We are on the road again! The bags are down and lists are being made and modified. We are leaving in two weeks for the Northern Hemisphere, we are planning to spend a year living and working in Scotland. There is so much to do!
A few years ago, during a time of upheaval and change, I created this large mandala, using just a 6b pencil. It is not a pretty image and was done purely as a therapeutic "doodle". Some of the images are borrowed from paintings and cuttings from newspapers and magazines. Picasso's, "Woman Dressing her Hair" seemed to be the embodiment of how I was feeling at the beginning of my 5th decade! The marching of time seemed to come out of the pattern from my watch strap. It was an outpouring of pure emotion and now is a snapshot of how I was feeling at that time.
Carl Jung ascribed healing powers to the mandala and felt it was a way to bring consciousness into a concrete form that could be read, much as one reads a dream. He believed that by putting personal symbols together in a circle, which itself symbolizes the wholeness of the psyche, many parts are brought together in harmony. For Jung, all part of the psyche need to have their honoured place for healing to occur. For a time, he used to do a small mandala every day to clear his thoughts and find out what was important on that day.
Both Hindus and Buddhists use a mandala as a graphic symbol of the universe. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "magic circle".
This imaginary painting was on the go before I started my rock pool series , it actually initiated my close-up rock pool paintings. The painting consists of many layers, some were retained and some obliterated. I have been trying to get the feel of looking over the rocks and pools, towards the sea in the early morning light. The painting symbolizes new beginnings.
Below I have shown stage 1 and 2 of my painting process.
This tiny painting measures 8 x 8cm! I created this for a communal project, one of about 16 that will be framed together. I used watercolour, acrylic ink and thin tissue paper collage. I have never tried to create such a small abstract painting before, it has been a real challenge!
This painting is the second in a series of rock pool paintings. I love the way light is reflected on the surface of the water in some areas of our rock pools, creating a milky reflective surface. Where the rock pool is in shadow, the water becomes transparent, allowing a clear view of the stones and shells below.
I have used very subtle tones of colour here, I am experimenting with colour mixing at the moment, trying to create very subtle tones from my very vibrant acrylic tubes!
Pots of Paint
I mix up my favourite shades and tones in these little plastic pots, adding a bit of acrylic medium and a few drops of retarder, the paint stays lovely and smooth indefinitely. I now have found pots with clear lids, making identification much easier. I love to have all my mixing done before I start painting, I have built up enough mixes to be able to paint spontaneously - even though I will plan an initial colour scheme just to get started.
Kim at Creative Influences always leaves the most thought-provoking comments here, she seems to be able to create such interesting discussions, she always makes me think. There is so much of what we do as artists that is instinctual and only when we are urged to write down our thoughts to explain ourselves to others, do we have to analyze and verbalize what we do. Thanks, Kim!
The sea and the coastline become deep-rooted in one's psyche when living on a peninsula at the tip of Africa. The Atlantic and Indian oceans merge along our southern coastline, when we look south, there is nothing but sea between here and Antarctica.
I love to spend time gazing into rock pools, there is a whole microcosm of life being played out before me. The sounds and smells of the sea, the brilliant colours and shapes of the stones, shells and shell-fish with tiny fish darting about appeals to all my senses. I was struck one day, looking down, directly into the pool, by the amazing abstract-like quality of the shapes and colours and I have tried to recreate this in my painting.
Arum lilies grow wild in profusion here in the Western Cape during the later part of the winter. I love the winter here in Cape Town and this Arum seems to represent this special time of the year. I mixed up some muted grays and browns, not having any subject in mind, I just played with the paint using large brushes. I am fascinated how the shades of paint mix on the canvas - I wet the canvas with medium and painted into this wet surface. Over the weeks that this painting lived in my studio, an Arum lily poked its head out and then the leaves appeared.
This is my first posting after a long break. I sometimes need to go "into" myself where my thoughts need to be consolidated. I have been trying to analyze how I can sometimes create powerfully emotive images and at other times I feel as if I am in a creative vacuum, unable to paint. I have come to realize that when I am fired up with feeling, I can paint in an emotive way, but when I am bumbling happily along, my muse dries up! The trouble is, who wants to live on an emotional roller-coaster? No wonder some artists turn to drink or drugs! I have been trying to find my own way of accessing my quieter inner self over these last few months.
This is one of the demonstration paintings that I started in my acrylic workshop and then completed in my studio. I had picked a few roses from my garden and placed them in a vase, but this is really painted from my imagination and memory.
The painting surface is a piece of 100% cotton seed-cloth. I cover a board with a thin piece of plastic so that the painting does not stick to the board. I then wrap the cloth around a board and prime it with two coats of gesso and a coat of acrylic medium. I love to work on a hard surface, so I can scratch and scrub into the paint, without worrying about denting the canvas. I sometimes work with liquid paint and this can pool on a stretched canvas. I have now carefully remove it from the board and will have it stretched on a stretcher.
I have quite a few small canvasses stacked away in my studio, I usually find them too small to work on and so they remain in the back of my cupboard. I love to play with watercolour and collage but I dislike having to put the image behind glass. I decided to experiment with watercolour on the blank canvas, wondering if the pigment would just sink into the canvas and dry very pale. I used tissue paper to collage some shapes on which to play and this dancer seemed to appear, she has very fat legs! I left some of the watercolour and painted over some of the areas with acrylic and then sealed the image with a coat of diluted soft gel. I now wish I had worked on a larger canvas, maybe I will use this painting as a spring-board for a larger image.
Recently, I conducted a, "Getting Acquainted with Acrylic" workshop. Most of the participants were oil painters who wanted to try out a different painting medium. The purpose of the workshop was to explore how the paint behaves on the painting surface using a variety of implements, e.g. brushes, knives, cloths, shapers and fingers, using a variety of mixtures of paint, from thin watery washes to sensory mixtures with the feel of soft serve ice-cream. I demonstrated how I customize my paint, adding a little medium and water until it is a lovely creamy consistency. We covered the painting surface with medium and painted directly into this. The medium keeps the surface moist and is ideal for colour mixing on the painting surface.
We created monochromatic landscapes after mixing a variety of values from indigo through to white in small tubs. It was fun to load two big brushes with light and dark paint and move the paint around to create spontaneous shapes. We used a palette knife to scrape into the paint and to mix the thick paint on the surface.
Using white ice-berg roses as our reference, we created lovely organic shapes in our second painting. Thin watery paint was splattered and poured onto the surface and allowed to drip, run and merge.
The shapes of the flowers were then wiped out with a cloth. We played with creating line with a pipette and rubber shapers. Paint was then applied with large brushes, a cloth and our fingers.
I paint mostly intuitively, guided by the principals of visual harmony, initially, in a purely abstract manner dealing only with line, colour and texture. I often start my work devoid of any subject matter, allowing the images to be revealed rather than dictating the direction of the painting. As the painting progresses, it may germinate thoughts, ideas, feelings or dreams which need to be transformed into visual images, using my own alphabet of symbols. The painting may take many transformations, until the work arrives at its destination and is complete.