Tag Archives: art

The Ghost of Good Fortune

I recently spent a lovely evening in the company of Samia and Paolo Tossio on their excellent Knit and Mix Facebook Live mash up. Samia talks and makes art with a guest while Paulo plays some excellent house music. You can visit Samia’s art page, and watch the recording, it’s a good blend of chaotic tuneful fun.

My plan was to make a free art drop live on the show, integrating some of my favourite artistic themes (the elements, movement, and impermanence), with wool, one of Samia’s favourite materials. Over the course of the two hours we spent together – three pieces of art emerged.

It had originally been my intention for this week’s free art drop to be the art work in the top left of the above photos. I had provisionally titled it ‘Wandering and Wondering’, and overnight – as the images wandered and wondered around my mind, my thinking shifted. Instead I was drawn to the tall striped piece – and this morning i added a koi fish to the painting. IMG_4256.jpg

The koi represents good luck and abundance, and as this koi appears as a simple outline, I decided to call the piece ‘The Ghost of Good Fortune’. This will be the next free art drop – keep an aye out for it if you live in the Wallington and Carshalton area.

Cards On The Table

I recently spent a really interesting day at my local college on a “Preparing for Professional Practice’ course. The day was full of good ideas, and I may well blog a summary at some point. For now – I want to focus on one particular question raised, that being ‘What’s the most important part of your marketing strategy?’

Much discussion about websites, flyers, and galleries ensued. Once we were all talked out, our tutor asked, ‘Who here has a business card?’ There were seven of us in the room, and only one of us could answer this question positively. Our tutor suggested that the humble business card is that most important part of the marketing strategy.

Initially I felt underwhelmed. I can’t remember the last time I ordered business cards, they’ve become somewhat unfashionable in many business circles I currently move in. The idea stuck in my head, and over a few weeks, it stayed stuck – niggling me. I decided to explore the niggle, and found myself looking through loads of my work, searching for images which might look good as a business card. I chose, rejected, rechose, rejected, again and again and again. In the end, I settled on five images, each of which tell a story as well as making a visual statement.

You’ll find all these images, and a variation of the one on the bottom right, elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t retell the stories here and now, but next time you see me, ask me for my card, and I’ll happily tell the tale behind the image.

I used Moo to print the cards which are made with super thick 600 gsm paper with a lovely blue seam sandwiched in between the layers.

Will the humble business card become the most important part of my marketing strategy? Time will tell.

Green Silver-lines

Where do good ideas come from? I often make art with a title or a theme in mind. Often, and not always…

I’ve been busy this week and my free art will be placed a little later than usual, it’s going out on Sunday this week. I’ve been experimenting with my elemental art theme again – and been looking at and thinking about Spring. I made these two small sketches, slight variations on previous designs, and once complete – I wasn’t sure what to call them.

Googling the words green and silver, I learned of a moth called Green Silver-lines. This woodland moth is green with three white lines crossing its wings. I have three silver lines on my green design – so now I have a title for this work.

I haven’t yet decided which one to place, have you got a preference?

The Free Art Project : Week 52. Anniversary

This week marks the one year anniversary of the free art project, I’ve been making and hiding art in the local area, every week for a whole year. Time flies when you’re having fun. This week I’ll give away the 76th art work, and this is what it looks like.

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The work is titled ‘Anniversary’. The painting represents a Chinese red envelope – traditionally used to contain money as a gift for a celebration. We’re looking down onto a carp fish, a symbol which represents abundance, and the characters on the left hand side of the painting represent the word anniversary.

Thank you to everyone who supports this project. I appreciate your ideas, feedback, participation and encouragement more than you know. I’m grateful to Carole and Keira for the many good ideas they share with me, and most recently, thank you to the poet Adrian Thirkell who has started writing verse to accompany some of the recent art works. I’d love to experience more collaborations as the project continues to develop.

I’m really excited to confirm that the free art project has recently been awarded a grant from Arts Network Sutton. This grant will help me develop and extend the project through some community events. Watch this space!

 

Morning Coffee

The past week has been really tiring. Preparing for, and delivering the Art of Resilience took quite a bit out of me, and in addition, work’s been tough this week. We’ve been analysing the fallout of an unexpected, and pretty toxic resignation from a partnership I work with. More of that another time on my other blog.

I arrived at the end of the week feeling drained, yet needing to make art for the free art drop. Inspiration had I none. In conversation with one of my colleagues, I said I needed more coffee, and Jenny suggested that maybe, the coffee pot should be my subject this week.

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I took a few minutes to look at the pot in situ, before bringing it to my desk, and drawing it.

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I was concentrating on my observation skills – I took my time over the drawing. On reflection – it’s a bit tight. I was trying too hard to capture the detail of the pot, and you can see this in some of the lines – they lack confidence and directness in places. I’ve also drawn the pot taller and narrower than it is. This observation stuff is hard work!

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I added some silver leaf to give the effect of age, and added in some fineliner to make one or two elements stand out a little more (this photo was taken before the fineliner was applied. This art has since been hidden and found as part of the We Are All Artists free art project.

It’s not my usual style of work – but I like it, I might make another to hang in our kitchen!

 

The Art of Resilience

I stood at the front of the stage, facing bright lights and about 200 people. Alongside stood some of my art.

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My friend, and conference chair Neil Usher introduced me. He said some lovely things about me, none of which I can remember!

I told the audience how nervous I was feeling. I did this as part of my coping mechanism, and also to explain that we all have a story to tell, and if I can stand there and overcome my nerves, you can choose to do that too.

As a member of the Women’s Equality Party and with it being International Women’s Day, I felt compelled to say something about the speaker line up. I thanked Clare and Flick, the two women presenters among the line up of seventeen people, and encouraged the conference organisers to work harder to provide a more balanced line up in future.

Introductions over, it’s time to get started. I’d been asked to deliver my session in the Pecha Kucha format. 20 slides, each one on screen for just 20 seconds. This is a tough presenting discipline, it requires a lot of planning, and distillation.

Here is the transcript of the talk:

What is resilience? In a search for the meaning of life, I approached Facebook and Twitter, asking, I say resilience, you say…?

I was overwhelmed with responses – almost all of them different. Too many to list and I hope to distil some in the next few minutes.

Writing in the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova says:

‘Whether you can be said to have resilience or not largely depends, on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?’

I take issue with this either or/binary approach – for me, part of resilience is being open to the possibilities. I use art in my consulting work because it invites inquiry, Its subjective nature helps us let go of our addiction to certainty.

The human brain holds many thoughts – let’s use more of them to nurture ourselves, and each other, in pursuit of better outcomes.

I’m going to briefly touch on my experience of resilience in relation to three important things.

  • Coping with loss
  • Connection and creativity
  • The beauty of impermanence

In 2012 when my Dad died, after the post death rush of the funeral, I tried to get over the loss. The harder I tried the more I failed.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler wrote

‘The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but, you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.’

Once I grasped this, and it took years to do so, I could then appreciate I am not the same, nor do I want to be.

We need to stop telling each other to get over loss, and encourage healing and rebuilding instead.

Tash Stallard, a dear friend, suggests that when we undertake those simple things which bring us joy – taking a walk, reading, and in my case, painting, we dissolve the need for resilience. There’s real power in this idea. I love Tash and how she thinks.

As my art develops, my need for resilience dissolves. I slowly become more confident, with colour, shape, and texture. I start to experiment with themes, currently I’m exploring a form of elemental art. Connectedness borne of what we come from, and what we need to survive. Each element; earth, water, air, fire, is made tangible in geometric forms, using acrylic paints, gold and silver leaf. I also find the confidence to share different, emerging work with you. I build resilience through experimentation, and the sharing helps strengthen connections.

In April 2016 I began to make art and give it away in my local community of Wallington and Carshalton. So far I’ve made and given away 75 art works. The connections made with my practice, with community are invaluable. The people in my home town know each other better, in part thanks to the art. And it’s not just my immediate community – I’ve left work in Australia and the USA, as well as other parts of the UK too.

I’m starting to approach the community for ideas – what should I paint this week? These exchanges, small though they are, build connectedness, and resilience among us. As my resilience grows around the project, I take on ideas I wouldn’t have dreamt of previously. I’m asked, can you paint a turtle? It would appear the answer is yes.

There’s a lot of love in and around this project.

My third observation is this. There is beauty in impermanence and imperfection, and our resilience helps us see this.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer containing powdered gold. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise. Kintsugi pieces are prized precisely because they have been broken. The cracks you see in these pieces represents how the broken lines themselves are so beautiful, and so important, that they are rejoined with gold instead of glue.

In our lives, we often try to repair our broken places with glue. We quietly work to piece our lives back together after life-changing events, hoping that if we do a good enough job, the cracks won’t be readily visible. Sooner or later, we all carry scars, whether they be internal, external, or both. We will all break in different places, and in different ways. To me, resilience means acknowledging the beauty in those breaks, not trying to deny their existence.

But what really matters, as I learned in my search, is what’s important to you. I hope you find more of that here, today.

People responded in a lovely way, both immediately after the talk, and through the rest of the day. Yes it was a nerve racking experience, and I’m glad I did it, and I’m pleased to have been asked.

Follow this link to see the slides I used to accompany the talk.

 

Free Movement

This is a small series of abstract works, designed to consider movement. The pieces are layered, each layer representing a different element of movement.

I started with wet paper to which I added graded shades of water colour, the idea was to represent the drift and movement from one colour to another.

Once that dried, the next layer arrived as paint splashed from the brush, a much more random movement. Finally I blew some gilding paste across the surface of each piece, then applied some gold leaf. It took more readily in certain areas than others.

One of the finished pieces featured in the ITV News article about my free art project, and was given away near Beddington Park. Another piece has been given away in Wallington and a third has been gifted. There are three post card sized pieces remaining in the series – if you like the look of any of them – drop me a line, they are for sale.

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