The men in my life

Most of my painting journey so far has been about women.  This amazing quote I read recently sums up my feelings about women well:  ” The smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman’s body”.

But I needed a break from all the women in my life and turned to painting men.  What an enriching experience, as I never really felt that men are beautiful enough to paint.  Was I wrong!  I have had so much fun with the men in my life!

After this new direction took hold of me I felt more ready to jump into the very difficult task of painting a portrait of my three children.  I could not do it! I hit a snag! I failed miserably! For two weeks I slaved in front of my easel, but nothing could save this painting and for the first time in my art journey, I had to put aside a painting.

Never before had I reached a point like this – I even believed that I had lost my Mojo. Until I read this encouraging article:

How this Perfectionist learned to paint more loosely.

Suddenly all my emotions made complete sense and I pushed myself in new ways.  Here is the result of pushing myself in a new direction:

 

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Old Turkish Miller – Oil on board, done with a pallet knife.

 

 

 

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Old Circus Man – Oil on board, done with a pallet knife.

 

And so new things came out of one of the lowest points in my journey.

Beauty in Art

Beauty in Art is what I have always fought to attain.  I have always said that the world has enough “ugly”, we need beauty in Art to balance the scales – I still believe this.  But, after a visit to a wonderful little gallery in a small town, Tulbugh, near my home town I started looking with new eyes at my art.

The Christo Coetzee art gallery in Tulbugh houses the works of the renowned artist it is named after.  Guiding us through the rooms of his old house, the gallery owner shared some of Christo’s thought processes in his work.  Here are some of Christo’s portraits:

Here is a link to Christo’s bio on wikipedia if you would like to learn more about this artist: Christo Coetzee

Our guide explained that Christo found beauty in all parts of life: the ugly, the ordinary and the alluring.  He felt that we can not know what beauty is if we don’t uphold the other side of the scale.  This really made me think hard about my art and what I want to portray with my work.  My aim was to bring “perfection” into the foreground, but maybe that would not create a complete picture with the “photo shoot” woman I love painting.

If there is beauty in the ordinary, I felt that I needed to present that too.  And so my new journey started with looking at the works of artist I would not normally look at.  Artists like Odd Nerdrum who paints the most wonderful images of ordinary people doing ordinary things (some of his paintings are not for sensitive viewers).  All this sent me on a new road with my paintings, the journey moves forward…

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Old Turkish man – Oil on board

 

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Portuguese Street Performer – Oil on board

There is beauty in the ordinary too!

 

 

The way of Oils

I have jumped into painting with oils with both my feet.  Struggling when working with a new medium is to be expected, so I just pushed through.  So far I love the look and feel of oils.

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Working some of my acrylic girls into Oils.

 

I have started on some oil portraits too and love the way they make the skin feel.

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Lady Like – Oil on board – 20cm by 20cm

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Young Beauty – Oil on board – 20cm by 20cm

Quiet before the storm

I have been very quiet the last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been very busy.  Many exciting moments have made the last while very full.  Ironically, after my last little rant about social media being a total waste of time for me, I sold a painting on Facebook.

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Serious Beauty

Letting her go to a good home really gave me so much pleasure.

This past weekend I went to some of the most beautiful parts of South Africa to spend time with other artists at a workshop.  What a wonderful experience it was!  I would highly recommend attending art workshops – it broadens your skills and helps you meet others that share the same passion.

It was at this workshop that I got to paint me very first oil painting.

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We also did some live drawing sessions.

Being self-taught has had its challenges and I would say the biggest challenge would have to be the lack of “insider tips” you get from seasoned artists at an art school.  Our art mentor for the weekend was amazing and I came home with a renewed passion for what I do.

Here are some works I have completed while having been so silent on my blog.

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“Confidence”

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“Contemplation”

And the storm I refer to in the title?  I few exhibitions coming up in the next months!

Stay posted for more information…

 

A beautiful body

Painting woman is my favourite thing in all the world.  I love the shape of the body, I love the beauty in the face and I love trying to capture an expression so one can hold on to it forever.

This past two weeks I wanted to focus on more than only the face.  I found a wonderful reference photo for a full body painting and I jumped into putting her onto canvas.  But, the more I painted, the more I doubted myself.  She wasn’t what I wanted, I didn’t know what to do with the background; she just didn’t speak to me.

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Full body study

I have this habit of not being able to move on with a new painting until the last one is completed.  This painting just did not want to work, so I took the advice of my dear husband and moved her to the side.  Will I change her?  I am not sure.  Maybe I will just start over with her.  Let’s see…

After wrestling my way with the full body work I was able to set her aside and move onto something else.  The “Mysterious Woman”  just flowed out of my paint brush.

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Mysterious Woman

Sometimes one just has to let go of an idea or of a preconceived notion so one can move on to greater things!

The trap of social media

 

Over the last two weeks I have wondered about all my social media commitments.  Posting on Facebook, Instagram, doing my blog, keeping up to date with my DeviantArt profile and more.

I decided about 18 months ago to systematically build my presence on the internet.  Never being a fan of social media, this was hard for me.  I am not the type that likes to show the world what I eat for breakfast or tag every movement of my day.  But, I was made to believe that as an artist I would have to stay with the times and get my stuff out there.

18 Months later and I feel robbed.  Every day I put in my time (at least 1 – 2 hours), I researched the right words to use, I made sure I didn’t overwhelm my audience with rubbish and I posted my journey.  What do I have to show for it?  Nothing, Nada, Naught.

Okay, I know that I might have inspired some people out there and that was part of my goal, but the larger picture was to sell my art. Not one sale in 18 months off the internet!

And then I found this amazing YouTube clip that made me rethink the whole thing:

 

So, what do you other artist think about this?  Maybe I just suck at social media marketing?  Let me know your experiences with this tool.

Anyway, this is the newest girl off my easel – I really enjoyed painting her.

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“Alive”

Struggling with chaos

Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

I see my art as a safe place, a place I can be myself. But there are really times when I feel lost in myself.  Unfortunately life is never perfect; our schedules fall apart, our lives fall apart or our confidence just falls apart.

Over the past few weeks I have been stuck with this overwhelming feeling that my art is useless and not worth the hard work.  I know, I know – it is not true, but that is just what it feels like to me.   I am such a routine driven person, but the holiday time has sent my life into complete chaos.   I really need rest from my daily routine, but without it my art suffers.  Interestingly, the routine helps my creativity.  Within this holiday chaos there has been great joy, wonderful rest and fabulous family time, but sadly no art!  I found my stress levels going through the roof with every day that zoomed by without being in my little studio.  Just when I felt that I would completely fall apart from the stress of not getting to my paintbrushes, I read this poem today.

She let go

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ Rev. Safire Rose

 

Now I will stop this nonsense and will embrace this day and just let go.  Maybe tomorrow’s holiday chaos will bring some art to my studio, or maybe not…

 

 

 

 

Love can heal pain – Hope.

This week I set out with a set path in mind, but sometimes the universe has other plans – better plans.  One thing that I have learnt in this deepest, dark time is that you have to live life to its fullest.  Grab hold of things, live your life wildly and be yourself.  Be honest!  This is what has given me hope for my future.  The song that has walked the path with me and inspired my new painting is “Brave”.

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“Hope”

 

 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

The last few weeks have gone by in a blur.  Unfortunately not much painting happened in this blur, but I am still here and I am still painting! Hopefully my absence has made you fonder of my work 😉

I am really trying very hard to find myself in my art – to find the style I want to be known for.  It is a long process, but well worth the effort.  Experimenting with new ways is always good, so here’s to this week’s work.

 

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Freedom

 

Pushing through the pain

What do you do when your whole world is falling apart?  When everything you know, everything you came to rely on as truth, everything you placed your happiness on, is shaken so hard that it is all left in pieces.  What do I do?  I walk past my studio and look at my paintings and sigh.  I feel like I will never be able to pick up a paintbrush again.  But I always do, I always return to my paintbrushes and let them help me push through the pain.

This week I forced myself to paint “happiness”.  I am not there yet, but from my place of brokenness will come beauty and joy.

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“Happiness”