Tag Archives: paint

Did someone say Paintings?

I’ve been Painting again… I don’t have much to say about them – except, I think I like them.

They’re little Welsh landscapes that sum up my time here since I’ve moved.  I’ve been a lot more content. I’ve been a lot more relaxed.  And I feel like even one percent of the time I’m on my way to proving my potential…the challenges I’m facing are all good ones, adult-making ones.

I forgot what painting felt like, I think it’s quite clear in these that I enjoyed it…at least I hope so, anyway.

🙂

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Supporting Ambition in the Arts – Celf o Gwmpas

I’ve always wanted to work in the Arts…as cliched as it may seem, I’ve always wanted to inspire others to be creative.  I’m quite lucky that I’ve landed myself a Project Co-Ordinator role at Celf o Gwmpas, Llandrindod Wells.

It’s quite an amazing place, really.  It’s easy to get caught up in emails and admin., but Centre Celf breathes a sense of ‘happening.’ Someone last week told me that Celf o Gwmpas has changed their life.

I remember when I first applied for a job there I stalked the Celf o Gwmpas twitter and the description simply said ‘Creating social inclusion and supporting ambition in the arts.’ – I thought, I want to work here.  And now I do, yay!

As part of our  ACW year-long Learning and Practice project, throughout June we have been running sessional weekends for Artists who have experience or knowledge of the arts and mental health.

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The Learning & Practice Project is made up of multiple strands, with Blue MacAskill working with ‘at risk’ young people through filmmaking, and sessions with Stephen Park being held at various venues throughout Powys during his residency – The Welfare, Ystradgynlais and Oriel Davies, Newtown. Working together, they are developing knowledge, practice, experience and creative aspirations and promoting wider understanding of arts and mental health.

In November 2016, Celf o Gwmpas is hosting a week of events and activities Boxing Shadows in a celebration of arts and mental health as part of WALLS:MURIAU Welsh Mental Health Arts Festival 2016. (programme details at end of post)

 

The aim of the Peer-To-Peer training sessions in June 2016 is to provide a platform for Artists to develop and elevate their professional practice while giving them the opportunity to exhibit work as Part of a Wales-Wide Festival.

Our first session was 11th June at Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells. We were aiming for up to 6 participants for the group, and found that we were oversubscribed! We began with Stephen introducing himself, and playing ice-breaking games where we got to know each other and tried to remember everyone’s names! Stephen explained his ideas of finding creative ‘flow’ as an Artist. He showed us images of artwork that he felt had achieved this ‘flow.’ ‘Flow’ is achieved when we are being creative but not too restrictive and not too perfect. Imagine it as a line…extrinsic on the left (creating freely without inhibitions, restrictions) and then intrinsic on the right (where we’re being too careful, too precious with our work) – Stephen explained that the ‘sweet spot’ is somewhere near the intrinsic, but still creating with an element of freedom. It’s when we arrive at this spot, we are in a rhythm of creating work as an Artist which is vital to developing and sustaining your practice.

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Stephen Park in residence at Celf o Gwmpas, Llandrindod Wells

We then did some ‘High Pressure, Low Expectation Exercises’ where we had to create something by following a brief e.g. creating a drawing by using no more than 5 lines- it didn’t matter what it looked like, it was the process that was important. This is important to apply to our own practice as Artists. We’re often so caught up in what we want the end result to be – we might have an exact idea of a painting or a sculpture in our mind, but we need accept the process itself may change the course of the result. It’s when you accept the validity of the process that the work becomes authentic.

On Sunday 12th, we worked more intensively on ideas of teamwork to find ‘flow’ with each of the participants creating a beginning of a series of Artworks. They had the job role of the Art Director where they took ownership of their series- deciding the colours, shapes and subject, the only rule was – they had to form a pattern. After creating three/four of their series, they then switched from ‘Art Director’ to ‘The Artist’s Apprentice’ and moved around the group to each person’s station, observing and attempting to follow the pattern. The aim was to have a collaborative series of artworks based on finding a creative flow and working together – and we did! It was interesting to see how each person had interpreted the Art Director’s series from their own perception.

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With the first weekend being one of such encouragement, we then organised individual mentoring sessions with each Artist to apply these ideas to their own practice. From 12th-18th June, each of the participants had a one-to-one mentoring session with Stephen. This gave each Artist time to chat with Stephen about their own work, what they’re interested in, and the direction they’d like to go with it in the future. It’s important as Artists to have regular feedback on the work we create and to gain a wider understanding of the artwork in context. As well as this, some pieces that we may have disregarded others might see value in. As the Peer-To-Peer training sessions are for Artists who have already established a level of professional practice, it’s been a fantastic opportunity to meet with Stephen who gives solid and constructive advice on developing their practice.

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For the remaining sessions in June, the Artist’s are putting ideas they have learned into practice by creating work for the Boxing Shadows Exhibition at Centre Celf in November. Between now and November, they will be working on a personal project developed in these sessions. We’ve set up a private online forum where the participants can share ideas, comment on each other’s work and encourage each other after the sessions end and throughout the Summer as they live all over Wales. In addition to this, we will be having two gallery visits during the Summer months to gain inspiration, as well as meeting up at the start of November to curate the Boxing Shadows exhibition as a group.

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Boxing Shadows Programme:

Thursday 10th November 4-6pm

Exhibition Preview at Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells

Providing a platform for the artists involved to exhibit and screen work.

In parallel with Stephen Park: Residency Exhibition

Showing new work created during his residency stay over the course of six months in Llandrindod Wells.

 

Friday 11th November 6-8pm

Performance at Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells

Performances/Stand-up comedy evening with:

  • Artist in residence Stephen Park
  • Writer, performer and outsider artist Sean Burn
  • Havin’ a Laugh’ showcasing a Powys-based project helping to build confidence and improve mental wellbeing through comedy.

 

Tuesday 15th November 10am-4pm

Panel discussion & Artist’s Talks – Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells

Artists in training presenting their practice with Stephen Park talking about his residency and:

  • Blue MacAskill (tbc) tackling issues of aspirations, isolation, rurality and immobilization through creativity and art.
  • Sean Burn reclaiming the languages of lunacy, reflecting on his own lived experience of long-term mental distress.
  • Jane Cooke, Senior Officer, PAVO Mental Health Team, psychotherapist and trainer exploring forms of expression that bypasses a diagnosis in the minds of both client and mental health worker, and leading an investigation of creativity as a tool for encounters at different levels of experience.
  • Amanda Wells (tbc) former Celf o Gwmpas mentored artist and instigator of Celf-Able, a group of disabled artists in Mid-Wales, who meet to do art together, share skills and break down barriers.

 

Approaching Happiness

“We enter paradise every second – either that or we leave it.” – Christian Bobin

Turner-Approach-Venice

Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775 – 1851 ), Approach to Venice, 1844, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Venice to Turner meant ‘delight.’ A misty city, quasi-visible across the Venetian Lagoon through a golden twilight. John Ruskin, the major art critic who was one of Turner’s few champions later in his career, hailed the canvas as “the most perfectly beautiful piece of colour of all that I have seen produced by human hands.” In the Royal Academy catalogue for 1844, this entry was accompanied by a quotation that Turner himself rewrote from Lord Byron’s poem Childe Harold:

“The moon is up, and yet it is not night,
The sun as yet disputes the day with her.”

This painting is a fleeting moment captured by Turner.  Soon we will be there.  We will be captivated by the sights, smells and the sounds the city has to offer.  The Sun acts as a guiding light, welcoming us.  It illuminates the City with glory, turning the lagoon a golden yellow.  The moon too reminds us of the freshness and urgency of the night.  The golden light will have disappeared by the time we land, and been taken over by the crisp darkness.

I’ve been blessed to see a painting of Turners’ for real.  There’s something about the way he paints that draws emotions from you – it’s mostly not even voluntary.  The canvas becomes an object in which you portray your emotions, hopes, thoughts and experiences onto.  The gesture, colours and light-heartedness are all strong enough to withstand it. You associate your own personal experiences with the subject, making it appear different to each individual. And isn’t that the simplest purpose of Art? That it makes you feel something?

Christophe Andre uses Approach to Venice as an illustration for happiness in his book Mindfulness: 25 Ways To Live In The Moment Through Art.  Approach to Venice is a metaphor in seeing Happiness gently emerging in your life.

Andre suggests that there is no happiness without awareness.  Have you ever found yourself looking back at something in your past and thought about how happy you were but you didn’t realise?  This is something we all fall victim to.  Even just now, I thought about my experience with the Turner painting in the National Gallery and how happy I was to just look and be…and often now I find myself going to extreme lengths restlessly looking for this calm again.  This retrospective happiness is human nature.  As French writer Radiguet writes ‘Happiness, I knew you only by the sound you made as you left.’  Without awareness of the present we long for these past moments of happiness which we didn’t know how to embrace at the time.  This happens when we are too busy…there are simply too many things on our minds to revel in happiness- work,eat,sleep,repeat.  It happens too when we are sad or worried…our minds become uncertain about the future or regrets over the past.  I’ve always admired Turners’ enthusiasm to ‘be’ in the moment and it is something we can learn from.  His drive to capture these transient moments are influential to not only my own painting practice, but my way of living.  I remember reading stories when I was a child of Turner supposedly strapping himself to the mast of ships to experience the moment in later, more stormy work. Even as a child I was inspired by this act of living.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775 - 1851 ), Approach to Venice, 1844, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection

How do we become aware then?  If we regularly open our mind, not looking for happiness but just looking, we will see happiness in things.  When I’m sad I force myself to go outside and just look.  It’s not long before I realise beauty in things- it could be something as simple as a tree or a flower.  As Andre puts it, these fleeting moments of happiness in our everyday lives will be ‘slight, brief, imperfect and incomplete, but multiple, changing, alive and constantly renewed.’

Venice mightn’t be as promised – but there are glimpses of happiness to be found in everything.  By being mindful, we can train ourselves to notice everything, pains and pleasures alike.  In times of adversity we should stop and accept snippets of happiness.  It’s a fleeting comfort, but later, we will do it again.  Thus, it becomes an endless cycle.

“We will keep on making misfortune breathe alongside everything that resembles life – in other words, happiness”.

https://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/gg57/gg57-117.html

Andre, Christophe Mindfulness: 25 Ways To Live In The Moment Through Art, L’Iconoclaste, 2011, 232-238

What we can learn from Chupa Chups

Bizarre title, right?

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I’m halfway through reading a book called The Art Of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins. (St. Martins College of Art) Judkins hasn’t so much taught me anything through his clarity of thoughts, but instead has made me realise my make-up if you will.  Creativity isn’t a switch that can be flicked on when you arrive into the studio or grab a pen to write, just in the same way it can be turned off when relaxing in the bath or climbing into bed.  The very crux of creativity is a way of seeing, engaging with and responding to the world around you.  Judkins suggests that creatives are creative when ‘filing documents, cooking, arranging timetables or doing housework.’

We are all guilty of compartmentalising Creativity for as and when it is needed in our daily lives.  It’s exhausting to be alert and responsive all of the time.  I dedicate set time to be creative amidst applying for jobs and working, a routine that’s an unhealthy one. Why? Because I feel most alive when I’m doing something I feel that is worthwhile… and that’s usually creating something.

You may ask, what does Chupa Chups have to do with all this?

This is where Salvador Dali comes in.  Judkins uses him as a perfect example of a ‘switched-on’ creative.  Dali too felt alive with things that he felt were important – devoting his time and energy to a range of projects.

On January 20, 1952, Salvador Dali appeared on American Game Show Whats’ My Line? , in which a panel of four blindfolded celebrity panellists guess the identity of a mystery guest by asking questions that have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  Taking almost nine minutes to reveal his identity, the guests become more and more exasperated as Dali answers yes when asked if he was a writer, a leading man, a performer, a sportsman etc. One of the ladies laughs and exclaims ‘There’s nothing this man doesn’t do!’

And that’s exactly the lesson that should be learned here. Throughout his life Dali was a film-maker, a jewellery maker, an architect, a designer, a writer as well as a painter. He needed a house, so he made one – who knows your taste better than yourself?  He created a person – Dali’s Frankenstein – Amanda Lear.  Dali renamed her, made her over and constructed stories about her. His creativity wasn’t under a time constraint, it ran through him.  Dali designed the logo for the Chupa Chups lollipop.  Already having a name for himself as a famous surrealist artist and a place amongst treasured Artists in the Canon of Art History, it wasn’t necessary for him to design for confectionery.  He was open-minded and it to him it mattered, so he did it.  Not everything he turned his hand to was successful, and some endeavours are more celebrated than others, but what matters is the willingness to try.  Dali didn’t attempt to turn the creative ‘switch’ on and off.  Instead, he embraced it and is Internationally respected as a result.  His creativity went far beyond his surrealist Paintings that he is most renowned for, and when you delve a little deeper you can discover a man that breathed creativity, not confined it.

His attitude is something we can all learn a little from.

Judkins, Rod, The Art of Creative Thinking, Sceptre Books, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXT2E9Ccc8A – Salvador Dali appearing on ‘Whats My Line’

Exhibition 1 – Postgraduate Show, School of Art, Aberystwyth, Wales

'Snowdon'

Exhibiting Paintings that you have created takes a lot of courage.  To some, it may seem like ‘just an image,’ to me, it exposes everything.  My thoughts, passions, fears and hopes are somehow translated onto a canvas, for the Public to judge and criticise. What if they don’t like something you’ve created? Something so personal.  Or worse still, what if they are indifferent to something you have poured hours into.

My work is very much a personal language, and is based heavily on instinct and intuition, so I often find myself very nervous when it goes on display at an Exhibition.  However, there is a thrill that can be achieved in no other way when your work is on the wall.  It teeters precariously somewhere between anticipation and excitement, as passers by buzz around your work, talking about technique, subject etc.

I allow and invite viewers to react to my work in whatever way they please. It’s refreshing, and keeps me motivated to create more.

 

With my final Exhibition approaching in less than two weeks at Abersytwyth School of Art, I am mulling over these pre-exhibition nerves once more.

 

It’s a thrill only an Artist can experience.

Watercolour on Antique Map

mapwork1I like painting into paper that tells a story. Here is an old map of Oxford. Intricacy, beauty and embellishment are all themes that I am interested in.

 

I am heavily inspired by the work of Josh Dorman who creates beautiful works on maps and old paper…..I intend to create works this Summer based on this kind of theme after collecting over 200 maps I could use for future paintings.

Check out his work…http://www.joshdorman.net/

(josh dorman)

 

 

Abstracting the land – Landscape Painting

Observation of the Welsh Landscape begins to take form into a Painting that balances somewhere between the realms of figuration and abstraction.

I start off with small thumbnail sketches through direct observation and then work them into a composition. What happens from there is a response process. I begin to layer paint and just respond to the colours, marks and forms that have went before. The way I paint relies heavily on intuition, and there are times that I have to just trust in my process. This then creates a kind of constructed experimental landscape, that’s organic and natural. I try to keep things gestural and expressive, to convey and essence of the landscape as well as translate the transient, fleeting nature of creation.

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Untitled ll, acrylic on canvas, 6ft x 3.2ft, £210

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close-up detail

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close-up detail

(see Paintings section for more info as well as other works)

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Preparing for Exhibition, April ’14

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When Painting doesn’t come so easily, and you feel that you’ve really hit a block with it, something that always frees me up again is changing my colour palette.  With  less than a month  to my first Postgraduate Exhibition at Aberystwyth School of Art, this is exactly what I had to do.  I introduced a darker colour palette, and eliminated most blues, purples and greens that I usually rely heavily on.

This is my take on some snowy hills that I have witnessed while travelling in a bus from Wales.  They fly by in a short, transient moment and appear insignificant.  Truth is, it’s these small moments that have a way of unravelling from my sub-conscious and find themselves compositions or themes of my paintings.  It’s not until I’ve almost finished works, or see a photograph, or have a distinct memory that I recall where I’ve seen it.  To me, that’s amazing.  One small snapshot you took with your eyes, reveals itself in such a powerful way years later.

The power of observation has never been so tangible.

 

I feel so blessed that us artists can work in this way, it’s a great and underestimated gift.

 

Rachel

Making Progress…

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Some Paintings together that I have created since the beginning of My Master’s degree in September 2013. The exciting thing about painting, although the uncertain nature of it is really daunting, when I see all my work together in one place, it’s exciting. I’m not sure of the direction my work is taking, but it doesn’t really matter.  I trust in my Process of painting, so I know the product will follow.

The more I trust my own instinct, the less I am able to articulate what I do. < This seems more relevant than ever.