Just when I thought I only had to struggle through a few more days until I can stop and be ill, when the children go back to school on Monday, I checked my calendar and discovered that I’m meant to be giving a talk on Monday to a local art group. Arrgghh. I vaguely remember the woman ringing me up weeks and weeks ago, and I agreed without really thinking how exhausted I would be after half term (even without the killer cold!)
Not that I don’t want to do it: I love talking about my paintings and hopefully inspiring others to try painting acrylic abstracts. They are wonderfully liberating; a great way to pour emotion onto canvas and create something beautiful. It’s just I don’t know how to do an hour-long talk on the subject. Particularly as I haven’t painted anything for two years. Two years! I couldn’t believe it when I realised that’s how long it has been since my solo exhibition.
I thought I would start with digging out my Artist’s Statement, that I produced to go with my artwork at the local gallery Art in the Heart. I was mortified to discover several typos in said document. Me! A writer! I even put ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ in one sentence.
Crawls under rock in shame.
My excuse is I seem to remember I was mad-busy when I put it all together, to the point where I broke down sobbing in the shop where I went to have it all printed because it didn’t print properly. Ah, the wonders of sleep-deprived stress.
Anyway, this is my artist’s statement (hopefully now without typos). Do you think it makes a good enough place to start a discussion on me and my paintings? What else would you want to know?
I paint because it makes me feel alive. I love creating something from nothing; starting with a blank canvas and building it up layer by layer without knowing what the final result will be.
My paintings grow the more you look at them. What seem at first only blocks of colour become intricate landscapes and strange dancing figures. I believe art is a collaboration between the artist and the viewer and my paintings are created anew each time they are viewed. If someone sees something within one of my pieces – a face, an animal, a landscape – then that will always be there. The painting is recreated and will always be personal to them.
I was originally inspired to begin painting abstracts by a fellow artist and it has now become my main passion. I work in acrylic because I love the vibrancy of the colour, combined with the speed with which it dries. This allows layers of texture and colour to be built up using different brush strokes. This texture means the paintings change with changing light through-out the day.
I am inspired by the colours of everyday items: a glass of wine or the vibrant orange of autumn leaves. Although I don’t seek to reproduce on canvas the things that inspire me, I search for the same sense of joy the items bring: The sight of a sun-drenched landscape fills me with elation and I feel the same emotion when I am painting my abstracts.
My favourite colours are Rose Madder and Pthalo Blue. They are both strong colours that can be made soft and magical when mixed with white. The Pthlalo colours (blue and green) create beautiful sea colours that I find very restful. Rose Madder is wild, like blood or poppies. I work mostly in primary colours, with a restricted palette of two or three colours per piece. I prefer to mix colours directly on canvas and it never ceases to amaze me how many colours can come from mixing magenta, yellow and Pthalo blue.
I thought I would start with something like this, and then maybe talk through some of the individual pieces. I don’t think they want a demonstration, which is a shame, as that kills loads of time! 🙂 Ah well. Wish me luck. (Oh and I must send an updated personal statement to the gallery. Mortified!)
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire looked around the hostel lounge, gave a deep sigh and smiled. Although the room was crowded it wasn’t noisy. In the corner a family played cards; their muted voices punctuated occasionally by a cry of “Uno!” One or two people curled up in the deep red armchairs, their faces intent as they absorbed themselves in the books cradled in their laps. Claire wondered what worlds they inhabited, far away from the prosaic room.
Her contentment surprised her. The whitewashed stone walls, utilitarian carpet and faded furniture were not exactly the height of luxury. It was no different in the kitchen, with the formica-topped school-like tables and plastic chairs, or in the bare bunkrooms.
If I’d come here a few months ago I would have stayed one night and run away to a refurbished city hostel with relief.
The beauty of the place was not inside the cool stone walls, but outside, where the sun shone endlessly on an expanse of never-ending verdant nature. Somehow the mundane accommodation complemented the experience, allowing a visitor’s attention to focus on what was important.
Stretching her legs out in front of her, Claire shifted the laptop to a more comfortable position and continued typing. She’d been trying to capture her thoughts on the subject all evening, but her mind frolicked away from it like the Dartmoor ponies who visited the building from time to time.
She tabbed away from her open document to reread the reports she’d discovered on the company laptop. It had helped direct her writing, but she still wasn’t entirely sure she knew what she was doing. Something had to be written, though: she’d been in the Dartmoor hostel for nearly a week and knew that Conor would be expecting an update.
Just thinking his name gave her goosebumps. They hadn’t spoken since their last meeting; communicating instead via email and text message. Claire had refused to even charge her phone for the first twenty-four hours, convinced she would discover impassioned messages from him after her sudden departure. There had been nothing for a day or two, and then only a polite enquiry as to whether the laptop worked and contained everything she needed.
Even so, Claire had left Salcombe hostel at dawn, following their evening together, and had driven in blind panic to the most remote accommodation she could discover; her only intention to find somewhere to lick her wounds and consider her options.
Who knew I would end up somewhere so beautiful. And restful.
The dark grey hostel at Dartmoor sat contented amid the National Park, with all sorts of outdoor activities on the doorstep. Claire had spent the last few days pushing herself to exhaustion; hiking to the top of Bellever Tor, exploring the forest and petting the Dartmoor ponies. She’d climbed the boulders at Dewerstone and cycled the Plym Valley.
Each night she’d collapsed into her bunk with weary muscles and a full head. Despite the endless blue skies, fresh air and amazing scenery, her brain still roiled with unruly thoughts.
Try as she might, she couldn’t decide how she felt about her boss’s advances. Unlike the grazes from her fall on the South West Coastal Path, her memories of that night refused to fade and heal. Her sense of outrage at his betrayal of trust warred with a lingering feeling of loss at his curt business-like manner ever since.
With another sigh, Claire brought her attention back to the screen in front of her.
Only eleven more weeks and I can hand in my report, collect my pay cheque, and get the hell away from here.
Back in the beginning, when she’d taken her first step on the journey away from her former life, she and Kim had jokingly come up with the name Two-Hundred Steps Home for her blog. It was looking like home was a lot further away than that.