I broke that promise. For the last 2 days, I have been lying on my couch crying.
I’m not proud of myself, but this is how I deal with disappointments in my life. I cry.
Crying lets the sad out!
I was crying for my country, my world, my humanity. I was crying not only for those who died but for all the destructiveness on social media. For all the lies that are told, the money-grabbing and false information. For the nastiness of people toward each other in this time when ignorance should be forgiven and people educated instead. I cried for the fear in so many heartfelt posts on social media. For those leaders of the world who have such a huge responsibility. For the doctors and nurses and everyone risking their lives and giving up their families for the people. I cried for those dying alone and for my family so far away.
I cried for the sheer horror of what our world is going through. For the families who have nothing and their pitiful pleas for help. For all the families who are separated through circumstance. Animals abandoned through fear and those in shelters.
I cried for the ignorance, the fear-mongering and the wickedness of so many. I cried for my husband and his sense of helplessness, and my own. For my little business that is standing still and my bank balance that’s plummeting.
We are all feeling this right now, all in different degrees, but we are sad, angry and frustrated. It feels like I am holding my breath. Like I am waiting for this plague that is slowly creeping in; gathering momentum as it sweeps over the continents.
My son is a drug counsellor. Last night he told me over our video call that we need to pray to God to help us to change the things we can, and accept the things that we can’t. Of course, he is right.
I won’t beat myself up over the two missed days, I will make it up. I can now.
I have also decided to make some changes. As we go into this lockdown, we cannot become couch potatoes. We will get fat and lazy. I need to keep busy. I need a timetable and I need to stick to it. It may include a nap time because I can. I need to look after myself and not stress.
I am grateful that I can spend more time drawing, painting and possibly blogging like this. I want to encourage everyone reading this that now is the time to learn a new skill. Do some art. It’s ok if it’s bad, just do it for you. You don’t have to share it if you are shy. It’s not about that. Just remember to do it to the best of your ability. If you fail, that’s okay too. Just try again. Don’t give up. If it’s your best, then it is good enough.
Make the most of this time and discover something about yourself that you never knew. It is time for the world to take a breath and to lockdown. It’s time to reflect inwards and give thanks for what we have.
My April theme is to create Art of Appreciation. Let it be a month of gratitude. Gratitude for all we have to be grateful for right now in our lives.
I will miss seeing my children. My grandchildren whom I know and those I have not yet met and my children whom I usually see and those I don’t. But I will paint them because I love them and I am grateful for them. Every little painting or drawing allows me to think of them and whisper prayers and blessings over them while I do so.
I will paint the beautiful world that I hope to see again in its beautiful glory. I will paint the people whom I love and my beautiful animals who keep me happy and who love me even when I am not the best person to be around.
I am grateful for the time I can spend in my home surrounded by the things I love. For my studio and my art supply, and mostly for this passion for art that gives me a reason to wake up every day.
I will connect on social media once a day only. Turn off the news and turn on my music. I will fill my home with warmth and love and create my own happiness. I will dance when I can, play my piano and play with my dogs. I will work with my husband on our veggie garden and spend time talking.
We can do this artist! Cry if you need to, but find a reason to laugh too. Be kind to yourself and others and we will all get through this. Let’s connect through our art and share our experiences. Encourage those of us who are down and accept encouragement when you hit the lows on this roller-coaster ride. Think of the awesome portfolio of work you could have when this is all over!
I am five months in to my one-piece-of-art-everyday challenge. I have come up with topics for this challenge every month in the hope that artists will join me in this challenge. Sadly, very few others are participating (that I know of) daily, so I plan to continue with an open option and will be calling March simply March On Art, because this is what I am doing … marching on.
Drawing or painting every day is a commitment that I have made in order to better myself and my art. Having this commitment gives me something really important to do every single day. It’s a reason for getting up every day and celebrates my God given gift. It is my form of worship if you like.
Creating beautiful art reminds me of everything that I have in this world to be grateful for. Albeit a memory or something that I see in nature, my pets, or loved ones. Doing it every day, is my way of showing gratitude for my life and this wonderful passion that I have for art.
It’s giving me the opportunity to play with all the mediums and paper that I have collected over many years, and I get to look at all the photographs that I have taken too. Now, when I take a photo, I consider a painting, drawing or something instead of just clicking away. It’s fun!
If you would like to participate and perhaps have some lovely topics or ideas for a month of challenges, it would be great to hear from you.
February challenge was Paint What You Love – using old photos that I have collected. I used tiny little postcards to work on (this was a challenge in itself!) but it worked out great!
If you want to look at the paintings that I made over this month, you can have a look at them here on a little video that I created. Please leave me a comment and subscribe to my channel. I will be uploading a little video every month showcasing these artworks.
One of the questions many ask is – WHAT do I draw or paint?
I remember going through a period of searching. At the time, my main concern was to make a living, so I painted things that I thought people wanted. I asked questions like – What do you like. Still-life? And if so, what subject? Do you like landscapes or seascapes? Do you like people or animals?
I thought this was the way to go about doing this. Truthfully, it became work. It was just hard work, turning out paintings and drawings of things that had little or no appeal to me. It showed in everything that I did. I felt that, although some did sell, that I contributed very little to these works from my soul, although they were technically correct, they were soulless. I painted some of the strangest things to try and find the right audience, but I won’t go into that too much at the risk of embarrassing myself here.
However, over the years, I started to notice a pattern. When I produced art that was meaningful and intentional on my part, using subjects and colours that appealed to me, I left a bit of my soul in them. This became the art that sold or inspired others, irrespective of the subject. So, I did what every dumb artist would do, I made more of the same. Obviously the emotional connection and the passion I felt the first time around, wasn’t the same when I reproduced these paintings, and guess what? They didn’t sell either!
As a student of art, I love to read and learn about artists who are successful and whose art really appeals to me. Around the time of this epiphany, I was reading Jack Vettriano’s biography. Without going too much into it (you can find many books, articles and interviews online) Jack was given this advice by an artist who he was following, who told him one simple thing PAINT WHAT YOU LOVE!
My current favourite artist is Andrew Tischler. He is an American born artist who lives in New Zealand on the South Island in a town called Lawrence. He is incredibly generous with his knowledge and teaching and has tons of YouTube videos and a Podcast too. Anyway, I listened to another podcast on YouTube called the Artful Painter Podcast where Andrew was being interviewed as a guest. You can listen to it here https://youtu.be/CiQsPrxiy4w/
Andrew tells a very similar story and therefore has the same philosophy – PAINT WHAT YOU LOVE
Andrew paints in oil and he also has a series of videos on his 10 000 hours SKETCH ENDEAVOUR. (I kid you not! Two hours every single day!) He is an extremely busy artist, making videos, painting commissions and for his gallery, and he runs an online teaching business too. He travels into beautiful NZ countryside and paints plein-aire also while recording! This guy is phenomenal!
One of the things Andrew has been criticized for is that he sometimes works off photographs. This is ridiculous if you watch even one of his videos as his photographs work for him, not the other way around.
He has this wonderful 3 step ritual that he works with (and he is SO generous to share!) which is:
Ask yourself 3 questions when you are in your painting planning stage.
- WHAT’S WORKING? (In your composition, your focal point, contrast, harmony etc. In other words, he applies the elements and their principles to his painting plan and used a photograph to guide him)
- WHAT’S NOT WORKING? (Looking at the elements, you will quickly figure this out. Also, note that photographs always lack something that was there when you saw it with your own eyes. Your own creativity can put that back! )
And lastly – the big one
- WHAT IF? (What if you moved a tree, or added a door, or changed colour, left something out, or added something?)
I want to take this wonderful artists advice and apply this to my next monthly challenge.
February is the month of love. Not because it is Valentine’s month as I have never been a fan, but because in 2017 on 14th February, I married my best friend of 15 years on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean! We booked a cruise with a wedding and the cruise gave us a date. We sailed on the 12th and the wedding was booked for 14th February. Obviously I took tons of photographs, as I do on all the trips and travels I have been on. I started to dig out all of these photographs and I plan to make little paintings. I have a box of postcard size 10 cm x 15 cm (4” x 6”) watercolour sheets and exactly 29 of them. (Ideal for this month) The paper is only 160gsm so I will use watercolour pencils and just gentle colour washes. I may use ink or Conti pencils.
I’m nervous and excited and love the challenge! The theme is PAINT (DRAW) WHAT YOU LOVE. No other rules. I encourage you to try and do one every day.
I post my daily contribution on Facebook and Instagram. The main reason for doing this is because I have made a commitment so I need to show it, and also, to encourage others to join me. It’s lonely out there people! My heart skips a beat when your contributions come up. They give me encouragement like you would not believe! I am always in awe of so many of you who have young children or full-time jobs and you take the time to do this. This shows commitment and I am so in awe of your persistence. Thank you!
Will you join me in this challenge? We have so much to love when you start to think about it. I know too, that you all have tons of photos. Consider why you took them. See if you can use them? They can be anything. You needn’t show your photograph. No judging, just doing. Remember to let the photo work for you. It doesn’t need to be a replica of the photograph. Apply the elements and principles to your thumbnails and re-construct your photographs this way. This is a good way to use a photograph. Thumbnails are just rough shapes in a block that will assist you to plan and construct your painting or drawing. Consider your elements while making them.
Please comment and let me know what you think of the idea.
P.S. I posted this blog now because, in case no one noticed, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet (January Hands) so you will have a few days to gather ideas, photographs and materials before 1 February 2020 (It starts on a Sunday).
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