After years of being urged by my husband to write, I thought perhaps starting an art blog would not be such a bad idea...although I have absolutely no idea what to write about here, or who would be interested in reading what I have to write...I guess just starting is a good thing to do...right?
So - as this is my Art page, I guess I should be writing about art...and with that in mind, I thought I would start with a couple of personal points about my art...
I've always viewed myself as an artist - from a very young age, about 5 years old. I think it was cemented in my mind because of a comment from my first grade teacher...I drew a cute little elephant and after seeing it, Mrs. Whitehead exclaimed: "Wow - you are such a good little artist!" This teacher is the only teacher from Primary School that I actually remember showing a true interest in me as a little person. Actually, she's probably the only teacher from Primary School that I remember! The rest are all just a blur...She affirmed me and nurtured me and my interests in my first year of school and set me up to be a confident learner and hungry for knowledge.
Since then, I always remember drawing. My friends continued complimenting my abilities and asking me to help them with any drawing assignments. I loved helping them figure out how to get things right, proportions and measurements of bodies to heads and perspectives. I loved seeing their reactions when I showed them a simple trick to manage to draw something that looked good. I realized that I had a natural talent for something that I could easily teach others to do as well.
When I was about 12 years old, my parents ordered me an oil painting set. The set included four small canvasses, a set of oil paints and brushes, a palette, oil and turpentine to clean and care for the brushes and a set of instructions on how to paint four different scenes. I remember two of the scenes - a old Cape Dutch house and a blue gum forest. These were my two favorite scenes and for the life of me I cannot remember what the other two paintings were...
The canvasses were no bigger than 10cm x 15cm, which meant I had to paint rather small and I remember being very proud of the way these two painting turned out...I couldn't actually believe that I was capable of creating these images from paint. My grandmother used to paint magnificent seascapes with sunset colors and I would stare at these for hours, imagining the brush strokes she used to create the reflections, the foam, the movement of the waves.
When I finally started painting I would do the same to my paintings - just stare at them and try and remember how I created the falling of the light onto the surfaces, the textures of the leaves, the shadows. A lot of the time it felt like it was all created by accident and that I had absolutely nothing to do with how it turned out. It was a strange kind of therapy, easing my thoughts into a state of not thinking, but just focusing on the tiny details being created by my hand and then afterwards seeing the bigger picture and not being able to recall how all the details brought a larger picture to life.
I never felt like I developed a particular technique that I would use again and again - even now it feels like every new piece I create is a new experience, an experiment to see how I can bring the image in my mind to life on the canvas or wall. And every time I still stand amazed that a piece of vision from my mind starts to appear outside of me, on a wall, on a canvas or on a panel.
Sometimes I find an old piece of art, in a sketchbook or hidden somewhere, and I stare at it, wondering what I was feeling or thinking when I created it...a piece of me on a page.
After many years of painting purely for my own pleasure and therapy, I started accepting that I have a skill and talent that other people are willing to pay me for and I started doing commissioned art. Mostly large scale panels or murals and a lot of the time themes and ideas that come not from within me, but from others - images that then pour into my mind from them, quietly in my mind waiting to be released onto a canvas. Doing commissioned art is a joyfully collaborative process. Once upon a time I was scared of creating art for other people. But now I really enjoy it. The satisfaction in being able to capture the ideas, images and stories of others are just as rewarding, if not more, than bringing my own imaginings to life. And it is sometimes a much better way to give expression to my creativity than waiting on my own inspiration to come to light. The stories of others inspire me to create art that stirs and moves other people, rather than just myself. Maybe one day I will hold an exhibition of my own works, but for now, I am enjoying being able to capture the stories of others with paint and brush in hand, giving expression to the imaginations of others.
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