The term-“artist block” is one that every creative person has heard, and carries with it a sense of frustration and artistic desolation. It’s a term that has been in the back of my mind, daring me to tackle it and rise above it.
Lately, I have simply surrendered to it, which runs counter-intuitive to the common advice given on the subject, suggesting that the artist should “just turn up” to their creative practise regardless. A kind of fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. And there nothing wrong with that, it does work- I’ve tried it in the past. But I guess that’s not where I am at the moment.
I wanted to divorce myself of the label “artist” as part of my identity. Funnily enough, as I write this it occurs to me that perhaps this was necessary so I could grow as a person.
In December I ditched my studio space in Fremantle. In January I ditched my home studio, replacing it with a beautiful, funky lounge room. I decluttered all my art supplies, leaving me with just the bare bones-journals, pencils, paint and canvas. In March I ditched my gallery space in Fremantle. I gave away some artwork here and there, which has been liberating and kind of joyful, too. Ditching and giving. Throwing away the superfluous, gifting things that hold meaning and value.
I’ve just been finding the whole process of trying to sell artwork….soul destroying.
I still paint occasionally- only when I really want to- and I just set up in my dining room or outside. But mostly, it’s all about sketchbook doodles, writing down dreams, thoughts of travel and trying to find the still small voice again.
The below image is from my sketchbook, done on a plane trip on my way back from Bali.
This painting was created using a lot of texture, from paper to fabric from Jordan’s old board shorts….it’s been interesting using his clothes in such a way, for me it has carried a lot of meaning….creating using something of his, I feel I am sharing with him in the whole process of painting. Jordan has always been involved with my art; from being the subject of Portraiture, to being a model for Jesus for a mural I did once in Bruce Rock….not sure if this one is quite finished, I may add some stardust in the angel’s hand. The angel in this piece has popped up in a couple of paintings now… it always fascinates me when this happens!
The creative possibilities of portraiture are endless. Expressive portraits can plumb the depths of human experience, identity, spirituality and emotion.
In this workshop you will have the opportunity to create your own expressive portrait using acrylic paint with the option of using mixed media techniques (using fabrics, papers and glues to add texture).
Cost of the workshop includes canvas and materials. Please feel free to bring your own paints if you have some that you like working with
Light lunch provided.
Time: 11-4 pm
venue: 11 Captains Lane Fremantle
Tickets and enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be purchased here:
Marketing my art has always been the hardest thing for me…apart from dealing with bouts of creative blocks. I guess, after evaluating my long undulating relationship with my art over the years, I figured it was about time I gave it all another go, realising that these endeavours take time and trial and error (and I’ve made loads of them already!).
So, I had an etsy account sitting dormant since 2015 and decided to restock my shop, with prints, paintings (and the idea I’m really psyched about) “art boxes” (I’ve only made two so far).
For the first time in my life, I feel like I have become less critical of my art and more embracing and accepting of my style. I think I am offering something truly intuitive, mostly because of the insights I have gained in my own life from my artwork. Art bears witness to pain, and using a quote I heard on the radio waves; “the purpose of art is to make the personal universal”.
I hold on to the idea that to share artwork is sharing something of value and meaning to the world….and I’m so grateful that I am in a position, financially (due to my lovely husband) that I can pursue this path. (The link to my shop is posted below!)
This week was spent in our house out in Narembeen/Bruce Rock. Our whole lives seem to be stored there, I married my husband, Kevin at the age of 21 and lived there for the first 16 years of our married life before moving to Perth, with Kevin still working the farm part time. So the house has become much of a storage space for all of my art over the years. This week I unearthed a lot of it…from more recent endeavours to things I had created 27+ years ago (I even have a portrait done as an adolescent of our family dog). It’s been a strange journey. There has been many reoccurring themes, a lot of pictures of Kevin and my boys, portraits of those dear to me, dreams, religious art, self portraits..and the best one…I found a precious little sketch I did of my eldest son Jordan when he was about 18 months old.
It made me think, once artwork gets old, it becomes a bit sacred. You don’t want to destroy it just because it contains a piece of your heart, ideas and musings from the past depicted in form and colour. And although it most probably means little to other people, for me, looking at all this stuff has been reassuring. I’ve mustered some compassion and respect for my own personhood. The pictures bear witness to not only the ebbs and flows of my life, but the hard things, the difficult times in the past, that may have otherwise been glossed over as if they never existed. It’s provided a map of where I’ve been, giving a sense of purpose to where I’m going. These things are impossible to see at the time. Often when you create an artpiece there is no conscious, deliberate intent. It’s not til later that you can see the spirit or soul that drives the inspiration. I’ve always said art makes visible the things that go beyond words, and it’s true.
So today, I suppose armed with the belief that life matters, that our interpretation of this life also matters, I set to task to hang as much of my work on our farmhouse walls as I could. Prior to today they were placed on the floor against the walls of our bedroom and Jordan’s old room. None of them are hung particularly neatly, and some walls are asbestos so you can’t put a nail in them. But I did my best- I’m so happy seeing them occupy ‘real’ space on the walls! It’s been cathartic in a way, too. I’m giving space to my self, validating my own art, silencing the inner critic, hopefully also creating a space for future art musings, experimentations, themes and dabblings to occupy.
I’m feeling my pain a lot more sharply these days. It makes me sad that I can no longer communicate with my boy on an earthly level. I feel his presence with me sometimes, and I’ve taken to collecting heart shaped stones found at the beach, a relic when I go on my short, exhausted walks on the beach, usually feeling lost and disconnected with reality.
Yesterday I posted some ‘works in progress’, something unusual for me- I’m a bit shy about showing my artistic ‘process’ because to me it’s pretty klunky. All this productivity, this new sense of purpose I’m finding in creating is overwhelming. Jordan’s telling me I need to “thaw out”, like I’ve been frozen in time. I feel him there, working alongside me, and I’m painting his heart. He helps me, reassures me. I know this must sound strange to some. I have no answers. I know little of the spirit world. All I know is what I feel, and what I’ve observed.
I wish I could recall the name of a poet I stumbled across- also a grieving mother; her purpose now is to create poems that comfort other parents dealing with the loss of a child. She feels her son is helping her too. A partnership of creative energy and love. This is exactly how I feel about Jordan.
He’s shown me moths, butterflies, hearts, angels, beaches and waves…to see meaning in everyday things.
One of my oldest friends also lost her son in a car crash, just around the corner from where my own boy drew his last breath. She shared a dream she had, describing how her boy showed her how he is watching over her life, and how this is true for all heartbroken mothers. She said “they love us, they really know us, they are proud of us”. What a comfort when other grieving mothers share their hearts.
I find myself looking for Jordan everywhere, so I guess this painting is making my friend’s dream ‘real’ for me. I’m reminded of a quote by one of my favourite painters, Marc Chagall. He said,”If you can’t see angels you should paint them”. I will never see my boy again on this earth, hear his voice, touch him or breathe his scent, so this is my way of bringing him close. He is like an angel to me now, in a way. But it’s hard to imagine what he is really like; I believe when we die all of the parts of us that are flawed and broken are healed. Is he still Jordan, but more ‘himself’ than ever? I feel like a child trying to understand things that are beyond me.
I wish I could remember my dreams in more detail. My boy showed up in my dream last night, we talked about lots of things (actually I talked the most, he was just with me, his presence, listening)….but I asked him at the end, “is heaven beautiful?” He paused, face looking really fresh and calm, “Yes, heaven is beautiful”.