Some New Original Art and Life Stuff

Fine Art Acrylic Painting

Lark 16×12", Acrylic on Canvas - Original and print available in my Etsy shop

It’s an irony of blogging that when I have the most to write about I blog the least because I’m too busy doing all of the things I could be blogging about. I don’t want to be one of those people who qualify the statement that they have a blog with the word “neglected”. I love my blog and I enjoy what writing gives me – attention and reflection and if I’m very lucky, insight.

This year has been one of the most eventful, intense, and exciting years of my life. We all have nightmares which we hope we never have to live and don’t know if we’d survive should they manifest themselves in our waking lives. One of mine made that leap from my mind to reality this year, something that I’d dreaded my entire adult life. It was preceded by many small paper cuts to the soul. In short, I found my birth mother. It was a harrowing, utterly exhausting, and joyous experience. All of this coincided with circumstances and events which were stressful in and of themselves and at times I was flattened by their weight.

Canvas painting giclee print

This year I’ve also experienced the joy and fear of gaining an intense laser-like clarity about what I want to do with my art career – something that has always eluded me. I want it so badly I spent a day feeling terrified at the thought of how much time I’ve already wasted. There’s so much to do and to learn and I worry that I’m so far behind. More on that later.

Right now I’m doing the kind of illustration work I’ve dreamt of doing for many years. I am proud of the artwork I’m creating. It’s also taken many years to get to the point where I can say that. I’m excited for the work I’m going to do in the future. Everything is coming together.

Fine art print kids wall art

So yes, I’ve been away for a while. But there has been art. And that is why I began writing this post. There is more in the Etsy shop, keeping “Lark” company. I’ll post more images of them another time.

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

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.

What Happens When an Artist Buys a House and Doesn’t Have Anything to Put in it?

Settlement for our house is just around the corner – May 9th! – although we won’t be getting in until a few weeks after that. Having up and sold/got rid of our stuff to live nomadically in our mid-20’s, we’re in the very strange position of being in our early 30’s and not owning much adult stuff. We have a fridge and a washing machine and a bed but that’s about it. We don’t even remember what we stored when we left Australia but we’re presuming we kept our kitcheny stuff, such as it is.

It might seem silly, but ever since I was little I’ve dreamt of having my own home and curating every single item in it. I like that old adage of William Morris’ – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – but I don’t think it goes far enough. Something I feel strongly about is that there’s no reason practical items can’t also be beautiful. Even brooms can be beautiful. I also take enormous pleasure in well-made objects. So it’s actually pretty great that I’ve got a clean slate to work with!

“With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on” – William Morris

Since our offer on Piper’s Moon was accepted in January, I’ve very much been in this headspace. We’ll be living a very minimalist life for the first little while – nothing we’ve not done before – but I have been purchasing a few essentials. This is a hodgepodge of things I have bought or am hoping to one day buy for our home.

Mud Australia Ceramics Blog

If I had a collection of Mud Australia ceramics like this I would have nothing but open shelving in my kitchen and would probably have a hard time getting anything done because I’d be staring at the pretty all day long.

Bedding mosaic

Top: Evelina cushion, Left: Found on Pinterest uncredited, Centre: Knock Knock Linen, Right: House of Baltic Linen

I had my heart set on a luxurious looking deep plum duvet cover but couldn’t find any I liked so ended up settling on a natural linen look. I wasn’t sure about this aesthetic at all at first as i found it a bit too ascetic for a bedroom. When in doubt about a particular look I ask myself the question, “Will it make my house look like a witch’s house?” and if the answer is yes, then it’s a winner.

Writing Desk

I don’t have a studio table yet but I do have a writing desk! I’m thinking I’ll put it in front of the big picture window downstairs which overlooks our ginormous copper beech. Unfortunately I can’t share with you the link to where to get this desk because they’ve run out and they’re Australian-based anyway so it wouldn’t be relevant to most.

Possibly the only thing that excites me more than having a house whose every single detail I’ve curated is having a garden made up solely of plants I adore. That’s happening too. Wow. That’s another blog post.