Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Beginnings

With the coming of a new year, thoughts of new beginnings start bubbling, just under the surface.
I often feel just like these baby doves when contemplating a new pristine canvas. These two babies sat on the edge of their nest in our garden for two days before taking off into the great unknown.

Taking that first step using an intuitive painting process is a bit like taking that same giant leap. I have no idea how my completed painting will look, I just have to begin and get swept along in the process.

Where do you start if you are an intuitive or abstract painter? Where do the ideas come from? Shaun McNiff, in “Trust the Process” describes creation as a process of emanation,

“Nothing will happen unless we start working and allow the practices of our particular discipline to mix with streams of ideas and experiences that are constantly moving through daily life”.

I want to put this sentence up in my studio to remind me that I just have to start painting and something will come of it.

I find that I need to get into a certain frame of mind in order to paint. I have a little ritual of going into my studio and pottering about, sometimes reorganising my paints and brushes, filling up my various water containers and putting on my relaxation music to block out extraneous noise. This type of music tends to put me in a meditative frame of mind. I have a collection of this “New Age” music from my midwifery days, when I ran antenatal classes. I used this music to teach the prospective mums relaxation and visualization techniques.

I like to warm up, painting on something that is already in progress rather than going straight to the blank canvas, so I tend to have a few paintings on the go at various stages of completion. Paint that I am using on one painting is usually used to create those first brush-strokes on the new canvas.

I am really interested to hear what you do to get yourself in a creative frame of mind.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a wonderfully creative 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderfully creative 2009!

Instead of going to those crowded shops in search of gifts, I got out my pots and bowls and melted some chocolate with some cream and butter.


Now, I love chocolate and couldn’t resist popping a piece into my mouth before it all melted.


These are the bowls that I really enjoyed licking and scraping – I was transported back to my childhood, watching my mother baking and waiting to get my finger into the mixing bowl before she whisked it away to be washed.


Here are my some of my chocolate truffles, the size of golf balls – of course, I had to taste a few to see if they were tasty or not!

Wishing you all a wonderful Festive Season!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inspirations!

Don' t you just love the bravery of these window cleaners, abseiling down with their sponges and water! I came across these guys high up in the centre of Cape Town. Imagine the advert in the Job Finder, "Window cleaners required, mountaineering experience an advantage"
Suki has now inspired me to be out with my camera, she has taken so many beautiful photo's of her winter environment.


I love that we can maybe influence each other to try different ways of expressing ourselves. When we paint/write/ dance in isolation, it is so much more difficult to keep on moving and experimenting. We sometimes need to feed off each other to help light that spark.

I have found this blogging experience has really opened my eyes to a whole new experience. I am in contact with innovative artists from all over the globe, who express themselves in their own personal way. Many of these artists are incredibly generous with sharing their own experimental techniques and I love to try out what they describe and maybe incorporate the new-found knowledge into a painting.

Yesterday, my friend, Kathy Hebert posted a painting, “The Fishing Nets”. She is a figurative painter with incredible talent, but decided to paint this abstract painting, having been inspired by me. I feel incredibly honoured and quite overwhelmed to have been an inspiration to you, Kathy! I feel so connected to this work. Kathy is a generous teacher of fledgling artists, she opens the door of creativity and painting to new converts – it must be wonderful to see new artists spread their wings!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Flower Seller

I created this painting using watercolour, inks and collage a while ago and it has been hanging in my bathroom, framed and behind glass. I often look at it and wish there didn't have to be glass; something about the glass just kills it. I love working on paper, starting with watercolour and then adding various other media as I progress, but dislike having to frame the work behind glass.

Ellis Cooke describes in a recent post how she pastes the paper onto canvas and then seals it with medium, oh wow! Thanks Ellis! I am going to try this method with this piece and then progress onto some large works when I get the hang of it.

I just thought I would mention an interesting relationship that has developed between my creativity and physical workouts. I was diagnosed a few years ago with Osteopenia, (the precursor to Osteoporosis) where I have a moderate wasting of bone in my spine. I was advised to do regular weight-bearing exercises to build up muscle which helps maintain healthy bones. I am embarrassed to say I have never been keen on sport or exercise, I’d much rather be painting. I decided to give it a go and after the initial effort to get to a certain level of fitness, I now enjoy my hour-long sessions at the gym every second day. I feel this rush of Endorphins (the feel-good hormones) about half-way through my regime and then I am away in my mind, thinking about my painting and writing. I come up with many creative solutions while lifting weights! I also feel fitter and younger now than I did in my forties and have far more energy to explore my creative projects. My physical and mental well being has been greatly improved by these workouts, so I can highly recommend getting physical.

Mr Mugabe’s information minister is now blaming the UK for introducing Cholera as a genocidal tactic to overthrow the Zimbabwe government and people!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vine Leaves


I added a few more washes and turned my vine painting on its side. I quite like the contrasting effect of watercolour with the oil bars.

An important aspect of intuitive painting is the ability to tap into your subconscious mind, bring information to the surface and be able to use it in a creative way. I have read that dreams are a window to this area of the mind. I have great difficulty remembering my dreams if I don’t try and consciously bring them to the surface as soon as I wake up. Intuitive painting is all about revealing yourself absolutely, honestly, warts and all. This way of working gives you transparency and coming to terms with this gives you incredible freedom. “This is me”, like me or not and these are my paintings which you may like or not.
I great way to tap into the subconscious, is to make a, “Life collage”. A few years ago, while attending Margie Johnson’s watercolour lessons, she had us make this type of collage. She had laid out a pile of magazines, put on a lovely classical piece of music and asked us to spend 10 minutes tearing out images. We had to empty our minds and not think about what we were doing, not showing any preferences for the images. We then took a large piece of paper and had to paste down the torn pieces quickly, without any thoughts of composition or preference. All the collages were put up on the wall and we were asked to really look at our own piece for five minutes and then make a few comments to the group. My collage absolutely astounded me! I had created this without conscious thought. I couldn’t believe how much of myself was revealed there, it was really scary!
Every torn piece of magazine held a huge amount of relevance for me. It is a great resource for ideas for future paintings.
I love these kind of creative exercises! Do any of you have any good ones to share?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Poor Zimbabwe!

I know this is not an art-related posting, but I am feeling desperate for the poor people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe used to be the land of plenty and was called "The bread-basket of Africa". Now they have no clean, drinkable water and the water is now contaminated with the Cholera bacteria. The government has run out of water purification chemicals and much of the capital city of Harare is without running water. They have little electricity and cannot find fuel to boil water, (I think all the trees have been cut down for fuel already). Raw sewerage is running in the streets and food is scarce.
The sick and dying are being taken to hospitals that do not have the resources to help them, these hospitals are lacking in staff and medicines.
The whole infrastructure has collapsed.
This is one of South Africa's neighbours and the government here is doing little to alleviate the situation. The Zimbabwe has collapsed and millions are going to die if something is not done soon. The International Red Cross & Crescent is trying desperately to help these poor people. The amazing group Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors without Borders are trying to do their best in an almost impossible situation. Please go to this site to see what they are doing in Zimbabwe.
These poor people are going to have a very bleak Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lost in Translation

My dear friend, Kim, asked if I ever use photos as a memory aid after a painting session outdoors. I used to do this when I first started Plein Air painting, but found I often mucked the whole thing up in the process! I find that when a painting is in its final stages, it needs me to do the problem-solving thing – I stare at it for ages, from quite a distance and in different lights (dawn light is great) and I allow the painting to speak to me. Ideas of contrasting light and dark, warm and cool, hard and soft edges come to me and I go with them and complete the painting in this way.

I find painting outdoors a most meditative and healing practice. It so fits in with my need to paint intuitively. We find calm and peaceful locations, where all the worries and anxieties of the world seem to slip away for a few hours. There is a feeling, an atmosphere about a real location that is “Lost in translation” when using a photograph. I just breathe in the visual, auditory and sensory stimuli of the location and then I am thrown into the process, trying to visualize that feeling on the canvas or paper. Since I made the transition from rendering a purely figurative image to allowing the senses free expression, I feel this amazing sense of freedom.

Kim asked about dust and dirt adhering to the canvas, when acrylics outdoors. I quite enjoy texture and so am quite happy to add a bit of sand and grass to the mix! It gives the painting a sense of authenticity, a little bit of the location forever locked into the painting! You have to wait to do those lovely clear glazes back in your studio, Kim!

On Monday, I sat under a canopy of vine leaves swaying in the breeze, with the light shining through the leaves, making them translucent. I left with an unfinished watercolour, due to the antics of the baboons. In my studio, I decided to try out some of my newly acquired oil bars on the painting, thinking it is such fun just to experiment and see what happens. The contrast between the watercolour and oil bar is intense, highlighting the transparency of the watercolour. I might continue and add another wash to the piece.



Our dear friend Suki recently lost her mother and I would like her to know that even though some of us live very far away, we are thinking about her and are there for her on the www.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Plein Air Admirers


More interested bystanders at our Plein Air group on Monday!




















The baboon found a good vantage point on the wall lamp behind Gerda and once Doreen is immersed in her composition, nothing much will disturb her!













So we decided to do a spot of "Life drawing", African style but the models were not very good at keeping still for any length of time!

Our sandwiches at lunch time started a flurry of interest, so we retreated into the kitchen to eat in peace.......



I took my watercolours with me and had a great time abstracting the essence of the leaves on the vine growing over the veranda. I was unable to complete it, due to the above visitors. I will work on it today, using my memory and imagination.

Those of you who will be wondering at our apparent lack of concern for our safety .... our hostess, June, says these baboons are frequent visitors only on the lookout for food. A couple of days ago, she found a large male in her kitchen, he calmly opened the freezer, pulled out a drawer and took a loaf of frozen bread and some chicken. She flicked at him with a towel to get him out, he calmly turned round and ambled out onto the veranda. He took a frozen slice of bread out of the packet, patting it and blowing on it before popping it into his mouth!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Painting at the Yacht Club

On Monday we painted at the local yacht club, I am trying to simplify, abstract and reduce to the essence of the subject. This is my attempt using oil paints.

I had quite a scary experience and I wonder if anybody else has had this experience:- some of my friends are using Liquin, a fast-drying medium with their oils. I used it once before when painting in my studio and I had a horrific headache after a few hours of painting. I was not sure then that the headache was due to the Liquin.
This time, I thought I would be okay out in the open, but of course I had to pack it all in my car to get home and the smell was very strong. After an hour or so my head started pounding and I became very nauseous, well it got worse and I felt really horrible. This went on for 18 hours! I phone my artist/doctor friend who said that these solvents can be incredibly toxic and I probably have an efficient body that raises the alarm when exposed to toxic products. I still feel woolly headed even after 4 days!
I don’t get any adverse reactions my acrylic paints so I think I am going to stick to using them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Premio Dardos Award

My dear blogger friend, Kim has sent me this award, I feel truly honoured!

This award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing and art work ...that's the general idea. I am truly honored to receive it. Thank you millions Kim.
The rules of this award are as follows:
*Show the image of the award on your blog.
*Link back to the blog that gave the award.
*Nominate 15 other blogs that you consider deserving the same. (What? 15?)
*Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve selected.
So here is my list of nominations:
Babs
Carol
Carolann
Charlie
Diane
Kathy
Lynette
Liz
Mineke
Sharon
Suki
Suzanne
Sylvia
Some of you may already have this award, isn't great that you are being nominated more than once!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Painting at Oude Molen

Plein Air painters are often a fascination, attracting interested visitors with many questions and well-meaning advice! This four-legged nosy-parker fairly startled my friend, Lyn Northam while sketching at the Oude Molen farm near Pinelands in Cape Town.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weaver Birds at Die Oog


Just thought I would share this photo with you. Recently, my painting group visited a tiny nature reserve in the heart of Cape Town’s suburbia, called “Die Oog”, (The Eye). This tiny patch of wetland is preserved by the local residents and has become home to many species of birds. It is almost too beautiful to paint!
I was watching a few Weaver birds building their nests in a Willow tree, over the water. These little birds were so industrious, coming back and forth with bits of foliage in their beaks, sewing the bits into their beautifully created homes. I caught these two neighbours stopping for a break and chat. I do wonder what they were saying to each other, the conversation was very animated.
These birds build apartment-like nests, often 100 to 300 in a single tree, often over water for protection. The male builds the nest and tries to entice the female with his wonderfull building skills.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Legacy

I few years ago, I attended two workshops conducted by a well-known South African artist, Judith Mason. Our project for the second workshop was to create an oil painting, called legacy. Our painting had to show something about our lives at the time, so that our grandchildren may in years to come, have a glimpse into the year 2004.
Initially I placed a large tree with huge roots predominantly in the painting. My newly deceased dog also was centrally placed, with images of my significant others being reflected in shards of a broken mirror. This painting is about the changes that occurred in my life at the time of the workshop. Both my children decided to live permanently in the UK, my lovable, faithful dog died and we moved out of our large family home into something more suitable for two people. On the fourth day of the workshop, I became so choked up with emotion, I couldn’t complete the painting. Looking back, I was not used to painting such emotive subjects; I painted boring landscapes and still life’s that were devoid of any special meaning to me. I wanted to destroy the painting, but couldn’t throw away the images of my loved ones so I merely cut that part of the painting from the stretcher and kept the piece of canvas in the cupboard of my studio.
Recently, I have taken a more intuitive and personal approach to my painting. I retrieved what was left of the painting and decided to complete it. I moved the image of my dog to the right side with him looking over us as he always did. I painted a self-portrait in the centre shard, since this painting is really about me; and painted an image of our family home over the roots of the existing tree. The sky above the house turns from sunny to menacing, shards of a broken mirror fall to the left of me, completing the circular composition. It is strange to try and remember how I felt at that time and how my life is so different now. It has been extremely therapeutic completing this painting!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I have been Tagged!

I have just been tagged by Kim!
This is a really fun way to get to know your blogger friends! The rules of this great game are:-
1. Put a link in your posting to the person who tagged you.
2. List seven (7) unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag seven (7) other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know.

Have a look on Kim's site to see her seven unusual things!

Here are my seven things about myself:-
1. I went to school in three different countries by the time I was nine.
2. I am hyper-sensitive!
3. I was a chorus-girl! I met my husband on the stage, he was my partner in the operetta, Pirates of Penzance.
4. I have brought about 80 babies into this world! I bet I had you worried there for a minute – I was a Midwife/Registered Nurse.
5. I drove a mobile clinic around the dusty farmlands of the Eastern Cape, three of us being the only health care the farm workers had easy access to.
6. I am an army Mum; my son is in the British army and is serving in Afghanistan at the moment.
7. I spent 8 months in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates last year, while my husband was consulting to a Sheikh.
The seven (7) bloggers that I am tagging are:-
Suzanne
Diane
Liz
Kathy
Sharon
Carolann
Mineke



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Painting Sold!

Let the Winds of the Heavens Dance between You

I am so thrilled! I sold my Kahlil Gibran painting at the Kirstenbosch exhibition to a lady from Finland! This was one of the paintings that was rejected at a recent selection day - I have dabbed on it since, I added a shawl on the woman's shoulder, which makes a strong triangular shape and played down the face of her partner. I had varnished the painting and had to go out and buy a varnish remover so I could make some changes!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Exhibition at Kirstenbosch

I am participating in a group exhibition at a gallery in our National Botanical Gardens. The thatched exhibition hall is well lit and can fit about 220 paintings.
This photo is a view of the gallery with the back of Table Mountain behind.
We spent the whole of Friday hanging the paintings, each artist gets a space where he/she hangs their own paintings and then we hang a mixture of everyone’s work in the front veranda of the hall. There is always a wonderful buzz and a sense of expectation on the hanging day. The artists all come out of the woodwork and we have quite a social day together.


At midday on Saturday, we held an Opening party, with a good deal of food and drink. My family and friends are great supporters of mine and always enjoy the day. My anxiety levels were sky-high before the Opening, when will I ever get used to this? I think it relates to my putting up new experimental work. I have moved away from painting what might sell, I now try to paint just for myself. When you hang paintings up for a public viewing, you can’t help but wonder what people are going to think, you are bareing your very soul. My poor elderly parents look quite bemused at what I am producing, they think I have a screw loose! My work looked very different from all the other paintings; I am used to blending in and being one of the crowd. They kind of stand out; this is incredibly scary, a bit like running around in your underwear in public!


Me with my 80-year-old Dad at the opening!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creativity and Self-discipline

You must be wondering how I can link the above two concepts? I have found that if I am to live my life creatively, I have to have some sort of self-discipline. In order to work on my creative projects every day, I have to organise my time and show up in the studio, even if I am not feeling particularly creative.
Although I love painting with a passion, I can be very easily distracted, since having no immediate boss to take note of how much time I spend at the coal-face, a million other things can come between me and my work.
I need to plan my day carefully if I am to get a good bit of painting done. The other distractions come from phone-calls with friends and a husband who also works from home and is a great one for taking a break and having chats over regular cups of tea.

Below are two interesting quotes:-

“Self-discipline without talent can often achieve astounding results, whereas talent without self-discipline inevitably dooms itself to failure”.
Sydney Harris (newspaper columnist)

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance combined with self criticism have brought me my ideas”.
Albert Einstein

I am participating in an exhibition at Kirstenbosch, our National Botanical Gardens, from Saturday for a week, so wish me luck!
Due to the current economic climate, I am not sure if the sales will be any good. A painting is a luxury purchase and everyone is being careful in these uncertain times.

I have a lovely new concept for my art journal, I now print out all the wonderful comments left on my blog and paste them in my journal next to the relevant entry.

Monday, November 3, 2008




"Dance with Passion" Acrylic 122 x 45cm

I have been working on this painting, along with a few others for a few months now, I think it is resolved and finally complete. I keep changing its view point, on its side, it makes quite a gentle forest scene!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping an Art Journal

Keeping an art journal is an essential tool in the process of intuitive painting. Thoughts and ideas have to be written down before they get lost in the brain-chatter of a normal day.
I have kept an art journal, on and off for 15 years. The desire to archive comes from a problem with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and a very poor short-term memory. It distresses me to find memories fading into the maelstrom of everyday life and the relentless march of time.
My journal contains photos of my paintings, dates, sometimes a description of the process and buyers’ details. I write quotes from books that inspire me and words of wisdom from mentors and art teachers. Notes from workshops and lessons are included along with relevant photos so as not to forget the techniques demonstrated. I have included all the invitations and brochures where my work has been exhibited and those of all the wonderful exhibitions I have visited. I also write in my thoughts regarding my art process and how I feel about certain aspects of art-making.
When I started writing my journal, my words were extremely wooden and impersonal; I was terrified of revealing myself in case somebody accessed it! My typical British upbringing made me very guarded and private. I am hypersensitive and was afraid if I revealed anything of myself; I would invite scorn and ridicule. I have never considered myself a good writer and am hopeless at spelling (I love spell-check!).
Just writing this now makes me want to laugh; how can you be an exhibiting artist and be frightened to reveal something of yourself? With practice, I started writing from the heart and was quite amazed at what appeared on the pages! By journaling, I have revealed who I am to myself, “This is me!” Self-knowledge is incredibly empowering.
By writing about my painting, I have been able to see how to proceed. The journey that a painter sets out on, can take many twists and turns, decisions to follow a particular route sometimes takes guts and determination. In order to continue to develop and expand, one has to experiment, take risks and learn to listen to that inner intuitive voice. A good thing about ADD is one gets bored with repetition and excited with experimentation. Apparently Leonardo da Vinci exhibited ADD tendencies, with many projects on the go and never quite finishing things!
The writing of this blog is now a new extension of my journal. It is definitely not a private space, rather a place for the sharing of ideas. I so appreciate the wonderful comments artists take the time to write and love visiting their blogs to see their space.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reality to Abstraction

I have been quite frustrated with my “Plein Air” attempts lately. I would like to be able to abstract what I see and am finding this very difficult. I have been painting what I see for many years now and my realistic paintings just don’t excite me, they are very ordinary and repetitive. They don’t say much about anything, they are just a faithful recording of what is in my line of vision.
I decided to change my medium and take my oil paints with me. I left all my small brushes at home, I only took 1 inch and larger (wall brushes) and a few palette knives. If I have small brushes with me, I start to fiddle and put in all the details. I also decided to work with a limited palette. I had a go at painting those Stone Pine trees again. I seemed to get in an abstract mode when I started playing with the paint and experimenting with texture. I don’t think this is really “Plein Air” painting, since I merely breathed in the idea of the trees and then allowed the paint and canvas to take over; still, it is wonderful to be out in the fresh air with my painting buddies. We share a very special kind of friendship and are very supportive and encouraging of each other.
This is an attempt at abstracting from reality, it is still quite realistic but I definitely felt a shift away from complete realism. I am so often seduced into producing a “chocolate box” image when faced with Cape Town’s wonderful scenery!



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Painting in Progress

It is so hard to get back into painting after a trip away; there are always so many mundane tasks to get out of the way before I can loose myself again in the painting process. I feel a keen sense of loss not having painted for three weeks, it’s a bit like an addiction or an obsession, I have withdrawal symptoms!

I thought I should put down a few words regarding my painting process. I am allowing this painting to evolve, trying not to control its destination. The larger format of 122 x 88cm is a challenge. Scruffy old 3.5cm wall brushes have been used to apply the acrylic paint, creating interesting brush-strokes. With the canvas flat on the floor while applying the paint, I can doodle, splatter and dribble to my hearts content. I usually put on music and end up dancing and swaying around the canvas, feeling a bit like a witch attending her cauldron! Sometimes the canvas becomes very wet if water is sprayed into the mix and a huge amount of patience is required to allow the painting to dry flat without fiddling with it. I love the interesting patterns that emerge during the drying process.
I like to work on three or four paintings at a time, experimenting on one and repeating the experiment on another. I am now trying to keep the images mostly abstract.
Somehow I am seduced by my logical mind into finding figurative images too soon in the process. I think it is my mind’s way of taking control again and I am now aware of this. I have to try to leave my, “Left brain” at the studio door.
The only problem with this method of painting is that a huge amount of space is required. I am now outgrowing my little appropriated studio (3rd bedroom), I need a room the size of a church hall with added veranda for drying paintings!
I am so enjoying finding like-minded artists on the web. Diane McGregor expresses the intuitive painting concept beautifully in her words and paintings. See http://www.dianemcgregor.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 29, 2008

Visit to UK

After a lightening visit to Yorkshire, London and Dubai, I am home again. Our new little granddaughter is all "peaches and cream", I adore her after spending only four days with her. This is a whole new dimension, a whole new era!

Our three days in London were packed with gallery visits, theatre, catching up with friends and a visit to Waterstones in Piccadilly for new art books.

We have a much-loved experience that epitomises London for us, we have our morning coffee listening to the classical buskers at Covent Garden. Musicians play a variety of classical pieces, hoping for support in the way of a few coins in the strategically placed hat.
I visited an exhibition, "Poetry and Dreams" at the Tate Modern, featuring works of Picasso, Kandinsky, Bacon and various Surrealists. An installation, "30 Pieces of Silver" really moved me at a visceral level. The artist had collected hundreds of pieces of silverware from markets and carboot sales. She had the pieces flattened by a steam-roller and then suspended in 30 circular arrangements 50cm above the floor. The title relates to Judas Iscariot. While observing the flattened knives, forks, trays and goblets, I had the most overwhelming sense of poignancy - here was a collection of personal treasures, these pieces once took pride of place in peoples' homes, they reeked of history. The pieces emanated a sense of loss and terrible sadness. Wow! This is art. This work had the power to really move me!
I stood looking at a Francis Bacon painting, trying to make sense of it. His faces seem to emit a sense of anxiety, fear and violence. The disturbance felt in my gut is fascinating! Next to his painting, I read, "His visceral figures inhabit a climate of uncertainty and anxiety, (and then quotes Bacon) "as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence and memory trace of past events".
This quote was so relevant to a conversation that I had had with my husband that morning, we had walked past the bronze statue of Winston Churchill sitting on a bench with Dwight Eisenhower on New Bond Street. Our children had sat on the bench in the space between the figures 20 years ago. We had mused at the possibility of leaving something of our essence, DNA or soul as we inhabit a space, a tiny piece of ourselves remains somehow? Bacon actually painted his figures with this concept in mind.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Brushspace.com, a site for artists

I am having such fun with a new artists' site, www.brushspace.com. Each artist is given a profile page where their art works and links to blogs and websites can be displayed. The artists then connect with each other by becoming a "follower" of the artists with work that they admire. Artists with the most followers are then featured on the home page in the top 100 list.
The site is growing every day and has about 900 members today from all over the world. I have found the standard of the work truely amazing.
Artists so often work in isolation. Comments are made regarding your paintings, here is a great vehicle for sharing your work and your opinions. I value the comments that other members take the time to write. The site offers messaging facilities that are public and private.
When I joined a few weeks ago, the site had a few glitches. I wrote to the site manager and was pleasantly surprised at his prompt replies and action. Thanks James for a great site!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Post Selection Day

The Selection Day was grueling! No, the Judges didn't like my style of painting, so none of them were selected! I have thought long and hard about it all.
Considering how long the judges took to agree on the winning paintings indicated that they couldn't agree on what constituted a good painting - their choice was purely subjective. What I am doing is still in the experimental stage and probably has still got quite a distance to go, but it feels right for me, so I will carry on and not feel daunted by the likes and dislikes of others.
I observed that many of the paintings that appealed to me were marked with low points, so who knows?
I look at the paintings I submitted and I really like them, they are a true expression and come from within. This kind of work will not appeal generally and I have to accept that and not be side-swiped into a different direction.
The great thing is, I have not been crushed emotionally, and I’m feeling strong and know the path I am on is right for me. An artist friend of mine said that when this happened to her, she went home and cut up her paintings in response to the rejection. I have known other good artists that have given up painting after being exposed to crushing criticism. The positive spin on this is I have definitely made a great step in emotional maturity!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Selection Day!!

What is it about art competitions that make me want to crawl into my shell like a snail? The selection day for the Annual Exhibition of the South African Society of Artists is coming up on Saturday. Art competitions get me into a bit of a panic, the thought of exposing my work for critical scrutiny makes me very nervous.

The Society invites three external judges who select paintings for the exhibition and choose prize winners in the various categories. A massive number of paintings are entered so I will be really lucky to get all three paintings selected. A few years ago, all three of my paintings were rejected. If felt as if a knife had been driven into my guts and turned slowly. I was horrified that I had allowed myself to be exposed emotionally. I was depressed for months after and didn’t enter paintings for another three years.

Somehow we artists need to learn to deal with negative criticism of our work, we have to toughen up and not take it so incredibly personally. I am hypersensitive and I think that hypersensitivity is an essential quality of my personality that I tap into as a painter; it acts as my, “Super-awareness” radar. A while ago, during a bad patch of depression, I was put on anti-depressive therapy for a few months. A curious thing happened; the therapy reduced my levels of sensitivity and I was unable to motivate myself to paint. I could stand at my canvas and paint in a purely technical way, but was unable to feel the drive and passion that normally gets me painting so I stopped painting until I stopped swallowing those mind-altering substances. So I have decided I need my hypersensitivity, warts and all, it is part of who I am.

So Saturday is “D” day and I am a glutton for punishment! I have been asked to assist with the process, (each painting is brought before the judges rather than have them viewed as they are stacked around the hall), and so I will be present when my paintings are given points. I will keep telling myself, “Breathe deeply and slowly, this is not the end of the world, just learn to deal with it”.

On the home front, I am so excited, my daughter has just given birth to a little girl! I have a granddaughter! They live in Leeds, England and so will be flying there in 11 days time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Let the winds of the heavens dance between you


This painting has taken many twists and turns and again the theme of dance has emerged. The title of the painting is a line from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, where he talks about marriage, below is an excerpt:-
"But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love,
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from the one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why do I paint?

I have always been fascinated with how my creative pursuits have lifted me psychologically out of the mundane humdrum of daily existence. I feel alive, sometime ecstatic when occupied in the process of some creative project. I paint with a passion, I am truly happy when I have five paintings on the go, to think about when I am driving and dream about in the half-awake hours of the early morning. Only when painting am I truly in the present and focused on the task at hand. Time seems to speed up, stand still and then slip away; painting is a form of meditation. For me, painting is my medium for expressing my deepest thoughts, emotions and ideas.

My hands have always been busy; I spent a few years creating wall hangings and children’s toys from pieces of fabric and other found items. I had an eternal longing to paint but needed to learn the technical aspects of applying paint to the canvas. Various artists have been so generous with sharing their knowledge. Initially my paintings were very ordinary still lives, landscapes and figures. I desperately wanted to learn how to express myself in an individual way and I wanted my paintings to say something about who I am and how I feel.

I felt very fortunate to be amongst the group of artists that participated in the workshops conducted by Judith Mason. I was insecure and out of my depth at the time, but have come to realise how much my way of painting has progressed since these workshops. Judith opened up a door for me and I walked through.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Painting in Stormy Weather, Cape Town

On Monday our Plein Air group braved the freezing cold weather to paint on Rondebosch Common looking towards Table Mountain. Instead of a mountain we were faced with voluminous, heavy clouds swirling around us, we were standing in the full force of the north-westerly wind. Only the die-hards were there, this type of Plein Air painting is not for the feint-hearted!
Cape Town was formally called, "The Cape of Storms" in years gone by before the harbour was built. Ships avoided stopping in the bay during the winter for fear of running aground, (a frequent occurrence) on Milnerton Beach during the fearsome weather.

Various paintings gathered extra texture as they blew off easels onto the ground. Wow! The amazing atmospheric conditions conjured up wild thoughts and ideas. How was I going to portray this powerful force with my watercolour paints and a small pad of paper? Oh well! I painted the Stone Pine trees swaying against a bit of mountain and cloud and can perhaps use this to create a larger storm painting in my studio.



Monday, July 14, 2008

Plein Air Painting


Cape Town has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is a "Plein Air" painting paradise. The city is situated on a mountainous peninsula, with a multitude of beaches, harbours and wild rocky seascapes just crying out to be painted.

I go out into the countryside every Monday with a painting group, "The Plein Air Painters of the Cape". I usually take my watercolours in the hope of catching the fleeting impressions created by the ever-changing light. It is important to charge my memory banks by drawing and painting from life on a regular basis. I can then use these stored images when painting from my imagination.

Today we painted on the banks of the Liesbeck River, enjoying the winter sunshine as it filtered through the trees. The river flows from the craggy rocks of Table Mountain and is full after the heavy winter rain of last week. The water is an orangy-brown, brackish, straight from the mountain.



Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Process of Painting "Synthesis of Knowledge"



Layering the paint and playing with shapes, my initial painting seemed to take me into a rocky landscape. Feeling the need for a bit of drama, I painted the sky a deep, dark, inky blue and then pulled some of the colour into the rock formations.
I rotated the painting and a whole new image, a self portrait, was revealed. The orange across my forehead relates to an increasing creative and personal illumination. The torch represents the power of visualization. The painting is divided, the smaller left side depicts the nebulous future, the right side the past. Faces of my inspirational art teachers hover behind.
This is a break-through painting and it conveys a strong message for me – it is time to release myself from the control of my art mentors and set out on my own individual path.





Friday, July 4, 2008

Genetic Connections


Price: ZAR 5,000
Dimensions: 92 x 61cm
Medium: Acrylic

My daughter is expecting her first baby and had to go through various tests regarding possible complications. Happily the baby is fine. This painting expresses the concept of information being passed from generation to generation to the newly-formed embryo.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My husband and I spent eight months in Sharjah, The United Arab Emirates last year. I thoroughly enjoyed living in a different culture, meeting people who lived their lives in a way so very foreign to me. I was fascinated talking to women who were one of four wives, we had many questions for each other! As an artist, I struggled to find suitable subjects to paint, high-rise buildings sprung up like mushrooms on the flat desert sand, so close together, they blocked out the light. Almost nothing growing, just the odd palm tree encrusted with sand grew limply in the 44 degrees and 95% humidity. Frequent dust storms and humidity obliterated the sky for weeks. I felt trapped in air-conditioned rooms where a sensory deprivation set in - no music, nothing visually inspiring and nothing to smell or hear. I realised that I need to have a connection with what I am painting; because everything was so strange and alien to me, I couldn't find a subject to paint. I have painted in an abstract manner before, but I did not understand really what I was doing.

I started painting in a purely intuitive manner. I had no external inspiration and so was forced to look within myself for some sort of subject matter. I lay the outstretched canvas on the floor, squeezed out some acrylic paint and just played around with it on the canvas. My spirits were lifted just by splattering on the paint and moving it around in a sensory manner. The strange thing is, I didn't really believe that what I was doing was valid in any way. I wasn't painting with an end in sight, somehow it didn't matter, I was simply diverting my mind by doing something that I love. I continued to work on two pieces over the next few weeks and I would spend time just gazing at the paintings and images would appear. As I progressed, images would come and go - this process amazed and delighted me. I began to wonder if others would be able to respond in some way to my "doodling". The paintings, "Meditation" and "The Dance" are the two works completed in Sharjah. They have sent me on a new and exciting journey.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Synthesis
















Price: ZAR 4,200
Dimensions: 50,5 x 58,5cm
Medium: Acrylic

The Dance
















SOLD
Dimensions: 45 x 122cm
Medium: Acrylic

The Red Leotard
















SOLD
Dimensions: 80 x 100cm
Medium: Acrylic

Meditation

















Price: ZAR 5000 SOLD
Dimensions: 70 x 100cm
Medium: Acrylic