Art and Life

As the governor of North Carolina said to the governor of South Carolina, it’s a long time between drinks! I’ve not posted for over 6 weeks. I had a very busy period for editing, then a lull, as usually happens. I’ve used the lull time to do some more paintings, a series of beach scenes. Yesterday I had the wonderful news that the latest one I’ve had framed has been selected to be hung in the Tweed River Art Gallery, as a contender for the Border Art Prize. I don’t expect to get a prize, as this is a big competition which attracts many entries, including accomplished artists. But I’m delighted to be hung in this lovely gallery, which has now made its mark on the world map of galleries with the opening of the fabulous Margaret Olley wing.

The process of doing a painting is like yet unlike that of writing for me. When I write, it comes naturally; I’ve been doing it most of my life, and I had a very good start, with a literate, highly educated mother. And I’ve refined it through several stints of study/research/writing, and thousands of words worth of editing others’ work. So it’s second nature. Sometimes, of course, when I push myself and take risks, it feels hard, but mostly not. Perhaps that is why I’m no longer as interested in writing as I am in painting, where I risk myself every time I start a new painting; I begin with the feeling  “I can’t do this”; then half way through I think “maybe it will work”; this doesn’t last, as I attempt a new facet of it, and I think “oh no, this is a mess”; then if I persevere, I start to think “it’s going to be all right”; then, after the finishing touches, I feel surprise: “Oh, perhaps I did it; wow! How did this happen?”

I don’t know if all artists go through this, but for me I think it’s because I haven’t been trained in the visual arts, as I have in writing, and I don’t have a visual imagination, though I can appreciate and critique what I see. So it’s like driving in the dark without any lights. And now I’ve shucked off the external critic (my teacher) I don’t have that severe voice that says “this isn’t good enough; do it again!” So I just keep going, and surprise myself. Though I have discarded a few efforts, mostly ones where I step away from my chosen themes of wildlife and nature.

More risks to take, and more surprises in store. here is my Border entry: Sunset at Sawtell Beach, Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Sawtell Beach2


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