In December, I gave myself the task of painting practice. I started off with lines. It started well but I soon lost interest when I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. My pieces didn’t look as good as the examples I had seen been created by certain artists. I felt demoralised falling into that comparison trap. I gave up, telling myself I was no good and a fraud. I was being the party pooper.
This is a habit I’ve fallen into quite a lot over the years. Forgetting that it took the master painters years before they reached the point of being any good or gaining recognition. And some, for example like Vincent van Gogh, didn’t gain recognition until after their death. Right up to that point, Van Gogh still kept practicing and painting never giving up on his vision, his craft. And only through Jo van Gogh-Bonger, his sister-in-law, loaning and selling his paintings and publishing van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, her husband, did he gain his rightful place in art history.
For this to happen, after his death which he had no way of knowing, he had to do the work. He still had to show up and paint and make mistakes. Face disappointments and worries and doubts. He still had to believe in himself.
When things are difficult and not turning out the way you envisioned while creating, it can be a Herculean feat to keep believing in yourself and what you are trying to do. It is easy to give up, as I did in December. The pressure I was putting on myself to be good just wasn’t warranted. It took all the fun out of it. I’d forgotten I was only supposed to be playing and having fun not creating masterpieces.
This year, I’m up for some fun. I’m taking the pressure off myself and taking more risks just for the hell of it. For the thrill. I’m excited to see where this leads in my practice. I’m keeping my eyes on my page and seeking all the delights it can bring.
Spending my time creating colour combinations to smooth across just a small journal, A5 in fact. Not a lot of space to cover, not a lot of room to freak me out. And it’s working. This week I’m practicing lines.
That long narrow mark or band which is so simple but so effective. It can be used is so many different ways and I’m enjoying the exploration.
Hanging out in my artist journal is a luxury but such a necessity. It’s here that confidence is built, experiments made and boundaries pushed.
Hope to share some of this weeks creations later on. Until then follow this line _________
I’m happy to see this month come around even though I can’t believe that we’re hurtling towards Christmas and the New Year . Where has this year gone?
I’m glad to see the back of November after far too many visits and hours spent in hospitals and doctor’s surgeries.
We might be moving toward the shortest day of the year, but I’m feeling the light in more ways than one.
New moon on Tuesday and my intentions are already set. To shift my energy, my outlook, my state of mind through going deeper into my practice.
I’ve been in my retreat cave for a few months now, withdrawn from IG and Facebook for months. But it’s only now as we turn towards the dark further, do I feel more unhinged and released from the public realm and demands.
I mixed colours today; went through a 40+ box of acrylic paints, mixing them with white gesso to create new, more muted tones. And I’ll not lie, I was singing to the little paint pots I created. This simple act fed my soul. I was so grateful for colour. I could have stayed there all day just mixing and enjoying the colours that came to fruition.
I can’t wait to make some swatches of them as well as start painting with them. Using them each day this month is my plan as a means of deepening into my practice and retreating further into my cave.
Have you set any intentions for the coming circle of the moon? For the last few days of 2019? Please share if you have.
While laid up for a while ( and that’s another story), I’m spending my time being creative. This is the only way to keep me sane and to keep my mind and hands occupied as my body feels the pain.
This is the first book I’ve made, after a few years of not making any books. It may look shabby and wonky and still a bit plain, especially the cover. But I love it. I’m so proud of my creation.
Hand-made junk journals are the way the go. Expect to see more as well as see how this one develops as I start to fill it up with text and images.
I feel a Christmas themed one calling …
When things get overwhelming, I take to colour. I think this is the reason I love Autumn so much. The myriad of colours; crimson, pumpkin, golden and umber. See what I did there? I elevated my vocabulary as sometimes I can be lazy and just use the obvious.
Anyhow. Back to the colour fields. Playing with colour fills my pot. Shifts my energy. And makes me happy. A simple task but well worth the effort.
Lately, I’ve started new journals. Square journals. Altered books. Notebooks. Any blank page I can fill with colour I will. I share some of the results here to inspire you to play. To let go and just lose yourself in the process. Forget the result. Forget perfection. And surrender to the joy of play.
I’m a Black British artist. I’ve been involved in the union for artists in England. I’ve been involved in different exhibitions and events around the arts. What I know for sure is that the British art scene is elitist and exclusive.
I’m actively attempting through my own practice as well as research and reading to make visible the invisible; the invisible history of Black British art. For centuries, Black artists have been visible amongst themselves/ ourselves being involved in individual and collaborative projects. But within official records and archives, the Black presence remains little and absent.
Histories and lives and stories are missing within British arts from an African diaspora perspective and I hope through my creating and agitating and archiving I’m changing the narrative.
Through a series of posts I hope to explore the Black British art tradition to bring this rich and diverse and valuable history to light and more recognition. I look forward to sharing my findings with you.
In the past, I’ve struggled with creativity. I thought I could neglect it and keep it under wraps. But creativity is an energy which won’t be silenced or railroaded.
It has to be respected, nurtured and practiced. Frequently.
Here are a few ways that I stay creative, they might even work for you too.
1. Turn up daily.
Being creative is a practice and you can only practice when you turn up. Turn up at the page, the canvas, the computer. Turn up without expectations, just commit to giving creativity some time and attention and see where it takes you.
2. Never give up, never surrender.
Some days the ideas are flowing. The words are all making sense. The colours are working together. I’m in the creative flow and I feel so much joy. But other days, I’m finding it difficult. I’m struggling to make sense, to feel good about what I’m doing. It’s icky. But I keep going. I keep turning ip because I know I’ll get back to the flow and joy and sweet spot.
3. Fall in love with the process
Process over product every time. Through focusing on the process, I’ve a much enjoyable ride. I learn so much about tools and skills and techniques. I’m present in the moment rather than jumping ahead to the end and stressing about if anyone will like what I create. With focus on the process, it doesn’t matter if anyone gets what the finished piece is about because the value comes through the practice.
I suspend attachment and worries and stress when I create multiples or dabble in multiple creative projects. When I create in batches or move between different art form such as writing poetry and painting an abstract, it means I don’t place all my eggs in one basket. It means I’m not focusing on perfection or completion. I’m focusing on this mark now. And then the next mark. And how they talk to each other. I’m lost in the movement and the creating.
5. Trust yourself
This is probably the hardest thing to cultivate in terms of creativity as far too often we listen to our fears and self-doubts. We spend time and energy overthinking the process or second guessing our actions. We doubts our abilities and intentions. We fall into the comparison trap and before we know it we’re paralysed. We cease to create and feel a failure.
Trust in myself as a Creatrix has developed over time through practice. Through showing up and doing the work and enjoying the process. The more I do the more confident I am in what I have to say and share creatively with the world.
I missed submitting for the special challenge with Nine Muses Poetry this month. The challenge is to respond or be inspired by a different photograph posted at the beginning of each month. For April the image was fittingly Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno, by Katsukawa Shunzan. I completed this poem this morning in response.
Loosening the Bounds
I wish I could say,
the orchard is a rare find.
That I never think of blossom.
That the pure smell doesn’t
undulate to the sea.
But that would be lying.
At this time of year,
there’s no escaping the stain,
the crowds. No escaping him.
His neck is red. Pain in his head.
That must be why he seldom smiles.
I know I put them on a pedestal.
I want what they had.
How they kept the blossom from dying.
Perhaps, the sea is history
and the lop-sided pagoda clinging
to the shoreline, made me think
we were going somewhere.
Same images played over and
over again. The trickster,
just using my face. My skin. My voice.
Give me the cherry blossom every time,
time with my sisters,
lost in the crowds, easing off
our sandals, loosening our bounds
like blossom caught on the bsea breeze.