As artists we are always thinking of the next painting or project. Sometimes it's obvious what is next and other times it eludes us. For me it's mostly about evolving as an artist, pushing my work in new directions towards that hidden destination.
I'm not sure if this is because of Art School practise or it's creativity weaving it's magic. I think I can fairly give credit to both sides.
When browsing my art journal this week I was reminded of my mantra for 2017 - 'evolve'. On reflecting on my work I will be choosing the parts that work best and pushing them in new directions, testing, adjusting, evolving....flowing where the tide of creativity takes me. This is what makes creating exciting and unpredictable....you never know what is around the corner.
I will be sharing some of my working practices here, journaling my creative journey.
The image below is a page from my working journal. My artist journal is a place I can scribble all those fleeting ideas and inspiration before they are forgotten. It's a great place to start when the next painting eludes you.
Below - Where the painting begins.....some notes on my latest painting 'Evening Song'. There are no rules here and often noted ideas don't make it into the painting - at the end of the day you have to go where the painting suggests.
Below - A working painting sketch helping to decide the horizon line and mix of colours for the painting 'Evening Song'.
Maybe some brighter colours? Maybe working towards abstraction?
When I work late into the night I make some notes for the next morning.
January has slipped by with the beat of a bird's wing. The height of summer in New Zealand is traditionally a busy time of year with Christmas, New Year and school holidays happening mid summer. My artistic work has had to wait in the background while I juggle other areas of life.
My son turned 21 in January and we celebrated this milestone with family and friends. I have been scrapbooking his journey by going through all those photos that proud parents take. This has been quite a feat and there is still a few more pages to go.
One area of my life that has kept me very busy lately is the holiday home rental of our beach cottage. I manage all aspects of this from bookings to cleaning and laundry. January to February is the peak of the season. For us the holiday rental is a 'means to an end' as it is our long term dream to one day live at the cottage permanently. I do need to keep the end goal in site when I get swamped with all that laundry.
I have also been journaling to gain clarity for the year ahead. It has been hard to find space even for this during this hectic period. But it has yielded a guiding word for 2016 - discipline. I did initially resist choosing this word in favour of something more gentle or inspiring like balance or clarity but discipline kept appearing in front of me. It seems the universe had spoken!
I knew discipline is what I had to practise to give my creative desires space. I had to be tough on how much time I gave to other areas of my life. It was time to find balance again.
When I take the time to look back at how far I've come to fulfilling that big dream that seemed so impossible all those years ago, a feeling of amazing gratitude comes over me.
Sometimes life can be all work and no play but it is important to stop and reflect and give acknowledgement to all that we have achieved - big and small .....
AND find the time to play and relax!
Last month I was fortunate enough to hear Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac sing those very words live ...."climbed a mountain and I turned around"...lyrics from Stevie's beautiful Landslide song. This song has been echoing in my head for a while now. Every time I look at a recent painting I completed of Mitre Peak, I hum this song..
I've been reflecting lately, asking myself "Why did I paint a mountain?" It's a move away from my usual mixed media style gardens. An iconic New Zealand mountain peak couldn't be further removed from a colourful, bustling cottage garden.
But maybe its closer in comparison than you first might think. I like to paint subject matter that I have experienced first hand, drawing on a well of memories and emotions. Most artists choose subjects and themes that have meaning and relevance to them.
So yes, I have experienced the majesty of Milford Sound and the surrounding peaks and valleys. I've tramped on foot through the wild bush of the Hollyford Valley experiencing all the earthly elements....rain, sun, wind, mud and rain. rain. rain, to escape in a small aeroplane up the coast and into Milford Sound. Exhilarating to say the least!
I have also been a gardener for many years, enjoying the natural energy a garden brings to your home. It is a place you can go to escape from the daily chores of life, find calm and be inspired by the seasonal beauty ever present there.
Both places appear to be at opposite ends of natures spectrum but both can offer us that sense of peace, wonder and escape that lifts you out of the ordinary to some place magical....just like the music of Landslide.
So that is why I painted a mountain....or should that be climbed a mountain?
The Tide of Change
It's been a very cold winter here in the south of New Zealand, with the grey cold days far out numbering the bright, light filled ones.
My moods ebb and flow with the seasonal changes which in turn influence my creative work. My refuge, my place to go to restore balance and recharge is our beach cottage at Kaka Point, on the Otago coast. The cottage is nestled into the hillside overlooking the sea.
We wander up the beach and through the rock pools in all weathers and tides.
My favourite time of day to wander up the beach is at dusk when the first stars are twinkling and the sky is a pale wash of pinks and blues. There is time and space to think.
A special encounter....the rising 'blue moon' emerging from the ocean.
My time spent here at the beach has inspired me to turn in a new direction with my art, to make a new alignment with what makes me feel balanced and in tune. I'm inspired to capture the natural beauty, storms and mist, tranquillity, the colours and textures of my seaside haven.....to capture it's moods.
I have explored this landscape through mixed media before, so I can begin where I left off.
Looking forward to sharing my journey and work in progress with you.
"The earth has music for those who listen" William Shakespeare
Wish or Worry? Where did that idea come from?
I've been thinking about this idea for a painting since last Christmas. The idea first surfaced when I heard an advert on the radio seeking support for the 'Wishing Tree' at the Dunedin K Mart store. People donate gifts under the tree which are then distributed to children in need at Christmas time. A great charity bringing joy to where it is needed most.
Artist mind begins to think....a wishing tree would make a great painting....
What would the wishes be? What tree would I paint? What colour palette?
The idea sat in the back of my mind waiting patiently.
Then recently I came across this article in an old NZ Gardener Magazine (January 2012) that someone had passed on to me and I started thinking about the wishing tree again.
The article written by Lynda Hallinan, is about planting a New Years Ceremonial 'Clootie Tree'. (There is a) "Celtic custom of tying old rags or cloths (clooties) to a tree beside a wishing well. The cloths represent your worries - as the fabric slowly disintegrates, so do all your troubles". The author also mentions visiting a sculpture garden in Washington DC that featured a wishing tree exhibition by Yoko Ono.
This flow of ideas also demonstrates how no idea is truly original and everything is derivative or influenced by what already exists. It's how creativity works.
So now I had two directions I could steer this idea....wish or worry?
I hate to say it but my worries list was just as long as the wish list. However I decided not to focus on my worries but instead breathe life into my wishes.
A plan of action...
An exploration first on a small canvas. The small painting is in its beginning stages...
And the wishing tree model.....a gnarly old macrocarpa just up the hill from our Beach Cottage at Kaka Point.
This old tree has witnessed many people and their wishes come and go through the century. A very apt model for a 'wishing tree'.
Nostalgia Series - Final Layers
When working on several pieces at once I move from one piece to another applying paint or whatever medium I'm using at the time. It is easy to get lost in the process and forget exactly what you have done. Your artist eye looks critically at a work and you decide what it needs next. I always work with balance in mind. Something I learned from talented NZ Watercolour Artist Nancy Tichborne.
Here's an update on the finishing layers to one of the Nostalgia pieces. When last photographed it was at this stage...bright yellow.
(Sorry there's not more photographs of the different stages...it is something I need to practice).
I toned down the bright yellow with a pale yellow paint and added white highlights in some areas. A craft stamp using white paint was applied in some areas.
To add a focal point the gladioli flowers were painted on - an extension of the collaged paper.
A piece of sheet music (with words that were relevant to my theme), was then added to the top right corner to fill the space and add balance.
I then added a bit more pale yellow, magenta and green/blue paint to balance and pull the piece together. A thin layer of shellac varnish was painted over the textured area enriching the colours and adding a vintage patina.
Bright blue paint flicks were added imitating the little blue 'forget-me-not' flowers on the jug, then white paint flicks for added highlights.
I possibly could have kept adding more details to this piece but chose to stop here at this interesting place. A final layer of gloss varnish was applied to protect and give the surface a uniform appearance.
Oh and of course it needed a title......'Tender Memory'.
For me it represents special memories of my Grandmother xx
Nostalgia Series -Texture
Autumn weather has arrived and with it a cold southerly front. It's a perfect time to withdraw to the studio.
My boards already have some base layers of paint applied and a few collage pieces arranged. After contemplating the collection of inspiration on my table I decided to start with some texture on my boards. The yellow china plate that I love has an organic feel to it so I decided to search my garden for leaves I could use to suggest this. I returned with plantain lily and hydrangea leaves.
I spread a layer of texture paste on the area of board where I wanted texture then pressed the lily leaf into the paste, then lifted it off. The leaf lifted off some of the paste which remained on its surface. I pressed the leaf onto another board to transfer this paste and create more texture. When the textured paste had dried I lightly sanded the surface to round off any edges.
Pictured below is the result, with a couple of layers of paint applied over the top. Still lots more layers to go until these pieces will be finished. Will post an update next week.
Hoping for some warm Autumn sun to quickly dry paint now.
Life is busy and I have finally made it to my studio this week to do some creative work. Weeks ago I decided I would cut a spare sheet of MDF board, which had been cluttering up our garage, into painting supports. The preparation of boards as supports is a drawn out process. Owen first had to cut the sheet into the numerous sizes I wanted. I then had to sand edges, then coat surfaces with a sealer. Then it was time for two coats of gesso, including edges. They were finally ready to paint on!
This new series of work on boards is called 'Nostalgia'. Inspired by my recent vintage finds and treasures you have seen on the Inspiration Table. I wish to conjure a sense of a by gone era....perhaps memories from our past.
Here is a photo of the very early base layers...
There are many more layers to go before these pieces will be finished. More updates to follow.
And now I need to let the ink dry before I continue to work on them.....I have learnt from experience that it pays to be patient!
My studio is a sunroom at the front of our house. Three of the walls have large windows and one end is an open doorway. It is a very light filled space. Working areas are at a premium and need to flow, so to help with the creative chaos I decided I needed an actual 'inspiration table'.
So here it is....a retro beauty straight from the sixties with a metal frame and glass top, perfect for my studio space and inspiration table.
I spied it on the pavement outside my favourite vintage shop. Thank you Vanessa from Two Squirrels Vintage!
And the contents this week are more vintage finds....
The old lace doily I could use as a stencil or possibly incorporate pieces into my work. I love the soft vintage colours and texture of the ceramic dish, and the blue & white pattern on the old biscuit tin...a good starting place for colour inspiration. The book on the young Queen Elizabeth ll contains stunning black and white photo's of this iconic female from the 1950's....possibly great content for backgrounds or a whole theme/series of its own!
Now to go and apply all this inspiration in the studio.
Hello and Welcome to my blog.
This blog is a space where I share my artist life. The daily business, ebb and flow of being an artist. An introduction to me and my art can be found here...
My intention is to keep blog posts short with lots of visual content and inspirations. On my sidebar you will see three words......Connect. Inspire. Nurture. These three words summarize what is important to me and the way I wish to live my life. They form the manifest-o for this blog.
Connect .... with people (individuals and community); with Art...my own and other artists; with my inner self; with my dreams.
Inspire....be inspired by the world around me, by other people; share the inspiration; be the inspiration.
Nurture....family and home; creativity and art; connections; inspirations received and given; belief in oneself.
Connect, inspire, nurture....an investment in a happy and full life.
My inspiration table is a collection of items that have caught my eye and 'sparked' inspiration! Some items are found, (the pohutukawa flower I found on the lawn at my cottage & the dandelion was growing in the garden), others are personal treasures. I have added in other media elements such as stamps and papers that would combine well together. What combinations could create a painting?
Some vintage sheet music I recently found at a local second-hand shop. Some of it will find its way onto the ground of a painting.
My Inspiration Table will be a regular feature.
Have a great weekend