Back in the Groove – With Art

Creating art has taken a bit of a back seat lately.  I have been painting a lot of furniture.  I love painting furniture.  It is creative and practical.  I’m a practical lady.  Besides, I have all of this furniture in my house that needs painting.

The creative process has many forms.  People, whether they realise it or not, are very creative.  They just need to find out where the creativity lies and work out what they are good at.  I am quite good at painting things for practical use.  I am learning to develop my artistic side – to make something just because it looks good or interesting or beautiful.

I find it challenging to make something from nothing, just from my head.  Painting walls and furniture is easy for me.  Working out what to stick on a piece of paper or canvas can test you to the limit.  That is why I like to paint things.  I like to paint things that I see like fruit and flowers.  It is easy to get a hold of these things.  Sometimes I paint things from photos that I have taken.

Photography is another aspect of my art.  I don’t just take holiday snaps.  I don’t just document aspects of my life.  I try to capture something seen from a different viewpoint.  I take a picture to report.  I take a photo of something because I think it is interesting or to use as an example as part of my writing.  After many years of scuba diving, I have only just gotten into underwater photography.  It is a challenge to take a picture of a creature without damaging the reef in the process.  I am surprised at the many newly qualified divers who take pictures without getting their buoyancy under total control first.

Since I started painting just over a year ago, I sometimes use my photos as inspiration to make paintings.  Since my diving holiday in August 2012, I have taken some underwater photos that I wanted to make paintings of.  Not all of the photos are great, but they give me ideas, many ideas!

After working on a mirror that I just couldn’t for the life of me get to grips with, I started a new painting instead.  I had some fun paint that I wanted to try out too!  So this is what I painted…

Red Sea Squid

This is an acrylic painting on A4 canvas.  The canvas is one I had painted earlier in the year that I was going to use for something else.  Obviously, waiting had its advantages.

I saw this Squid in The Red Sea on a dive with a friend of mine.  I hadn’t seen one before.  There were a few of them in the water.  This one looks like it is in a defensive pose.  Because this fish is fairly translucent, it can be tricky to see in bright sunlight.  This photo was taken near the surface.  You can’t really tell from the picture how iridescent the fish is.  However, because I had seen the fish, I could try to portray this in a painting.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a really great photo of my painting.  The fish shimmers and floats.  I used special paint and mediums to make it so.  Here it is again…

I am really happy with how it turned out and I had great fun painting it.  I am now working on a series based on my diving photos.   Just don’t expect your normal fish paintings.

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Who am I and What (the heck) am I Doing?

It’s a question I ask myself regularly.  Sometimes I say it to myself in a contemplative way and other times in a more negative way – like ‘Arlene, what the hell do you think you are doing?!’  I sometimes scold myself for trying new things and not having a ‘real’ job.

If I look back on my life, I have realised that I have always been working at something ever since I was small.  I helped look after my little brother when he was born and I always had some sort of job, paid or otherwise, since I was 13.  Even when I have been ‘unemployed’, I have always been doing something.  I am not an idle person, it just looks like it sometimes.  I think we are ingrained with this idea that to be a productive human being, we need to earn money.  Let’s face it, begging for money is the least desirable way of earning a living.  There is an ingrained distaste to seeing someone doing that.  It obviously isn’t a ‘real’ job to most people.  I don’t think it would go down very well in a social situation, especially at dinner or cocktail parties –  ‘I beg for a living, what do you do?’

Then we have labels we give ourselves depending on what we do: Firefighter, Secretary, Doctor, Nurse, etc.  I don’t think beggar would go down very well on a CV.  We also give ourself labels depending on our situation or family circumstances:  Married, Divorced, Separated, Single, brother, sister, mother….you get the picture.

I have been and done so many things and I still am a lot of other things too!  As soon as I gave birth, I became a mother.  Once a mother, always a mother.  My job for many years was mothering, or parenting to make it more general.  Although my duties as a mother have been reduced considerably now that my children are grown up, I am still called/roped in occasionally for mothering services.  When my children have children, my job will double up to mothering and grand-mothering services.  The jobs just never end.

I haven’t had a full-time job since the end of 2008 when my company decided to call it a day and make us all redundant.  At that time I was a PA/Office Manager.  It sounded more impressive than when I worked part-time a few months later in a clothing store as a Sales Assistant (or Retail Therapist as I liked to call myself).  Since I sold my house and moved to Eastbourne, I haven’t worked for money.  I was busy sourcing contractors and project managing the work on my home.  I have been researching my family tree and history and reconnecting with family I never met or hadn’t seen in over 20 years.  I have been taking photographs, writing, and more recently I have taken up painting – not just the walls in my home, but pictures.

At first I don’t think I was very good.  In fact, I know I wasn’t.  What I lacked in skill, I had bucket loads in determination and enthusiasm.  If you want to see my progress, I have a page set up on this blog called Trying New Things.  I think I am getting better.  I am painting something every day.  As well as my camera, I now take a sketch pad and something to draw with when I go out.  I try to go to a couple of art classes every week, a life drawing class and a still life class.  The lady who hosts the classes is very encouraging.  I have been buying books on how to draw and paint from the second-hand book store and the charity shops.  I can probably open an art shop of my own.  I want to try to use everything and see what it does.  I am like a sponge, soaking up everything that comes my way and then I try to filter some of it out and try to make something of my own.

I am inspired by family and friends to keep painting and try everything.  In fact, I had an interview last Thursday with the local college to see if I can get a place on the Art Foundation Course.  The phone conversation leading up to the interview wasn’t very encouraging, but I was determined not to leave the place without a course to take, even if I had to stage a sit-in.  Fortunately, the tutors liked my progress, enthusiasm and bold use of colour.  I have been offered a place and start in September! 🙂

I have been given a task and need to produce 15 pieces in 2 weeks.  I had to look up on the internet how to do two of the things I need to do!  Although it seems daunting, I have ideas floating around in my head already about how I am going to do the work.  I will be starting tomorrow as I had to go out and get some material.  It kinda put me off my stride, so I went a bit mad and drew some Gerberas before they faded away.

23.05.11 - Gerberas - Chalk Pastels on Paper

The reason I want to do an Art Foundation Course is because I will be able to try my hand at a variety of things I have never tried before.  I will get to paint, sculpt, develop film in the photography section, work with textiles and a host of other things.  After all, how will I know if I am good at something or will like it unless I try it?  How will getting an Art Foundation Diploma affect or improve my work prospects?  I haven’t got a clue and so I am just leaving that to The Universe.

In the meantime, I am painting furniture – some for my house and some to sell.  I am getting my photos organised to make into cards, to sell.  I may not be working and earning money, yet, but I am busy and happy with what I am doing, so who knows where that will take me?  As for what to tell people who ask me what I do for a living when I tell them that I am looking for work, it was suggested that I tell them I’m a researcher.  I’m not lying if I tell them that and it means I don’t have to say anything about my personal circumstances and how I came to Eastbourne.  I moved here because I love it and I always wanted to live by the seaside and it was affordable.

So that answers the question about what I have been doing –  mostly having fun and trying new things.  As far as who I am, well, I am a woman with many interests and hidden talents.  If I have to give myself labels, I prefer to use the ones that are not so obvious, such as TangoDiver (I dance Argentine Tango and Scuba Dive, though not at the same time), Dancer (I also dance Salsa, Ceroc and am learning to Bellydance), Writer – currently unpublished, Photographer and now I can add Artist. 🙂