My first flowers

still life in pastel

Okay Okay, I have tried to avoid drawing flowers for many reasons. Firstly, those who know me know my mum paints flowers in her still life arrangements and as if I’m going to enter that world. It would be like cooking for your very first time duck confit to a french chef. So as if. I mean, really, as if, but … I was watching a DVD that you lent me mum and I loved it. It made me think maybe I could give it at least one try.

The other reason I have avoided flowers is because of the greenery. Green happens to be my favourite colour but I’m not a big fan of pastel greens. So of course I can’t stand my greenery. I knew I would struggle there and I did. Fact.

Another fact, I need to buy more pastels, particularly greens and blues. Dark ones. And … I need to learn how to arrange flowers.

Last reason why I have avoided flowers …. it takes too long. Too much detail, too many darks and lights, too many, too many, and not to mention too time consuming. I enjoy drawing, don’t get me wrong but it’s not like I’m an artist, nor a chef. Just a mum who gets sick and tired of saying ‘stop kicking my legs’ every singe time, and I mean every single time, with no exaggeration, none whatsoever, I sit down to eat with my boys.

Well ironically, well not ironically, or perhaps ironic is suitable here, who knows, I now have to think about what to cook for dinner – without greens, and lets hope, enjoyed without kicking legs.

 

 

What you just do.

Being an expat in a country very different to your homeland creates a battle between the heart and mind so equal in artillery and strategy you think you’re going crazy at the indecisiveness of it all.

The opportunities while abroad argue ‘for’ being in a foreign land. Then, the unprovoked memories of the familiar and comfortable act as cues connected to an identity that makes you you. Logic says stay, you’re lucky. The heart says go home, you’re lucky there too.

Who am I without driving my children to swimming lessons, play dates, the shops, the Dentist, the Doctor or anything at all? Who am I without kissing my children at the school gate and waving them off as they make their way across the quadrangle then returning 6 hours later to take them home? Who am I when I don’t see the dirt marks on their laundry, fold their clothes or curse over missing socks? Hear their praises or see their scrunched up faces over a meal I prepared in the hopes it both nourished their bodies and pleased their little taste buds. Who am I when I can’t shop online, visit a fully stocked art supply store, find an art teacher, buy clothes that are my style, order a soy decaf cappuccino or even read a magazine? Relying on others to do the things I would ‘just do’ at home is an adjustment I seem to be resisting to say the least.

The things I used to do at home are either done by somebody else or just not easy to do here. Since a large part of what we do accumulates into the whole of who we are, it seems an obvious thing to say that I don’t just miss being home, I miss being me.

On the flip side, the opportunities to do things I would never do at home either due to lack of time or availability are endless here. I already find myself in situations I never thought I would ever see myself, doing things I never thought I would do. I have private tennis lessons, I’m learning a new language, experiencing a different culture and forming friendships unlike any before.

Although still unfamiliar here and despite feeling a little (or a lot) lost at times, I’ve found the answer. It is a simple matter of mediating between the heart and the mind and letting each have their turn to rule.  This creates a medium between the old you that has always been and the new you that will meet you in the future.

And how does one manage that?

You ‘just do’.

One more thing I am doing is taking advantage of the wonderful local craftsmanship at a much more affordable price to frame drawings I would normally store in a draw somewhere. Here is my first of many yet to come.

Mum, you will recognise this drawing from my first 8 minute life drawing exercise that you liked the most.

Framed nude drawing in charcoal

A First

I am about to enter a battle. Tonight, it is on. 7-9pm to be exact. I have my arsenal in order, pencils – check, charcoal – check, paper – check, confidence – still searching.

Tonight, I go to my first life drawing class. I have only drawn people from books so I am nervous but excited, der. What do I do? I’m so scared. It is a class and I have this horrible vision of me regressing into a 13-year-old giggly girl. No, I don’t giggle (usually). How about a pouting snob as a defence mechanism to hide my flipping fear waiting to ravage me to the point of absolute paralysis so I end up drawing a nude the size of an ant? Hmm, that sounds quite likely.

Do I promise to show my work upon my return? No can do. I do promise however, to self medicate, before and after.

Well now it is the after and although I knew mankind wasn’t depending on my efforts last night to live another day in the atmosphere, the pressure was still ever present in my ‘can I take criticism without turning violet’ head.

To avoid the possibility of feeling and looking elementary I averted my eyes from the drawings by fellow students. As such, I have walked out feeling quite pleased with my efforts for a first timer (what I don’t know won’t hurt me right?).

We started with 30 second poses. WHAT? I haven’t even finished pondering the starting point in 30 seconds. Nevertheless, I managed to get something on the page …

nude charcoal 30 second drawing

30 second

Nude 30 second charcoal drawing

30 second

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we graciously increased to 1 minute … it is double the time previously but 1 Minute? Come’on….

1 minute charcoal nude drawing

1 minute

3 minute nude drawing

3 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we progressed to 8 minutes … but somehow I wanted to go back to 30 seconds again so I had the excuse of ‘not enough time’.

8 minute charcoal nude drawing

8 minutes

8 minute nude charcoal drawing

8 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most enjoyable exercise we did for me was the blind drawing. We could only look at the model which means no peeping on the page. I loved this exercise and the results were … lets say ‘interesting’.

blind graphite drawing nude

blind drawing

I’ll be going back next week ‘for sure’. I may even peek at fellow students drawing … I think I might be strong enough to take that step.

Funny or am I just warped?

I find this funny but it could be because my humour is warped. You decide.

For those who aren’t a Degas fan, a bit of background: Degas drew a lot of women bathing, getting in and out of the bath, drying their hair, drying their arms and you get the idea. I am not sure exactly how many drawings he did but there are books containing just his nudes.

Anyway, this pastel I copied from one of his many bathing pastel drawings except I obviously left out the nude bather, hence the title “She’s gone to lunch”. Please someone tell me that you also find that funny.

Degas copy without nude bather

She’s gone to lunch

What about a series? “Still at tea” and “She got bored” and “She’s visiting mother”????

Outrageous or conceptual?

I do some pretty weird stuff as part of my art course. I’m new to this whole conceptual art thing. In fact, I even had a dummy spit about having to research ready-mades, as if Duchamp’s porcelain urinal didn’t say it all. My tutor was very patient with me and offered a gracious response to my rant over ‘wasting time on what Duchamp undoubtable had a chuckle over – the gullibility of the human race’. Apologies to anyone who has transferred past the ignorant stage about such things but I’m not there yet (yes I am prepared for a little backlash).

As such, I’m doing weird weird stuff. You may have read on my last post that I’d better get back to varnishing my childhood diary. I wasn’t kidding. Furniture varnish on a book and yep, totally my idea – as to the idea itself, not sure, just know it was mine.

Yep, drew my nostril too, which received rave reviews on the discussion board. Apparently I’m pretty good at drawing nostrils. Yipee. I’ll include the drawing at the end, don’t want to digress from my train of thought right now …..

As for covering a room in calico – well I have scrapped that ‘concept’ and decided I want to dance to ‘Uprising’ by Muse in the middle of a photographic exhibition instead. How good is that song?

What makes art so different to psychology, which I spent the good part of my adult life studying, is that my personal opinion is valid. I don’t have to substantiate it by referring to past-dissected studies, although I do love doing that. Anyway, I can have an opinion and who is there to say I am wrong????

What has taken me so long to get into this world? Mixing with too many predominantly practically focused minds?

All I can say on this sunny sunny day, is, if I had exposed myself to this world earlier, I would have been doing all this weird weird stuff a long time ago. This means that by now, I would possibly be doing something much more interesting than varnishing my diary and instead, producing something that is considered outrageous, sorry, conceptual art. Who wouldn’t want to do that I ask?

One day.

Here is my nostril that was part of a drawing course requirement. It’s actually my nose all scrunched up into an attractive sea of bends and folds.

pastel drawing of scrunched up face

My nostril

Do you love that song by Muse. You know, the ‘Uprising’ one? Just try and not move to it. Just try. Impossible I tell you. Impossible.

May as well add some more drawings from my course. This one was done with powdered white pastel and charcoal which I applied using a wet paint brush. I had to do this standing with the paper on the floor. With such a great distance between me and the paper I had to use a stick with the paintbrush taped to the end. It was fun. It allowed for lots of awkward moments.

self portrait with powdered white charcoal

My room.

I’m pretty tame with my expression when it comes to excitement. I prefer not to look like a 10 year old school girl so I contain it as best I can.

Well not today I haven’t. I have been dancing around my new studio. With the music loud I have been busting some moves. There was the Michelle Pfeiffer at the end of New Years Eve move, the techno jump with arms pumping upwards move and of course the catwalk pretending to be a model move. Pretty embarrassing really but I don’t care and you know why? Because I am excited of course, I thought I made that pretty clear?

I’m excited because I have a studio/study all in one room of my very own and it is beautiful. It has two big windows that frame the afternoon sunlight filtering through the camellia bushes and rose bed before splashing into the room. It is big enough for two huge tables (one of which my clever and practical husband handmade from recycled timber and steel) for both study and art.

I have shelves galore for all my books, folders, papers, pads, pastels, paints and pencils and a dedicated corner for my screens.

There is even a fireplace … uh ha, yes there is, indeed.

I haven’t had my own space since I lived at home with my parents. I almost feel like a school girl again where I would write in my many notebooks, daydream for the sake of daydreaming, write letters, add to my pin board cut-outs of whatever took my fancy and dream of the boy I had the biggest crush on.

I am so much more mature today. At least I hope so because I have children to look after now. In fact, it’s school holidays which means I am with all three of my children 24/7. Imagine one that thinks too much, one that thinks very little and one with chubby cheeks and all three thinking ‘Oh, I haven’t jumped on this spot in my new home, or splattered myself on this one, or somersaulted into this one for that matter. I wonder what this spot would sound like? Hmm, perhaps a faster run-up might produce a greater thump and I had better make sure there is plenty of mud on my shoes’.

Help.

No matter, I have my room. My abode. My home.

Just for me.

I still call it ‘the study’ to cover myself. You see, studio implies I make something or do something that is worthy of a dedicated room devoted to that something and the problem is; I’m still waiting for that something.

No matter, I have my room.

Here is a little tour ..

my studio room

my studio window

my studio things

my studio fireplace

my three boys standing still

my three boys standing still

I can’t listen to you

I can’t
Listen to you
I don’t know what I’ll do
If I listen to you
What I would think
If I were, to listen to you
I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Through music
You touch
Through words and prose
You praise
Through light and shadow
You show
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You wink and nod
For me to listen to you
You edge closer
So I can hear you
You become humorous
So that I laugh at you
But I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

You lead me astray
When I listen to you
I end up alone in wonderland
After listening to you
I forget to eat and sleep
From listening to you
So I mustn’t, I can’t
I won’t
Listen to you

Unless you can promise to be
Normal yet original and
Always nice
Remind me to eat, sleep and
Wash my clothes
Promise to be understood by others and
Hopefully pay my bills
Then I must, I can
I will
Listen to you

Until then,
Ever so quietly
Ever so gently
Ever so beautifully
It’ll be our secret
That I,
Listen
To
You.

Who am I talking to?

Right now my grumbling tummy think’s it’s him I won’t listen to. (Hmm, my tummy is a he, not a she??)

I’m including another drawing in pastel. A nude. No it is not this naked, armless lady with uneven butt-cheeks that I am not listening to(o)? either. Just thought I would add her because it is colourful and I can’t see her taking up a whole post and my mum would want to see her.

Nude in pastel and charcoal

Nude in pastel and charcoal

I drew this nude based on a charcoal drawing in a book titled ‘The Human Figure’ by John H. Vanderpoel.