Sunday, May 6

How not to be an artist.

Starting something new is a battle that I forget about every time I've finished something. Flushed with the success of completion, I imagine just how easy it is going to be to make the next thing. A doddle! I've mentally finished before I even start.

And then it begins: the graft. Or in my case, the grumbling.

I've been trying to start a new painting since Thursday. First of all there was the impossibility of getting the right flowers. I phoned three flower shops, none of whom had anenomes. They've gone out of season apparently, even though there are some growing at work. I went all the way into town hoping that there'd be some flowers I liked up there. No. On the train on the way home I thought maybe I'd pick some lilac. There is a lot of lilac out of train windows at the moment. All the lilac I could find (in someone's garden so not strictly accessible) was going over, and not pink enough. I abandoned the lilac idea.

Then I remembered there are freesias at my local supermarket. I couldn't get to the supermarket until Saturday, because Saturday is the day I go to the supermarket and god forbid that I'd make two trips there. Still: when I did go the freesias were on offer, hurrah! As I was driving home I noticed the cow parsley on the verge and wondered whether that wouldn't be better. Better? More interesting. More something. More not the freesias that I have in my car and could start drawing when I get in, mainly.

I put the freesias in a jug. They are pretty. They smell nice. They look bloody hard to draw. I am a drawing wimp. Cow parsley it is then. For some reason (mainly my well developed procrastinatory skill), I didn't go and pick some there and then.

Today I managed to go and get some cow parsley in the rain (poor me!). I put the cow parsley in a different jug, as the jug I planned to paint is currently occupied by very pretty very lovely smelling still bloody hard to draw freesias. Actually I tried two jugs.One held too much cow parsley so was too hard (see: drawing wimp). On the plus side my mantlepiece is lined with jugs of flowers.

After much faffing about with cow parsley I sat down in front of the jug. Fuck! Hard to draw! So many little bits! Moaned to myself. Drew about three lines. Rubbed them out. Swore a bit. Moaned at my husband who is working doggedly as he always does: bastard. Moaned to twitter (however did I procrastinate before twitter?). Did a half-heartedly bad drawing. Moaned a bit more. Did a sligtly less bad drawing. Took a picture. Decided that I liked the picture and perhaps I should take up photography. Showed the picture to twitter.

cow parsley in a jug
Nice, isn't it? I should totally take pictures instead of paint.
Decided I was DEFINITELY NOT drawing the poxy cow parsley. Got the freesias again. Looked at them. Too hard to draw. Harder than the cow parsley, definitely. They smell lovely, though. Freesias back on the mantlepiece.

Put on a record (this takes me ages because we have Too Many CDs.) Then finally I got around to actually drawing the cow parsley. It isn't a brilliant drawing, but it's progress. I drew the cow parsely. The cow parsley is drawable.

So then I wrote a blog about it. God forbid that I should actually start a painting. That's for tomorrow. Probably.

Thursday, May 3

Hyacinths and Simnel Cake

oil painting of a jug containing blue hyacinths with a yellow teapot and a slice of cake
Hyacinths and Simnel Cake
I have decided to call this finished. There is not one inch of this painting that hasn't been repainted about four times (and three different colours). I'm aware that I could continue faffing about with it for weeks on end if I didn't just decide that is is OK enough to stop. I think it is OK enough to stop. I have learnt a ton of stuff whilst doing this thing and actually can't wait to start another, which is a brilliant feeling.

This painting mainly* owes it's life to a little black book called Steal Like an Artist. If like me you have been stuck in a creative rut I cannot recommend it enough. 7 or 8 years ago I stopped printmaking and this feels like the first image-related thing I have done since then that is properly creative and properly mine: not made to impress anyone, not made for some imagined and hyper-critical audience to buy, just made. The book has been enormously permission giving for me. Go on, it said: just make something you like. And so I did.

*Also largely to my friend Michelle, for her encouragement of me to get the paint and do it. Thanks Michelle x