Acknowledgment, Acceptance……Permission…

Well, three weeks down the line and I still I haven’t written my first newsletter….partly because I feel awkward at self-promotion, partly because I don’t feel as if I have anything to say and if I did….why would anyone be interested?? (I do see the irony in me writing/publishing this blog….)

So I have spent some of this week soul searching, navel gazing…….staring into space… (and I call this work……..?)  What would people like to know? What interests people about my work? And this led me back to the conversations I had with visitors to the Melbourne Arts Trail…

Inspirations, materials, process…some concrete, some less tangible….and the need to articulate these has made me focus on what precisely drives me…..so I have been jotting down thoughts….

Inspiration for me comes from the landscape and the emotions and feelings it evokes – that sense of freedom and space, the connection to nature, the changing seasons….

…. the textures…

….and the sounds; the wind, birdsong, bark of the fox or deer, raindrops and the sound of water…

….and along with this, words inspire me…

‘…there are jewels

to gather, but with the eye

only. A hill lights up

suddenly; a field trembles

with colour and goes out.

In its turn; in one day

You can witness the extent

of the spectrum and grow rich

with looking.’

R.S. Thomas

 

….and all these influences inspire me to paint in a loose, expressive style….I tried other styles but I always return…

 


So I persist with the watercolours and inks that flow and swirl, pool and splatter….allowing me to convey that sense of freedom I get from being out in the landscape…

….and in acknowledging my inspirations, accepting my style or ‘voice’ I am at long last giving myself permission; permission to be myself, to love how I paint, my style…to feel comfortable….and this, in turn, is making me more relaxed, not worry about being faced with that sheet of white paper…not stress if I don’t produce a masterpiece every time…

And in crystallising my thoughts…..I think I might have the beginnings of a newsletter…..

Taking Time….

The clocks have changed, the nights are drawing in….and  ‘Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile’ (William Cullen Bryant) is giving one final, brilliant display…before winter takes hold…

The land, having yielded its harvest is beginning its slumber…natural cycles…natural rhythms…

My creative process has a rhythm to it, a cycle…and at the moment I too, am in a fallow time, a quiet time….resting…but not unproductive…

 

….spending time in nature, creating without pressure, exploring with my favourite materials…reading…

I find such inspiration in words… how can I not when stumbling upon the work of Susan Lynch;

‘…murmurous sedge stand sentinel

as jack snipe bubble in the fen

in feathered hauberks, crouched

near dawn. Flown, the rock doves

from barrow and cairn.

A masterpiece of wrens.’

 

My creative process is one of obsessions….The Peak District, gritstone, Yorkshire Moors…and my current ‘obsession’ – the flat farmlands of Lincolnshire where I grew up…particularly the autumnal landscape  of this area – ploughed fields, furrows, stubble and field edges of hedgerows…and I am ‘obsessed’ with depicting these memories in my favourite materials…. Sepia Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink, Carbon Black Liquitex Ink and Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid…..

 

Funny how, as a visual artist, I find words so evocative……

‘Field flat and fallow, crow’s cries load the sunset’ – Jonathan Falk

‘Where the land forgets its name,…..fallow, pasture, ploughland’…Gillian Clarke

….I am immediately transported to the flat lands and big skies, raucous crows, lapwings…

Taking this time to rest, read, create without pressure is my ‘slumber time’….replenishing my creative soul….

Now, if only the same could be said for the business side of things…

Friday Round Up…

I can’t quite believe it’s Friday already…where did that week go? Doesn’t seem five minutes since I was recapping what I had created last week…

I might have failed miserably to write my first newsletter but I have managed to produce/paint something every day…admittedly more on some days than others….but I have done a little every day….

I think I finally finished this work…

….just letting it sit awhile to see whether I prefer it as a whole or in twos or threes…

This piece seemed a bit of a ‘full stop’ to these images….and there was the usual ‘what now?’…

So it was back to the playing/experimenting/exploring…with a colour combination that I am a little obsessed with…..Indigo Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolour and Sepia Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink along with Winsor and Newton Granulation Fluid….

….again, working across several at once to prevent me fiddling too much…..

While I was experimenting I listened to Only Artists on BBC Radio 4 – the episode where Norman Ackroyd meets Robert MacFarlane, one of my favourite artists alongside one of my favourite authors….and during their chat, MacFarlane remarked on a quote that Ackroyd has pinned up in his studio:

‘So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,

And yet anon repairs his drooping head,

And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore

Flames in the forehead of the morning sky,’

Lycidas, John Milton

I thought this a fabulous reminder to take things day by day…..each day is a new day, a fresh start….

So I keep trying…..

….and occasionally, some small gems emerge…

I feel as if I am finishing the week on a positive note, something to work on and develop….now if I can just write that newsletter……

…Doing It Anyway….

My quote today, ‘There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something’ by Lisa Golightly

.

– really resonates with me (and reading comments and posts on social media I know I am not alone). Sometimes the fear that my art isn’t good enough/I’m crap at it/who am I kidding along with that other killer – comparing myself to other artists – stops me in my tracks, so much so, that some days I can’t even pick up a brush or pencil…

With my sensible head on I know all those negative thoughts are just rubbish – who says I am crap/can’t paint/that my art isn’t good enough…..why that would be me putting up barriers…

What to do then when those thoughts threaten to paralyse my creativity… Well I find exploring and experimenting with different materials a great way to get started… I have no expectations therefore there is no pressure…and once I get going back in the flow, sometimes, something magical happens….

So today I have been playing with acrylics, not my usual medium (as you can tell), so my expectations are low….

….and mono-printing…with a Winsor and Newton Oil Bar…

Now I know none of the above is a fantastic work of art (at least I have a ready supply of collage material!!!) – but I did it! I made something….and once started…. I carried on…and I think I have finished this piece I began a while back but then began to have doubts about it….

I will leave it for a day or two just to be sure….

But one thing is certain… I have got my mojo back…for today at any rate…..

Friday Round Up…..

Well it’s Friday…and the glorious autumnal weather of earlier in the week – early morning mist, blue skies, golden and russet leaves, luscious berries – has given way to wind and rain, grey skies…definitely a day to hunker down indoors, coffee pot gurgling, radio on…..

After posting my daily ramble..

I thought I would take stock and look at what I have done this week… I had produced a lot of work for the Melbourne Art Trail and after that was over I had a couple of weeks break…a time to recharge the batteries…but when I picked up my brushes again it was a case of ‘what now?’ I felt as if I should move on, develop new work…but what…

I am learning that this is all part of my process – I flounder about, dabbling at this and that, until suddenly I alight upon a colour combination or find myself inspired by a feature of the landscape – and start exploring…

….working across several images at once in an attempt to stop me from fiddling…

The inspiration for this work is memories of my rural childhood in Lincolnshire, especially the winter palette of ploughed fields and big skies…

I also began exploring different compositions; either four small works or two portrait ones…

….and as usual, I have become obsessed with the colours – Payne’s Grey, a touch of Indigo and Sepia..

….producing quite a lot of ‘variations on a theme’….

I have also been experimenting with a Winsor and Newton Professional watercolour stick (Sepia)….

It can be applied in a variety of ways; drawing with it, shaving off small flecks directly into water, taking pigment from the stick with a wet brush…it’s proving very versatile….so much so, I think I will have to treat myself to some more…in different colours…

When gathered together, it was amazing to see how much work I had produced….

….feels like the start of a whole new body of work…a small success…now if only I could feel the same sense of achievement with regards to the business side of things..

Ebb & Flow….

It’s been two or three weeks since my last post – time taken for family plus a fabulous break to Seville – time for reflection…

After participating in September’s Melbourne Art Trail with some sales and a reasonable amount of interest, I hoped it might be the beginnings of ‘something’….. and…..so far….nada, nil, nothing…. I have read that sometimes it takes two or three months after an event for ‘interest shown’ to develop further, so I am probably being unrealistic…. It also re-iterates that I have to do more to promote myself….not a concept that comes easily to me…. definitely an ‘ebb’ moment…

So much so that I began to question what I was doing, thinking….why I was bothering….however, one of my attributes is stubbornness so I showed up in my studio space – well, that was the first step achieved!! I pondered what it was about creating art that kept me coming back to it…and I came to the conclusion it’s because I love playing with colour, making marks, combining materials in such a way that says something…..to me…and I think that’s what I need to remember as being the most important thing.

So it is back to my routine…starting out in my trusty Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, using materials I love; inks, for the tonal qualities you can achieve, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours for their vibrancy along with Derwent Inktense blocks and Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour Sticks…

…..before working on paper, in this instance it’s Cass Art mixed media paper…

Although it’s been glorious autumnal weather outside I have been channelling the winter palette from my childhood growing up in rural Lincolnshire – big skies, ploughed fields, stubble….

….and slowly I begin to get in the ‘flow’….just exploring, experimenting….discovering what I feel works and what I don’t like ( such as the indigo sky on the top sheet – definitely needs something doing to it…)….although I don’t mind the one below…and no, I can’t help but try it in a mount – even though I am supposed to be just playing….

Some time ago I came across the following quote by Teresa R Funke – ‘Spend one day in pursuit of art that only you can produce, and somewhere, someone is enjoying your courage to do just that’…

This really resonates with me – if I produce the work that I love, that I have an emotional attachment to, that speaks to me – then that is the works’ true value… hopefully, eventually, the right people will come along and love it too, whether they buy it or not….that’s not to say I will be giving up on the marketing side of things (if I am doing this as a business then money plays it’s part)….but I need to stop piling the pressure on myself and remember why I am doing this in the first place….

….as with everything, it’s a work in progress….

Keeping Creativity Interesting….

September is slipping away with indecent alacrity; shortening days, a definite chill in the early mornings….although to offset this we have autumn’s last flourish…glorious colours, berries, seed heads…season of fruitfulness…

After the exploits of the Melbourne Arts Trail, this last week has seen me have a little R & R – family time, with little artistic endeavours…

So relaxing was it that I needed the proverbial ‘kick up the backside’ to get me into my little workspace this morning…to be greeted with a bit of a tip….which just added to my feelings of lethargy and sense of staleness in my work…

What to do? When I feel like this, I find a change of materials is as good a place as any to make a start….

Mono-printing is a process totally different to my loose watercolours and ink…

….and I therefore have no expectations which immediately takes all the pressure off leaving me free to play, experiment, get those creative juices flowing again…

Even though my expectations are low, there is always a sense of excitement (that feeling is one of the reasons I keep creating) when peeling back the paper to reveal…

Interestingly, I find the pieces of paper used to block the shapes as fascinating as the actual ‘finished’ print..

Whether I will develop mono-printing further I am not sure, but it’s certainly kickstarted my creativity….and, if nothing else, I have lots of collage material….

What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?