Depression, anxiety and art

Many people seem to think that anxiety, depression and art go together as an artist and that aids the creative process. For me, that is not the case. My mind comes to a grinding halt! As a life long sufferer of depression and anxiety, I can now feel when a period like that is coming along and usually I can mange to side swerve the worse of it by doing very routine things by just plodding along. Not this time!  It has taken almost 8 months to get pass this stage and it is still a struggle but one that is getting better. Unfortunately, I am not yet back to painting.  For the last 2 weeks my body has also decided to rebel against me as I battle a vicious allergic reaction which has left me with nasty welts all over my body and clothing being my enemy. As we are also going through a heatwave at the moment,  so any movement causes sweating which in turns makes the itching even worse. So plenty of cool soothing baths, showers and just keeping still has been the order of the day. Today temperature is meant to top 105F/40c. the joys of living in central Texas!

However, I have finally been making process with the online embroidery course I decided to take in December. It took me 6 months to get the first stage complete!  I have almost finished the 2nd part in less than a month so signs of progress only stopped this week by incessant itching.

Below are some of  the work I have done on this.  Part one  exploring stem stitch , chain stitch and fern stitch beginning with mark making exercises.

Part 2 has been been exploring line though using cut, torn and folding paper.

Finally line in paint through mono printing which amazingly I have never tried before. Not sure I have achieved this so well but I enjoyed the playfulness of this method of working and can see using this again.

Unfortunately I think this is where I acquired up my current allergic reaction as I pick up some plant matter and I suspect I touched some poison ivy in the process, stupid me!

Next step is explore the composite stitches of whipped stem stitch, Pekinese stitch and raised chain band. I have completed the samples so they should come along quite quickly but we have a short stay in Mexico City to enjoy before then. Really looking forward to the Frida Kahlo Museum and obviously I will be looking at any needlework/textile work I get my greedy eyes on.

Painting is also on my agenda but not a priority as it will come along when it is needed but it has not been abandoned. It will always be part of my life in some form or another.

I have done one drawing in the past month or so. I got a sheet of A1 cartridge paper and painted it with acrylic  gesso with no real idea of what I was going to do with it, other than I didn’t want it to be the tight smaller drawings I was doing last year as I wanted to get rid of the inhibitions to drawing that I have developed. For the one drawing it worked out quite well and I planned to do more ( I already have several prepared with gesso) but then the embroidery came along. As I have about 500 or more sheets (send to me by mistake by the supplier and they let me keep them several years ago, nice  ūüôā ) , it is definitely something to explore in the coming months.

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Battling with drawing

Drawing has always been a struggle for me and the older I get the harder it gets. My eyes no longer focus as well as they did (my right eye has never focused as it’s lazy LOL) and if I concentrate too much, I get a headache.

 

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This was the first drawing of doing this setup which was piece of fabric from Ikea and ¬†part of my grand daughters tea set. Originally I was going to paint it but looking at the complexity of the fabric design I decided to draw it first. ¬†My other motivation being the fact I have a stack of drawing paper from when I first arrived in the US. I ordered a 100 sheets 36″ x 24″ but ended up getting 3 reams instead by mistake. Contacted the seller and they said keep it as it too expensive to return. ¬†I was only charged for the 100 sheets so it was a bonus for me or so I thought. ¬† I still have about 2.5 reams left!

 

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So this is my second drawing as  I was not happy with the first drawing as the angles seemed wrong. Well I never did manage to get them right as you can see from the drawing below.   The table I was using was well below my eye level so I was looking down on the set up.  Ignoring the maxim of never erasing your drawing marks, I continued to make the same mistakes time after time.  Surprising even though I studied at Camberwell for nearly 3 yrs (foundation and Saturday morning classes) I never learnt how to use a plumb line, pencil or whatever to gauge proportion or angles.  I am trying to teach myself that now, carefully drawing a mark for where my foot is position whilst I draw and trying to remember not to move my head too much. I am pretty sure I will not continue to do that but it might give me more of an idea how to assess these things instead of blindly blundering into the subject as per my normal method.

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So I have spent the past week drawing this whilst reading numerous books about drawing. ¬†Hasn’t helped! ¬†Eventually I would love to have the freedom to use the drawings as basis for painting so I am not restricted to setting up a still life. I have a long way to go.

So its back to the drawing board again but this time I also plan to paint the still life.  Once the cooler weather comes in the Fall, I will go out and draw from life but at the moment with temperature in the 100f/38c plus range, I will contend myself with still life set ups and looking at objects around the house.

 

 

 

 

Reorganising my art room and my life in the process

This pass weekend, I decided to tackle my art room (I hate the work studio, seems so serious) and it took me that long reorganised all the groups and junk.  It has been bothering me for a while and as I have managed to tackle putting myself on track, it was time to make this very important room into some order.  So now I have a large open space without clutter and my tables a clear of the junk I had loaded onto them.

Last week after another disappointing session at the life drawing room, I have decided to put that aspect on hold for the moment. To be honest I am not sure why I was doing, other than as exercise as I have no control of the pose, the model or even the lighting.  The lighting or the no existence of any natural light was really beginning to get me down.  We are lucky that unlike the UK we have almost constant sunshine, so it amazes me that the most available of life drawing sessions are done in an old stable converted into a studio with one small window which has a blind that is permanently closed. They have painted the brick walls white but for the past fews that has been negated by someone putting up a flimsy, grey/black backdrop which sucks the life out of anything.

However, realising my drawing abilities are poor due to lack of the use of that particular brain muscle, I have tried to start sketching random things around me. ¬† I decided to do a few drawings where I didn’t look at the page as I drew but just let my eye follow the object, moving my pencil along as I did this. ¬†I ended up with some interesting results.

This past week I have been revisting a few artists I like. Shani¬†Rhys James, ¬†Mary Fedden, Elizabeth Blackadder and Eileen Cooper. ¬†Unfortunately, none of these artists are available locally so I am restricted to books, a tv show (What do artists do all day) and available online videos. ¬†I will confess I am not particularly knowledgeable about US art. What I have seen does not particularly appeal to me. ¬†Looking at my bookshelves, it is dominated by British art and for that matter, British art magazines, as I have been a fan of Artists and Illustrators since it started in the 1980’s.

Any time to revisit the art room and decide on my next project, a portrait of my grand-daughter or a selfie, haven’t done one recently.

 

when to call it a day?

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In the studio, working

So this week has not gone smoothly and my time at the easel for various reasons has been limited.  Sunday, no painting as it turned out rainy and cloudy, making the studio too dark by the time I got up there. Monday playing with Grand-daughter and her nap time is now more like an hour instead of the previous nearly 3. Got back to the easel on Tuesday and it was like starting again. Wednesday, dental surgery. so no painting.  Back on Thursday and Friday (only an hr as I work Friday pm).  Exhausted myself gardening yesterday, not painting, so back today and again it was like starting again.

In fact I have gone back, several times in the past week.  Constantly redrawing and repainting.  Deciding do I want to make it a purely decorative motif?  How do I tackle the glass?  Wine cooler still looking flat but red vase coming along.  I have finished for today but I am not happy with it. Yesterday, I thought it was coming along fine but having redone the fabric under the still life to concentrate on the pattern by scrubbing it out (including the fruit), I realise the wine cooler is not quite right.  The red jug is still OK, sigh.

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As it was on Thursday 1/16/2014
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today 1/19/2014

Tomorrow (no Juniper tomorrow ūüė¶ as public holiday) will be the last day for this still life. ¬†Whatever its problems which it will have, constantly working will only lead to discouragement. ¬†It has shown me I need to draw more, use my eyes rather than dart all over the place or as I have tendency to do, focus on one area without relating to another. ¬† Once the drawing is done, build up the colours rather than draw with the brush.

Tuesday I will make myself go outside and look at my garden.  Also need to do more drawing.  However, not all disenchantment, as I have still managed to continue to paint for the 3rd week in January. Now to make it month, then another and soon it will be a year. I will manage to do it this year.

A new look and a new beginning

Any regular visitors will see I have completely revamped this blog.¬† I decided this year I was going to devoted my time to relearning how to create using paint and brush.¬†¬† Well it taken me until about 1/3rd of the way through the year, to get started on this but now I have actually gotten there, I decided it was time to devote this blog to it, rather than create yet another blog.¬† So in preparation I got all my old posts printed into a book from, via Blog2print .¬† I have had the book for a few weeks now but it didn’t include all the lovely comments from other readers, so I had print them out. Fortunately WordPress have a handy view comments by page, so I manage to print all the comments a page at a time, rather than each comment which would have been very time consuming.¬† So today was the day, to delete all the old posts and start afresh.

To anyone who didn’t know, I started out as a painter, beginning with Saturday Morning classes at Camberwell¬† school of art and crafts at the age of 16 (almost 17) and ended up with a degree in painting from Bath Academy of Art (now sadly defunct)¬† Unfortunately, my time at Bath was not the most productive time spend and as soon as I left, that was my painting career finished before it had even started.¬†¬† Since then I have struggled to continue to paint but due to family commitments, space and general lack of effort, I have never worked on painting full time.¬† In the meantime, I have continued to be creative in other ways with my kids and latterly my beading.¬† However, in the last year,¬† with the kids gone from the house, I realised that beading wasn’t challenging me as much as drawing and painting does.

I have no great plans about  what I am going to paint or any great theories.  I have no interest in all this art speak crap that pervades the modern art world and never have done.  My biggest challenge to convey what I see onto the canvas in the way I see it.   Basically I am starting from the beginning, going back to the challenges I met at Camberwell  when I first started painting and drawing.

I have been painting for some months now but basically very unsatisfied with what I was achieving.¬† Then looking a good friend’s website, Drawing my way around London and another favourite, Hobbs Blog, I realised I needed to get back to basics and that is observing and drawing.¬† So for the next few weeks I will concentrate on that aspect while continuing with my current painting.

Below is the  first painting I produced October 2009 and then my most current finished piece.

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blue white caferia 004