It has been a long time since I felt motivated to write. In fact, the last time was about 6 months ago just after “reset day” and now I am due for the latest lot of injections in a couple of days’ time.
It has been a busy few months with the end of the year rolling round and the new one starting quietly. My normal end of year re-evaluation and word selection was slightly more meaningful this year.
My migraines affect my thought processes and my anxiety.
I was feeling quite down and sorry for myself thinking that I hadn’t met my goals or lived up to my own expectations. When I updated my CV earlier this week I actually surprised myself with how much I accomplished last year despite my illness.
I had entered work into 12 separate exhibitions.
1 acquisition award, and 1 sale, at the Ipswich Art Awards.
I had a piece selected to tour as part of the 2018 Queensland Regional Arts Awards Tour.
I’ve made a number of sales, and now have a range of prints and cards available.
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.
Last time I posted on this blog it was just before the QT Ipswich Art Awards and I talked about the pieces I was entering for this local competition, that was way back in April…
Well – I am very pleased to be able to say that I won an award in that competition – 2nd prize in fact! 2nd Prize in the Drawing Category for my piece “Simple Joys” – the pointillism piece I agonized over!
And – I sold the other piece! My mixed media “Tree of Life”.
I am not sure which one shocked me more to be honest! Winning my second ever art prize – or selling a piece which I was fully intending to hang in my own home, because I believed that no one else in the world would be able to “see” my vision for the piece.
Since then I have started and scrapped a couple of other pieces for the “Tree of Life” Series (yes, I work in series’ now!) I can’t seem to get that image right – but creating the original piece was a bit of an angst inducing experience – so I am guessing the next piece will also come from this sort of angst.
I am also working on a series in an “animation cel” style. This is proving to be enormously fun and naturally more learning is happening. My whimsical cartoony characters are coming to life in new ways..
And, of course, there are more exhibitions to prepare for – “Stimulate the Senses” in August and “The Image Makers” in November.
So the work/play continues…
Even more exciting news comes in the form of an amazing opportunity through my daughters kindergarten.
I have been asked – and graciously accepted – the chance to act as “Artist In Residence” and teach young children the joys of colour, texture, and pattern through art…
There are no words to describe the honour I feel at being allowed this important task.
It will only be for the last semester of the school year and I am a bit daunted by the idea, but I strongly believe that if I can impart just the tiniest bit of my love of creating onto these precious young minds then I have done a good thing.
Who knows, I might inspire the next young Margaret Olley!
I am having angst! I am beginning to worry that I may not actually have what it takes to stand up in this art world…
Deep breathe… mentally slap myself… move forward…
One of the things that cause my self-doubt is when I look at other peoples’ work. Then my biggest enemy becomes “Comparison”.
Last night I went to my first Dr Sketchy life drawing session and it was the first life drawing session since, I don’t remember when.
It was fabulous – actual burlesque queens, 4 of them, in costume and stunningly beautiful hair and make-up! We were in a small room with a large bed in the middle – we were so close we could touch them!
When the drawing started I found that I was so out of practice that a 5 minute pose felt like 1 minute… and I realised the value of drawing exercises.
Looking around the room I saw a lot of seasoned life drawing artists – producing amazing pieces of art. Some of them were so quick they were able to capture minute details in their subjects, even adding things and making a comic-styled story out of a single image!
I began to feel inadequate… but then remembered that I have only been doing this for a short time, I haven’t done life drawing in months and these artists whose work I admired have probably been to university and studied graphic design and other artsy stuff.
Deep breathe… mentally slap myself… move forward…
I am pretty much self-taught and am proud of what I was able to capture in my 5 minute drawings.
So… I am still working hard at not comparing myself to other artists. I think it is inevitable that I will still do that every now and then, but I am getting better at recognising my own talents and appreciating others skills for what they are.
I have been quite ill recently so I have had a lot of time to sit and think, or should that be dwell?
Something I struggle with is the nagging whisper of self doubt. It has got to be the number one killer of inspiration and creativity. Actually several artist friends that I have spoken with all suffer the same affliction.
That little voice in the corner of your mind that says things like…
“That’s not good enough”
“Nobody will like that”
“What are you trying to say with that piece?”
For me personally I think some of these thoughts come from my lack of knowledge in some areas of arts practice, and my own perception that I lack particular skills simply because of my inexperience.
But in reality, I over think everything.
I have a habit of second guessing myself. What I mean by that, is that I have an idea, which initially I am in love with and think is fantastic, but then the little gremlin that lives in the dark recesses of my subconscious speaks up. I start on a roller coaster of doubting my original idea and try to come up with something “better” or more “clever”. Something that my little gremlin believes would make a better impact or a piece of art that actually “speaks” to that general population of “them” – the viewer.
Case in point – take a look at the journey I went on with my recent competition piece for the Portraiture Award. The first struggle I had was to choose a subject! Oh my gosh! How difficult that was! I literally spent weeks on searching through images on Google trying to settle on someone to portray.
My gremlin kept harassing me, saying things like,
“It has to be someone famous”
“They have to be recognisable”
“Someone who has made an impression on the world”
“Who do you admire”
And all the while I kept thinking I don’t really have any hero’s. I mean, I have people I look up to, but in quiet and personal way – not something I wanted to express publicly in a competition situation. So finally I chose someone who made me laugh. John Cleese. I watched him in the “Monty Python Picture Show”, my friends and I laughed till we cried while watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” more than once, loved “The Life of Brian”, and then enjoyed watching “Fawlty Towers” with my parents. “A Fish Called Wanda” became a favourite movie, and now with my children we enjoy his voice talents in various kids’ movies.
Once that decision was finally made I then had arguments with myself about the execution of that piece.
What medium was I going to use. Which style suited the subject best?
All the while I was quickly running out of time – the deadline was looming – and I still had no idea exactly what I was doing!
I even had a poorly executed attempt at abstract with acrylics.
In the end I silenced my inner gremlin and went with my gut. I followed my instinct and completed the piece in the style that I had originally thought would be perfect and that is how we came to the finished pointillism piece.
I am so glad that I did because it is amazing. I didn’t win any prizes in the competition, nobody bought it and it didn’t make people’s choice, but I did learn a hell of a lot about myself and how I process work.
Now it hangs proudly in my living room as a testament to how far I have come, not only as an artist but as an individual human being.
I have made progress towards learning how to trust myself more. The first idea usually is the best, because it is that seed that started the idea growing in the first place. Sure you can expand and cultivate the idea but where you started from is equally important as to where you end up.
So – I can do this – or at least I am going to try to keep listening to that first voice in my head and ignoring the quiet gremlin within.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath
“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
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”
― Robert Hughes
“I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.”
― Tennessee Williams