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I’ve had a wonderful few days in the shed, something that has been a long time coming, but sometimes there simply isn’t enough quiet to stop still enough to see and to create. This week there seems to be a level of stillness that has allowed creativity to occur. I have been working on this piece of work for nearly two years, a ridiculous amount of time, and since the gauntlet putter-downers have now completed their course as much as they could do, I feel a responsibility to complete my side of the deal – to try and paint as realistically as I can.

The piece is slowly taking shape, and the layers of colour building slowly – the last 24 hours especially has been simply joyous. At this rate it may even be done before Christmas!!!

Although this slide show goes from what it’s like now backwards to how it was, you can get the gist of what I’ve tried to do. The colour of the skin was all over the place, but in trying to rectify this I lost the eyes. I’m in the middle of trying to recapture the eyes now. More pleased with the tone of the skin although potentially not ‘smooth’ nor ‘realistic’ enough for my A-Level student’s gauntlet challenge. In my defence I think I may soak stain the whole skin again like I did in the beginning.

Also realised that the forehead is way too high but can rectify this when the hair is added …. goodness knows how I’m going to do the hair! Aiming to get into the shed at least twice before next weekend now virtual school is starting again tomorrow. But pleased with progress so far.

Progress so far in situ

Space space and more space

Only been in the shed for 40 mins today but made more space…. largely by piling all the junk in one tiny area, but that works for me right now. Just so great to get the space back to a point where work can begin.

Shed as was…

So today found me back in the shed, and boy has it been a long time. It’s become a bit of a dumping ground since I started the job so it needs a little bit of a sort…. do you think?!?

Such a phenomenal privilege to be able to have such a space. I forgot. Stupidly forgot. But being back in that space, even just sorting out the bags of school work and books and art work from the dead spiders really changed something in me, or moreover connected something back up within me, healed something I didn’t even know was broken. Excited about what the next few days and weeks will hold.

Work station for gauntlet piece
Work station for more flat pieces

During the summer I was fortunate enough to catch the Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at The Tate Britain. I was initially a little disappointed as the first section was literally other artists’ work and van Gogh’s attempts at trying to copy or emulate them. I was struck by how similar his painting apprenticeship was to the A-Level course: looking and being influenced by other artists in such a way that it develops your own voice.

Now in full time teaching I am finding it incredibly difficult to find time to do my own art but the A-Level and GCSE classes are moments where I can use ‘mock ups’ or ‘examples’ to keep my creative expression alive. Creating a portfolio to enable the students to see the process, the structure and the type of work needed has been a real privilege and working alongside these amazing young artists has also been a real inspiration.

The piece above is based on the work of Joan Dumouchel, her paleness of face, the use of gold in the background, in the hair and on the lip, the soak staining of the background and placement of colour – all these elements contributed to the formation of my own work. My plan is to look at three or four other artists and see how I can glean skills and processes and ways of seeing from them, and then pull it altogether in a series of work. Looking forward to creating again.

img_5513 Not much to look at this may be but this is the first creative play I’ve carried out since September. I’ve been exploring the fact that I can procrastinate: that I let other things take up my time and that art is seriously being squeezed from my agenda. Everything else’s seems to have more importance, more weight attached to it and I’ve been choosing to do these ‘other’ things when I could have chosen to do art. Needless to say my son would be without birthday cake and my daughter may not have had the cereal boxes school required she needed, but something at some point must give. I cannot keep making excuses. What on earth am I afraid of? So face the music I must, and take a step into the vastness that is creativity I must stand. And I choose initially to do it with said cereal boxes rejected by my daughter for their smallness, plasticine and kitchen foil!! Let the creative play begin….. and continue 🙂

……. and let’s hope I can cook tea in super fast time!!!!!

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Today has been a good day already..in fact yesterday was rather splendid as well, in a ‘I ticked off the list of things I needed to do’ kind of way rather than in a world event way.  I’ve continued playing with rags and the idea that something discarded can become something new and even precious.

I’ve played a lot with wrapping the rags around different types of spheres and am pleased with the results, pleased enough to keep going in this direction for now. By adding the text the pieces are becoming more scroll like, unraveling a secret or a piece of wisdom. I like this, but experimenting with the type, amount and size of text now.

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Just call me Jonah. Seriously surprised I am not currently sitting within the belly of a massive fish but maybe I am in a metaphorical way. Let me explain.

I was given a picture or an image in my mind nearly eight years ago at a women’s weekend. It was incredibly clear and I could see it immediately in painterly form, which is rare. Usually an initially image is very blurry and I only have a sense of what it may look like: the scale, the tone, the meaning. But in this case it was clear. I was standing there, it was me, a photograph of me, and this water was sort of falling down….. on top of me, washing, cleansing, restoring. It was incredibly moving and it still is. And the way the image presented itself was like the figure was painted and as the paint was washed away the reality underneath, the photograph, was revealed.

and then I ignored the image….. for eight years. No idea why. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Maybe the timing is right now, but the image has been re-revealed to me again and again over the last week, even last night at the Alpha course when we were spoken to about Holy Spirit. So today it’s time to start and already something within me is becoming unlocked.

I have a good friend, good because she keeps me accountable and listens even when I talk utter drivel, kindly pointing out it is utter drivel when I’m strong enough to listen. Anyway she has know for absolutely ages that this piece of work needs to be done and she has been like water in a cave, slowing hinting, sometimes bellowing, relentlessly reminding me that this piece of work has to be done and although at the beginning it was like a slow steady heartbeat I now see this stalactite built up before me that I simply cannot ignore. So I just wanted to say thank you Westwood x

Back to the shed……

So frustrated. I’ve completely lost my thread. I went into the shed today after a week’s absence and I’ve completely forgotten what the point of the pieces were. I just looked at them and couldn’t work it out. I’ve had ideas milling around in my mind but not substantial enough to note down or with enough substance to draw, and somewhere in the mix of all this I’ve lost what I was trying to achieve. So I think, space tonight with a mug of tea or a glass of wine to just sit and think, to sketch and write….. find my thread again.

I’ve just read the previous post about finding who you are and not compromising and not having fear to express who you truly are….. Think it’s more important than I thought to regain the meaning!!

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I think this is one of the biggest mistakes I often make with my work….. Working and working on a piece until I have lost the initial spontaneity it began with. I think I may have done this with the piece that sort of looks through the clouds. But hey ho. Will find out when it dries.

Got excited again this morning about another potential idea that frightens me a little bit. I’ve been looking at work by the artist Charlie Mackesy and although I could never create in the same way he does, his whole ethos of finding and expressing your true self has challenged me greatly. He talks about initially being fearful of making statements through his artwork in case they become diluted. ” to have the guts to be truly who you are and not to fake anything is a scary place to be…… to live truly who you are.”

Excited for many reasons, the main one is that I know I hold back slightly from my art work, and this needs to change. I have no idea what will happen but suddenly feel released from something that I didn’t even know was holding me. No fear.