Went swimming at Felixstowe where the sea was surprisingly and beautifully warm…. Finding ways to appease my frustration about not being able to move into my new studio yet.
The council are taking forever to deliver the paperwork involved and as I’ve now returned the ex-studio room in my house to it’s rightful function of a dining room, I cannot paint. It’s driving me crazy. Especially as I looking critically at the painting I’d just made relating to the Welsh swim, I just hated it.
It’s awful and doesn’t say what I want to say about the swim. What makes it worse is that I’d posted it on Instagram !!!! It had to go !!!
And it went ! To be replaced by this reworked version. I first rotated it to landscape. Then working very fast with some messy, partly dried-up acrylic, I thought myself back to the view I saw underwater. The peaty glow and rising bubbles…thrashing about to keep afloat while trying to take photos and keep my head above the water.
It’s better but still not quite there.
When I finally get my studio, I’ll try again with oils, I think. It needs more fluidity, more movement, more ambiguity and maybe oil is the way to go. Until then I’ll have to keep swimming. Preferably outdoors.
A very quick post.
bought a new underwater camera
testing it at Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge
sparked my memory of a project I started ages ago.
Documenting Lidos, water, distortions, reflections…..
Why wouldn’t I want to continue?
On a sunny September day such bliss to swim in icy water ! And hey….some lidos are heated !!!! I feel a trip to Tooting Bec coming on.
That’s it for now. Am going to continue photo/sketching gathering information/memories to use WHEN I Eventually get into my new studio. It’s taking ages but I’m not going there. Trying to shut the frustration out by swimming etc.
I went on a Creative Swim Day with viviennerickman.co.uk and this is one of the photos she took of me during the swim. Plunging into water in the environment as opposed to an indoor pool is just magical. And this lake in Wales was about as good as it gets. Vivienne took me and three others on a two hour hike up the side of a mountain from Llanberis to emerge at a beautiful lake.
Here it is – Llyn Dwythwch. The walk nearly killed me but strangely today my legs no longer feel like jelly but stronger. Maybe I should take up hiking up and down hills. Although thankfully there aren’t that many hills in Suffolk.
But back to the swim
I actually did a bit of sketching too which Vivienne sneakily documented. She encouraged us to take whatever we wanted from the experience. A Fine Arts graduate herself, she has a passion for water as do I. Two of the other members of the group on the day began to wander about beside the lake and a calm almost spiritual atmosphere was created. The fourth participant went back into the water for more while Vivienne kept an ever watchful eye on us all, simultaneously making notes in her creative writing journal. She undergoes regular training for her courses making us all feel secure and relaxed. I could never have contemplated this venture alone
I came across Vivienne through reading ‘Another Escape’, which I bought at Tate Modern after seeing the incredible Olafur Eliasson exhibition recently. Do buy it – it’s a wonderfully inspiring collection of essays and stories. If you have even a small interest in water and the current state of the environment it will resonate with you. So much of Viv’s thinking and philosophy chimed with my thoughts. I just had to meet her and take part in one of her workshops. It didn’t disappoint in any way.
Drifting in the deep peaty- black water and floating on my back with the blue sky above and tiny rippling sounds around my head was absolute bliss. If I can capture just some of these sensations when I start to paint I’ll be happy.
And I’m sure I’ll return to this beautiful place for more.
I started a comment to Elena’s blog and then realised I’d morphed into a new blog post on my own blog. So transferred here. BUT PLEASE READ ELENA”S THREADS BLOG FIRST before you read this comment. It’s a good blog !!!
I’ve been loosely following your blog for ages and have made the occasional comment. I try to follow your example and keep blogging regularly but I don’t always stick to it.
But I digress. The bit which struck a chord in your latest epistle was about ‘ very few artists actually make a living purely through their art.’ Like you, I taught for many years and bless my Teachers pension which keeps me going even though I feel a twinge of guilt for the younger generation of teachers who will not benefit in quite the same way. I even got a lovely lump sum back in 1996 when I took voluntary redundancy when, the then government, got their sums wrong about teacher numbers…. it happens regularly … too many …. too few. That enabled me to go backpacking round Australia for 3 months and the experience is still resonating in my art today.
Having reached the grand old age of 75 I sometimes think I should give up and watch daytime TV, go for coffees in garden centres and generally live my age instead of, like you, imagining the speech I’ll give when I win the Turner Prize!!! or get featured on some programme about late-flowering art. But then I think …actually that doesn’t appeal and I squirt out some more luscious acrylic paint and am off again painting. You see I can’t really stop myself.
END OF COMMENT TO ELENA.
And so here is the start of a new blog proper. Having just spent two glorious weeks in the Dordogne /Lot region I returned determined to paint from my sketches, photos and memories. If you read my last blog you’ll know that I am often completely overwhelmed and defeated by trying to capture such intensely beautiful scenes such as Scotland and my fears for the same thing happening in France were justified.
So I didn’t even try looking back at actual reference material but just got stuck in to what was in my headspace….hurtling through deep, deep forest shade on impossibly narrow roads – no traffic!!! with flashes of strong sunlight, a distant view of a turreted village with crumbling barns and gorgeous pan-tiled roofs, fields of sweet smelling cut hay, wild flowers of intense blue. Yes it was all too, too beautiful but I tried to do it justice. Initially it started to get really figurative. But I was prepared to resist that and kept sloshing more acrylic at the surface and then went in with charcoal, pastels and plain water and it began to emerge. Not quite capturing my memories of beautiful French countryside yet but will have another go soon. You see, I can’t stop painting and definitely can’t act my age and give up on art !!!
Footnote to Elena’s blog…. Sold a few paintings at Aldeburgh recently and have taken on two students – a little bit of teaching. Yes I need to feed my posh paper and paint habit, Elena. I’ll never make my fortune through art but neither will I ever stop painting.
June already!!! I missed blogging in May and only one post in April. But despite that its been an intensely rewarding and significant period for my art practice. After being stuck for a while and with the inevitable and regular dip in confidence I then struck gold again. I should be used to these ups and downs by now but they still disturb me.
The visit to Skye via the incredible scenery of the Lake District and then Glen Coe stunned me. I drew in sketchbooks like crazy but when I attempted to translate my memories and feelings back home in acrylic on large canvases, I drifted back to my comfort zone of more figurative painting. Scotland is just too magnificent and beautiful !!
This wasn’t how I wanted to paint Scotland. So I went quickly back to Australia painting again, from memory.
I called this ‘Night-time Dreaming” – a reference to the aborigines landscape and lifestyle. Much better I think????I began panicking to get ready for the exhibition in Aldeburgh. We called it Sea of Stars and this latest painting seemed to fit with that. I ordered some Giclee prints based mainly on the Australian series. Not at all sure I like these now. It feels like cheating to me but decided to give them a try. I think I prefer the watercolour sketches – pages from my sketchbook. They seem more immediate and fresher than the prints. This was all in an attempt to produce smaller more saleable stuff for exhibitions.
It’s a dilemma. I want to be true to the art I want to produce but in order to be able to do that the harsh reality is that I need to sell my work and get my name ‘out there’. So I have to do some semi-commercial stuff too. With that in mind I’ve actually enjoyed producing quick watercolours of the beautiful irises which have burst into colour in the garden
I’ve been invited to show work in two galleries and am taking part in open studios and even selling work !!! All good exciting stuff. And on Wednesday we’re off to the Lot Valley inFrance for two weeks, with a brief stop to see Monet’s Garden . So life is very good again. Hope I don’t do another nose dive when I discover France is as beautiful as Scotland.