‘January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,
A frost-mailed warrior
striding a shadowy steed of snow,’
The twinkling lights of the Christmas and New Year festivities seem but distant memories, and we are in that seemingly long haul through the wintery months, eagerly anticipating those first warmer rays of sunshine…
…but before we become too impatient for spring, let’s not overlook how beautiful this season can be; the crisp winter light, the delicate tracery of the naked branches, footprints in the snow and glittering, frosted jewels sparkling in the sunlight…
So many artists have been inspired to pay homage to this time of year…
Peter Doig – Ski Jacket, 1994
….and you can find more examples in this article, ‘Six Winter Scenes in Art‘ on the Tate website… I also can’t resist adding in one of my favourite winter paintings…
There is also something quite hypnotic about listening to the winter weather, especially if you are warm inside by a roaring fire, hot drink in hand…..
Hunkered down inside is also a great time to do a little reading and research, searching out new and inspiring ideas and artists…and speaking of artists, this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ is Gray Jordan…
I was drawn to her feed by the soft washes and hues of her work…and was even more fascinated when reading that Gray makes her own inks from foraged natural materials and pigments such as berries, turmeric and charcoal etc…
Living in Norfolk, Gray names Stiffkey Marsh and Holkham beach as her favourite places – incidentally, two of mine too – areas that feature strongly in her work.
Gray Jordan – ‘Stiffkey Horizon’ – Natural Inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet
They are also great places for collecting objects; seashells, driftwood, seaweed – to hold in your hands, to connect us to the landscape and as a way of tapping into the beauty of the natural world, of harnessing its energy…something that Gray is particularly interested and you can read more about this on her website…
After her experience in art education, which left her feeling lost because it told her that most of the artists, genres etc she loved were considered ‘low brow, boring and old-fashioned’, (something that resonates with my experiences also…), it took another twenty years before Gray felt able to become an artist… ‘I think it is that wonderful freeing up as you get a bit older and realise you’re not cool anyway so you can stop trying and that, anyhow, it is coolest to just love what you love and you don’t have to change the world to make a contribution.’ Gray now unashamedly names Whistler and Turner as two of her favourite artists, along with other creatives who use natural materials and make their own ink, particularly Jacqueline Callandine at Wild Creative…
Gray names ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf as her favourite book and loves listening to Sigur Ros, an avant-garde Icelandic band, as the music transports her back to that particular landscape, another favourite place, one that also influences her work, as in the above image…
Gray Jordan – ‘Solstice Shore’ – Natural Inks on Paper including privet berry, oak gall and black walnut
As much as possible Gray loves to work outdoors, often ‘making her inks on a fire – or on bits picked out of the fire!’ She has access to a 4 acre field where fruit trees and a dye garden provide some of the raw materials required to make the inks… When the weather is too inclement, she does retreat to a field shelter or her kitchen floor…
Gray Jordan – ‘Holkham Saplings’ – Natural inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet
…and I would like to thank Gray for kindly agreeing to answer my questions… it’s always very much appreciated!!
My work this week has been much as last, experimental, exploratory…trying to find my way… I am beginning to recognise my processes, my rhythms, my fallow times…and know that this period is often an indication of a shift or the development of an idea…
…where, if anywhere, this will lead to remains to be seen…but I am learning to ‘dance with failure’ – as stated by Lubaina Himid in this podcast, ‘The Art of Failure‘… a reminder that, in order to succeed, we have to be willing to ‘fail’…or as Thomas Edison said, ‘ I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,’ – something that, judging by my pile of ‘collage rejects’, I am well on my way to accumulating…
‘Don’t dismiss the elements. Water
soothes and heals.
Air refreshes and revives.
Earth grounds and holds.
Fire is a burning reminder
of our own will and
Breathe them in.
Swallow their spells.
There’s a certain sweet
comfort in knowing
that you belong to them all,’
As ever, I hope you have found something to interest and inspire you…have a wonderful weekend!
(If you would like even more of my ramblings and art inspired musings, or just news from my studio, please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newletter…)