Following a serious illness, I’ve been recovering- the Covid19 pandemic with its enforced separation, has been a gift although I miss not socialising (as I’m very much an extrovert). But the days of being alone and silent, reading, and resting have been worthwhile. I’ve managed to work, mainly via online platforms but any form of external visits have not happened.
But being at home, doesn’t mean end of creativity. So I’ve been able to do creative things such as writing and crafting. This was a recent creative endeavour during Easter, colouring boiled eggs with natural materials such as turmeric, onion skins, and coffee with layering on bits of leaves, flour paste and skin to create texture and decorations. In times of stress, any bit of creativity will enable healing. I also created a painting out of bits of used ‘Over head transparencies’- remember those? and odds and ends on a bit of discarded empty picture frame (without glass) found on the street. Even frozen water bubbles became an idea for musing about the passage of time. Cooking became a very creative pastime. I realised that anything can be creative if you want to make it so.
Pottering about is an art. Being creative is about being healing yourself- it is a magic!
This summer my boys and I went on a cruise. Usually cruise ships are the domain of the elderly people and we were in minority. Most of this 600 room ship which sails around Norway was full of elderly people, some with drips and taking medications. But cruising can be a slow and gentle way of travelling that allows you to relax, take in the views and do something that is healthy for your body and mind. So it was lovely to see my teenagers who love their smartphones pick up paintbrushes and jigsaw puzzles! We played games and looked at the amazing scenery that Norway offers. Here are some snippets of our travel along with my sketches.
Of course, we met some rude people on that journey but mostly our art also became a way of connecting with the passengers and staff.
This week, my first ever art show opened. It may have been something vaguely I wanted to do in life but I really hadn’t thought much about it, except that it was ‘impossible’. Then I heard an inspiring talk given by a blind artist ( see my previous post on Annie Fennymore) and realised how actually I ‘understood’ her and her techniques for painting. I got talking to the person who organised this show and suddenly she turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you exhibit your work too? We have a three month vacant slot here.’ I was deeply reluctant at first. My reaction was- ‘what if people don’t like it? what if people laugh at the work? what if people don’t get it?’ etc etc.
I was full of fear. But having thought about how much I was going to regret not taking this opportunity, I said yes eventually. Then I also decided to paint new work and re-worked some of the originals. I realised I had changed- I had taken on fear and won. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” You can always learn from mistakes, but what if you’ve actually never made a mistake (as if that is possible!)? Life is all about making mistakes, learning from them.
It was hard work but I thoroughly enjoyed painting again. I didn’t try to please anyone- just painted to please myself and thought about what I would like looking at. Having now done this, I am in a daze- people have written so many kind words about my work. One said, “I have just been to have a look and the art looks amazing. You are very talented!”
Many people helped out, working on Saturday at 8-00 am working solidly for four hours to hang the pictures- none of them got paid to do this (although I certainly will send something to them). Someone who helped out with the hanging commented,”Just to let you all know that the pictures are all hung safely and, personally, think the corridor looks great…..several people have already admired them…..”
What can I say, I am speechless with gratitude! If my art moves and inspires people, even though technically it might not be amazing- it is perfect for me and them. It is my gift to the world. By taking on fear and leaving aside regrets, we can only become more creative and live true to our hearts. It doesn’t matter if I get any more compliments or not, or even if I get some nasty comments- I have won! So if you still thinking about something that you have never done, go for it now!
PS-writing this blog for the last three years also helped me to overcome my fears!
I have been away for nearly a month to see my family- my parents are both disabled and my father is blind. Apart from the time spent in sorting out their problems, I have had time to reflect on my work, my art and what I had forgotten. I found many things from my childhood, including diaries. Since a young age, I have been collecting stuff- all sort of things but mainly magazine or newspaper cuttings. As a child, I used to love pasting these and making sense of the what the drawing looked like, i.e. I didn’t start with an agenda but waited to see what would happen (Louis Kahn, the architect apparently used to ask the brick what the brick wanted to be). Somehow I had forgotten this childish habit which I had naturally long before I had heard of Louis Kahn or any artist. Then I saw the work of Jasper Johns as a 12 year old- it left an indelible impression on me. Again, I forgot about him and the electrifying effect that his work had on me.
Sorting out the stuff at my parent’s house, brought back all these memories and inspirations of my childhood that I had pushed aside. Upon return, I have started painting again and what a joy it is! Due to my own eye problems, I realised I painted in a certain way. While I spend a lot of time thinking about the work and composing it (without too much thought towards what it might become), once I have decided, I paint quickly and deliberately. I may come back sometimes to a painting and put on some little touches but most of the time, not. I like to paint on found materials- card, masonite board, old pictures that people have put out as trash. I like layering different materials- paper, tape and objects; and laying on thick paint with textures, so that the surface is very tactile as well as vibrant. This particular painting is about events of 1984. Again, I did not start it that way, I stuck some tickets, paper and magazine cuttings, a map and other stuff I found and then I realised I had created a story about 1984. Someone saw it and remarked they liked it, even though I did not tell them what the painting was about. I think art does not need to be explained too much- the viewer has to find an empathy and meaning in it themselves otherwise it does not connect. Thank you, Jasper Johns and Louis Kahn!