Slap it on

Here’s my latest bit of ‘art’. To be honest, I really enjoyed doing the drawing but then didn’t really have a plan of what to do with it. It was ok as a drawing, but just a picture of a naked blokey in the middle of a white page, so not terribly inspiring (though one or two of the ladies in the art group did comment on his nice bum – what can I say…they’re getting on a bit, don’t get to see that sort of thing very often!) Anyhoo… the other morning I was in a slap-it-on mood, so went for the acrylics and an old credit card and hey presto… a piece of art… well sort of.  It’s definitely under the right heading of ‘is it art?’ I actually quite like it. What do you think? Be nice… I’m a bit self-conscious about me paintin’!

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Colour bombing

Still no writing to share (bloomin’ Masters course) instead, to keep you amused, I thought I’d share another of my painting exploits with you.  As you may already know I have a love/hate relationship with my arty efforts. Lets just say it doesn’t come all that naturally to me. But hey ho, keep on trying eh?

A couple of weeks ago we had a splendid workshop session at our art group (Click here to find out more about the group) which introduced me to the wonders of ‘Brusho’. Of course, I’ve seen it advertised, but never really understood what the product was. Well, it turns out it is powdered pigment which you can sprinkle on to wet paper to produce some fireworky effects. Sprinkling it onto dry paper then spraying with water also produces some lovely rainbow colours. This is because colours such as leaf green, or grey, are made up of different pigments which are separate in the pots but merge on the paper. It was great fun and I was pleased with the result too (for a change!) What do you think of ‘Lunch in the Jungle’? The background is brusho and the birds and details pen and coloured pencil. Oh, and for any pedants out there… these are my Kingfishers and they do live in the jungle, ok!! 😉

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Master of None

Well, hello!  You may (or more likely, may not) have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around this blog for a while, since November in fact.  My apologies.  Life seems to have got in the way quite a bit lately.

‘Why, what have you been up to?’ you may ask.

Really there is a variety of reasons, however probably the main factor is that I have rather rashly, begun a Masters degree in Creative Writing with the Open University.  Not only does this, unexpectedly, take up a disproportionate amount of my time, but also, I’m not allowed to use for the course anything I write once it’s been published, even if that ‘publishing’ is only on this wee little blog.

Now, my writing being a bit hit and miss, I can’t afford to use any of my poems or short stories just in case they turn out to be the best I can manage and I want to submit them for assessment at some point.  This leaves potential content for this site a somewhat dry area.

Nonetheless, I’m quite enjoying the course and learning a lot, even though I’m finding it pretty challenging.  The content is all on-line and you are expected to contribute to the forums regularly, thus meeting some like-minded, like-baffled peers, which has been fun.

Whilst the course is keeping me busy, I’m still trotting off to the art group every Friday.  I’m not sure there is a lot of improvement in my artworks, but painting alongside such jolly and talented friends is always relaxing.  This week we were all doing our own thing, and producing this little flight of fancy in watercolour and pen work kept me quiet all morning! :

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The artist in me

IMG_1738As you may have noticed from previous posts, I am a member of an art group. To be honest, I find it a bit of a paradox.  Generally it seems, that just from the fact I am a member of an art group, people assume I am some sort of artist.  I can assure you this is not the case.

I joined the group a couple of years ago, as a ‘something we could do together’ thing with my husband.  I’d never really painted before, but knew I could draw a bit, so thought I’d give it a go.  My husband had painted in the past but not for a while and was happy to take up his brushes again.  I was in for a bit of a shock.  Shocked at how talented my husband is, and shocked at how cack-handed I am.

Oh, I’ve always been cack-handed and clumsy.  Can’t throw or catch, and my hand writing is, frankly, an embarrassment, but somehow I thought even I could create something wonderful by slopping a bit of paint onto some paper. It might not be Rembrandt but it would be my own.

Since the very first session, I have been nothing other than frustrated with the whole caboodle.  I have ideas, loads and loads of ideas, and I pick up my brush enthusiastically, only to find those perfect, exciting, unique pictures in my head, come out as a muddy mish mash when applied to paper.  I’ve tried watercolours, acrylics, pastels… all with pretty much the same outcome, though my pencil work is marginally better, and I quite enjoy creating collages even though they’re messy and again, not quite what I intended.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the art group, the company is wonderful, and everyone has their own talents, and sometimes, mishaps.  However, despite their encouragement, I still feel embarrassingly bottom of the class, and wish to hell I could manage to just translate my imaginings on to paper successfully, just now and again while I’m there.

I try to be philosophical about it, honest I do, and am generally able to make a joke of it when I’m at the group, however, at home, I feel monstrously angry at myself and my ineptitude. It must be the paper/brushes/paint I think, and end up buying tons of equipment in the futile hope that it will miraculously make me better.  I watch endless youtube videos to learn about techniques, and pour over books that promise to give me new insights into where it’s all going wrong.   Not a single thing seems to help.

Is it worth throwing the towel in?  Giving it up as a bad job? Going off to sulk and sob in a corner to tell myself that I should have known better than to try?  Burn all that expensive equipment?   No.

NO!!!

You see, I’ve also been watching the painting challenge currently on the BBC.  The people taking part are amateur artists who clearly think they are good enough to enter the competition.  While I still think all of them, to a man/woman, are far more talented than I (those in glass houses etc..) they are having some real disasters and seem to make many of the same mistakes as I do.  Of course, the work they do, in private, at home, in their own style, looks far more interesting and accomplished than any they try to do whilst ‘on’t telly’ and under pressure. The styles they are expected to replicate for the judges are often decidedly outside of their comfort zone, so appreciably more.. um, duff.

It has led me to ask the question of whether or not you have to be able to paint anything, in any medium or style, to be considered an artist.  I think not.  This is as true for people on the X factor trying to sing in an alien genre, or a ballet dancer trying out ballroom.  We can all have a bash at something but we will always be better at doing the thing we naturally lean towards.  Although Picasso did some admirable work in other styles, we generally think of his cubist pieces when we think of him.  Turner and his seascapes, Constable and his green and pleasant lands, Manet and his dancers, most of the brilliant artists I can think of have a particular style or subject that they are particularly known for.   That’s not to say they were one trick ponies, but those are the paintings that we all know and love them for, and the ones they seem to have produced the most of (I may be wrong here, I’ve not done much (any) research on this – just thinking out loud).

So basically, I guess the trick is that I really should appreciate and keep working on the things I have slightly more of a flair for, whilst striving to improve without embarrassment or losing my temper those things which I find elusive.  It’s a hard ask.  But I won’t give up just yet. I’ll keep telling myself that I’ll never get better if I don’t keep trying. So, I’ll carry on slopping on the paint in between doodling and sketching, and one day I’ll create that damn masterpiece.

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What I consider to be one of my slightly more successful pieces, done in my own time and style, in watercolour.

Getting Sticky

Well, in my pursuit of creating something arty, I have taken to sticking things.  Yes, collage.  I make an horrendous mess, with bits of paper, tissue and glue covering every surface, including myself, but I have to say I am quite pleased with the results.

The first one, ‘The New Forests’ was inspired by an item on the news that made me so angry and upset that I didn’t know what to do with the emotion.  They’d used a drone to film the extent of the camps in Bangladesh that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugee people have been reduced to living in.  They showed the camps sprawling across an area bigger than Manchester or Glasgow.  The people, men, women and children, in those camps have little clean water, food, health care, in fact, none of the things we take for granted on an every day basis. It made me consider (not for the first time, I hasten to add) the quite appalling inequalities suffered by people around the world, and creating the collage became quite cathartic for me.  In fact, I got so much out of it (never mind the result!) when finished, I immediately started on the second, ‘Elusive Eden’.

This piece was inspired by poetry, and as with the first one, I decided to use relevant text within it – in this case excerpts from ‘I know why the cage bird sings’ by Maya Angelou, ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost, and ‘The Road not Taken’ also by Frost. The result was somewhat cheerier than I imagined, and the poems have all but disappeared, but nonetheless, I quite like it, and whilst I doubt anyone looking at it would immediately grasp its representational meaning as I intended, at least it’s colourful!

The third piece, is frankly, just a flight of fancy.  Using tissue paper, which proved much trickier, and generally messier than I could ever have imagined.  Lots of fun though!

The New Forests

The New Forests

Elusive Eden 1

Elusive Eden

By the River

By the River

 

Art Group

I was recently asked if I would be able to write a poem about our Art Group (visit the Sutton Art Group website to see what we get up to there). Up for a challenge, I came up with this one, which they were so pleased with they asked me to read it at the opening ceremony of our 20th Annual Exhibition last Saturday, so I thought I’d share it with you too.

The Art Group

Outside, the windows are awash,
Wet on wet this watercolour morning.
The messy collage of a weary world
continues out there, but inside, inside…

Inside is a cacophony of colour
spilling across the tables,
blending with pastel chuckles
and bright acrylic laughter.

The broad brushstrokes of practice
sit comfortably alongside
the detail of accomplishment,
each hand working, creating,

whilst quietly
the paper absorbs the memories
these friends trace together
each Friday morning.