Sad & Lovely, Lovely & Sad

I wanted to share this performance piece by Neil Gaiman before I made the connection that I’m actually going to see Neil Gaiman in Melbourne this Saturday and I shared a quote of his on the blog just last week. I seem to have a slight fixation. But a worthy one. That’s the trick; obsession is actually quite healthy if you’ve good taste.

This post is actually about more than Neil Gaiman though. I wanted to share some things which are both lovely and sad: a favourite combination of mine.

Neil Gaiman “The Bed Song”

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I’ll let these excerpts from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows tumblr blog explain what this exquisite, poetic creation is all about. These are some of the definitions of obscure sorrows that resonated with me the most.

sonder dictionary of obscure sorrows

midsummer dictionary of obscure sorrows

dictionary of obscure sorrows chrysalism

I adore this question and answer which simply and eloquently describes why I find these definitions so compelling.

icharos asked: “I think you could make a living creating words to describe such deeply intimate sorrows. It would be like going to a doctor but instead of prescribing medication, you give the torment a name, and suddenly tangled emotions fall neatly into place and with that quiet word, you can breathe.”

Beautiful idea, and my dream job. I think the act of naming something implies, very simply, that you’re not alone. We give names to things so we can talk about them. Once there’s a word for an experience, it feels contained somehow—and the container has a handle, which makes it much easier to pick up and pass around. Kinda comforting.

I know it’s been a while since I last shared some art so next week I’ll post some images of what I’m working on and tell you all about an exciting upcoming event!

The Meaning of Life

I write this as a cloud of fog drifts by my window and the soothing sound of rain filters in from our damp woodland garden. So far 2015 has been a fog of anxiety as I prepare for my first major art festival this coming Autumn, but not today. I spent a glorious day yesterday blissfully rainy-day-sketching. Sketching for me is a flow activity and I desperately needed to still my clamoring mind. Today I’ve decided to share this Neil Gaiman quote, which has further instilled in me a sense of peace.

Neil Gaiman Quote

How to Create Beautiful, Cohesive Colour Schemes Using 2 Simple Tools

I quickly became so enamoured with the tools I’m about to tell you about that I spent way too long creating these colour schemes just for funzies.

Adobe Color CC

Purple Teal and Green Colour Scheme

Adobe Color CC allows you to upload an image from which it will then extract 5 of the dominant colours. However the best thing about this tool is that you can drag the selectors around to select and refine the colours. It does a lot more than this as well so have a play around with the colour wheel too.

Arthur Rackham Colour Scheme

Purple and green colour scheme

Mauve lavendar colour scheme

Crystallize in Photoshop

neutral monochromatic colour scheme

If you want more variety than Adobe’s Color CC can give then Photoshop’s Crystallize is a good option. The crystallize filter in Photoshop turns your image into well… chunks. Thus giving you a huge range of flat colour options. All you need to do once you’ve opened your image in Photoshop is to select:

Filter > Pixelate > Crystallize

You can then select how small or large you want your chunks or “cells” to be.

red and blue colour palette

I’ve not actually used these tools when creating a colour scheme for my paintings yet but only because I completely forgot about them! Next time I’m creating a colour scheme I’ll use this method and write about it on the blog and maybe talk about colour matching a bit too.

Is Art Selfish? | Part 1

Erhm, Happy New Years! Now let’s get into it. This post has been simmering in the recesses of my mind for quite some time. There’s a bit of back-story to how I came to be concerning myself with the question “is art selfish”.

wip contemporary artist

While spending a quiet evening with a small group of friends the conversation came around to how one of my friends’ creations were progressing (she’s a mum with young children and is setting up her own creative business). She explained that she was finding it difficult to prioritise her new project because “art is fundamentally a very self-indulgent activity”, especially when juxtaposed with the most selfless of roles – motherhood. It all got very awkward when everyone remembered I was sitting there all childless and self-indulgent!

This issue, mostly forgotten until recently, was revived when I was liaising with the organiser of an art festival who is also an artist in her own right and she proclaimed that she is going to be a bit selfish next year and focus more on her own art and less on creating events for other people’s.

Some Questions

  • Why is being an artist sometimes labeled as selfish but this criticism is rarely, if ever, levelled at other professions?
  • Is there such thing as a healthy level of selfishness? (I absolutely believe there is an unhealthy level of selflessness).
  • If the artist makes money from her art does she cease to be selfish?
  • Back in the day, I played guitar but because of performance anxiety I couldn’t bring myself to play in front of anyone. A friend of mine at the time accused me of selfishly squandering my talents. Is art only selfish if it is not shared?
  • Is “selfish” the worst thing that can be said about making art?

Some Thoughts

Just the other day, I posed this question to my wife. “Is art selfish?” This is the woman who has seen me at my most selfish. She thought for a moment and said, “It can be.” She’s right, of course. GENE LUEN YANG, Tor

Yes, it can be. Taken to its logical extreme, the artist who lets “his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art” (Man and Superman, G.B. Shaw), is undeniably selfish. Perhaps at its worst art is selfish.

I suspect this could be done with almost any profession: glean an insight into its darkest incarnation and then present it as its truest, most fundamental state instead of a single, lopsided version. As an ex-social worker I feel comfortable using this profession as an example. In its most abhorrent manifestation, social work is a socially acceptable and often state-sanctioned method of imposing one set of morals onto another group of people who, allegedly, don’t know any better and need to be saved (for example, it was social workers who took the children away from the Aborigine mothers of the stolen generation, “for their own good”).

For me, at its best art reflects something inside ourselves (or society) which is true yet inaccessible in the harsh light of our day-to-day lives. Art sweeps the dust off our souls. I believe, when this happens, art relieves the feeling that we are alone and connects us to a shared humanity. This is my particular slant of course; as an adoptee I think my awareness of the importance of seeing ourselves reflected in others is closer to the surface than most.

My intuition on this question is that there is a kernel of truth to the judgement that “art is selfish” but it lacks nuance and is strangely biased towards its worst manifestation.

A Side-Note About Motherhood

I don’t want to go too far down this tangent but having said that, I do feel that I need to make mention of this theme. For my own personal reasons I feel that the notion with which today’s society is so in love, that motherhood is “selfless”, is a destructive one. I strongly believe that my friend’s son and daughter would benefit in incalculable ways to grow up seeing their mother creating extraordinary things with a thriving business that in turn makes her fiercely confident and proud and is vastly preferable to the martyred, selfless mother who only ever puts her energy into something directly benefiting her children.

I intend to extend the question “Is art selfish” to all of the creatives in my life, which is why I’ve optimistically titled this post “Part 1″. I’m intrigued at how other people think and feel on this topic and hope to report back as soon as I’ve collated some insights!

If there’s one piece of advice I wish someone had told me years ago, it would be to create with the assumption that you’re allowed to be an artist. I wish someone had said, “it’s okay, you can do this, you can be an artist and nobody’s going to try and take it away from you.” BETH CAIRD, Red Bubble

A Memo from the Moon

Allow me to introduce you to the reason I dropped off the face of the earth this year. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that we bought our very first house: “Piper’s Moon”. Since then we’ve had people doing work on the house pretty much constantly as she was in a bit of a state, bless her. So although settlement was in Autumn we didn’t get in until the dead of Winter.

Autumn

Autumn 2

Autumn 3

Autumn 4

Autumn

Bulb planting

Piper s Moon

Winter

Our Road

Winter

Crocus

Spring

We’re on an acre so the garden’s big enough that we can take a little walk through it and it was so exciting to be surprised by something new emerging in the garden each time.

Bulbs

Spring

Bluebells

Now | Summer

The more work we did on the house the worse and worse she looked (think porches ripped up, gouges in weatherboards, mud everywhere, etc), but finally we’re coming out the other end and we’ve gotten around to some of the fun stuff which will make her pretty again, like painting! I cannot express how delighted I am with my glossy black doors!

Verandah

Courtyard

wild flowers

wild flowers 2

Interior Vignettes

Bathroom

Studio

I’m completely in love with my garden and gardening. When I’m in the studio I love it just as much as ever but it’s a constant battle to actually get in there and tear myself away from the garden. I’m currently grieving a little for all my spare time to spend in the garden as I’m prioritising creating as much art as I can for an upcoming thing which I will tell you about another time because this post is already long enough (a bit like this sentence)! All of this is to say that I’m going to start blogging about my garden as well, although it will remain predominantly an art blog.