Creative Fear….

It’s been a bit stop/start these last two or three weeks…I seem to be struggling to convert my sketchbook work of the mudflats and marker buoys of the Menai Straits (see previous posts) into more developed work…and as a consequence I felt myself beginning to fall into a pattern of thoughts that is probably familiar to all creatives…

…I have no talent, other people are much better than I am, I won’t be able to capture the spontaneity and freedom of previous work, it’s all been a waste of time……getting the picture?

It’s at this point that I should say that earlier in the year I joined a couple of on-line art groups; Alice Sheridan‘s ‘Art Explorers’ and Helen Hallows ‘Creative Courage’ – both Facebook Groups…and it was through the comments, stories and links in these groups that I was encouraged to listen to podcasts and read books about creativity and fear…one of which is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert…

…and oh how familiar it read…

‘You’re afraid you have no talent,

You’re afraid you will be rejected or criticised or ridiculed or misunderstood – or worst of all – ignored,

You’re afraid somebody else already did it better,

You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing,

You’re afraid you’re too old to start,

You’re afraid your best work is behind you,

You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with…..'(Elizabeth Gilbert)

 

…there are another couple of pages in this same vein but you get the idea…and before you start shouting that you need solutions not confirmation of your fears, Gilbert addresses these issues, going on to suggest that we accept fear as being part of our creative journey…I particularly like the chapter titled The Road Trip in which she prepares a speech for fear:

‘Dearest Fear, Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job very seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I am about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job…….but I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this; Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognise and respect that you are part of this family…..you are allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps…suggest detours…..to fiddle with the radio….or the temperature…But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive’, (Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert, 2015, p24-26).

I love this analogy, nearly as much as I loathe back seat drivers…and it’s definitely made me look at fear and creativity differently…I am fascinated to read more….and whilst I know that everyone is different and as such require different solutions… I thought I would share this with you… it might help…

So, with this idea in mind, my creative confidence is creeping back…mudflats and buoys not withstanding (on the back burner…but I will return to it), and I have been concentrating on playing around with colour – Daniel Smith Indigo and Rich Green Gold, plus Sepia FW Acrylic ink…resulting in some that I am happy with….!!

…and a couple more I have yet to mount…

 

…keeping in the spirit of just playing, I even got my acrylic paints out, those that haven’t set hard, that is….(part of the reason for my limited palette…!!)

…resulting in some more possibilities…..

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..and while I know that they are not all masterpieces, that fear is not stopping me trying my best…and at the end of the day that’s all I can do…

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Maintaining The Momentum…..

Although I don’t create art in the expectation of making lots of money…(I love making marks and splashing colour around!!!)…for a number of reasons it is important to me that this artistic journey at least pays its way…

I am in the lucky position of knowing the owners of Blue Owl Art who have kindly invited me to take part in several exhibitions in their gallery space, the most recent one being ‘Exploring Place’. This has been the most successful exhibition for me – out of the twenty pieces I submitted, nine have sold….still a little shocked… and there is still a couple of weeks to go…so still time for another cheeky sale or two..!!

Alongside this exhibition I have also set up my website carolynjrobertsartist.co.uk  – this is still a work in progress, with new pieces/sections being added…

The problem I am faced with now is maintaining this momentum…as I said, I know the owners of Blue Owl Art so have no difficulty in approaching them…the same cannot be said of other galleries/outlets…I have read that galleries don’t like ‘cold callers’…so I would be interested to know how other artists have overcome this problem…

It’s A Funny Thing…

I am really enjoying developing the inspiration and ideas I garnered from our weekend walk around Carl Wark and Higger Tor in the Peak District…

‘Paths gone to heather

Grasses silver underfoot..’

from Hob Hurst’s House by Chris Jones

 

…the colours, the light, the gritstone, the elements… and it is these very things that have inspired me to break out of my comfort zone…I am very happy using ink and charcoal, but the images just shout out for colour, and the strong lines of the tors call for brave marks…..

…and initially, when I have no idea what I am doing, I somehow manage to produce some work I actually like…

 

…and it’s then that that funny thing happens…ooh I think to myself, I like that…lets try and do it again…and all that freedom and spontaneity is lost…and I end up with work that I am not happy with…and the more I try, the less it works…

…so today I have been reminding myself of what it was like to stand atop Higger Tor, in the wind and the rain, that feeling of freedom, exhilaration, of insignificance – the Tor will be there long after I have shuffled off…

…and somehow, somethings have worked…

…so it’s simple then (!!??), just don’t worry and don’t try so hard; that’s all there is to it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching Paint Dry……

One of those mornings where you are waiting for the telephone engineer….you know the sort…’they will be with you some time between 8.00am and 1.00pm’…. I find it hard to settle when I know that, at some point, I am going to be interrupted …so I decided to make myself some watercolour swatches a la artist Ken Hurd’s tip…a pick up/put down sort of task…

I have seen the square colour charts before but the idea of making swatches of the colours seemed a much easier way to choose colours and see which ones harmonised better…so obvious, makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it earlier…

I  used St.Cuthbert’s Mill  (I just can’t seem to get this link to work)Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper for the swatches, writing the make and shade on the back….

It’s also a useful way of making me see what watercolours I really have….if you are anything like me, you have some favourite shades that you use all the time, and then there the other tubes you bought on a whim and never seem to use for one reason or another…I might actually get round to using some of them now…..

….and guess what, the telephone engineer has just called to say he is running late, and he won’t be with me until later this afternoon……might just go and watch some more paint dry……

More Colour, Less Water…

I am continuing to experiment; today I have tried to use less water and more pigment….. I am also trying to be more patient, letting some of the washes dry before developing further….

…further additions of colour and some judicious virtual cropping and framing using Photoshop Express results in…

It’s just experimental, but I am trying to maintain the same spontaneity using more pigment as I have with the ink…..definitely a work in progress…

Sweltering Summer Sketchbook Workshop…

Saturday saw me, along with 10 other ladies, attend a super, if sweltering, Summer Sketchbook Workshop run by Helen Hallows at the Long Eaton Art Room.

First time I have been to the Art Room and I can’t tell you how lovely it was to have a space where you felt totally free to cut, glue, splash ink and paint around without worrying about any mess…..so different from the tiny back bedroom I have at home!

The Workshop was something different for me…not my usual style…but I like Helen’s work, her bold use of line and colour….as well as her art/life philosophy.. so I thought ..why not give it a go..!!

The Workshop concentrated on how and why we use (or not) sketchbooks, ways to overcome ‘New Sketchbook Syndrome’ and some drawing/mark-making/collaging techniques you could use for any subject, not just the still life set-ups in the Room..

I was familiar with some of the techniques….i.e. continuous line drawing, non-dominant hand drawing.. but Helen provided lots of other information, tips and ideas on how she prepares sketchbooks and how she utilises them…

Although the Workshop was pretty full on – Helen stated from the outset that she had a lot information and tasks to go through – I never felt particularly rushed…which was just as well considering the heat…

I did some pretty dreadful drawings in my newly prepped sketchbook…(in my defence they were non-dominant hand, continuous line-drawing not looking..)

…but Helen was full of advice and encouragement… something that’s hard to come by at home, on your own…

A variety of materials was provided and I really enjoyed using the stick and ink – again, this wasn’t new to me having worked with these on my Foundation Course at Grantham College – but that was many moons ago and it’s amazing how you forget these things…..

…and I finished the day with a rather bold take on the peppers….

…so not like me at all…but sometimes it does us good to have a change and try something different…

As far as Helen’s outlook on art and life….well it certainly made me think…and that’s a topic for another post…..

Would I recommend the Workshop – certainly – not only was it wonderful to spend time with some lovely, creative people, I came away with lots of ideas and a new found enthusiasm……and surely that’s the point of a workshop!!

An Inspirational First…blog update

Inspiration for an artist comes from all walks of life, all corners of the globe… Like all artists, I have my favourite places, particular interests and a whole host of artists who inspire me! From JMW Turner’s use of colour, Edgar Degas’ draughtsmanship, Maya Lin’s topographical installations and Monika Grzymala’s tape ‘drawings’ – plus a whole host in between! Social media has also revealed many more artists whose work I love and admire – one of the good things about the internet & Twitter!

Working at home can be quite lonely at times, so for me, social media is a way of keeping in contact with the world, seeing what’s happening both near and far. I also use Twitter to promote my work, tweeting images of my latest efforts – good or bad! I have been very lucky in that the feedback I have received thus far has been very positive and any criticisms have been of the constructive kind!

However, and this is where the ‘First’ comes in, never before had I thought anyone would be inspired by me – until this week. I received a lovely tweet from an art teacher who liked my charcoal sketches – so much so that she was going to show them to her Yr 12s as inspiration!

imageimageShe then very kindly tweeted some images of the work the students had done – go to @potterkatiehook to have a look!

Shortly after that another kind lady tweeted how my sketchbook watercolours had inspired her to get her sketchbook out and start sketching! That same week a gentleman tweeted how inspiring he found my watercolours! Now I don’t profess in anyway to belong to that elite band of artists I quoted above – but in my own little way, if I can inspire someone else to have a go then that’s great!

Talking of my charcoal/watercolour sketches – I have been working really hard at loosening up. Sometimes, in my drawing, I can get very tight, worry too much about the detail rather than concentrating on the mood and emotion. In an effort to combat this I have a great time experimenting with moving watercolour paint around on different paper surfaces including Fabriano Artistico and Bockingford, trying to portray the mood of the elements. Here are some of my efforts!!

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageAm I succeeding in creating mood and atmosphere in my landscapes? Not sure, what do you think? One thing is certain, I am really enjoying using the Daniel Smith watercolours and wonderful papers!

And finally…just a reminder that the Private Viewing of Inspired by Nature at Blue Owl Art is this Thursday 30th April 7 – 9pm. Would be great to see some of you there!!

Fragile Lands II