during July, so have made initial enquiries, and I am also sorting out an application for the Wirksworth Festival – not certain I will be accepted for this, but nothing ventured and all that…

Having taken part in the Melbourne Festival last year, I already have a check list and my ‘box’ of supplies – tools, tape, bags, business cards, cloth, hooks, etc – ready. I have also been getting a system in place for preparing work for sale; mounting/framing/wrapping/pricing/labels as well as adding to my inventory – much less stress to do as I go along rather than having it all to do just before a show…..

It’s obviously an on-going process and I have been assessing work today…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….looking to have work similar to that which I have sold via my Instagram flash sales available (alongside my other larger, mounted work)…small works mounted on paper. One of the things I learnt from doing the trail was that I needed to have more of a variation of items/price ranges so this is one way of addressing this; will see how successful this is…and report back….

Tidying and sorting work, you unearth pieces you had forgotten about…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…..and then realise that perhaps one, top right, might be worth mounting…..

…along with another whole sheet of possible delights….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….it’s always a ‘heart in mouth’ moment removing the tape, seeing if there are any jewels….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….of which there might be one or two…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

 

I am also making an effort to be more disciplined in my studio work so have decided to take part in the Instagram #the100daysproject…. I decided to experiment with mono-printing…something that seems far removed from the flowing acrylic inks and watercolours….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist


Carolyn J Roberts artist
Carolyn J Roberts artist

….I have no expectations with this process, it’s all a learning curve, but I have produced some pieces I quite like…..the rest will be used as collage in further mixed media work.

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Spring is the season of new beginnings, new growth and I am certainly feeling more hopeful…falling in love with my art all over again….

‘You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for 100 miles, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,’

Mary Oliver

 

Don’t forget to sign up to receive my newsletter – link at top opposite – where you will get further studio news and offers….

And before I forget….here is a link to my website www.carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk where all my latest work is available…..

 

New Week, New Month…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘April hath put a spirit of youth in everything,’

William Shakespeare

The clocks have gone forward, the days are lengthening, trees are blossoming, birds are singing…the earth is definitely bursting with new life…

…and in the studio I have begun the new week by ‘playing’, experimenting…firstly with mono printing using a Winsor & Newton Oil Bar….along with grease proof paper and an offcut of mountboard with a 6×4″ aperture in…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

It’s all trial and error, unpredictable, which is great for me at the moment as it removes all that pressure I pile on myself to produce a masterpiece each time….

From there I moved on to trying out these foam pad applicators

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I used them with watercolour and have found that, initially, I prefer using them when dry as it produces more random results… I will continue to experiment…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

I keep all these pieces, using them as collage material, even the pieces of paper I used with the mono printing to block out areas; again, they add texture to further work…

I have a number of things/experiments I want to try in order to move my work further and will report on these in due progress…

What do you do to remove that creative block, to move your work forward? Let me know!

You Never Know…

Time to be honest….everyone is on a journey, everyone is going through ‘something’, ‘stuff’…but most of the time you would never know…and I am no exception…the last few years, at times, have been something of a slog; personal circumstances, serious family illness, both physical and mental, loss…there were times it felt as if I was wading through treacle…

One thing that kept me sane was getting outdoors, out in the landscape, time to just be, reflect…to get perspective…and that’s why this latest series of work really resonates with me…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Inspired by the landscape, using my favourite colours and materials… (Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink Sepia, Daniel Smith Watercolours Indigo, Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid..)

Carolyn J Roberts artist

…incorporating collage material…(old sketches, old experimental monoprints, torn magazines, newspapers, sheet music…)..adding layers… in some ways, representative of my journey…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and the addition of collaged words in my work is a new departure for me…but these are words that have helped me, reminded me, resonated with me…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

We all have ups and downs in our lives, but it feels good to have been able to produce work that is honest, a true reflection of me, out of some dark times….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

 

 

 

Awakenings…

‘We do not need anything or anyone but ourselves to validate our worth.

The stars still glow even if no one stops to praise it.

Rivers still continue to flow even if no one stops to praise it.

If no one recognises you, you must still continue to grow.

We are made of the same elements as these beautiful forms,

we are absolutely beautiful and tremendously strong,

just by being.

Remember this.’

 

I found this quote online but could not find the author…if you know, please let me know so I can acknowledge….. I find the words beautiful and the sentiment is a great reminder for me not to overthink, get too hung up…to keep growing…and boy have I needed reminding…

I have been struggling of late; lack of inspiration, lack of sales, loss of mojo…..all contributing to loss of self-confidence… The ‘just turn up in the studio and do something, anything’ strategy didn’t seem to work…I just ended up more frustrated and that, in turn,  became a vicious circle…. so I took time out; walking….

‘I go to nature

to be soothed

and healed

and to have

my sense

put in order.’

John Burroughs

….taking photographs, videos, reading….and slowly, along with the coming of Spring, I have begun to get back in the studio, making work, work that I am happy with, work that resonates with how I am feeling….

….and it’s just as well that I am making work again, because I have been accepted to participate in this year’s Belvoir Art Trail running over the weekend 3-6 May. I will be based at Blue Owl Art in Grantham, Lincolnshire where there is also a fantastic café and free parking…. I will be posting more information nearer the time so watch this space….and as always, it would be great to see some of you there!!

Acceptance onto the Trail has obviously spurred me on to prepare work, necessitating in an order to Jackson’s Art….consisting mainly of mountboard for this selection of mixed media I need to get ready….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….but I managed to sneak in one or two treats…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….. my preferred square Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook along with some Daniel Smith Indigo watercolour and a new shade – Daniel Smith Gray Titanium….

….and obviously any new colour requires experimentation…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….Gray Titanium is a warm grey with yellowish undertones; I can see it being very useful in my landscapes…. even though, with the addition of Winsor & Newton Granulation Fluid, it doesn’t granulate very much…

Several readers have asked what masking tape I use…and I have found the Kleenedge low tack masking tape good…


Carolyn J Roberts artist

…providing crisp, clean edges, lifting easily, and can be re-used, if only in my sketchbook…

I feel as if I am slowly awakening, finding my way, beginning to be inspired again, enjoying creating again….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

 

‘To find your own way is to follow your bliss.

This involves analysis, watching yourself & seeing where real bliss is –

not the quick, little excitement but the real deep life-filling bliss.’

Joseph Campbell

 

 

On The Up…..Slowly…

‘The moods of a river change from hour to hour and day to day. It can be still and serene as a glassy mirror, reflecting the clouds that pass over it and the trees on it’s banks. Or, when a light breeze springs up, the surface of the river may be broken into little diamond lights reflecting the distant sun’ – Ernie Lyons

Recent rain has seen the river level rise, submerging ‘my’ patch of reeds…ripples and shimmers on the glassy mirror, noisy crows arguing in the tree tops, clatter of ladders, voices carried on the wind…changing moods…

Regular readers will know that I have been struggling, having a ‘creative block’, ‘lost my mojo’; call it what you will, it only served to heighten my self-doubt….but stepping away for a week, taking time out to reflect, read, think…get some perspective… I am slowly beginning to work my way out of the ‘low’ I had found myself in…

A couple of new purchases…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….and a dabble with materials I am not so familiar with…namely acrylics….no pressure, no expectations…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

….definitely no expectations as I am no expert with acrylics; there is not enough contrast in tone or brushstroke and the composition – well suffice to say, not exactly what I was going for…but I had fun… for some reason, I always get in more of a mess with acrylics….but is just felt good to have paint splattered fingers…

So I have carried on mark making with graphite pencil, charcoal and Art Graf.. trying to get my arm moving, varying the tones and quality of the marks…but without overthinking…

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Rivers know this: there is no hurry.

We shall get there some day.’

A. A. Milne

 

Rhythmical Lows….

I feel drawn to the river. It’s gentle meanderings, constant flow, cycles of life in and at the water’s edge somehow anchor me, reminding me that life carries on regardless of what else is happening…….or not….

This last week I have felt strangely discombobulated, lost…I have been trying to square the fact that this 8 second video, quickly captured on my iPad…

….garnered over 1000 views, (huge for me), whilst, for the first time, I had no sales in my Instagram flash sale…Carolyn J Roberts artist

or any interest in my ‘Songs of Norfolk’ watercolour and ink series based on the north Norfolk coast.

Carolyn J Roberts artist

Now, I fully understand I only have a small social media following and an even smaller mailing list, so I can’t keep expecting sales from a limited audience…. I know I need to build on and develop ‘getting my work out there’/outlets/social  media/internet/website traffic…but, in my current ‘low’ mood,  I feel as if I have been plugging away and getting nowhere…even allowing for this being a slow burn… And so, I begin to question myself, doubt that I am ‘good enough’, wondering why I am bothering….self-doubt, imposter syndrome….questions and feelings that I am sure a lot of artists can empathise with…and even though I normally have quite a positive outlook, I begin to feel overwhelmed….

I try to paint, but with no clear direction just end up with a bigger pile of collage material…So I decided to take a week out, put my brushes etc. to one side and think, reflect….


Carolyn J Roberts artist

Do I need sales to validate me…? Does having no sales mean my work is rubbish, isn’t ‘good enough’ – although who determines what is good enough? And if I don’t have confidence and faith in my work why should I expect others to? I have to admit here that the thought of paddling my canoe off down the river, drifting away, was very appealing…..however, I don’t possess a canoe….

So, after my week of reflection do I have all the answers….errrr….heck no!!  What has become apparent though is that although I haven’t used my paintbrushes, pencils etc. this week I have enjoyed creating these short videos, taking photos and writing/journalling….which has led me to conclude that being creative is part of who I am, that I would have to have some sort of creative outlet no matter what, in some form or other….and I have to admit here that, having had a week away from painting, I am itching to pick up my art materials and make marks….

I feel my work is developing and I am becoming more discerning;  producing more pieces that fulfil my intentions, that I have faith in. Does that mean I am more confident…in a word…no… I am still amazed when people wish to purchase my work, flabbergasted that they would consider hanging my painting in their homes…but I think I have to accept my diffidence; I don’t think that, at my age, my nature is going to miraculously alter…

I know, I know, I imagine you all shouting ‘Stop overthinking, just get on with it, just do it, keep on going…it will come…’ With my logical head on I hear you, I acknowledge this is all part and parcel of the highs and lows of the artistic life; having watched some TED talks and listened to podcasts, it is apparent that most artists, even established ones, have these doubts…

….and yes, I am aware that this post is in danger of becoming a bit of a wallowing ramble (it has taken me three days to write and I have deleted quite a lot….)…just to reassure, normal service will no doubt resume shortly…I have applied to two Art Trails (pushing me again out of my comfort zone) and am in the process of applying to another…I will continue to make work, post on social media, keep plugging away…slowly growing my audience….remembering all the while that Rome wasn’t built in a day….

Carolyn J Roberts artist

‘Reflection is a gift for your spirit. It nourishes your creative energies, by allowing deeper parts of who you are to come forth and be discovered. And as you embrace these discoveries about yourself, you become more fully aware of who you are and what your purpose is at this point along your journey recognising that your life is a wonder, and that you are connected to something greater than yourself which allows your spirit to blossom.’ Belle Bleue