Saturday, 27 February 2010

Allowing the Muse to have Fun!

I was just talking to my daughter, who is also an artist, about the importance of having 'fun' with your work.  As children we learn a great deal through play and it is a valuable gift to remember when working full time as a professional creative. In fact many people prefer to remain gifted amateurs rather than to risk losing the joy of creativity because they 'have' to create in order to live.

When I was very stuck last year a friend of mine was talking about her work and said: "I do it because it  makes me feel good".  That statement helped to get me moving again. I had been agonising so much about the validity of my work that I had completely lost touch with why it was I wanted to be an artist in
the first place - painting was something I loved to do and it gave me pleasure.  

But painting is aso a 'fix', a daily necessity which I think has much in common with daily meditation - it is all absorbing and focussing and you can not do without it for very long because one day, just possibly, you might produce something really good!  Art is a never ending journey. There are always new places to discover. There are no limits of time or destination on this journey, other than those in your head.

Since Christmas I have given myself permission to really enjoy myself with what I would term nature 'portraits' or 'extracts'.  First mountains and now three studies of beech trees, the first of which is above.  I will finish the other two this weekend and post them separately.  I love these elegant giants that are so much a part of the landscape of my Dorset home. I have often painted them, but this time I decided to paint the portrait of the trees leaving out their surroundings and focussing purely on their individual beauty and character.

I should say that I recently responded to a comment on this blog about realism in art, by saying that photo realism did not appeal to me and yet I suppose these studies have been much more realistic than anything I have done for a long time.  The difference, I hope, is the way I have chosen to deal with the subjects - just using the elements of them that have most affected me.  Photo realism while it can be very clever technically often leaves me cold. Somehow it lacks soul. It is the soul in nature that is what I am looking to draw out in all my work.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Finding a 'Voice'

Today it is a beautiful morning in the mountains and a Happy Valentine's day to all.  It felt like a morning for a colourful blog - recently they have been about limited palette paintings. The one above is a painting that I originally thought I had finished in December, but I actually re-painted much of it last week.  After a while it looked rather insipid. I always hang my work on my studio wall when I think it is finished to guage my own reaction to it. Then it was part of my attempt to pull back on the lush colour I like to use ... but with this one it just didn't feel right.   This is one of two views of the Dorset Coast path (see earlier blog for the original), I may try and restrain myself from tinkering with the other one!

I haven't talked about how important it is to find your own 'voice' as an artist.  That search for a way to present an image that is uniquely one's own. Here in the mountains that was a poser as the temptation is to paint the gradually washed out layers of mountains disappearing into the distance.  After three years I have begun to find some solutions to that as you can see from other blogs.

Interestingly enough I found that painting en 'pleine aire' resulted in my producing a very traditional landscape and as I am not interested in strict photo-realism,  I take the sketch I do outside back to the studio in order to bring my imagination into play.  This is  how I began to find my own particular style, or 'voice'. You can perhaps see what I mean if you look at the more traditional style of painting below that was done completely on location:

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The 'Good Enough" painting or knowing when to stop!

If you paint regularly you will know that the art of 'knowing when to stop' takes a long time to learn. I still find it difficult. I was listening to an artist talking on a programme the other day about the latest Van Gogh exhibition that is on in London at the moment. There is a portrait of a woman that he completed in an hour. In spite of his lack of public recognition during his life time, he obviously knew when he had completed something to his own satisfaction. On those rare occasions when the painting seems to 'paint itself' I think perhaps I should stop there at the end of that first session and not allow that critical person to come along and 'tidy up' my painting a day or so later! I did wonder whether the example below was a case in point. Another mountain peak - I'm still hooked and this is number four. In the first one you can see where I was at the end of the first session and the finished canvas as of this morning.

I'd like to leave this blog with a quote by Picasso from an article I read about him recently. I think it is  food for thought - perhaps even something for the vociferous stars of today's art world to ponder! The quote refers back to his previous comments about his huge success and wealth:

"When I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Titian and Rembrandt were great painters I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and has exhausted as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the stupidity of his contemporaries.  Mine is a bitter confession, more painful that may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere!"

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Two Finished Pieces

Part of the purpose of this blog is to put up my new work, leaving the web site as a record of older pieces. So I am attaching to this one the recently finished Canigou - automne  and Pic du Canigou - which appeared in an earlier blog as a 'work in progress' The first one was a painting that hung around the studio for some time as I seemed to have painted myself into a corner with the composition. I think I have resolved it now - let me know what you think. Funny how some paintings seem to'paint themselves'- when you are really in the 'flow' (the first mountain painting in the Blog of January 21st), while others can be a significant struggle.