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, a site for artists

I am having such fun with a new artists' site, 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".