Nothing is finished

1:24am and I have been drawing, painting, exploring on and off for a few hours. Nothing is finished, but I have enjoyed dipping into a variety of subjects and playing with materials. I began to re-do the portrait from the first day of the 30DC, but with colour and new words, but insufficiently inspired, I stopped. I will return to that piece at a later date. I played with another self-portrait (not my own), dancing a line across paper from the subject’s hair. Something reminded me of a murmuration of starlings, spotted some six months ago during a walk on the South Downs, so I put pen to paper, attempting to capture my memory of their movement… difficult to do, but mesmerising in its own way… a kind of meditative way of drawing, like the cloud pictures I first did from a train, London to Liverpool on May 1, 2008, and have occasionally attempted since, always enjoyable, and tried again this evening, but this time not from life.

Tired and ready for bed, I stood up from my desk to head upstairs, but spotted the roll of brown paper I had purchased yesterday to draw on, pulled the charcoal from the drawer, the mirror from the cupboard, taped the top of the paper roll to the wall, unravelled it and embarked upon what turned out to be a lopsided self-portrait, which captures to a degree, my dishevelled appearance this evening.

Satisfied and about to share, I will now stop. I have promised two young chaps a picnic and some treasure hunting on the South Bank beach in the morning with big boy’s new metal detector. Low tide at 11:51am. It is time to sleep.

Me, me, me

Last week, somebody told me that a friend had been talking about my art in the pub. They had seen it online and loved it. They had been following what I was working on and said that it was the kind of art they would buy, but… they found it a little odd that it was all about me. So, I stopped. I put the portraits on hold, I took a step back, I looked for other ways to express myself. I took the “me” out of my art and whilst I had fun creating in different ways, I did not connect in any deeper way with what I had produced. I was creating art that was neutral, impersonal, safe. I played, I experimented, I explored new methods and media, but whilst I enjoyed the process, after a few days, began to feel that I was not following my heart.

What I should have done, of course, was listen to the praise. I should have taken to heart the fact that this person I respect would spend their hard earned cash on art like mine, that they were interested enough to follow what I was doing, wanted to see more. I should not have let my own interpretation of a comment influence my art. But I did. 

When emotions are high, I often feel the need to get them out. I write, I draw, I photograph, I explore what is going on in words and images. It is when I feel things strongly that I channel my emotions, pour out and make visual or verbal that which is crowding my head.

As an artist, this is my way of exploring and expressing my thoughts, feelings, emotions, my light and dark days. I find that one of the most powerful forms of expression for me is self-portraiture. So I am back… being true to myself and working on a new set of self-portraits which reveal the pensive gaze, the dreams of colour and light, the fire and the fear.

Yes, they are odd, they may look awkward or uncomfortable, but that is how I feel sometimes and examining those sensitivities through art helps me make sense of them. So I will continue. “I like what you are doing”, another friend told me, “it must be a bit like therapy”. It is. And for as long as I find it enjoyable or beneficial, I will go on.


Another interpretation

I have been feeling tired today. I have been quietly questioning my commitment to creating and posting here daily. The more I create, the less I sleep and this is something I need to address as other things are slowly slipping. I need to resolve how to fit the creativity into my days rather than tagging it on at the end when I should be sleeping. I wonder how different my creations would be at the other end of the day… if I was to make something the moment I awake?

A link sent via Twitter inspired today’s creation, which was made whilst watching a link sent to me on e-mail.

It is another interpretation of yesterday’s photograph.

Dressing up

A full day today… friends to play, cakes baked, lunch with family, hunting for treasure with new metal-detector, tennis, homework, etc… all good fun, but I was exhausted by the time I walked in the door this evening. I had to find something fun to keep me motivated.

What would be the most fun thing I could do? I took a glance over my bookshelves for inspiration and my eyes rested on I Will Never Forget You… Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray: Unpublished Photographs and Letters. Yes! Dressing up!

I have wanted a little more colour in my life for a while now, so who better to dress up as than Frida Kahlo, the Mexican Queen of Colour. I pulled out an old net skirt, long and layered in an interesting blue hue; raided my jewellery box, pulled out a few old rings, a necklace I rarely wear as last time I did it shed shiny red beads all over the street and in spite of having gathered them and fixed it, I no longer trust it to hold together in public; a spotty top; a sequin-covered cardigan; shocking pink tights; a rainbow scarf… not all of it Frida Style, but in the spirit of. I then put scissors to an old bag made of bright felt balls and turned it into a necklace… something I have been thinking of doing for some time, but held back until now.

Time for a self-portrait. I took a number of pics using my webcam and then selected a few to fiddle with in iPhoto. The results you will see here. The final piece – a black and white photo which I printed onto watercolour paper, then painted using Inktense blocks and watercolour pencils is more Madame Yevonde than Frida Kahlo, but I had fun playing.

And today, after 7 days of making art and writing about it daily, something wonderful struck me… I feel like an artist!

Drawing without looking

Yesterday I was feeling stuck, not knowing what to create.  This evening, tired after too many late nights (immersed in the 30 Day Challenge and trying to keep up with life in general), and a day riding rollercoasters (really, it was my big boy’s Birthday surprise), I needed a quick artistic activity that was not too challenging on the brain.  So, I went back to an old favourite – a technique I use when I need to free myself up and get unstuck – drawing without looking at the page.  So, I did a quick self-portrait, looking only at my reflection in the mirror and the coloured pencils I was using, not at the paper.  It’s a bit of fun and is great for when you don’t have much time and don’t care what the outcome will be.  This one is about picking up a pencil and doing something, anything, rather than doing nothing.  Funny thing is, it is quite a good likeness at the moment!  Right, I am off to bed, then hopefully the next self-portrait will be a little more flattering.