Monday, 19 April 2010

the seasons in life

I have mentioned before that I am a cyclical painter. I cannot go to the studio for hours every day, day in and day out, and paint. Mostly, it is part of who I am. I have always worked this way, in huge bursts of productive energy followed by rest periods where I recover and build up momentum for the next creative burst.

But some of it is also due to circumstances, like the need to also be a useful member of my family, and society, and to market the art by networking. Usually this all dovetails well, and the flow of creativity continues. However there are times when one of my activities outside the studio starts becoming too demanding, and it prevents the next creative burst, until i am in an internal state of war, dying to get to the canvasses, but held back by other commitments.

I am stuck in one such war zone at the moment. On one side, I have a wonderfully exciting project beckoning.... my friend Nox Mafu, who is from PE but is living in New York while obtaining her PhD, is a wonderful poet, and we are planning a collaborative exhibition in New York, where I do a series of paintings to express the themes she covers in her poetry, and the works will be exhibited together. I can't wait to get stuck into it, but, to do it justice, I will need to be completely focussed and dedicated to the task, to let the works evolve as they go along. I want to build up a big body of work so we can handpick the ones that resonate most with both of us and form a symphony with the poetry.

On the other side, I am currently the Chairperson of our local Community Art Centre, run by a committee of volunteers, and am throwing my usual passion into transforming it from what was, essentially, a stagnant relic of the colonial era, domain of hobby painters and not taken seriously by professional artists. Along came yours truly, full of Quixotic zeal to turn it around. Make it relevant to all artists of all races, help those in the poorer areas to exhibit, source funding, get mentors among experienced artists.... draw the top artists back by raising standards... yadda yadda yadda, you get the idea. It has been a roller coaster ride of note, alternating between hair pulling frustration, and jump-up-and-down-with-delight moments of really making a difference in the lives of artists who are so talented, but whose circumstances hold them back.

One really exciting connection made during this process is John Lombardo, a New Yorker who has a heart to help deprived children living in the Townships, and street children in Central, through teaching them art. I'm sure I'll be writing more later, but he is on his way back to New York for a month or so, and will be holding an art auction there to raise funds to keep the initiative going. here is a link to the ArtWorks for Youth website and one to the Facebook AUCTION event page

So it is not just a time-sucking pointless exercise, it is hugely worthwhile, and that makes it hard to just drop the ball and retreat to my studio.

However there is light at the end of the tunnel.... we have grown to the point where we can now afford to employ the level of person who will carry the admin load, and free the committee of volunteers up to get back to our own lives, and just do the visionary steering, while the staff attends to the actual driving.

So watch this space, who knows, before long there might be fresh new work flowing from the studio... I can't wait!

All I have produced since the 4 Women exhibition in November are 2 paintings specifically painted for an open exhibition called "Book Titles", which asked artists to produce a work with the same title as a book that has had an impact on them.

The Face of the Earth
Based on a book I have had since I was a kid (so yes, it is an OOOOLD book) by G Drury, and it is a reference book about one of my passions in life, physical geography. Since my earliest years I have been fascinated by the forces that shape our earth, in fact, by the age of 8 I already had a great collection of rocks and minerals. I love the fact that the forces of nature follow such specific physical laws, yet can produce events of such mind-boggling power that the results are random and chaotic.... the running turps that can be controlled to a point but in the end produces its own results seemed appropriate to express this.

An early passion for horses and horseriding was ignited when an aunt in England paid for my sister and I to take riding lessons at a very early age (I think she was only 4 at the time, and I was 6). As a result any book on the subject became a favourite, and on top of my list was the Flicka Trilogy by Mary O'Hara. Based in Wyoming, My Friend Flicka, Green Grass of Wyoming and Thunderhead were read and re-read throughout my childhood. Somehow the vivid descriptive writing amalgamated some scenes into a picture in my mind, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to try and capture the atmosphere of that imagery that has  rattled around inside me since then, resulting in this composite where Thunderhead, a magnificent young white stallion runs off into the Rocky mountains, is in a snowstorm, and sees at a distance the herd presided over by his sire, a mean and powerful old stallion known as the Albino.