I had a crisis of faith not so long ago. I still felt that I was an artist, but, oh dear god, blasphemy – I was no longer creating art. A fake! A fraud! A misguided fool! I wasn’t proclaiming this status to the world, but even within the realms of my own mind I felt uneasy merely thinking of myself as an artist.
What criteria do you have to meet to be deemed an artist? A question that bears similarities to that fiendish art-school conundrum – “What is art?” I have lived by the rule that if an artist has said that something is art, then it is so. It is one person’s intention that counts. So why was the definition of artist causing me so much anguish? The guilt around not making art felt unbearable, and the prospect of just stopping, drawing that final line in the sand felt… relieving. The easy way out. I could leave it all behind me, accept that I was no longer an artist and move on with my shiny new teacher identity life. The word ‘artist’ has been so entwined with my idea of who the hell I am, this notion left me feeling… bereft. Irrational, peculiarly narrow thinking, wouldn’t you say?
I stopped obsessing. I let it be. I let it all be. I gave myself time and space… and waited for the blessed Easter holidays! And it all makes sense.
Painting makes me happy, and so I will continue to paint. Some days I will wear my artist hat, and some days my teacher hat. Most days, I hope to have both jauntily perched on my head, although they may be rather precarious…
The last few years have been tumultuous. Monumental. Exhausting, exhilarating and, quite frankly, a tad ridiculous. I began this blog almost 10 years ago, bloody determined to become the next Tracey Emin. Oh real life, how you changed those burning plans…
Muddling through the last decade, I have metamorphosed from a rebellious, gloomy, eccentric art student to… a creative, optimistic, and still-eccentric primary school teacher, who is blissfully married to a wonderful soul (found during those chaotic art school days). I fled the monotonous rolling green hills of Wales, to discover my very own patch of land in beautiful Richmond upon Thames, London. And here I will stay. Roots firmly planted.
(It awes me that I am somehow old enough to reflect on the last decade of my life, every moment of which was lived through grown-up-eyes! I have noticed one infallible truth – I am immeasurably more content and confident at 29, than I was at 19. A worthy trade for a few grey hairs!)
This blog has a new meaning. It is a resurrection. I need a way to focus my creativity, a platform to consider my tangled thoughts and flickers of inspiration. The antics of a lapsed artist. It is an attempt to rekindle my love for the art world, to resurrect my own creative ambitions. Art was my first love. Although it has spent these last few years waiting patiently in the wings, I am now settled and grounded; the time is right to rejuvenate, rekindle, resurrect. Let’s see where it leads.
Two studies – acrylic paint, 2016
I started this pair of paintings side by side, with the intention of mirroring, a sort of butterfly effect. I ended up spending much more time on the left-hand painting… to its detriment.
I much prefer the more minimalist left hand painting, which took only a few minutes, simple brush strokes, beautiful colours – the paint moved across the paper, bled, arranged itself serendipitously and left a lovely splodge.
How can a couple of minutes work look so much better than half an hour of laboured painting?! And will everyone else see the same as me?
That has always been The Big Question – when to stop painting? When have you over-worked an ruined a once delicate, understated, confident piece of work? How on earth do you know when to stop? I guess it all comes down to intuition. And experience. Practice (and plenty of frustrating mistakes, screwed up sketchbook pages. There’s no going back.)
Stop before you think you need to stop.
Watercolour works in progress…
She is someone else and you don’t know her.
For an unemployed person, I am one ridiculously busy lady.
I have completed my CAB training, and so this week I was let loose on the public, attempting to help them sort out their problems…. So far, so good. Starting Monday, I am spending two weeks volunteering as a teaching assistant at a primary school… which is a rather daunting prospect. Arg. Terror. AND I’m attempting to organise an art exhibition at the little gallery I volunteer for! Oh my. Unemployment is definitely not boring these days…
And, when I get a moment, there is art! And yoga. SO MUCH YOGA. I love yoga. I have gotten so damn bendy.
Lately I’ve been spending time looking into the more meditative, emotional, calming, thinking side of yoga. Which turns out to be fascinating and ever so thought provoking. A hell of a lot of my art has been about feelings and emotions and thinking (or not thinking) and what’s real (or not real.) I’ve spent a lot of time and energy attempting to fight negative memories and emotions…. With yoga, you just let it be. You accept that you are not in control. Things come and go. You recognise emotions are there but you don’t fight anything. Oh it’s all so… liberating! And peaceful. But I’ll stop there before I go all obsessive-preachy-hippy on you. Uh oh.
(Go look at this lovely lady’s website if you do happen to want to read more about it all…http://www.ekhartyoga.com/blog/yoga-and-emotional-pain)
Absent minded scrap paper biro doodles…
The dinosaur was indeed over-glittered. You couldn’t see the dinosaur for the blue sparkles. It turns out that little girls are actually magpies in disguise, and they have no comprehension of how long it’ll take vast puddles of glitter glue to dry. No, you cannot wear your glitter-laden crown. It’ll get stuck to your hair.
So it seems that I have started yet another volunteering job. At an art gallery in Dartford – the What If Gallery. A community gallery that is really accessible to artists (work up for £1 a week? 20% commission? Yes please!), and run by a very friendly bunch of volunteers. I jumped in at the deep end last week and helped out with a children’s arts and crafts workshop. It was amazing, I had so much fun! The chaos! The energy! The glitter! Absolutely exhausting. Children are amazing. And they seem to like me (for some reason.) Made me re-realise that perhaps I really should carry on pursuing my slightly-abandoned plan to become a teacher. I think I could kick ass.
A relevant recent sketchbook page………………
….more than you could ever imagine….
Today, sat at the top of Windmill Hill.
From my sketchbook. Ah, healthy self-doubt and a delightful lack of confidence. I think that spring should hurry up and get sunny now.
‘Bastard Bloody Damn’, mixed media, 2008
I am sorting out my studio. I AM ORGANISING ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. And it is about bloody time. Found the above painting/collage which is from the first year of my degree…. so 2008?! Wow. How time flies. I still really like it, which is a rare thing. I shall find a wall for it somewhere.
Still one of the jobless, but our flat is feeling more like home now, it’s been sunny lately, and I am happy. And it is daffodil-time-of-year, which is wonderful. For the next few months our flat shall be full of them! Am very glad that England happens to sell them as well as Wales……. St David’s Day is coming up… I have a feeling they won’t be celebrating that in Kent. I shall make bara brith and cawl. Mmmhmm. I love cooking. I have started volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau, which I am enjoying immensely- I’m learning so much, and it is fascinating, and I will be doing something helpful and worthwhile and important, once I’m fully trained. So that’s good.
BEST BIT OF 2013 SO FAR – Managed to OHMYGOD get two tickets for a tiny intimate HIM gig in Camden the other day (they sold out within 10 minutes), I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW GAWDAMNEXCITED I AM! I have loved them since I was a crazy little teenaged goth girl, other bands have come and gone, but they are still wonderful. Of course.
Anyway, art art art art…… haven’t been doing much in the way of art…. I went on a bit of a cushion cover making spree the other week…. but now I have run out of cushions that need covers. BUT the plan is, if I’m tidy and organised, I’ll be able to work more. How many times have I said that…… Ha. I’ll believe it when I see it Em….
‘Perfect Heart’, 2012
Daffodils on my desk in the sunshine. Aw. Lovely.
(I worry sometimes that there is too much in my mind that I shall never be able to capture, pin down, remember or write down or make or draw or sew or…. and things will get lost for ever. I should write more perhaps. But then you still have to remember where you wrote it down. Remember that you wrote it down. Don’t lose the notebook.)