Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Messy Studio!

By popular demand I have taken some photos for you of my studio as it looked this morning.
When I get creative it is like a frenzy - brushes get dropped, rags all over the floor, paint gets everywhere!
The bin overflows and the pile of struggles and rejects gets deeper.

I have spilled my jars over several times lately - but I just let it all air dry on its own.
It simply adds colour to my "Arty" worktop!

This folks - is why I needed a proper studio to work in - I can just leave it all for the next time! Fabulous!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Painting Up a Storm

The urge to create became all too powerful today so I took the day off work and spent the entire day in the studio.
It has been pushing me towards such a day for a while now, every day after my allotted one or two hours I allow myself to paint I pack it in with regret, irritated that I have to wait until the next day before I can have another go.
It reminds me of what my astrologer Dawie said earlier this year – that I would become obsessed with painting to the exclusion of everything else. I even forewent my daily run today.
Maybe I am subconsciously trying to fulfil Dawie’s prophesy, or maybe it’s because I have an exhibition coming up on Sunday and I want to have something to show for it.
So I am seven hours billing time poorer – but I have one finished painting and another two almost done!

I am running out of canvases – Aisch!
The stack of rejects is piling up – I am running out of places to put them all – but luckily I can go over old stuff and make it into something new.
The Mind Emerging Mark 2 was a rejected experiment before I painted it over.

The strelitzia painting is a follow up of my earlier strelitzia painting – this one I finished last week but am only posting it now.

Hmm –maybe I shall take a photo of my studio – the creative frenzy has left it in quite a mess!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vision Boards - Do They Really Work?

I am a great believer in affirmations, vision boards and the like. I have read The Secret, The Success Principles and various other books on how to achieve what you want.
I am happy to report that this stuff works – it really does.
I have hankered for my very own art studio for many years - it was always my biggest excuse for not painting. Well, I eventually got one set up last year and at the start of this year I decided to take my art seriously and began painting for the first time in many years.
Around the same time I started my vision book – it’s an A4 hardcover book which I carefully covered in gold paper and plastic wrap (It’s gotta be special).
I found pictures of the things I wanted and put one on each page, plus I write in the book daily – with goals and affirmations.
Here are some of the things in my book:
A picture of a painting by a South African artist I admired and which I wanted to buy – this one took three months – it’s now hanging in my lounge.
A screenshot of my bank account with lots of money in it – still working on this one!
A picture of three different professional cameras – I was wanting a really good camera so I could take better source photos for my art – this goal took six months – my dad gave me his rather decent Pentax plus all the lenses out of the blue last month. NB – he knew nothing about this goal.
Two pictures of beautiful tango shoes – one pair has a high heel – since my foot op last November I have not been able to wear heels much – but my foot is getting better all the time and I know it is only a matter of time – I am aiming for three to four months from now.
I wrote down that I wanted an exhibition by February 2011 – achieved this goal a couple of weeks ago – so it actually only took seven months.
One of my friends is also my tango teacher and he is a great believer in my art. It so happened that suddenly the dance studio closed down unexpectedly and he had nowhere to teach (he works freelance). So he found a way to get the studio going again by taking over the premises, getting other teachers to join him putting in a new floor etc. He then suggested I exhibit my artwork in the studio – it has loads of wall space – so of course I agreed.
So now my work is looking good in there and everyone who comes to the dance studio gets to see it. He gets the bonus of filling up his empty walls and also a commission if any of them sell.

I have a few other things in my book too – one is to be a really good artist (I consider myself to be a work in progress) and the other is to sell two paintings by the end of the year.
I could say that I am astounded at how well my vision book is working – except that I believe in it so wholeheartedly that I am really not surprised.
So my suggestion to you is to start up a vision book of your own – it not only does not cost much, but it is an incredible motivator that can keep you going – it helps get through any bad patches – (like painter’s block) and reminds you constantly of what you are wanting to achieve. It is also an incredible way to keep you believing in yourself.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

But is it Art ? Some Thoughts on Mass Produced Abstract Paintings

So there I am having breakfast one Saturday morning with Leo and Claire, when I spied some abstract paintings displayed all around the walls of a nearby furniture shop. While waiting for the breakfast to arrive I took my two year old with me for a closer look, and noticed they looked original – actual paint on canvas and not only that but that they looked good too – the elements of design were superb.
I was interested because recently I decided to have a go at creating abstract art. It’s not as easy as you think – design elements play an important role if you want it to look good, it’s not about just randomly splashing colour onto canvas - even if your name is Jackson Pollock !
It wasn’t long (about 30 seconds) before a salesman approached me – no doubt hoping to sell me one and we ended up having a long discussion about art – having studied art himself he had some knowledge on the subject. He told me that the paintings were mass produced overseas –that they somehow print the design but then go over it with real paint in some way to make it look like an original.
To be honest I could not tell the difference but this explained why the prices were so low.
It was clear to me that an artist or artists with real talent did the original design but sadly no credit as to who that might be was given on the paintings – I guess since they were not originals anyway. To the shop’s credit – they don’t try to make out that these paintings are originals and it seems they sell like hotcakes – my friendly salesman told me they sell approximately thirty a month.
Yes they are good, yes they are inexpensive and yes they will look damn good on your lounge wall.
Would I buy one?
If it was original at that price? Maybe. In fact, I would happily pay more if I knew it was an original and if I had the money of course.
Here’s why – part of the mystique of owning art is the uniqueness and originality – it is more than having something that looks good on my wall.
Knowing these are mass produced left me disappointed – maybe because I am an artist.
Yet – I happily buy a mass produced lounge suite and are these paintings not the same thing – décor for your home?
I guess it all comes down to your reasons for buying art – some people want something to fill up their wall space and make their home look good and there is nothing wrong with that.
So now I have to ask – is the abstract art I am trying to produce just décor or is it more than that? Is there in fact anything less artistic or wrong in making wall decoration?
Should I care?

There is great freedom with abstract art – you can play with it and experiment a lot – it is a wonderful way to get creativity flowing and sometimes you may just come up with something that is truly beautiful to look at.
We artists will aim to give it more meaning with esoteric names like “Interlude” or “Emergence” – but is this not just our way of making it seem more significant than just wall décor?
Is there in fact any meaning at all in an abstract work any more?
In the early days of modern art artists found the photograph taking over their role as portrayers of life and they found new ways to express what art is – always pushing the boundaries of what people would accept as art. We have crossed that bridge and gone beyond – it is as though anything goes these days – so are we saying anything new?

What’s the big deal – should we be bending over backwards to find some new way to express ourselves or is simply expressing ourselves enough?
Art can be so many things – it can be a means to amaze, shock, make one think, be a political statement, be a beautiful object or make us see something in a new light.
Whether we produce something representational or abstract – I think there is value already – we are creating something that did not exist before.
My own answer to the question of meaning in abstract art is yes – it is a form of exploration – playing with the medium and finding ways to get new effects and elements of design. It is has meaning to the artist who creates it and it has meaning to the person who likes it enough to purchase it. I have looked at a lot of abstract art lately and am astounded at how many different ways there are to explore this subject.

I just can’t help but feel that when it gets mass produced on a big scale that it loses its essence of what it is – an individual expression of one person’s vision.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Independence is my middle name Mummy!

My daughter Claire recently reached the grand old age of two and a half.
Her latest catch phrase is “Wanna do it my big self”. This applies to dressing and undressing herself, taking off her nappy and putting on a new one, applying her own sun cream, squeezing the toothpaste onto her toothbrush and so on. Her favourite is to dig her fingers deep into the jar of Vaseline and smear it all over herself when having a nappy change – I still can’t quite get how she can do all this but still needs a nappy!
She also likes to put on her own socks – an interesting exercise which always needs a bit of a helping hand which of course annoys her as it interferes with her “my big self” mindset. She went through most of winter in sandals and no socks, now that summer is here she insists on socks plus boots. Leo says her thermostat must be broken.
Well this weekend she took her independence to new heights when she had her first sleepover at her cousin’s house. Her cousin Erryn is four going on five and the two of them get along very well. I took Claire round there on Saturday afternoon for a play session and when it came time to leave Erryn pleaded for Claire to stay over.

I asked Claire if she wanted to stay and the response was an immediate “Yes, Mummy”
“Are you sure? – I will be going home and will only fetch you tomorrow” I said.
“Yes Mummy. Go home Mummy” and she pushed me off the couch and towards the door.
“Ok then. I am going. Bye Claire – see you tomorrow.”
I waved goodbye and she did not even look up to see me leave.
I gave my sister in law instructions to call if there was any drama, but no call came and all was fine. I called the next day and Claire wasn’t even interested in talking to me on the phone.
The two girls had an amazing time together – they are both only children so having someone to play with was reason for much joy and excitement.
Leo and I took them both for lunch on Sunday – they were like two little chattering monkeys in the backseat of the car – there was much giggling and laughing – I have never seen Claire so animated. She announced “I love Erryn” and “Erryn is my best friend”.
I am hoping the two of them can share more weekends like this – one day perhaps we can even persuade Erryn to stay over.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hot,Flat and Crowded – The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read

I have just finished reading Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman.
All I can say is – Oh boy are we in for a rough ride.
Thomas Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who is also renowned for his book “The World is Flat” – also a book I recommend you read.

He explains with shocking, believable and scary examples of what is happening to our world in terms of global warming, the looming worldwide energy crisis and the implications of the huge pile of ***** we will be in if we don’t address these issues, and fast.
This book will scare you into wanting to do something, anything to help avoid what could be an impossible future. Most of us are aware of the global warming problem – but this book will tell you in no uncertain terms how bad the situation actually is.
He goes as far as to say that Al Gore owes us an apology - for underestimating how bad the global warming problem actually is.(For those who have been living under a rock - Al Gore is the politician who made a documentary about global warming a while back)

Friedman wisely includes some chapters on what we can actually do to save our planet – but whether we can mobilize ourselves to the extent required and the speed at which it needs to be done is another thing.
This book kept me awake at night.
If you love your children – and I am sure you all do, I implore you to read this book.

Although the book is geared mainly towards Americans, everyone n the world ought to read it.
But if you are American – then you really, really ought to read this book.

He tells us that the country that finds the way forward first into the best and cheapest, clean energy technology will be the global leader economically into the future.

For South Africans there is an important message – one of the ways he says will mobilize the population into doing something towards a clean form of energy is if the current energy system gets prohibitively expensive. This has already started happening in SA due to our Escom crisis. A few months ago a popular local solar power provider told me that there has been a marked increase in demand for solar power. I know that new technology is starting to show up here to resolve our electricity crisis, wouldn’t it be interesting if we could beat America and China to the new energy gold rush?
As a country we are not exactly an economic powerhouse, so I don’t see how it could get done as described in the book, but could the Escom thing turn out to be a good thing after all?
Personally, I would dearly love to get off the grid entirely and have my entire house geared up for clean energy – but it is pretty expensive. Then again, I have to weigh the expense against my daughter’s future in a world that will be hot, flat and crowded.
The way things are going with Escom though, soon it may turn out to be an either or option and if that’s the case then naturally I would choose clean energy.
I have a friend who lives on a farm in the Karoo, her husband had their house built to run purely on solar and wind power – they have been totally off the grid for several years now.
They must be laughing all the way watching the electricity crisis from their solar powered ivory tower.

Anyway, so far I have changed some lightbulbs to the new energy saving type, I switch off my tv every day at the wall and my geyser is only on for about four hours a day. For a long time now I also make sure that all lights are off if a room is not in use.
My husband Leo has a plan in the works to change our water heating to a new heat pump system that means our geyser no longer needs to be switched on at all and this will save some more.
What do you do to save power?

Ps. If you are not a big reader, then do a search on either Thomas Friedman or Hot, Flat and Crowded on youtube – there are several clips of the man himself and what he has to say.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Artists Under The Sun, My First Exhibition and a Chance to Win a Free Painting

Some of you already know that I exhibited at Zoo Lake this last weekend along with 30 other new hopefuls – all vying for a space to exhibit there on a regular basis as a verified member of the Artists Under The Sun Association.
Many thanks to my friends and family who showed up in support, your visits were most welcome.
Well the good news is – I have been accepted!
They hold a selection weekend twice a year when the association sends round a bunch of fellow artists as judges, who decide whether your work is good enough for you to join up.

I was placed next to fellow hopeful Geraldine Smith, who like me likes to paint many different things but chose to display her desert landscapes for her selection exhibit.
I am pleased to say that she has been accepted too!

We spent a pleasant couple of days chatting about art and life and artists and music and more art. I got to meet a few fellow artists, some of whom make a full time living from their art, some who are still working towards such a goal. All agreed that the market is slow – signs of the economy and all that, but I feel positive towards a future time when things will improve.

I would also like to announce that my work is currently being exhibited at The Independents Dance Company at Brightwater Commons, so if you are in the area please pop in and have a look. You will get to see my latest abstract painting called Mind Emerging.

You may be wondering why I called it that. Well – I started off with the title Blue Emerging, as the blue seems to be emerging from under the red, but the work is mostly red not blue. Calling it “Abstract Red No. I” seems a bit boring.
I felt that the swirling red colour could be how our thoughts tend to swirl about and the Emerging blue represents the clarity of thought emerging through this swirling mass.
I could also call it “Thoughts Emerging”
Or I could have gone with the nifty little abstract art naming generator I found on the web which came up with the following suggestions:
“Absence with Reality”
“Momentary Emotion”
“Energy of Undefined”

Not so helpful:
“Dying Peasant First Part”
“Embarrassed Still Life with Reincarnated Depth”
“Drunk Boy – Oversize”
“Nudist Declining a Dog”
While I eventually chose my own title, this generator helped to clarify my thinking and inspired ideas.

So next time you go to an art gallery and see some abstract art – you could think the artist was being very enigmatic with the titles – or it could well be he used an automatic naming generator.
Maybe this is our way of making something that is decorative and looks nice on the wall appear to be oh so significant and esoteric and clever.
On the other hand – Mind Emerging sounds a whole lot better than “Untitled” or “Abstract Red No 1” and shows I did at least put some thought into my title.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Now I am going to make you think even more - if you can come up with a better title and can also say why you would call it that, I will let you have this painting for free.
The only proviso is that you need to sign up via the Email Subscription to the right and send me confirmation along with your ideas for a title.You also need to get at least one more person to sign up who is not already signed up.

I will then hold a vote for the best title at the end of October.

(NB if you are not local I will only ask a contribution towards shipping costs)