In my last post I said I was going to learn how to paint by tackling the big motherf*cker canvas that I’ve had for years. Unfortunately that couldn’t happen. The MoFo canvas, that has traveled with me to at least 15 different abodes, has sustained some damage. Somewhere along the line something has gone straight through the canvas. I know it can be repaired or even completely re-covered with new canvas, but since I’ve no experience with either of these things I took the easy way out and decided to work on the next biggest canvas I have: Son of MoFo.
I’m so glad it worked out that way as it was difficult enough working my way around the surface of that little beast. I started off just seeing how the paint felt, trying out different ways of laying it down, trying different mixes and generally experimenting. It looked like shit at first ,but then something magical began to happen – I began to get a feel for the process and bit by bit an idea of what I wanted the canvas to be emerged. The canvas went from being little more than an extension of my sketchbook, to something I really cared about and desperately want to be good.
I’m not even half-way done and I’m not sure I have the knowledge to pull the idea I can now see so clearly in my head into the real world, but I’m going to try. I love it when a piece of work frustrates you so much that you want to break all your brushes with your teeth and then it gives you enough of a glimpse of what it could be to keep you wanting to continue. I’ll bring the whole story here when it’s finished.
Now to other business. Once again while looking round the HUUUUUUUUUGE collection of “stuff” that fills my studio storage (and then some) I’ve been drawn to the obvious solution: make something with all that “stuff”, learn something from the process and make some money while creating some much needed space. So I’m back to making things for the shop. I’ve got a small collection of little fishes that actually weren’t as bloody tedious to make as those relentless felt brooches that I (stupidly) decided to do.
I’ll revisit the fish from time to time as I have a mountain of felt, beads and buttons to get through but now I’ve got my eye firmly on the boxes and boxes and boxes of beautiful card and paper. My scalpel has been idle for too long and is itching to do some damage! I’ve needed this for so long – the chance to hop from one thing to another. This way of working seems to suit my fickle brain. I just wish I’d thought to do it years ago.
At the weekend I had a bit of a get-together with my siblings AKA my best friends. Of course the main topic of conversation was the death of our lovely brother and how we’re all coping. We are so lucky to be from a fairly large inner circle of family, with so many of us experiencing the same loss. It makes it easy to talk about and share ideas for how to get through each day. Anyway, to cut a tedious story short, chatting to them made me see that the best way to honour our brother’s memory is to live a fantastic, full life, appreciating every little detail of it and being the very best we can be. That means upping my efforts where art is concerned. I want him to be proud of me and that ain’t gonna happen if I just sit around day-dreaming of maybe, one day, sometime in the far-off future, becoming some kind of better artist.
I got home and decided it was time to come out of my sketchbook and get on with an actual piece of art. But what? I’ve been running around like a headless chicken recently, trying out all sorts of mediums and techniques, so I hadn’t a clue what to start with. Then a horrible idea popped into my head and I just couldn’t shake it, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. My mind kept going back to the big pile of blank canvasses that I’ve been collecting since forever, in the vague hope that one day I might want to paint something. Amongst the pile is a monster. That M A S S I V E canvas that started off nearly as tall as me – OK, so I’m a short-arse, but that’s still a canvas of motherf*cker proportions and I swear it’s growing! So the motherf*cker of canvasses is what I’ve chosen to tackle and with acrylics no less (another medium I know sod-all about). My bro would be so proud!
While I was going through my 2 week mardy phase, I completely stopped working in my journal. I did not want to capture, for all time, myself having a major whingeing session. It wouldn’t be pretty, or dignified or edifying. So last week, safely out of the mardy-cow stage, I opened my journal again fully expecting to start where I’d left off. Instead I found the whole idea of drawing for drawing’s sake, some mundane everyday object, so incredibly boring. Drawing that way was a brilliant tool to make me get into the routine of drawing regularly, but it’s definitely time to try other things.
I’ve mostly been farting about with various kinds of paint and I’ve suddenly switched back to subjects from my imagination. All that drawing from life practice and time spent getting used to making mistakes and really bad drawings has paid off. I’ve got the confidence to do my own thing and that has to be a good thing.
I’m mostly carrying on with the watercolours and I will not let them scare me off again. Each little piece that I do gives me a bit more confidence and hope for the future and you know what? Some of it isn’t too bad.
For those of you who don’t know, “Mardy” is an English (Midlands) word for moody or sulky (usually in a petulant and kind of childish way). That’s how I’ve been feeling for the last two weeks, which is why I’ve steered clear of the blog. Nobody needs to be subjected to my rambling and rantings whilst I’m in the throes of feeling like a Right Mardy Cow! I guess how I’ve been feeling is all part and parcel of processing the loss of a loved-one. Feelings of bereavement wax and wane and my emotions have, understandably, been all over the place lately (not that I was ever famed for being even-tempered before!). But luckily for you, the mardiness has passed.
I’ve always tried to keep my posts kind of anonymous, but I really can’t keep referring to the person I lost as “loved-one” or “family member” – it makes for some long-winded sentences and diminishes their importance to me. Unfortunately it looks like it’s gonna take a while yet to fully come to terms with this loss and since I’m probably going to be bringing a whole lot more about it to the blog, I guess it doesn’t really compromise my privacy to tell you that it is my brother I’m mourning. My mischievous, hysterically funny, ridiculously talented, heroic big brother. He was my idol, my protector, my partner-in-crime and I’m all at sea without him. But life has to go on and the way I’m feeling is no different to how bereaved people have been feeling since humans began. If they could survive it, I can survive it. So, up yours death, I choose life (<—- my 1980s roots showing there!).
Choosing life is one thing, knowing what the sodding hell I want to do with it now is quite another. No matter which direction I’ve set off in lately I’ve been unceremoniously dragged back to the same point: until I know who I am I won’t have an inner compass to guide me. And I haven’t a clue who I am anymore. I feel like I’m just an outline of the woman I was up until my brother died. My innards got thoroughly chewed up and while some chunks of me got spat out again, some got swallowed up and are gone forever. I’m trying to put myself back together but the pieces just don’t fit anymore and there are gaps all over the place. So I know I’ve got to spend some time re-establishing who I am now that I no longer trust life not to pull the rug out from under me. Life feels a whole lot less secure for sure, but maybe that can be turned into an advantage? I don’t know. But really what I’m trying to say is that if you are not up to hearing some random woman try random things, randomly (!) then best stay away from here…it’s gonna get messy!
Doing another yoga session last night has thrown up the delicate issue of undergarments. This is a very important topic for me. One of the things I’ve always done for myself, whether single or in a relationship, is wear nice undies (along with painting my toenails and maintaining all … um … how do I put this nicely? … topiary?). This makes me feel good no matter what I’m doing and no matter what I’m wearing on top. However, twisting about all over the floor trying to force my unwilling body into each yoga pose has made me realise that my current preference for cute smalls (exhibit a.) can result in some pinching in some very unwelcome places! But what’s a girl to do? I love my current type – they have the perfect ratio of pretty fabric to thin air (leg holes), come in every colour imaginable and always, always match my bras. They never cause VPL and you can fit millions of them in just one tiny laundry load.
I’ve just had a look at some sporty alternatives and I can’t say I’m that impressed. My bits and bobs still want to feel fairly glam even when the rest of my body is being tortured. And if I buy sporty knickers I’ll have to buy sporty bras to match. Not happy. As petite as they are, my boobs still like the reassurance of underwiring, structured cups and gorgeous, slinky fabrics. Then an even worse thought struck me – when is the cut-off age for a woman to wear skimpy knicknacks? Am I on the countdown to the dreaded belly-warmers (exhibit b.)? Oh God, have I already passed that age?
I thought yoga was supposed to free my mind of worry!
So I rearranged the studio to create more floor space for the yoga mat and off I went.
Oh hell – how bloody difficult is it compared to how it looks? My yoga instructor (on the DVD) seemed like a kindly older lady with a beautiful, soft southern drawl, but effing hell, in reality she must have a body of steel and all kinds of sadistic tendencies! I watched the session all the way through before I joined in and it looked gentle and easy. Boy was I wrong. That woman bent me into positions I’m really not sure my body is meant to be bent in. Every movement was excruciatingly slow and full-on and there were a few times I thought I may have to call for help to get my limbs untangled. And it’s a good job she kept reminding me to breathe because my body sure wasn’t going to do it on its own.
An hour and a bit later I was rolling up the mat, glowing with exertion and actually feeling pretty good. I slept better last night than I have in months and although I ache a little today, I’m not one bit stiff. I guess I must also have some masochistic tendencies because tonight I’m doing another session (different poses) and hope to practice this daily. And hopefully, as I get into the swing of it I won’t need anyone to remind me to keep living while I’m practicing … breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out.
I’ve lost my artistic inspiration in the last few days – I know that it’s only temporary, but it’s bloody annoying. I’m trying out too many new things all at once and getting frustrated that I’m nowhere near mastering any of them (or even being bog-basically proficient!). I’m really not sure what I want to do or where I want to go, but I’m just plodding on in the knowledge that somewhere along the line I’ll form a plan, or inspiration will strike, or I’ll wake up one day and find that all this practice is paying off. I’m getting quite frustrated with watercolours (I’ve been here before, every time I’ve had a go with them in the past) but this time I will not be so defeatist. I’m trying to tap into my inner child and just play with the paint the way I would have done as a kid – without the pressure of an end goal. It’s not working! Arrrgggghhhh!
One good thing has actually come out of wrestling with my watercolour demons. A few days ago I decided to put a mirror in the studio and paint a quick sketch of some of the clothes I was wearing. When I’d finished I looked at the sketch and thought I must have got my proportions all wrong – why did my t-shirt look so bulgy? It turned out that it wasn’t my painting’s proportions that were wrong, it was my body! When the hell did I start looking like a caterpillar? I should not really be surprised because since I lost my loved-one I have not taken care of myself. I’ve not exercised much and I’ve not been eating good, nourishing foods. So I took a long hard look at myself, went to town with a shopping list and came home with fresh fruit and vegetables, a yoga mat, exercise DVDs and a bicycle!