Lovely Liverpool!

Gay Is OK

The other day my little sidekick and I hopped on a train and headed to Liverpool.

First stop The Walker Art Gallery and, as always, the obligatory sampling of the treats in the cafe took place straight away!

Feeling replenished we made our way around the gallery, looking at the artwork on display and came across the bold and bright activist signs and slogans by Lois Tierney.  Using her wonderfully vibrant artwork as inspiration we coloured a mini LGBT+ placard of our own to take home.

We then headed to Big Art for Little Artists, which is a section of the gallery that is dedicated to children – lots of fun to be had here! We snipped, we stuck and made……….a Zebra snake!

After letting our creative juices flow we made the short walk down the road to The World Museum, where beasts, bugs and bones were the order of the afternoon! (We particularly like the Clore Natural History Centre area, as you get your paws on all sorts of fascinating objects – from an elephant’s skull to a snakeskin (after moulting!).)

Then there was just enough time to nip to the Central Library (which is sandwiched between the gallery and museum), cosy up and leaf through a good couple of picture books before heading back to the train station and home.

Oh, and of course, a day trip isn’t complete without fleecing mum in the gift shop!

WorldMuseum4

 

The Dreaded U!

I get asked to do commissions quite a lot. I find this extremely flattering – the fact that people like my artwork enough to ask me to do a customised piece. 
However, there is also the flip side – what if they don’t like the finished piece?? What if I can’t get it done on time?? 
I put a lot of pressure on myself and this then can have a knock-on effect meaning that when I sit down to do the final artwork I’m often too wound up to do anything that I am pleased with and ultimately don’t enjoy the process.

 

I was recently reading an article by artist Lisa Congdon and the following text really resonated with me……

My painting teacher used to talk about the “painting curve,” a line that looks like the letter U. He said that when you begin a painting (or another form of art), you are at the top of the U. Things look clean and wonderful in the beginning. But as you develop a piece of work, it often gets messier; that is the bottom of the painting curve. He insisted that working through the bottom of the painting curve—the point at which we think our work looks horrible or awkward—is critical to making good work. Working through the complexities of a piece to the point where it looks and feels wonderful again—rising back up to the top of the U—helps develop your technique as well as your unique voice.

You can read more in Lisa’s book Art Inc.
I have experienced first handed the dreaded ‘U’!

I am always initially excited at the prospect of starting a new piece of artwork, maybe doing a few preliminary sketches to get going. Then I move onto the main piece – excitement turns to fear – this eeds to be good!! I start working, I don’t like it. Lots of questions – do I keep going, do I start again – arrghhh!! Then I generally do the ostrich manoeuvre (head in the sand, avoiding the artwork), until I go back and face it again, get working again, make some decisions, start to like it again, start to enjoy creating. And then it’s done and I’m pleased with it and so is the client!

And I look back and wonder what I was so worried about. It’s quite an emotional journey!

Essentially what Lisa and her teacher are saying is that you have to push through difficulty when creating. I often used to question myself – am I really any good if I sometimes find creating incredibly difficult? After reading the above article I realise that it’s something that all artists go through. It’s inevitable and such a useful process in order to help you develop and grow, if not always pleasant at the time!

Now when starting out on a commission I don’t dread the ‘U’ as I know it will probably happen. I embrace it, I factor it into my time.

I now realise what a valuable process it is and I look forward to all the future challenging commissions that will help me to keep developing as an artist and find my unique voice!

Female Artists Can’t Have Kids!!

Back in October 2014 Tracey Emin said that female artists can’t have kids, stating that it isn’t easy for women to juggle the demands of an artistic career and parenthood. You can read more here
This interview took place around the time that I had my second child. Having children does change your life, there is no question about that. Suddenly your own priorities come second to this little creature who is completely and utterly dependent upon you!
I do think that Emin has a point. It is definitely harder to do things for yourself when you have young children.
Harder, but not impossible. 
It’s quite ironic really, but I have produced more artwork since having my first child in 2012 than I did in the previous ten years when I was child-free! Crazy, when I think of all that time I had – what was I doing??!! I guess I sort of dabbled, not really being serious, letting myself get distracted.
Now I am a lot more focused.

If I have a free hour I get working instead of watching the television. If I get a day (which is a huge luxury & very rare!) I head straight down to the studio, lock the door and create. I am only human & there are of course times when I need to do nothing and relax, but I have found that since having less time I actually get a lot more done!
Arthur Ashe pretty much sums up what I am trying to do when he says ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’ 
However, sometimes my good intentions are disrupted & things don’t always go to plan! 

One particular night I put the kids to bed. Husband out, house to myself – great! Race downstairs to get on with some artwork. Just get started when I hear a cry from upstairs. I rush back up. Toddler stood on landing crying, covered in sick and I mean covered! Initiate clean up mission – bath, dress, soothe toddler. Change bedding, clean floor, spray lots of Fabreeze about!

Just about to start work again when there is another cry, only this time it’s the other one! I go back up. He also has been sick. So I start the whole process all over again! The small window of opportunity I had vanished before my eyes – highly frustrating!

However, I have learned not to fight it. The children come first. There will be ups and downs. There will be many, many nights like this! I just have to accept it, laugh (and cry!) and move on.
The children are part of my life – a huge part of it. I love them, but I also love my art. So, the two often merge. I enjoy capturing their antics on paper as a reminder of their funny, quirky, heartwarming ways. Many of these scribbled drawings are on scraps of paper or in old sketchbooks – basically whatever I can get my hands on at the time.  I am in the proces of collating all these drawings – I have an idea to put them all together to create a book. The idea being that I create a library of these books over the years, something to show the boys as they grow and for me to flick through in my old age!

Emin may feel that she could never compromise her art for children, but I feel that my children often enhance my artwork and provide new ideas that I’d never thought of previously.