Saturday, July 20, 2013

Good Advice

A few days ago I sent an email to one of my favorite artists who lives over in Washington. She has never met me or spoken to me before. I asked if she would share the techniques she uses because I adore her work.

As I expected, she didn't reveal any of her secrets but gave me something far more important . She gave me some advice. Unknown to her, the advice she gave mirrored my life as a working artist, and was the advice I give to all my students, but I wasn't ever sure if it was Kosher as I have never studied art formally and I make loads of mistakes! I have often felt like an imposter in the art world and wanted to give up but those experiments and failures are what got me to where I am now. After 5 years of showing up daily to the studio, I am still trying to find my own voice. I still keep learning new techniques and every new painting is quite different to the last and, I love transforming an old painting into something new so there is very little consistency to my work. I'm more like a chef in the kitchen than an artist in studio and I rarely use a recipe, instead I continually ask myself the question, what if....?

Well it was so comforting to know my process is normal and there is a lot of hope for me if I 'keep on keeping on' the way I am going....I will one day (probably in 10 years time) have my voice in the art world and it will be unique and when asked how, I too will pass on this wonderful message.
Thank you to this fellow artist who responded with the following words and a couple of helpful web sites for me to research.

"I am a self taught artist and think of myself more like a mad scientist in my studio - I'm curious about so many things and just try, try, try different things - I make huge mistakes in the process and those are my best friends because they have taught me so much. Any technique I have obtained is a result of showing up every day and working. I've been at this for over 20 years and just in the past couple of years do I feel I've found my voice through my art. I'm a strong believer in paying attention to my own curiosisty and satisfying that instead of what is going on in the latest class or book. If I could give you any advise it would be to just work everyday and pay attention to what the work is telling you. Embrace mistakes, and just keep at it. "

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sophie Cape, Jean Myers, Janine Mackintosh

I have observed and learn't from many different artists from all over the world via the Internet, books and videos. My art represents this important time of exploration with colour and acrylic mediums.

I feel their is a change happening in my art journey, like a change of gear, maybe a maturing. At the moment I feel lost at sea but from past experience, I know I am unsettled for a reason and my energy and direction will soon return. Thinking and writing always helps me get to the heart of the problem. I'm feeling the need to clear everything out of my studio, all the dead wood so that I only have at my fingertips the materials I want. To know what I want, I first need to decide what kind of art I am going to create over the next 12 months. 

 I have chosen the three artists named in my title, whose work has deeply moved me. I'm going to try and understand exactly what emotions were evoked within me when I viewed their work and why. I'm also going to take note what the common thread might be in all three artists work. Also what colours and materials are resonating with my spirit at this time.

Below are a few examples of their artworks. I will be studying closely, finding out what materials are used and then copying to the best of my ability in the hope that my own way with the materials will emerge.

Step 1. I know I will be working with neutral colours and I'm excited about that. I will put all my other colours away in a box
Step 2.  I know I will be working with encaustic materials so I will need to set up a place to melt the wax and source a wax supplier
Step 3.  I will need to find out where I can get small wood panels or make them myself.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Follow your Passion

 This morning, I asked my partner how he used to cope in the music business (he was a jazz drummer) when he would hear something that another drummer was playing and it would hit him right in the gut and take his breathe away and he would possibly think to himself... that is what I want to play like and I want people to feel the same as I do when they hear me playing drums? 

I wanted to know what he did with that? 
How do you process that?

He said he had experienced that many times, so I was all ears, ready to listen to his response. 

The reason I asked this question was because I had been caught out yet again. Defeated and depleted by the fact that another artist is painting the way I long to paint but I don't know how!

For me, the emotional roller-coaster goes something like this....

I see an artwork that takes my breath away because I love it and I want to get up close and know how to create it, but I don't know how? I ramble on to myself...
"Oh my God, look at that, how did she do that? Oh I love it-it makes me want to cry- I need to know how that is done - I want to buy it so that I can touch it, so I can see how the textures have been created. Could I afford it? Which one would I choose? I want the one that looks the best and has the most interest, damn I can't afford that! Oh why can't I do that? I wish I could work out how. She is so lucky to have learned how.  She has her own style, she has a cohesive theme or thread running through all her artwork and she has developed her own style. How does that happen?, Do I lack the education? Haven't I practiced enough? Could I do a class with her? Would she reveal the secrets that are hers? Damn she lives in America! Damn! I'm jealous- this is so out of reach, and what is the point of me trying to do something  that has already been done perfectly and so on and so on.

My emotional response and gut reaction simmer down to a lamentation, an emptiness, as though I'm not in my own body...thats probably 'cos I astral travelled into her studio, into her body! My body in the here and now slumps back into the reality of how far away I am from achieving what I want and what is in my heart. A bit melodramatic I know, but hey, I am an artist!

My partners advice:

1.  Find out as much information as you can about the artist and more importantly how that piece of art has been created.

2. Ask yourself what it is you love about the painting and why?

3. What tools and materials have been used to get the effect you are seeing? How was it made? 

4. Then do your best to copy it until you have something similar. Try to get it as close as possible to the same thing.

So, I am all fired up now about this favourite artist of mine who works with cold wax and oils.  I know a little but not enough, so I have some research and loads of practice to do!

   "Sewing on the backside of the Moon"  by Jeane Myer

                   "Sitting in the North" by Jeane Myer

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Whirl of Mixed Emotions

'I feel like I'm collaborating with nature. It provides the colour, texture, form, narrative and inspiration. It's just a case of me thinking how I can best show off the unique characteristics of the material I'm using' - Fascinating insights into some wonderful work by Artist - Janine Mackintosh

I have been collecting gum leaves for so long now because I love their interesting colours and patterns. They are unique to Australia and in plentiful supply wherever you roam.  My heart jumped when I viewed Janine's work and wished I'd thought of it first!

Her explanation of how she works with nature is something I am akin to. In fact I have thought about these amazing gum leaves a great deal. I have felt drawn to them often but it eluded me how to present them as an art piece.  I wasn't sure how to secure and protect the brittle leaves. Would I frame them behind glass? Would I encase them with gel? Would I stitch them to canvas? I have worked on magnifying them and painting them onto canvas but most of the leaves natural properties are lost in my abstract approach to painting!

Well Janine has done amazing and outstanding creations that she has been highly rewarded for and I am just a little, well maybe a lot, dare I say it, envious!

The joy as well as frustration that must come from working with recycled rusty metal, found objects and God-given natural resources. I always carry home pocketfulls of these kind of things each time I go out walking in nature or even just around the block from my suburban home. there is so much to glean from the sidewalk! then I ponder various ways that I could compose and display them in a meaningful way and how would I secure them and preserve them? is such a wierd feeling when you see someone else doing something that you've been pondering for way too long. Maybe Janine Mackintosh's work has hit me in the gut for a reason. 
I've been inspired. Janine has validated for me that these elements can be bought together and presented as exquisite artworks, that audiences adore and pay substantial amounts of money to own them and display them in their own environment. 

I am sure a great deal of time, patience, passion, energy, disappointment, commitment and so much more has gone into her work and I ask myself now and then... have I got what it takes? Of course my inner critic jumps on me with a loud voice...No, you are never going to make it, you are just wasting time, money and energy for no reason! Go get a job like most other women and stop sponging off your husband! 
I believe what I hear, cry myself to slumber and easily sink into a momentary depressed state.

But over the next few days a small quiet voice emerges from within, one that never left me, I just couldn't hear it before, or more likely I wasn't listening. It says something like, " your creative life matters. Keep going. Be content in the present moment, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing and be open to what happens. "

Jealousy, coveting, negativity and harsh judgements of yourself counterattack your creative instead I come back to the present moment...and as my Yoga teacher says, relax your shoulders...breathe...and gently smile!

I'm okay again now. Some life situations throw you into a whirl of mixed emotions and it takes a few days to sort them through and land back squarely on two feet, thanks to loved ones and friends who plant their wisdom into your pile of compost to help you continue growing...slowly, happily and creatively.