Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Get your Afro wigs and spangly flares out, I've gone all disco psychedelia! And you may want sunglasses, too.

As you may have gathered by now, I can get a bit overexcited by colours. So now that I have so many artist brush pens to play with (post-birthday), it was inevitable that something quite bright would be created.

I love the process of planning and arranging colour combinations. I've been doing it since I was a toddler and it's still fresh for me every time.

Okay. Shades on? Here's the finished piece:

Artist Brush Pens on Canvas
5" x 7"

Monday, 23 May 2011

I wish...

Completed another piece this morning, having experimented in yet another direction. I'm appreciating how this series is hanging together well, even though each piece explores a different style or idea.

This one, 'I wish', contains my favourite poem by my favourite poet. It would take me a week to boil down to my top ten poems, but this is clearly number one for me. I recommend I Heard God Laughing to everyone.

I wish
Mixed media on canvas
5" x 7"

This is my favourite poem because it so perfectly expresses my intention. Much of what I do is moving towards this. I believe we are perfect. And if only we had the faith to believe that, we would behave like it. My own winding animist/mystic path runs nice parallels to the Sufi ideas of Allah in everyone; in everything.

All of which makes me sound very saintly to ears which are accustomed to hearing 'perfect' as a long list of what it is not. The more I think about perfection, the less I can exclude from it. My daughter teaches me about this. She is indisputably perfect (at least, I strongly recommend not disputing it in my hearing!) and this is not changed when she learns she can draw on the wall with her toothbrush, or that I make an entertaining noise when she pokes me in the eye. Just perfect, with lots to learn. Like the rest of us.

How about you? Are you perfect?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Resistance Training

Three weeks ago I discovered that my new batch of allegedly identical canvasses made my brush pens bleed a little in a way the old batch never had (like this). Sigh. So I scuttled off to my group of unfailingly helpful artist friends who recommended priming the canvas (and reassured me I wouldn't lose the texture I love). Primer was duly ordered, dispatched, held up by The Wedding and, more importantly, Beltane (see what I was up to here), but arrived in good time - nearly two weeks ago. I sat it on the little shelf by our kitchen door so I could take it with me the very next time I went up to my studio. And there it remained.

Since when, I have suffered all the woes of resistance. Everything seemed a bit pointless (because it wasn't what I really needed to do); my writing has been coming along, but it's been slow and grueling (because really I was in an art mood). All the time I just wanted to paint (or 'pen', or whatever it is that I do), but I couldn't because first I had to prime the canvas... oh, too boring to even think about. Priming... not art; just the thing you have to do before you can do some art... ugh. Bored already. I'll read some more blog posts...

Then today I decided to actually do it. No matter how awful the experience was. So I got my bum off my chair, collected the little pot which had withstood so many hard looks from me (coming between me and my art!) and walked all the way to my studio. Which is uphill. Uh.

Only, it's actually in my garden. It's a two-minute walk, and that's if you spend a minute inspecting the pond and looking for signs of growth on tadpole leg-buds. 

 Our thriving mini pond, complete with skulls, stones and prayer flags

So I made it all the way past the pond, and through the door. This door is genuinely a bit of an obstacle. It once slid open, but since then half the building's fallen down (would that I were exaggerating) and been reassembled, so now you push the top across while hooking your foot between the doors and kicking the bottom part. If you get this right, you may enter. If you get it wrong, the door falls off. You still may enter, but you will need to spend a very frustrating and sometimes painful time getting the door at least partly back in its runners. Sigh. But I made it in with only one swear word, and not a particularly bad one.

Immediately I had spider web across my face. Aaaagh! Now, I'm considered intelligent (although the intelligence of those doing the considering may need examining) and am capable of moments of rationality as long as certain things are not present. If my daughter is present, I'm all heart, which is a nice way of saying, 'brainless'. Around crisps I'm just a motorised eating machine and you'd better not get in the way (or, worse, ask to share. I do not share crisps.) And the other thing is spiders. (Note to Ent: I know we could expand this list, but let's not do so publicly.) I totally understand that no spider in Britain can hurt me. (Genuinely, there is a collection of dangerous spiders just down the road, but we just have to trust their keeper that they won't escape. The snakes would eat them, anyway. Or the geckos. Or the... let's not think about it any more.) And, of course, there isn't a web anywhere (this side of Middle Earth) which can hurt me. So twirling around clawing at my head was probably unnecessary. But like I say, unnecessary happens in the presence of certain things. Shudder.

Having survived the hill, the door and the web, I surveyed the interior. It looks like this. 

 Inherited junk languishing in my studio

Which is another reason why I have been so loathe to enter. It looked a lot better before I started cleaning one optimistic day. To distract me from the filth and the plants growing through the walls, I lit some incense and said a quick prayer for creative guidance. Then I noticed the three canvasses from the old non-bleedy batch which I'd forgotten I still had. "That was quick," I added. Clearly, spirit doesn't have the same trouble getting round to doing stuff as I do. I tuned the radio into something about Gershwin and took a deep breath.

My easel/altar

When I'd finished choking on the dust, I got a bigish brush form my brush box, shook (just on the general principle that most things benefit from a good shake) the pot of gesso, opened the lid and brushed a layer evenly all over the canvas. That Herculean task took me, what, one minute? Sooo much less effort than all that resisting.

So, the new, primed canvas is drying and awaiting my experiment upon it another day. And I have three canvasses to play with right now. All I have to do is actually get on with it. I'll just put the kettle on again...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

If Only You Looked Like Barbie You'd be Happier / 'Them and Us'

I'm scared. In this Saturday's Family section of The Guardian, Oliver James has written an article which speaks to my deepest fears. Based around a study of 500 16-year-old Fijian girls, he describes how television, and in particular social networking sites such as Facebook, are bad for girls' body image.

'At the most simple level, the cause is television. A definitive proof of this came from Fiji. Before 1995 there was no TV there and a full female figure was the preferred form. In that year, there were no cases of bulimia recorded, but within three years, dieting suddenly became widespread and 11% of young women were bulimic. The problem was three times more common in homes with a television.' - Oliver James

'However, further analysis showed that social networking was a considerably greater problem than TV, especially when combined with absorption in American culture.' - Oliver James

The researchers concluded that the consistent images of women who are happy (or who are skilled at appearing so) and who look tall, skinny, and gorgeous in that standardised way, eventually convince the subconscious minds of young girls and women that, if only they too could look more like that, they would be as happy as all these chirpy and elegant presenters, pop stars, actors, models, etc. But what they really become is bulimic.

Obviously not everyone is affected in this way, but enough are for it to be a serious problem, including the millions who never develop an eating disorder but still experience lower self-esteem because they can't match the airbrushed people. And I can't help but wonder if my gorgeous (in her wonderful non-standardised way) Ickle Pickle, who currently enjoys 'squidging' her healthy baby fat with me, will one day look at an equally healthy amount of fat on her body and feel depressed or disgusted or unworthy. 

James calls for 'an independent body to prohibit the use of exceptionally good-looking models in all advertising', but despite all my fears I still balk at this. Wouldn't that infringe our 'freedom of the press'? I'm undecided.

In the course of having a similar debate on Facebook, I did discover that the adverts on the right all have a hidden 'x' in the top right corner. Clicking this allows you to report why you didn't like that advert. I'm on a mission to report all weight-loss ads as offensive and I'd love it if you joined me.

In happier news, although strangely related, my latest artwork is an exploration of shape and titled, 'Them and Us'. Here it is:

'Them and Us'
Brush pen mosaic on canvas
5" x 7"
 What do you think about legislating to ensure more normal-looking models?

Do you have an insight into body image? Or the modeling business? 

As ever, any thoughts on my art are appreciated.

And do remember to 'x' those Facebook ads if you want to report them. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...