Sunday, 31 July 2011

Going on a Blog Holiday for the month of August

To all my lovely bloggie friends, I am going on holidays for the month of August. Please come back and see me in September.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Spread from My Art Journal

It has been a while since I have posted any art journal pages.
Ink and watercolour drawings.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

How do you Develop a Style? Part 3 -the Shadow Style

Walrus Boy by Jesse Reno

Part 1 and Part 2 posts about how an artist develops a style.

We have talked about style as something that is perhaps inescapable, while also acknowledging that it grows and evolves. Partly unconscious, partly conscious. The 'us' in our artwork that we can't shake and also want to develop. Is this what they mean by an 'artist's unique voice'?

But I also want to bring up the shadow-side of our style. The inescapable allure of the opposite. The part of ourselves that is fascinated by the kind of work that comes most unnaturally to us.

When we see it, we might feel a combination of envy and inadequacy. A good example of one of my shadow styles is Jesse Reno.
Understanding Intersections by Jesse Reno
I look at what he does and how he does it, and I feel longing and inadequate. I am fascinated and almost shamed. In those feelings is a lack of honouring of the gifts and strengths in my work. I compare and see only my lacks.

These feelings are symptomatic of positive shadow projection. What does it mean? How can I use Reno's work and what it brings up in me to positive effect rather than turning it against myself?

In this kind of envy, there is often a signpost of possible new directions for our work. It can be a helpful bridge to look at what we already share with the artist. In my case I would say it is the love of the spiritual and trust in the intuitive. Although my studio work is planned, the inspiration is always intuitive. Even the decisions along the way are intuitive - not as quickly made as Reno's but based on similar foundations. We share an interest in nature and our work is figurative and symbol-based.

Our values are very similar.

So, from here, where does his work intrigue and pull me? To more trust of process. Perhaps to experiment, to try his way of working a few times and see what it might offer me. Not to feel that I have to go his path, but to be open to incorporate what might be helpful to my growth.

Opening to both his and my work in this way I see the similarities and value both. This gentles my self-judging thoughts and opens me to new possibilities.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

a New Drawing

This drawing is called Kikuyu Grass. (I recommend clicking on the drawing as you can't see it very well in the small version). Kikuyu is a species of grass that is considered a weed in Australia because it takes over from our native grasses. It was originally planted for cows because it grows quickly, survives drought and is tough as nails.

This drawing, along with two others of mine, will be in the group show Drawn Forth at the Retrospect Galleries on the Gold Coast in Australia. It looks like there will be an interesting mix of artists. I love drawings. The show opens tomorrow night at 6pm. Unfortunately I am fighting off the flu and won't be able to attend.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

How do you Develop a Style? Part 2

In the previous post I set out that in my experience you don't, maybe even cannot, consciously choose a style.

Perhaps it is more of something you uncover. It is like finding out who you are. A popular expression is 'you can be anything you want to be'. Most people over a certain age know this isn't really true. I am 5' 10" and no matter how hard I worked I wasn't going to be a jockey, or a muscleman, or a carpenter (something I actually considered). I have little muscle mass, and am not very good at practical things. I actually get ill if I don't get enough time alone, so politician is probably out as well. And so on. I am suited to be an artist, and isn't it grand that that is what I love to be? This is often the case and enough proof of a benevolent higher power for me.

So slowly I progressed from irritation that my work looked like something I would do to thinking there could be some value there. I appreciate subtlety, have a good eye for detail and love a good story. Okay, maybe I am not suited for abstract expressionism. I love Kandinsky but when I tried to do anything abstract I just couldn't keep interested. But when I went to life drawing I found it endlessly fascinating.

From the beginning I wanted to draw and paint realistically. I went back to university in '89 and no one was interested in naturalistic painting. I am pretty sure the teachers had not learned to work that way. It was considered old fashioned and not cool. When I asked for advice on how to paint, skin say, my teacher would say "however you want". I felt intimidated and 'wrong'.

But realism was always what I wanted to do. I realise now that I wanted to be able to create other realities. That is what art is for me. Even though I went off and learned how to paint traditionally I was never interested in painting what was in front of me. I wanted to paint the invisible world. And I wanted to do it in a way that expressed it as 'real'. This combination of natural abilities and natural interests now combine to make my 'style'.

Thank you for the thoughtful and intelligent comments on the last post. I love that with blogging we can have this back and forth and it isn't just about me giving my opinion. I learn from your comments and it changes what I think.

Jeanie commented that style can change and evolve over time. I think it must really, if we are to continue to grow.

I want to add that I am still thinking about this whole concept of style. I understand that the galleries need to sell work and that if artists have a recognisable look to their work it helps with that. But I do think this is a tricky thing for the artists as most creatives are driven to keep experimenting and changing. I know I am.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How do you Develop a Style?

This idea that an artist must develop a style is something that gets my goat (is that an expression? what does it mean? we used to have a pet goat, they make great pets by the way.) Or that you have to find it. It sounds so intentional and... contrived. Like it is some conscious choice that you make. I will take this...

In which case, I choose to draw like Picasso
and paint like Rembrandt.
Or perhaps draw like Durer
and paint like Kandinsky.
I don't think it is a choice. You don't get to choose your style anymore than you get to choose your height or your personality or your looks. Sure you get a bit of wiggle-room, what you do with what you've got kind of thing -- but in my experience certain things just ain't gonna happen.

Like me. Now I am not comparing myself with any of the previous masters, but my odds are a lot better in having a style like Durer than Picasso. And Rembrandt than Kandinsky. Now I will most likely never achieve either, but I can go in certain general directions and try and do the best I can.

I started realising this at a certain point in my development when no matter what I painted, it looked like something that I had painted. This used to frustrate me. I used to look at a piece I was working on and say with scorn "that looks like something I would do." (This may reveal a few more issues than just my painting style, but lets not go there.)

to be continued...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Experimenting with Art Markers

I did another one of my 'what I wore today' drawings, but this time I drew my creative blog-friend Rice in one of her fabulous outfits. I didn't really feel like the watercolours that I have been using did her outfit justice.

So I decided to give my new art markers a try. This is my first time so I didn't know what I was doing. I think I will try a few more. Hopefully I will improve.

Which version do you prefer?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Small Changes can make a Difference

This is my refashioned trenchcoat. Not as impressive as a lot of refashions, but refashioning is an 'aside' for me, a minor fun hobby. Also a way to get out of proper shopping and wear clothes that are more individual.
Here is the 'before'. I am kind of embarrassed to say that I have been wearing it like this. I am no fashionista. I have to put in effort not to be a complete dag which is my natural inclination. (Australian slang: A dag is technically the matted wool on a sheeps tail, but in typical useage throughout Australia, it refers to people who don't have a neat, tidy or cultured appearance. It can also refer to a person who tends to be quite informal.)
The buckles were horrible cheap things, and the coat was all too military looking for me. I took off the belt, which was too high, and the buckled cuffs.
I decided to replace the buttons. The purple ones are what I initially bought for the coat, but they didn't look right. Then I remembered that I had some recoverable buttons the correct size and thought I would try them.
The red and black button is my first ever recovered button. I got very excited.
I recovered more.
Then I sewed the new buttons on. I am thinking of leaving the old ones on the pockets. What do you think?

I think I will shorten the sleeves as well.