‘Only in the making can things happen.’

Wonderful quote from Michael Atavar’s exquisite, earnest, philosophical and wry book: HOW TO BE AN ARTIST.

And each time I begin to draw, those words become a revelation on the page ….

Jerwood: Attended the Jerwood Painting Fellowships last week. Is it a coincidence but the artists – three women – seem to be reinventing painting. Painting as painting by Cara Nahaul, painting as collage by Clare Mitten and and painting as photography by Corinna Till. An imaginative show – that stretches the idea of what painting is, and can be, and not with a loud, yah, boo, sucks attitude or in a macho let’s counter: painting is dead fashion but in a quiet, thoughtful, sincere way, that an investment of time – 6 months – and money – £10,000 – from the new Jerwood Painting Fellowships has enabled. On until 26 June at Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London Se1. And then touring.

Proust: I am reading Proust – Rememberance of Things Past. À la recherche du temps perdu, (In Search of Lost Time). A novel in 7 volumes, and first published in France between 1913-27. Have tried before but never got past first 100 pages – so doing six times better now – and enjoying it. Friends have variously commented: ‘Why?’ & ‘Wow!’.

Top tips to self: Don’t try too hard!

It is a time-consuming occupation, give yourself time – a year or two.

Endeavouring to keep the sense of a long sentence in one’s mind, from beginning to end, is often impossible and frustrating.

Let the words and images enter your mind like music or poetry

Strive for essence rather than meaning

But the great news is …. after a few hundred words you realise there is meaty, twisting, turning plot, afterall!

Funny, no-one mentions that … but they often mention the infamous madeleine-scene, which happen right at the beginning.

Also, at hand, I have Eric Karpeles’s volume ‘Paintings in Proust’. What a culture-vulture that Marcel was, so many words, so many artists, so many works of art described in words – from Botticelli to Turner, Da Vinci, and Gozzoli to Whistler – which gives you a hunger for seeing the real thing. Art history as natural curiosity!

Drawing: Engaged in new large scale drawing derived from a 1950’s Encyclopaedia of Plant Portraits. Fascinated by the composite small b/w photographs that range from 2 inch flowers to 300ft trees. Scale and variety, mesmerising. Working on large roll of 300gm Fabriano (Grosso). Surely the Rolls Royce of paper.

Title: ‘Rememberance of Plants Past (hand-drawn extracts from: The Encyclopaedia of Plant Portraits compiled by A. G. L. Hellyer, 1953)’. [See details of images above].

Show & Tell: I am currently organising a series of talks entitled: Show & Tell at Core Gallery, Deptford, where we ask artists to tell us through words and images how they got where they are today. Jenny Wiener was our first speaker. I think the audience enjoyed it so much, because JW was generous and honest in the telling of her story, the highs and lows, the joy and disappointments of being an artist today. We all learned something.

Next up (May 31) will be painter, Graham Crowley – chaired by Rosalind Davis. And in July (5) I will be chairing the talk by another massively talented and original painter, recently with work in the British Art Show, Phoebe Unwin. Can’t wait!

I sold two drawings earlier this month – hurrah – best feeling in the world!

Had lunch with the artist, Susan Collis, yesterday and found myself saying:

‘I am still emerging … and probably will be until I’m ninety!’


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