I would love to say that the universe sent me challenges that I was able to conquer.
I am not sure that would be true.
My words for 2014 were “change” and “purpose”. How accurate that turned out to be. Instead of writing about the fulfilled aspirations for 2014 I find myself rewriting the same list.
This time it is a different person writing that list.
I have a different outlook on life because the universe sent me those challenges. I understand things from a different perspective.
I have the same aspirations as I had for the beginning of 2014.
Some were achieved, for example we are in our gorgeous new house with amazing studio space, some got started, and some were just left by the wayside.
This year I have added an extra one.
I intend to focus my creative energy towards a solo exhibition.
It is an idea that has been hanging around for a little while and now I think I have enough in me to produce a large body of work. The inspiration behind the work is something that has been wiggling around my brain for over 8 years now and the original seed came from my childhood.
So, in line with the whole “change” and “purpose” idea, (change a bad habit and be a tiny bit more organised, and create work for the purpose of an exhibition), I have started an art journal of sorts. I am documenting all the little ideas to do with my exhibition theme and finding other scribbled notes from over the years and collating it all into one place. It may sound silly but this is actually amazingly cathartic for me – it sends me another message that I am truly doing what I love because I have been doing it subconsciously for years already anyway.
I hope 2015 is the energetic, uplifting and positive year I need.
It is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are ok and then all of a sudden you are not.
It is funny how a smell will transport you to another time and place. In an instant you are in the presence of familiarity, and then, sudden realisation of all you have lost rushes up to jump on your chest.
There has been a bit of this as we go through some of my mother’s things. The grieving process is a delicate one and I am trying to be gentle with myself.
But sometimes it can feel like the universe is out to get me…
This year has been one of enormous change and I am trying hard to believe that there is a grand plan and good things will come from this.
In the mean time I am creating new pieces and earnestly working towards my first solo exhibition.
I am exploring new ideas and dabbling with different media.
I will find my new groove – I have no idea what it looks like just yet – I just trust that I will know when I find it.
The last time I posted on this blog was way back in March.
Sitting here now, on the 1st of November, that feels like a lifetime ago.
I have had such an intensely emotional time and so much has happened in the last 8 months that it is difficult to know where to start putting things back together again.
I’m cutting an extremely long story very short, but I feel that you guys deserve an explanation of where I have been this past year…
We sold our old house, packed everything up and moved into our new home.
During the upheaval, we discovered that my mother had cancer.
She came to live with us after she had received treatment. Although she battled fiercely cancer is an aggressive adversary and mum passed away peacefully in hospital.
The last few months have been excruciating. My whole world has turned upside down.
I have come out the other side of this ordeal a stronger person with a new way of looking at things.
I know that there will be good days and bad days but I am lucky to have some amazing people who I am proud to call my friends.
At the start of this year I said that it was a year of change, I had no idea how true that would turn out to be. Some of my plans were put to one side while I looked after my family now I am looking forward to a new year and a new beginning.
It seems that procrastination is just self-doubt in disguise.
I have been busy with a bunch of personal stuff recently. I could quite comfortably use that as an excuse for not working on my art. But, truth be told I have had plenty of opportunities to sit and create.
I have plenty of new ideas and even deadlines to work towards, and everyone knows that a looming deadline works as a great motivational tool.
But each time I walk past my desk, or into the studio for something or other, I find a dozen different reasons to not sit down and actually “DO” art.
I look at that sketch that I am going to turn into a new piece and a small voice says;
“You have to go clean that oven, remember?”
But it might as well have said:
“That won’t look very good”
And so the piece goes unstarted for a few days, till finally I look at the calendar and remember that deadline is just around the corner ….. eeeeekkkkkk …. a flurry of activity ensues ….
In the midst of this work my confidence returns, I feel good about what I am creating, I have this belief that the finished piece will be amazing and others will love it too.
And so it hits me, my procrastination has been a symptom of uncertainty. I fell victim to that silly voice again.
Procrastination – I’m onto you fella! You won’t catch me napping again!
I have spoken in the past about the whole end of year and inevitable over-thinking syndrome I suffer from. However my self criticism and navel gazing session this year has been much more gentle than normal.
This has a lot to do with the fact that 2013 was pretty awesome to me in the “art” facet of my life.
I won a 2nd place award for my pointillism piece in the 2013 QT Ipswich Art Awards.
I sold work.
I exhibited in a number of group exhibitions.
I got the opportunity to share my passion for art with some very enthusiastic and clever 4 and 5 year old kids.
One of my pieces was used as part of the promotion for the 2013 Home Grown Exhibition.
That’s my “Plight of the Bumble Bee” right there on the left… I was a tiny bit excited about that one.
And then of course there was “The Image Makers” exhibition….
It was a 2 week group exhibition shared with three lovely and talented artists, Tom Mason, Lyn Mason, and Glen Smith. The four of us hung some of our best work and put on an amazing show.
I exhibited 23 pieces of art. 12 nude line drawings and 11 pointillism drawings.
I was absolutely floored by the amount of support we got. The four of us are from Ipswich and we exhibited in Brisbane. The number of wonderful people who made the journey for the opening night amazed me.
I am enormously proud to say that I sold 8 pieces on the night.
The whole experience was a huge learning curve.
I discovered that I work well under pressure (well, I am a mum so I guess that is a trained response).
I enjoyed producing a body of work – more than a one off piece – the “sets” look wonderful together.
And I loved how seeing that many of my pieces all hung in one gallery made me feel. I loved seeing a large number of people looking at my work, lingering in front of my work, discussing my art with their friends.
I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. It was like a “coming out” as an artist. The “recognition” as an artist. Having people wanting to talk to me about my art and ultimately having people love my stuff enough to want to take a piece home and hang it on their walls.
I floated on air for a long time after that! And I still feel humbled that my work meant something to somebody other than myself.
I have had a quiet few weeks since then, with Christmas and school holidays to contend with. The sketch book is getting a bit of a work out – so is my idea’s book (yup, got me one of those now).
And now another year has begun – more potential waiting to be unleashed.
I have lots of things I want to accomplish – I set myself some goals and resolutions last year that didn’t get realised for a number of different reasons.
As this year is still in it’s infancy I again sit and contemplate my resolutions and goals.
A trend which I have only recently become aware of was the “one word” idea… it’s an idea that has apparently been around for a while… (bit slow on the uptake me…)
Anyway, the idea (just in case you are not familiar with it) is that you chose one word that will act like a mantra or focus for the year. Lets face it, a list of resolutions usually never gets anyone too far – well, me anyway – and a single word to concentrate energy into manifesting seems like a good way to go.
This year will be a year of “change” and “purpose”.
My youngest is off to school full time. We will be putting our house on the market again. I want to make my health and fitness more of a priority. I intend to enter more competitions and exhibit more outside of Ipswich. I am going to try my hand at sculpture. I have ideas, and germs of ideas, for large bodies of work. I want to do something about issues that bug me and I am passionate about.
I resolve to embrace the change and live and create with purpose.
I know that I have been a bit slack on this blog lately, but I promise I have a really good reason.
I have been busily getting ready for my largest group exhibition ever.
When I say large I mean the most amount of work I have ever had on display at one time, the actual number of artists involved is just four. A comfortable group of friends who share a love of art. Here is a link to details of The Image Makers exhibition… https://www.facebook.com/events/457818967605835
As well as being mum, wife and my normal Saturday morning job, I have also been doing my Artist in Residence thing with 4 & 5 year olds at kindergarten. This has been an enormous amount of fun and a huge learning experience (more so for me than the kids I think)…
And so my priorities have been even more skewed, away from housework, than normal. I have to admit that parts of the floor are getting decidedly crunchy, and there are two baskets of laundry that have sat there, in the lounge room, not sorted and un-folded, for nearly 2 weeks. (Shocking, I know).
But…. I have completed and framed 11 pointillism pieces, and 12 nudes, made labels, created catalogues, promoted the bejeebus out of the exhibition …
And, as a side note…
I am also very proud to say that one of the pieces I submitted to the Home Grown Exhibition was chosen to feature on the invitation … a personal achievement that I am very excited about…
That’s my bumble bee piece!
And so now, as we come closer to opening night of The Image Makers (Friday 22nd November) and most of the preparations are completed, I am able to take a moment …
I am taking a moment, to be grateful for this moment – to be thankful for all the circumstances that have lead up to this moment…
One of the nicest things that has happened to me this year is getting a part-time job in the local art shop. (Check it out here http://www.arttime.com.au/). When I say part-time, I mean one day a week, with an extra shift thrown in every now and then.
I haven’t worked in a full-time job since before my babies were born, so that’s about 8 years ago now. I always said that if I went back to work it had to be something I enjoyed and the hours had to work in with my kids. So the Saturday morning thing totally works for me and my family.
And I work in an ART SHOP!
I am surrounded by inspiration and fabulous art materials.
At the back of the art shop is a gallery and working studio. Local artists are able to hold solo or group exhibitions (of which I have attended many), and several different art classes are also held there.
Coming in and seeing the latest exhibition hanging or walking past a watercolour student working away on a new piece always fills me with a joy that is difficult to describe.
The readily available art supplies can be a little dangerous though, especially when one needs to “focus” on one’s upcoming exhibition and not get distracted by interesting side projects. Like wanting to try printmaking because of beauty in the pieces of the current exhibition. Or seeing the potential in a new design because of a book in the corner library.
I love that I am always learning new tricks, and new ways of using different materials.
But one of my favourite things about my job is the wonderful people I get to meet.
I get to talk to some of the most interesting and creative people every week.
I am constantly being surprised by how many talented people are out there. And most of them are only too happy to talk about their creative processes, to pass on a gem of an idea, or proudly show a picture of what they are working on.
It’s encouraging to see that creativity is alive and well.
The artists who come into the shop vary in age and skill level, there is a huge variety of disciplines and paraphenalia, but the underlying common thread is that we all love art.
When I get home in the afternoon I nearly always head for my studio to sketch out an idea or try out a new method. After a day of breathing in the dust of inspiration it is hard not to scratch that itch.
The muse constantly whispers sweet nothings.
Sometimes feel bad that I am paid to come to work – to me it is not work…
But I am an artist trying to carve out some sort of a career in between all the things that being a Mum involves.
This means that some of the things that I should be doing – like washing, hanging, folding the laundry – mopping, vacuuming floors – wiping benches doing dishes – gets sort of left till I can squeeze it in between other Mum things. Picnics, play dates, reading books, playing hide and seek or tickle monsters are all more important while my little ones are still little and want my attention.
But I am an artist.
I sneak away while my children are playing a game of treasure hunts outside so that I can write this blog post.
I slip into the studio while they are eating breakfast to quickly scratch out that idea for a new piece.
When it gets too hot outside and we spend some time watching a movie together I get time to work my latest pointillism piece from the comfort of the couch.
Organising a crafty session means I can bring out my acrylic paints and we can be artists together.
I know I am stealing time – but hopefully they won’t notice.
And if they do then I hope they realise that I am doing something I love, and that if you find something that brings you joy you don’t have to wait for the perfect time to do it.
Just squeeze the most out of the time you do have.
One of the coolest things that has happened recently is this invitation to exhibit in the Home Grown 2013 exhibition from the Ipswich Art Gallery… can you picture it?
I am being asked if I want to exhibit – not the other way round – too cool!
Anyway – obviously I am going to grab this opportunity whilst I can – the only problem is that I can only submit two images for consideration…
Now, ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem, it’s not like I lack ideas or anything… but this time those that exhibit in Home Grown 2013 will be considered for inclusion in a group exhibition to be held in the proper, real, big growed up artists Gallery – I mean this is a real big deal – it’s not a dinky hall (not that there is anything wrong with halls, I have exhibited in a few now) but it’s a real government run institution.
So naturally I want to put my best work forward… that is where the problem comes in…
What do I present as my best work?
Do I offer two different styles?
Do I do two of the same style so that people will look at it and say “Yup that’s by Andrea” … But then does that run the risk of me turning into that artist I didn’t want to be who is bound by a particular style of work?
Are these pieces that I want to “say” something with? Or should I stick to my whimsical ideaology?
I am nervous and excited – and I am over thinking again…
I have an idea for the first piece, so I will stick with that. Whilst I am working on it I am sure inspiration will whack me over the head and tell me what to create for the second piece…
After all, I want to create art work that I love, that would happily end up living on my walls… it’s just cool when others want to see it and like it too.
I believe that everything happens for a reason but also that things happen because we make them happen.
One of the things I hoped to gain when I when I first started putting my stuff out there was to meet other artists. I knew I needed guidance and wanted to develop a network of like-minded people who would give me the encouragement I needed to keep going.
What you put into something ultimately comes back to you…
I joined art clubs, went to exhibition openings, attended workshops, and life drawing sessions all this in search of arty companions.
Being part of the arts community helps you open your eyes to the talent hidden just beneath the surface. This journey towards becoming, developing into an artist, has seen me meet some of the most amazing, talented, genuine, and accepting people.
Over the past 3 years I have met photographers, painters, sculptures, poets, musicians, songwriters, jewellers, dancers, authors… people who speak through their work… through acrylics, oils, encaustics, words, music… people who use collage, multi-media, photography, fibre in ways I have never seen before. Artists who inspire me through their work. People who encourage me to try new things, to push my own creativity.
Every single one of them are so generous and giving of information, of sharing their knowledge or love of a particular skill with others. Because part of the joy in creating is the joy in sharing that process with someone else.
I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work part-time in our local art store and here I have met even more artists. People who have been working professionally, teaching for years, and others who have just begun to rediscover the magic of making marks. Some want to broaden their interests in retirement, still others who bring that joy through their work with the elderly or disabled. And parents, fabulous arty parents, who encourage their little charges to nurture their creative sides.
I am an over-thinker, I fret, and I suffer from self doubt. I went looking for encouragement and mentors, and I made connections with fellow artists.
Instead of finding what I thought I needed, I found new friends….
PS: Wordpress has just informed me that I have been blogging for 1 whole year! Go me!
PPS: On Friday night I was MC at a Solo Exhibition.