The world has changed considerably since my last blog post a couple of weeks ago when I shared my new exhibition: About Ashton in the market hall Ashton-Under-Lyne. As we end our first week in lockdown in the U.K. every day seems to present some fresh unfamiliar challenges. Whether around health, family, money, work-the list seems endless. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and consumed by it. But on reflection, taking stock and forging new approaches could be just what we need.
“Change is the nature of life, but challenge is the future of life so challenge the changes, never change the challenges”
We are arguably, most successful, effective and creative when we are outside of our comfort zone. So what of my artwork during these times. What am I doing now that I am not able to go to the studio. Now that studio workshops have been cancelled and there are limited opportunities for commission work? This is the time, more than ever, that we must use our creativity to change our thinking. We must reevaluate our roles, how we do things. What is possible? We need to reframe our definition of success and forge new approaches.
My ‘new’ studio space
Those of you that know of my work will probably be aware that I have a studio in an old mill in Mossley, Saddleworth. It’s a space that has enabled me to develop my mixed media work. It has space to create. But it is not a space I can use now, I need to stay home. At first, artwork seemed impossible, I don’t have space and limited materials. I definitely can’t do my usual acrylic painting at home. But I have adapted my workspace in a small but bright room. There is a small desk, a cupboard with shelves where I can put all my mixed media materials (not acrylics and big brushes, but smaller brushes, gouache, watercolour, mark making materials and the like). It is more than adequate for now.
The key to me using this space most effectively is to be organised and able to access all my materials. To make the most of what I have. Of course when we are out and about drawing we have to work similarly. On the plus side, I also have easy access to water for my brushes! The next trick is how to get this to work for an online course I am currently participating in-more on that later!
‘New’ processes – All that you can’t leave behind
I have a tendency to move on from things. I forget that the very ability to successfully move forward often requires bringing with us, those valuable nougats of what has gone before. For a while now, I have been thinking (without acting) about my pathway in art: from drawing to illustration and reportage to painting. With the later, I constantly have a feeling of the need to integrate, and bring my drawing and journalling into my painting work more consistently. Instead I keep them somehow separate, contained…..locked in.
Now is the time to be brave! The time to see how drawing, mark making in whatever guise and collaging, can be created as a daily nurturing. A bank of material, thoughts, ideas, memory, experiences, for future painting. Probably the only way of producing paintings that are ‘me’; reflecting my thoughts and feelings is to start with this process of integration. In this time I have at home, I can start to use my sketchbooks more consistently again, differently to before, as research tools, for my thinking and working out. For play and exploration.
‘New’ ways of sharing and communicating
I mentioned my Ashton exhibition at the beginning. It is now on line, in a gallery on my website, so you can see it without the need to leave the house. It’s here: About Ashton Gallery
Over the last couple of years I have been delivering drawing and collage workshops face-to-face in my studio. I do videos on and off, but these are sporadic and ad.hoc and not usually for teaching. It’s an uncertain time, people want to create but don’t necessarily want to have to overthink everything. It needs to be easier. I have a small tripod, a phone and my art materials-that’s more than enough!
As of this weekend, I will be putting out YouTube videos sharing sketchbooks, techniques, thoughts. These will be as regular as I can make them. Everyone can access them, they are free. Afterwards, we can spend some time, just dipping into our sketchbooks. Trying things. Trying to stay in the moment. Even if for a short time. I’m an over thinker and this needs to change! Here’s my chanel if you would like to follow along. I will also share links to the videos on my social media pages.
How have things changed for you? Are you still able to create some art? how is that helping you in these different times? Do take care and I hope that you can join me in my videos.
Best wishes and stay positive