Bringing Things Back Into Line

Or, it can be more like bringing yourself back into line! Painting can definitely be a combination of both.

This one started freely with hope, a sense of excitement, free gestural wedge marks and fun graphite lines.

Collage felt like just the thing so I decided to play about on top of the paint and graphite.

Now what? Some digital fiddling perhaps? It can be fun, if not time consuming, looking for designs using a photo editing app …. could really lead you astray!

After digital play time, I decided to use one of the weird imaginary landscape designs I had “found”. Who knows how the mind of an artist works!?

Ok, so that just didn’t do it for me.

How to remedy the situation and bring it back into line so to speak? There were several choices, as there always are.

  • Bring it back into line by covering the whole lot and starting afresh, ie kill it
  • Use more collage on top
  • Do some more wedgy play on top, or
  • Get busy and sand it back a bit, or a lot.

Sanding sounded adventurous so I went with that option. After sanding for a while it started to look and feel better. Perhaps we are onto something here! It took longer than you’d think to hand sand it back to something that seemed acceptable. The painting is on paper, but the paper seems able to take a beating. Anyway, this was the result.

The artist is happy now it seems …. might put it in a local art society exhibition if I can get it mounted on a cradled wooden panel in time.

All went well, but after carefully glueing it to a panel and weighing it down overnight I discovered bubbles under the paper. NOT happy! The damn thing is fighting back! If the bubbles can’t be fixed it’s the end of going in the exhibition and (the painting doesn’t realise this) but it’s the end of it too. (It would have to be removed from the panel which isn’t pretty.)

After another unscheduled “bringing it back into line” assignment (which is a rather voodoo doll like exercise) and resealing it, we have the painting below – “Feeling Frosty”, a slightly smaller, cropped version, all stuck down neatly on a white cradled panel and ready to hang in the exhibition.

All this toing and froing is inevitable, but it’s part of the joy of making art. I guess it’s similar to being out of control! There are, however, varying degrees of control and frustrations in art, or lack of them, as the case may be. Artists’ moods, temperaments and how they “cope” with these experiences also vary. Do you give up, or, continue, have fun and hope for the best? What might be sheer joy to one of us delicate creatures will send the next one mad! Indeed, I myself have moved from the mad camp to the joy camp. Well, I like to think that’s where I am most of the time.

Happy creating!

These new paintings of mine are now listed for sale on Bluethumb.

“Switchback” 22cm wide x 22cm high
“Party at the Gorge” 67cm wide x 70cm high

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Two Ways You Can Influence Yourself

During a recent break from social media I thought about what my free time was bringing to my creativity.  A wandering mind is a curious thing.

This photo and the compilation image of four sketches below it are from a recent wander at Mt Field National Park. Lots of inspiration and influence up there!

The first thing I noticed about my social media break was that all the stuff I didn’t see wasn’t influencing my art.  Fair observation I guess, even if rather obvious!

The good thing about that observational gem is that I found myself being influenced by my own work.  (It’s a never ending circular type phenomenon …. if you let it happen.)  I was forced to think more within myself.  Solutions and ideas weren’t available at the click of a button, nor were they offering themselves uninvited on my screen.

Images such as the one below provide real life influences. These Pencil Pines (Athrotaxis cupressoides) are listed as vulnerable because their population is decreasing.  I love their form.  Even the dead ones are inspiring. Look at how those plants in the foreground are hugging the rock.  There’s a feeling of desperation.)

Something else I do is encourage or allow inspiring “what if?” thoughts to turn up.  They’re related to my art on the whole and often provide me with an exciting new direction to explore.  Sometimes, it’s just an intuitive feeling that “something” is going to come, soon, if I just let it happen. With more free time the “what ifs” began to turn up more often.

What if I throw down some collage before I start my plein air sketch?  So I chose some collage paper I thought was suitable and glued it down.  The “what if” became a “wonder if”. I wonder if this idea will take me somewhere new?

What if I draw as I’m walking along the beach? Literally …. because there’s little to trip over! And, what if I overlap the drawings? “Salty” the duck was doing her own “what if”. She was foraging for food in the wet sand at the waterline.

What if by the end of my break away from looking at the screen, I am able to breakaway from some of the stuff that often keeps my art predictable?  (From my point of view at least.)  What if it feels more authentically mine?

A “what if?” is by nature something new that you haven’t thought of or done before.  So, presumably, it could lead you somewhere you haven’t been yet.

Amazing how more time and quiet, subconscious, consideration can put a spark in your thoughts and your art! 

New Work

Here are several new pieces that have been listed for sale on Bluethumb. Click the images for more information.

“Verdant” 68cm wide x 71cm high
“Romp” 71cm wide x 68cm high
“On the Face of It” 66cm wide x 67cm high
“Forces at Play” 98cm wide x 68cm high

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Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

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Sticky Situations

Have you ever been plagued by being stuck, unable to move forward? Desperately wanting to run towards your dream but, somehow, unable to move. A ball and chain around your ankle perhaps.

(I keep wanting to move Mickey’s apparatus closer to the wall!)

There’s lots of advice and stuff (other than silly gifs) on the web to “assist” you in this quest! I’ve always believed that it’s really only me that can find a way around my ruts. But I get very frustrated when I get stuck again and again and end up feeling like there’s a major fault somewhere that needs fixing.

“Just do it” they say. Yeah, right! Like it’s that easy! There are any number of “solutions” out there, none of which have worked very well for me so far.

I think there are so many factors that contribute to these frustrating times that you have to be very lucky to find the right solutions for you. Our lives are so variable and different and our backgrounds just as much so. Surely “just do it” is an oversimplification. I often feel it comes from people who miraculously don’t seem to have these problems.

Yet, at the same time it seems to be one of the keys because no matter what tiny thing you start with, it’s likely to make you feel good about what you’ve done and it might lead to more action, at least in the short term.

(A bit of texture – gessoing past paintings. Yummy!)

It worked today. I chose the mindless studio job of gessoing paper. I got into the swing of it, which led to gessoing over six old paintings so I can reuse the canvases. Now I have some inspiring textured canvases to work on.

Recently, I watched a couple of videos about this problem and creativity in general.

One of them stated that you can’t keep going with self motivation alone. It later went on to say, about one of the proposed steps, that, you won’t feel like doing it, but you just have to! Wouldn’t that take motivation? Mmmm!

The same video suggested that action changes your mood. I think I would generally agree with this. Taking action means you can cross something off your list. Or, you’ve started and it’s most likely going to be easier to keep the momentum going. You might now be excited and have completed or moved closer to completing something.

(It worked with getting these cards ready for a small exhibition I have coming up.  I started by pulling out some work to find crops in.  I found a few so I kept going.)

The other video I watched was looking at Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas and habits around creativity. The ideas, while seemingly simple, point again to motivation plus consistency in habits.

The stand out item here for me was keeping a notebook and consistently using it for various things that were suggested. No, I don’t do it consistently!

(I did manage to make a list of items to get ready for that exhibition and it has helped keep me on track.  These A5 size images are now ready to mat up.)

So, to get started…..plan something vaguely motivational, however small, to get you started, take some action, write about and record it, make more plans in your notebook and….back to being motivated! Leonardo would be proud! Together, they all lead to action and hopefully the development of habits.

But what about the inevitable obstacle? Internal, external, emotional, physical and mental obstacles, out of our control or not. In my case, this puts me back to square one! The first video suggested planning for these obstacles.

But how?! Probably, the stronger, more long lived, the habit and the greater the importance we attach to it, the easier it will be to overcome obstacles?

This dreadful thing or one of its cleaning cousins can be constant obstacles for most of us!

For example, with respect to the “obstacle” above, I suspect most of us have been conditioned to feel better about our art time if we diligently put in some time using it, or a cousin, before starting our art! Only if it’s needed of course!

Obstacles come in a wide range of types and it all seems complicated. But really it isn’t, once you have a good think, you can try to brush aside the unhelpful thoughts and alter unhelpful habits! You have to try, then try some more and more again, because it doesn’t seem to be consistent or predictable and circumstances change. Habits take a while to change as well. Some sort of reliable method is needed and it probably needs to be your own. Not that of an internet guru, who when it all boils down to it, is just like you and I, but they’ve found their own way and want to spread the good word!

My advice. Find your own way folks. I’m still looking!!

I like to remember these wise words that are generally attributed to Einstein:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

I would add that it could conversely be ….

The definition of insanity is not doing something time and time again and expecting a different result!

Here’s to momentum and bliss in art!

Here’s a little “stop press” item!

(Don’t they look cheerful.)

It’s a very nice feeling to think six of my nine little A5 size images sold (that’s $600!) at the Mystery Art Sale in September for the children of Haiti. I received these three back today with this lovely photo and card.

Its amazing and inspirational how sometimes there can be happiness coexisting with hardship. These children are only a few of the 500 or so in the Despuzeau area which is an extremely poor region.

I have to admit I was quite skeptical about selling unframed, unmounted, anonymously presented A5 sized images for $100, but with $16,500 in sales my hesitancy was unjustified.

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Click here to find out about exhibitions I currently have work in.

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