My technology skills are just short of zero. Enforced semi-isolation is mind-numbingly dull so I have begun to experiment. I discovered that my blood pressure had shot up…. we acquired a home-test kit recently. So I took the decision to avoid all news bulletins for a few days, went for a longish solitary walk. Spotted banks of wild violets, hawthorn hedges in bloom, children playing football illegally on a school field all in beautiful sunshine. Sadly – no camera so on my return I walked around my garden taking photos with my phone of more signs of Spring. And there were quite a lot.
Next I began working out how to make a collage of these. Then, by chance, discovered I could draw odd lines over this. Even managed to change the colour of the lines to a spring-like green…. goodness knows how? So at this moment in times, can’t actually repeat that trick. Oh well ….more playing around with the Apple laptop tomorrow. Time is on my side and I’m learning patience slowly !!
To my surprise, on rechecking my blood pressure, it had sunk to a respectable 112 over 72 !!! Down from 159 over 96 RESULT.
We are living in horrendous times of fear and panic. My stress levels are worrying. But art and even technology can help.
Friday 20th March.
I thought I was so lucky to have my studio now. It meant I had a change of scene. I’ve been making a safe dash from the carpark – to the studio. Once inside I felt safe as no-one has set foot there apart from my husband, Alec, since this coronavirus nightmare began.
So here’s the view. Alec having a go at art after a long gap.
And here’s what I started doing. Looking back fondly at a sketch I made in Cornwall last summer. I tried it in oil paint first after my experiments with oils earlier this month.But it came unravelled so I retreated to my comfort zone of acrylics. It’s not finished but have just started to draw into it with charcoal hoping to retain the looseness of the sketch. I thought maybe I’d pop back to the studio later to finish it. But today things are looking very bleak. I really don’t think I should leave the house. Alec is classed as high risk and I’m over 70 so for the sake of our own and others health I feel we should obey the rules and properly self isolate now.
Sunday 22nd March
It’s scary but all I can do is gather some supplies from my studio and hunker down at home until the danger has passed.
Jo brought me some flowers for Mothers day, leaving them on the doorstep so maybe I’ll try a watercolour painting of them. I painted some beautifulHellebores recently and watercolour on khadi paper is very enjoyable. As well as blogging I’m starting a coronavirus diary of art.
We live in challenging times and recording events is perhaps a cathartic way to deal with this. Painting is a meditative occupation and so it may help.
Who knows what may happen next. I’m sad to have to abandon my studio so soon after acquiring it, but I fear I have to. All I can do is hope it’s not too long before I can use it again and keep painting at home. It’s my only answer at the moment.
I had begun to get a little concerned that I was starting to loose sight of the reason I had desperately wanted a studio. By taking on pupils to teach which helps me to pay the rent on my new studio, my own personal work was beginning to suffer. I do enjoy teaching but invest a lot of time preparing worksheets, thinking about, and preparing what to teach. This results in my thinking less about my own art.
I went to the house of one of my students recently, to give her a list of instructions and things to do during my 6 weeks absence from March 17th. We’re going to Australia – coronavirus permitting!!! She was anxious to show me some of her older work in oils. At her request I have been encouraging her to spend time drawing and learning about acrylic paint during her lessons at my studio.
It struck me that I hadn’t used oil paint for years and so today I decided to dig out my oil paints and have a go.
I immediately loved and remembered the wonderful buttery feel of the paint and being able to manipulate it for much longer than it is possible to push acrylic paint around. It was a revelation. See above. I reworked this acrylic painting which has been worrying me for some time. It just wasn’t working before. Also I found the oil colours so vibrant, especially the cadmium red. Could it be that the symbiotic relationship of teaching and doing has revitalised my own art practise? I’m quite sure it has. Teaching forces you to analyse every part of art making. This is a classic example.
Below is a second acrylic which I also reworked with oil paint.
This swimmer painting was going nowhere and becoming too figurative and stiff. The fluidity of the oil paint rescued it.
I so enjoyed doing my own stuff this morning but am sure I would not have attempted oils had I not spent time with one of my pupils.
This episode has made me extra conscious of the need to keep blogging too. The routine I began whilst at Uni. was so valuable in forcing me to think more deeply about actions and I have let it slip lately.
That and the visit to the Picasso exhibition which prompted me to be more consistent with drawing are valuable and timely lessons. Painting and Drawing are symbiotic activities as are Teaching and Doing. So, another step forward I hope.
A page from Picasso’s sketchbook
Can’t believe I haven’t blogged since Nov. 2019 !!! Been rather busy I suppose.
But had to report on the visit to The RA. I was persuaded by my daughter to go to the RA after pleading that it was too cold, too tiring , too much to brave the exhausting journey to London. Am I getting old? But now so glad she won. What a sensational insight into the mind of Picasso. My goodness, that man could draw. Was totally blown away by the quantity and quality of the work. I simply must go again before it closes. The variety and profusion of drawings was staggering.
I often say that drawing is at the heart of my own practice but I realise that I don’t draw enough. My pursuit of pushing my painting into a more abstract phase has rather overtaken my erstwhile habit of drawing just for the sake of drawing. I must get back to basics and draw more. At many stages of my life drawing has been a solice, an automatic response to just being here, being alive, being in the moment.
Here are a couple of drawings I made aged four. They show that even at this young age I was drawing exactly what I saw.The figures, unlike many children drawings are surprisingly in proportion. They do not have huge forward- facing heads but are ‘real’. I have to thank my father for preserving these two. But I do remember drawing endlessly as a child so goodness knows how many of these did not survive. As a teenager I found it very strange that not everyone could draw what they saw. It seemed such a natural process to me.
The Wedding picture depicts myself as bridesmaid, the maid of honour, of whom I was terrified, in a red dress, and probably my aunt, who was the bride. The second drawing is my mother just post-pregnant pushing my new baby brother in the pram.
But lately drawing has been crowded out by tapping the keys on this very machine. Dreadful habit but in today’s technological world, unavoidable. Picasso’s lifelong affair with paper and pencil has reminded me of the thing I love more than even painting. Back to drawing for me…..NOW.
Just two of the 300 images at the wonderful Picasso exhibition at the RA. My fingers positively itched for a pencil or any drawing instrument and made me realise I must downgrade my search for abstraction in painting and return to my abiding love of drawing for it’s own sake.
Well, at last I’ve got my studio and what a difference it’s made to my life. It was worth the wait.
Seeing some of my paintings in more spacious surroundings, I am able to make better decisions on that thorny question ‘is it finished?’, make subtle alterations and generally just paint. It’s a revelation having a truly dedicated separate space to paint and to think and best of all …. just stop and go home when you reach the end of your concentration for the day.
Alec has put up some batons on the biggest wall so I’m able to shift things around at will so I can consider the next move or even paint on the wall. In response to this I’ve made two smaller versions of “Cornard Wood’ just visible on the wall. Quite pleased with these and will frame them as a triptych I think.
Lovely too, to be able to sort out exactly which paintings I’m going to take to Art Fair East on 28th Nov. Always enjoy this exhibition and if anyone’s interested there’s a free ticket for this you can print off from Twitter or Facebook. Well worth a visit!