Categories
Art & Craft Paintings

Darkness Within – new mixed media painting

I recently finished this painting titled Darkness Within and I thought I’d show you some pictures and tell you about the painting, its themes and what it means to me.

Inspiration

It started with a small thought, that I wanted to study master/famous painters more, especially those whose work speaks to me. The first person who came to mind was Egon Schiele. His work has a depth of feeling that I haven’t experienced with any other paintings. It is something that I wish for in my own art. There is also an element of ugliness, an unrefined rawness associated with being human. I absolutely love Schiele’s work and could look at it for hours!

I have done studies before (as in, trying to faithfully replicate the look of an existing work of art), but it never holds my interest. I can DO it, but I’m not FEELING it. So I wanted to do something with a Schiele painting, without copying it exactly and while putting plenty of myself and my style into the painting.

The Process

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The painting “Self Portrait With Hands On Chest” was one that stood out to me, the hands are raw and mesmerizing and I was drawn to the simple almost profile portrait and blue hair. I wanted to try and incorporate a hand into my painting too. I started preparing a background in my A3 art journal. It was a page I had previously started a sketch on with watersoluble crayons, but it wasn’t going anywhere. So I indiscriminately brayered and dragged paint across the whole page, covering everything that was there before.

I started a sketch with a black Stabilo All pencil (my favourite tool for sketches, especially when working on top of an existing background), combining elements of what I could see in Schiele’s painting with ways in which I usually sketch faces. On the one hand I was using the painting as an example, but at the same time I wasn’t worrying about getting a perfect likeness.

There was a rawness to the Schiele hands, but I wanted to push it further. Creating a sort of fairytale witch hand with thin fingers and big knuckles. The hand I ended up drawing fascinates me, and it has shown up in more of my work since then.

The shading on the face closely follows the Schiele painting. It uses a combination of watersoluble crayons, acrylic paint and colour pencils.

Themes

I paint female faces. I have no interest in painting male faces, so that was the biggest divergence from the example. You could say that in some way each portrait I paint is a self-portrait, even if that is not the purpose I set out with. Experiencing being female and femininity is a big theme in my life (and therefore art). I’m especially aware of what it means to be female in our patriarchal society and I’m interested in exploring that experience. The use of pink (often viewed as a ‘girly’ colour) and turquoise is juxtaposed with the use of black, especially black paint applied with a brayer, which adds a rawness.

There is an ugliness and rawness to life that I am keen to explore, but it is something I have struggled to put into my art. This is intertwined with this experience of femininity. As a girl/woman you are expected and praised for espousing and aspiring to certain beauty ideals. A woman is punished (and noticed) for being ugly or doing things in an ugly manner much more harshly than a male person. I want to represent this tension, this dichotomy, the wish to be pretty or make pretty things without disavowing the ugly or raw part of the self.

The subject has her eyes closed. She is looking within, and at the same time not looking at all. She has her eyes closed in order to shield herself, but also in order to have an experience that isn’t available when her eyes are open. Similarly to me as the painter, trying to paint the subject’s eyes open would distract me too much from experiencing the feelings that are able to be felt when the eyes are closed.

Categories
Art & Craft Musings Paintings

What Makes You Come Alive? Go Do It!!

I’ve been having some major learning experiences lately with regards to listening to my inner voice. However, it’s funny, I tend to reach certain conclusions about things, like major lightbulb AHA! moments, and then as life goes on I completely forget them and start making the same mistakes again! So then I have to become conscious of what I’m doing again, to get more in line with my true self aaand the circle continues. Hopefully at some point something will stick, right? So, my recent learnings, let me share them with you!

One of the MAIN things I’ve learned these past months is that when it comes to anything you do creatively (painting, blogging etc) you need to do what makes YOUR heart sing. Not what you think other people want to see, what you think you should (such a dirty word!) do or what your parents want you to do. The quickest way to burnout and not feeling enthusiastic is doing stuff that isn’t true to what your inner wisdom is telling you is RIGHT for you. Do what YOU want and your passion and enthusiasm will be infectious and people will be interested because YOU’RE interested (and therefore interesting).

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.Howard Thurman | www.iris-impressions.com

Last week I was in such a dark mood. I wasn’t feeling any of my paintings. I spent a lot of time doing social networking stuff and watching TV shows because something was stopping me from getting into the studio. (To be fair though, I was rewatching Dollhouse, which is very very worth every minute spent on it lol) Every time I sat down to work on my paintings I just ended up sitting and staring into space, or telling myself it wasn’t any good, or that I couldn’t come up with the right ideas.

Until I realised that I was expecting myself to create other people’s art! I was berating myself for the fact that my intuitive paintings didn’t look more like Flora Bowley’s work. I thought MY intuitive paintings should look like SOMEONE ELSE’S otherwise they wouldn’t be intuitive enough… BATSHIT INSANE RIGHT?!!! Seriously, looking back on it it’s so obvious where the flaw in my thinking is, but these thoughts really go through my head when I’ve inadvertently given myself over to my inner critical voice.

And then this happened:

Scared Inside | mixed media intuitive painting on 12 x 10" canvas board | www.iris-impressions.com @rrreow

Scared Inside – mixed media on 12 x 10″ canvas board

I gave myself permission to DO MY OWN THING. I’m sure you can still see other people’s influences there, but I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like anything, apart from what was already inside me. I also gave myself permission to make similar shapes to ones I’d already done in previous work. I tend to tell myself that I can’t do the same thing twice or I ‘won’t be original’. It’s not like the masters ever worked with the same themes or imagery..oh wait.. Again with the crazy inner voice!

Part of the ‘problem’ is that there is so much amazing work out there being created by so many amazing people. I love looking at the stuff my artist friends create or things on Pinterest. It’s absolutely inspiring and makes me want to get into the studio (and when I start thinking “I’ll never be as good as…” I quickly try and shoo that voice away!). Where it goes wrong though is when I think ‘Wow what they do is amazing, I must want to do that too’. That’s where there is a really fine line between being inspired by what other people do (totally awesome!) and wanting your work to look like theirs and trying to achieve that (not so fulfilling).

I’ve realised that “What I like” and “What I like doing” don’t have to be the same thing!

What makes you come alive? Let me know and then GO DO IT!!

Categories
Art & Craft Paintings Videos

New Beginnings – Video & Giveaway

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I’ve been arty & crafty for a long time, but recently it has felt like a new beginning. A renewed enthusiasm unlike any time before and a much greater connection with my artistic self. It is ironic, as it was through focussing on the journey (i.e. being less occupied with the end result) that I have actually gained a much greater sense of direction and purpose with regards to my art.

One of my tentative goals this year is to make more art videos. I love browsing art videos on YouTube, I find them a great source of inspiration. I really want to add to the happy arty videos and hopefully in the process entertain and inspire people to also create. I’m currently figuring out the best workflow in terms of recording myself and editing. I can assure you there has been much swearing!! The editing is SO time consuming (and not my favourite part admittedly!) so for the moment I will try to aim for a new video every 1-2 months.

This first video has an exciting giveaway that you can enter to win this painting.

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So to enter the giveaway leave a comment on this post. For a bonus entry into the giveaway share the link to this article (http://iris-impressions.com/2014/01/new-beginnings-video-giveaway) on your blog, Twitter or Facebook and let me know where to find it (make sure anything you post is public).

I’m going on a big adventure holiday to the US soon, MEGA excited!! I will draw the winner once I am back on Tuesday 4 March.

Categories
Art & Craft Musings Paintings

Journey – My Word Of The Year & Artist Guardian

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When I was at university and had to write essays I was the Queen of Procrastination™. Although I always finished things on time, I was emotionally unable to put in the proper time required. I would always do everything last minute, rushing through it, wishing for it to be finished already. I never had anything looked at beforehand by teachers to be critiqued. I would read through it before submitting to spot spelling mistakes, but actual rewriting was too painful. It just had to be done, handed in, away, GONE.

I’m not very good at process. So, in 2014 my word for the year is ‘journey’. I want to try and spend more time experiencing the journey, rather than only focussing on the end result. I want to enjoy the process of whatever it is I decide to engage in. Too often I have started a painting and struggled through it, hating the work and just wanting it to be finished. That way I could feel the satisfaction of completion, but it left me feeling empty.

Most of all I want to allow myself to have a journey. Allow myself the time and space to grow. To stop feeling like I have to be perfect. To stop comparing myself to other people. I want to have my personal journey.

I’ve been working quite hard (in whatever little time my job & raising two kids allows!) to make this happen. I can genuinely say I’ve enjoyed painting more than ever these past few months. Partly because I was painting to paint. Not for the result. Not to share. Not to get recognition or attention. With this post I am tentatively getting back into sharing my work. I love showing what I paint, but I also want to be really careful not to fall into the trap of becoming a ‘share junkie’. Where the sharing becomes more important than the joy of creating.

The following piece is my ‘Inner Artist Guardian’. She’s a welcoming and caring person inside me, who allows me to journey and create freely and tries to protect me from my own nasty critical thoughts.

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Progress shots from sketch to painting

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Detail shots, yummy texture

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Finished painting

The work in this post is inspired by a lesson on Life Book 2014, come join us!