Inner Critic

I painted ‘My inner critic is no expert’ as a reminder : )

There are days when we are so critical of ourselves… days when we think we can’t or we try but things don’t go well and so we decide we won’t… days when the little things overwhelm us and the bigger picture is nowhere to be seen.

Even if they are few and far between, these days still lurk. They return time and time again. Maybe I’ve just painted* the best thing I’ve ever painted and I feel on top of the world. I move on to the next one and nothing goes right. But why? Yesterday it was easy. Yesterday was a joy. Yesterday I even felt like an artist.

Mark Romer famously referred to this as part of The Creative Process and Danny Gregory has devoted an entire book to the subject (‘Shut Your Monkey’). Yes, I’m a big fan of laughing at our inner critic. We do not ~ repeat NOT ~ have to take them seriously.

Okay, sometimes it’s easier said than done. But worthwhile things are very rarely easy. And creating art, no matter what anyone says, is most definitely worthwhile.

* feel free to substitute any creative activity you enjoy for “painted”

Unafraid (word prompts)

“The main inhibitor for creativity is just being scared…. You’re afraid that your ideas aren’t good enough. If you can get over that hump where you don’t care whether your ideas are any good or not, then you can be successful.” James Kochalka

The following six-word stories were prompted by the Page Flutter Six-Word Story Challenge. I’m also posting a few of my favourites over on Instagram.

28. She can. Of course she can.

29. She was unafraid… and dangerously optimistic.

30. School’s out! Now life’s lessons begin.

31. Writers gonna write, prompted or not.

1. Reputation shmeputation. It’s actions that matter.

2. Leap? I’m happy with baby steps.

3. Foolhardy, he was clearly not responsible.

[May/June prompts: she can…, unafraid, school’s out!, (no prompt), the lion, leap, daredevil.]

P.S. The background image is a detail of one of the new little paintings which I wrote about in my previous post.

All I can be is me — whoever that is

Wild Clouds – acrylic on canvas, 200 x 610 mm, 2017

“All I can be is me — whoever that is.” Bob Dylan

Another painting; another journey. ‘Wild Clouds’ incorporates quite a few of my favourite things: mountains, clouds, light, texture, the familiar and the abstract. It won’t appeal to everyone. That’s okay. My husband diplomatically says “it’s not my taste” and that’s okay too. Hey, I’m not quite sure I like it. But then I leave the room and come back and think, mmmm, yes, it really is okay. It changes with the light. It shifts and doesn’t stay still. I love the colours and the shape of the clouds. It is playful. It is dramatic. And, at the end of the day, it is finished.

I used an almost identical palette to that of ‘The Heart of a Rose’ with the addition of a shimmery gold for the sunset. The red was mixed into the pinks, purples, and greys. I originally intended the sky to be quite golden and more like the reference photograph (see below) but it didn’t look right. It was too happy, too sunny for winter.The golden light looks wonderful in the photo… but then the snow in the photo isn’t blue. Changes were made, layers were added (a lot of lovely layers), and now it is done.

Wild Clouds – detail
Wild Clouds – side detail
Alpine Sunset, 2013, photo reference
Wild Clouds – in situ

Worry is a misuse of the imagination

“Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” Dan Zadra

Painting this little canvas was a joy. I had some paint left over from a project and didn’t want it to go to waste. I’m so happy with the colours that I’m thinking of painting a much larger version. No varnish for this one. I don’t want to change a thing.

Patina – acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 mm, 2017. Available.

Everything you can imagine is real

An Answer to Prayer, detail – mixed media on canvas

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

‘An Answer to Prayer’ is my latest painting: an abstract initially inspired by, of all things, fridge poetry.* But the words were just the starting point. This painting has taken me on quite a journey. I’ve ventured way outside my comfort zone. Way, way outside. I have painted abstracts before but this was an entirely different experience and I’ve ended up with something that doesn’t look like anything I’ve painted before. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re experimenting. I would call it an imagined landscape rather than an imaginary one. It’s surreal and personal and creating it has made me see Picasso’s words in a new light.

*Fridge poetry is made from magnetic word sets that can be arranged and rearranged on a fridge door, providing endless hours of fun and amusement. I posted photographs of some of my favourites on Facebook a few years ago. This painting was inspired by one of those poems and was transferred to the canvas using the same technique as ‘Time’.

An Answer to Prayer – mixed media on canvas, 305 x 610 mm, 2017. Sold.
An Answer to Prayer, another view

Any road will take you there

Any Road Will Take You There – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017. Available for purchase.
Any Road Will Take You There – acrylic on canvas, 405 x 405 mm, 2017 (sold)

God bless our contradictions, those parts of us which seem out of character. Let us be boldly and gladly out of character. Let us be creatures of paradox and variety: creatures of contrast; of light and shade: creatures of faith. God be our constant. Let us step out of character into the unknown, to struggle and love and do what we will. Amen.
‘A Note on God’ by Michael Leunig

Yes, I’m still exploring Arthur’s Pass in paint. ‘Any Road Will Take You There’ is similar to ‘A Road Runs Through It’ and ‘Summer Somewhere’ but also quite different. This time I’ve hinted at the telegraph poles and allowed the foreground to melt into the mountains. I really pushed myself to do something I hadn’t done before and I’m very happy with the result. And if the title sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a paraphrase of a line spoken by the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.” It’s also a line from a George Harrison song but I didn’t realise that until after I’d named it.

Creating brighter futures

Make For Good mini paintings (now sold)

I created these bright little paintings for this year’s Make For Good charity fundraiser which officially launched this week. Etsy sellers from around Australia and New Zealand have made items reflecting the ‘Creating Brighter Futures’ theme and are donating a minimum of 20% towards Plan International Australia’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, raising funds to support women and girls in developing communities around the world.

To learn more about this project, please go to www.etsy.me/makeforgood
Make For Good 2016 runs until December 19th @etsyau @plan_australia

The Flower Gardener and The Butterfly Catcher * available on Etsy *
The Flower Gardener and The Butterfly Catcher (now sold)

How do you measure success?

The Christchurch Art Show 2016, opening night
The Christchurch Art Show 2016, opening night

The Christchurch Art Show has come and gone for another year. What a fantastic event! I had even more fun than last year and I’ve come away from it greatly encouraged and with a very clear idea of what I want to do next year. Was it successful? Yes. You will, I suppose, want to know how sales went. For me, sales were modest. I’ve returned with a lot of work that ‘almost’ found new homes. Am I disappointed? I guess I am a bit. But it’s not all about selling paintings. It really isn’t. If that’s the only measure of success, we’re all in big trouble.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been getting more and more interested in painting semi-abstract work like Endless Possibilities, wanting to do more impressionist/expressionist art like Country Gate and Warm Night, Southern Sky, and to incorporate more graphic elements along the lines of Landscape in the Late Afternoon (with cows). Exhibiting at the show this year has helped me to fine-tune these ideas and has strengthened my resolve to continue my art journey (and to not get a day job just yet).

Working in series is still going to be key. I want to create conversations on canvas, stories and poetry that will spill over the edges of one canvas and onto others (I mean that metaphorically but who knows…). But that’s enough for now. I don’t want to give away all my secrets ; )

I’ll leave you with two of my favourite quotes.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

“Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.”
Michael Leunig

What other people want

WIP underpainting — charcoal and paint
WIP underpainting — charcoal and paint
WIP — more paint
WIP — more paint
WIP — colour blocking
WIP — colour blocking

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” Barbara Kingsolver

I love this quote. What is it that I have to say? I’d rather let the painting do the talking.