A story unfolding……

What might have been…., originally uploaded by gilfling.

I am having a funny old day today – good, but funny. My brain and hands are itching to be doing so many different things at once that I don’t know which way to turn. I am so aware that currently this blog is so ‘me-centric’ and I am dying to expand my blog posts beyond my own wee world but at the moment my own wee world is where the action is at!

I wrote very briefly the other day about my previous (hopefully long since past) struggles with procrastination and that often fear of failure has stopped me doing so many things with my artwork – many times it has stopped me creating any artwork atall. This year all that has changed and I really feel that this has been a permanent shift in my attitude and my thinking. The events of last year have been the catalyst in my change regarding my artwork. I know now, more than at any time previously that this is what I want to be doing with my life. I have no time to waste. I have something to say.

The images I have been working on recently (every day!!) may only be ten minute (well actually they can take up to half an hour) sketches in my trusty moleskine before bedtime. That time when I am so sleepy and comfortable that I am just allowing my pencil to move across the paper, not ‘planning’, not trying to create masterpieces. But as I look back at these sketches I am seeing how intensely personal they actually are.

 They are my story.

They illustrate my struggles with family, my own melancholy nature, my worries about the future. One of my friends commented last year that she would be interested to see how being diagnoses with breast cancer would influence my artwork….. I think this is that story unfolding.

I had been thinking that perhaps I should be working on larger paper but it feels as if I am creating a kind of journal of my thoughts and dreams and so I shall continue to work in my wee A6 moleskine – already I only have a few pages left and need to order a new one – I think the very first time that I have ever completely finished a whole sketchbook. This little book that is small enough to fit into one hand is becoming so much more than I ever anticipated – a representation of my heart and soul.

However I would like to make some of these images available for those that perhaps see something in them as I do. Therefore in addition to the small drawings in my sketchbook I have begun creating larger original drawings based on some of the imagery. I had planned to work on one a day but that has proved too difficult whilst I am also working on a collection of work for an upcoming exhibition. However I aim to have a few available and listed in my shop by the end of this week.

The first one is called ‘What might have been……’


Studio day…

costume boy, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I had other ideas for a post for today but after spending far too many glorious hours holed up in my studio yesterday….well today I am pooped and my thoughts are a jumble of this and that…..

So instead I shall just show this wee fellow that I painted yesterday as part of the course ‘stretching within’ – this time monochromatic painting with colour washes. You can see him with the inspiration image here. I was fortunate to be given a bunch of scanned photo files which are Mark’s family ancestors from Victorian times – there really are a few treasures in there. I shall perhaps show some more later in the week.

I am still getting to grips with the materials and I spent a long time yesterday playing on boards with textures and just getting messy. It is wonderful to do this with no agenda and no expectations although my brain is itching to start working on these ideas that have been brewing.

I have been enjoying my daily sketches so much that I have set myself another daily challenge for this month. As I am so tired today however I haven’t yet got to it…..so I shall reveal all tomorrow 😉

Meanwhile I am having a sale in my etsy shop all of this week and until next Tuesday. (Just use the coupon code FEB2011 at checkout.) These last few months have ensured the coffers are empty in what are already tough times – sickness, it’s treatment and recovery and self employment are not the best mix so I am hoping to make a wee bit to pay some bills and treat myself to a haircut! Oh and purchase some paints. Yes perhaps the paints should have come first……

Making progress…..

26 1 11, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Today should be my last day of working on the dreaded admin and for that I am glad. The only place I want to be at the moment is my studio, playing and working away with the music on and the bunnies snoozing under the ironing board.

We are of course heading towards the end of the first month of the year and I am pleased with how it has progressed for me. This month was about taking time to recover and learn and re-learn and enjoy the process of making art. I may not have completed any great masterpieces but I am enjoying the just playing with materials and ideas.

Two things have greatly helped with this (well three things really). I have been more disciplined in at least putting pencil to paper every day. Sometimes it is just one of the little sketches, often it is more but it has certainly got my creative juices going and the newly formed habit means ideas are flowing much more readily. The action of using pencil and paper every day, in turn means that drawing is a lot easier for me. Why would I be surprised by that? It is so simple!

Regular blogging (something that I have struggled with so much throughout my blogging history) also means that I am more aware of what I am creating and why. It helps me to remember why I love doing what I do and it almost acts as my daily diary which motivates me to keep going! Thirdly the feedback here on my blog and on flickr has been incredible and a real blessing. So thank you so much for reading, commenting and giving feedback. Who knew that discipline, accountability and critique would be the three things that would reinforce in my mind that this above all else, is what I want to be doing with my life!

Thank you again. Now it is off to the studio I go….

Back to the beginning…….

paint practice, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I am so out of practice with painting. It is something I have always struggled with in a sense but I found my own way and style by getting comfortable with my materials and using a whole host of things to develop a piece. Most of my previous works use just about every kind of material I have to hand – collage, watercolours, inks, pencils, pastels, acrylics and oil sticks – all in the same finished piece.

Layers and layers of shapes and colours and lines all placed in a seemingly haphazard way, but somehow each ending up in just the right place to make an image work (in my humble opinion). I love using lots of subtle, misty blended layers that disappear into nothing such as in this piece, but there is also alot of line work created with pencils and inks to provide contrast and tension, these bring the image to life I feel. Perhaps this piece is a good example.

I think this is how I developed a distinctive style in my artwork over the last few years. Now i am trying to shake that up a bit and challenge myself. I continue to work through the stretching within e-course and am starting to use acrylics….on their own…..without my usual safety net of a table full of materials that I am comfortable with.

Gosh it is difficult and the results are less than satisfactory. But that is good and exactly the result I was looking for. I don’t want to feel comfortable. I don’t want to work in my normal way. I want to get back to basics, to work on cheap paper that I don’t care about. I want to produce lots of images that will probably end up in the rubbish bin. I want to practice and practice until I find my feet and my own style starts emerging again.

Usually when I work on a painting I am working from my imagination with lots of collected images that I use as a very loose starting point. Here I am just painting straight from images, trying to get to grips with using just paint and nothing else. I think I will work on quite a few more of these to see what happens. This is not to say that I won’t start introducing my beloved pencils and oil sticks again, it is just time to do something different for a while as a way of giving my work a much needed shake up and hopefully something even better will emerge.

Apologies for the dry, descriptive tone of these current blog posts – I guess my head is just in my studio and I am working through a process, so my train of thought is fully switched on to that! It feels good though and I am excited to see where it takes me……

Working through a process….

I am continuing to work through the stretching within e-course and it is good to be drawing again! Drawing (from observation, from my imagination and just drawing because….) is something that  I really neglected for most of last year (possibly even the last two years…?) and this course is helping me re-discover materials that I have not used for a long time. It is also encouraging me to get back to basics, to make mistakes and learn from them, to make work that I do not actually like very much and to work out what is not my ‘style’ which will hopefully lead me further on in the journey to finding out what is (my style….)

The process of working with materials that I would not ordinarily use, such as charcoal and charcoal pencils, means that I am working in a way that reminds me of my art studies at school …..twenty something years ago….. and I think the drawings are not much better than they were then….but it feels as if I am experimenting again and playing…something that has been lacking in my art development lately.

I worked on the most agonising self portrait over the weekend and really, I can only begin to pick out all the things that are wrong with it…. but that is great!! It is not only the successful pieces that provide a learning experience but it is the unsuccessful ones – the next time I will have a better idea of what ‘not’ to do…

The first week of the course was spent concentrating on drawing skills and this week moves onto painting – again it is such along time since I have picked up a brush! But it is good to be making art again, even if I am more than a little rusty.

I read this post by the artist Terri Windling this morning – and it was a real ‘Ah-ha’ moment for me. I encourage you to hop on over there, it really is a wonderful read. I have no idea what stage in the journey I am on, sometimes think I have developed my own unique style and way of depicting my world but I have a sneaking suspicion that I have a long, long way to go yet, towards visualising my own unique style.

PS the drawing above is not my self portrait unfortunately – it is based on a photograph clipping that I had in my inspiration file – I think it is by a famous photographer but unfortunately I do not know the name. This drawing is more successful I feel than my self portrait but I still have a long way to go to rediscover my style – an exiting process!

An ink bottle a day

Friday, Friday and in this work that I love so much Friday does not signal the end of the week for me. My days are different at the moment as I am still moderating my hours to allow for recovery time and so my working hours are short and I am allowing myself even more time than is usual to just dream and let my thoughts drift.

 I spent rather too long in the studio yesterday just sketching and enjoying the company of Jeeves and Wooster but it has left me a little tired today. I also stayed up far too late last night tip-tapping on my computer for an exciting bit of news which I will be able to reveal in good time. So today I shall take it a little easier and will look forward to getting into my studio a little more over the weekend.

I have been continuing to work on the coursework for Stretching Within – one of the tasks being to draw the same object every day for the duration of the course. This will be an interesting experience! I chose a collection of old pottery ink bottles and already I am finding myself increasingly aware of the textures and imperfections in their shape. I have always loved them of course but they are there in my studio every day on the windowsill and after a while I have stopped ‘seeing’ them.

I have started with basic pencil and charcoal drawings, observational and true to life (although those blinking ellipses always fox me) so it will be interesting to see how these will develop and how I can make the drawings more interesting. You will be able to view the collection here.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend whatever you may be doing.

Mosaic Monday 10th Jan 2011

Mosaic Monday 10th Jan 2011, originally uploaded by gilfling.

Happy Monday to you! I am excited to be starting this week feeling inspired and ready to go. These mosaics are a great beginning to the week gazing and absorbing images that inspire me. There are so many amazing artists to be found via flickr. Please click-through the links to their individual pages. I hope they inspire you too!

Today is about tying up a few loose ends from last week and thinking about what I want to achieve this week. It is also the day that I begin this course. I can’t wait to start!

Time to rest, time to stretch

3 1 11, originally uploaded by gilfling.

I am really enjoying continuing with these quick small daily sketches. Although not the best drawings I have created, I am finding that in that time when I am so sleepy, there is no room to be anxious about what is appearing on the page. I have no preconceived idea about what shapes to form and what will happen. But my images are still very literal and this year I want to find more freedom in my art making, more expression.

In this first month of the year I have two opposing paths to be following (or perhaps it is three). Recovering from seven weeks of treatment, I am exhausted and needing to sleep often and am only able to tackle tasks in short bursts. So the first plan for this month is to rest and recover.

Preparing for this month of rest and recuperation I also thought it would be a good idea to gift myself with some time to stretch and grow in my ideas and new artwork; getting back to basics and starting the year with a fresh perspective. So I signed up for an e-course and then in my eagerness signed up for another one. With long days in the house in between napping and taking short walks it seemed I would have all the time in the world. Plan number two.

However as is my usual way, my inability to gauge time in hours, days, weeks and months, I had not appreciated the impending deadlines of two group exhibitions – the first opening in February and the second opening in March. Oops. Plan number three.

I am going to put all three plans down on paper step by step, put them in a hat, mix them around and taking one scrap at a time I will work my way through each and every one. My days this month will be spent resting, playing, sewing, painting, developing ideas, napping, embroidering, strolling, sketching, not panicking, creating new work and thinking. Above all though I am going to accept that I can only do so much and I am not going overwork myself. In fact that wee selection of tasks sound just the ticket to getting back on my feet.