Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Art Has No Rules

Arnie pot plant sketch

Arnie – watercolour sketch study

Art is about playing, there are no rules as to how to paint, what materials to use, what you should or shouldn’t do. It is pure expression and should not be hampered by your financial budget.

I was thinking about this a lot the other day in the studio. I allowed my practice to be stunted for a very long time after my experience at University. I quite wrongly told myself that if I didn’t have certain materials anything I created would be sub-par and not ‘real art’, but that’s not how creativity works. If anything, working outside the box with new materials and what you have to hand shows even more promise and creativity. It is something I have been trying to teach my daughter in the face of teachers who insist that it has to be done a certain way.

I implore you, if you want to create then create with whatever you have to hand; do it before you lose that flash of inspiration and motivation, see where it leads whether you like the end result of not. We have to make ‘ugly’ art sometimes to learn and create the art that we are proud of. We have to step off the path to discover our own way.

If there’s anything we can take from an $120,000 duct taped banana it is that art has no rules.

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IMG_0515[1531] September has been a strange kind of month and I am glad to say that it’s over. One way or another my anxiety levels have been super high, the little things have made it worse and generally speaking my mental health has been at a low point. I took to writing notes like the one to the left for myself as reminders to breathe and try to take away anything that was unnecessary for me to be struggling on mentally.

Worst of all is how my metal health affects my creativity. I have kept creating through drawing exercises on the whole and the avenues that they have veered me down but it has been a struggle to keep up and push forward. I am, it would seem, still learning to work with the ebb and flow of my mental state.

I worry about anything and everything when I dip into this state. It’s very unlike me and seems to be a learned process that I have developed as I have gotten older. It is hard to get out of when that spiral begins and I understand that people don’t ‘get’ what it can be like. Mention anxiety, stress and depression to people and you’ll often, even now when awareness is far better, get an eye roll and the opinion that we all have to deal with it.

Just on the bus the other day I heard two women talking about someone who had mentioned they had anxiety issues to one of them and their response was flippant as they bitched about the person and didn’t really understand what it can get like. This came at  time when I was having a particularly bad day with my own and I remember shrinking back down into my seat and attempting to calm my thumping heart as not to draw attention to my own issues.

Now that I am feeling somewhat recovered from my latest ‘epidsode’, not entirely recovers, but somewhat, I feel more able to think rationally about it all and contemplate how it came about last month. I find myself, as an artist wanting to delve into my mental health issues visually but the whole idea also scares me.

It occured to me yesterday that I could take some baby steps with this on a daily basis using my companion journal/sketchbook and my tentative curiosity to try inktober this month.

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It means being yourself.

It means paving your own way.

It means creating your own rules.

It means following your heart.

It means accepting yourself as an individual.

It means doing you.

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Poppy Cropped How do you measure success?

For a lot of people the word success brings about certain feelings predominantly including social and financial. I’m beginning to understand that we, as humans, measure success in comparison to others. We see what we have/do/produce and compare that to the people around us to rate whether we are successful ‘enough’ when this is probably one of the worst things we can do, particularly for ourselves creatively.

‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms’ – Zen Shin

I love that quote because it is a hefty reminder that something doesn’t have to compete to be successful, fulfil it’s purpose, and be all it was meant to be. Success for a flower is growing into it’s potential and blooming. It grew, it lived, it became what it was meant to become.

I don’t really like the concept of success because it means that we have to accept failure as a concept as well; something that is notoriously given a bad rep and we are told we do not want. Success if ‘good’, failure is ‘bad’, strive for the former and avoid the latter when really perhaps it should be the other way around.

Sometimes ‘success’ brings bad things with it as far as our ego and the way we compare ourselves and relate to others is concerned; we’ve all heard the questions asked of celebrities rising to fame: ‘How do you stay grounded/down to earth?’ Failure on the other hand is how we learn and grow and find success deep down on an individual level; the kind of success that isn’t born out of comparison with others but that is born out of comparison with ourselves – where we are now compared with where we were and where we would like to be.

I think the big tripping point with success comes from when we allow others to dictate the measure of our success. It seems almost unavoidable these days but that doesn’t make it a good thing. Soceity dictates that we are successful if we make money, have friends, look a certain way, have X number of likes and follows on social media, own a house, are married (the list goes on) when none of that really matters.

Never pin your view of your own success on where other people think you should be in life. In the same way never consider your creative work only successful if it has sold for X amount of money or gotten X nmber of likes on social media. If you are happy with it and have learned from the experience of creating it, if it has given you a feeling of achievement and accomplishment, it is, in my opinion, a success. Even if it ‘fails’ as a piece in the end it can still be a success because in failing we learn and do better next time.

If we measuure our success on a personal scale we stop viewing things in the rigid, black and white sense of successes and failures and begin to feel content and blessed regardless. Remember, a beautiful flower just is. It blooms for itself because that is what it was born to do and in doing so spreads sustenance, joy, beauty and inspiration to those that come into contact with it.

Poppy Edited


‘Poppy’ – Pastel on grey pastel paper, available as various prints on my Redbubble Store.

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SONY DSCI am a big believer in journey over destination, it’s a theme and saying that I refer to over and over again and has become a main focal point in my artistic practice.

You may wonder why that is? Surely having a destination in mind, a goal to aim for, is a good driving force and way to push yourself forward. In my experience yes and no. I think goals and destinations are important for certain things but others respond far better to an organic approach. Art is one of those things.

I don’t think I have ever created something that has turned out exactly how I planned or envisioned it when I started out with the project. I see this as a good thing now but back when I was first learning and experimenting I saw this as a bad thing; a failure. It wasn’t just a thing that happened with my art either. I would write a story, for example, with a clear idea of exactly where it was going to go and how the characters were going to be only for my chracters to take on a mind of their own and want me to follow them in a different direction. Doing so always led to a better place for the story, something more natural that seemed to weave itself far more organically if I allowed it to. For a long time I would try to force it to follow the plan only to get no where.

Art was the same thing. I think one of the reasons I didn’t feel very comfortable at University studying Fine Art was because I didn’t feel like there was this opportunity to allow a piece to grow organically. I was supposed to have an idea to follow, a meaning to portray, a point to make and most of the time when I start a work I do not. For many years I got stuck behinds this wall of feeling like I needed to have something to say with my work in order to create it in the first place.

Nine times out of ten I do not start a work out with an idea to begin with. I feel like using a particular colour/medium/mark and I start by using it, building from there and discovering the character of the artwork I am making. The above mixed media piece in my sketchbook became something that made me think of the banded layers of an agate geode or slice thanks to the way the watercolour sat on the gesso I was experimenting with and reacted with other wet and dry layers in it’s process. It wasn’t planned to look that way but it is what began to appear on the page as I worked.

Our goals and destinations in life change as we encounter different paths, ideas and situations, just as when we create we sometimes have to compensate and allow for changes in direction that teach us something and allow us to grow. If we focus on the destination too hard we run the risk of blinding ourselves to the immense joy of getting there which removes all the satisfaction out of our arrival when we get to the end or, in worse cases, creates this feeling of failure if we don’t arrive at all.

I have also found that when we let go of the destination creatively we become less precious about the work which is also a good thing. The perfectionist in me always wants to keep pushing until I step over the line that ‘ruins’ the work. When you have no end point in mind it is much simpler to stand back and accept that it’s time to call it done and move on. I’ll expand further on this another day in a separate post as I know from experience that stopping myself from overworking anything creative can be hard to do.

Be kind to yourself, take the next step, enjoy the process and it will fuel your journey and cultivate a sense of pride and achievement when you do reach the natural end of whatever it is that you are working on.

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SONY DSC …Master Of None. Isn’t that how the saying goes? I worried a lot as I began branching out as an artist that I didn’t have a specific focus or a route that I tended to pour my practice into. While first and foremost I consider myself an anstract painter I do love to explore and experiment with a wide range of techniques and media. This extends out of the range of visual arts as well as I have always had a love for writing and storytelling having spent hours upon hours growing up writing stories and poetry, sometimes to pair with my artistic pieces and sometimes in and of themselves, separate from the visual images I wanted to make.

As I wrote more I also found myself wanting to create illustrations for the stories I was writing, my style in that area being very different from the otherwise loose and fluid, intuitive painting style that makes upthe majority of my practice. This stemmed into ACEOs and card designs as well and while some more abstract designs have become cards in my work they were a small and wonderful way for me to play around putting my own twists on more ‘traditional’ art forms as florals and more generic symbolism popped through.

I created Nemorosa Studio as a name for my ‘brand’ and business so that it would encompass all of my loves. I have gone years only painting, at other times delving more heavily into fiction writing and yet others intermingling the two practices through out my day (which is currently where I seem to be right now).

The point I want to make, however, is not to allow that saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ to hinder where your creative impulses lead you. Just because you consider yourself a painter, it doesn’t mean that you cannot branch out and create in other areas such as writing, poetry or sculpture, for example. Just because you have many areas of interest it does not mean that your work is meaningless, less worthwhile or not as good as someone who dedicates all of their practice on the one thing. In fact, in my experience I have found it to be wonderful for my creative practice and inspiration to move organically through different areas .

Don’t spend years thinking you cannot make good paintings unless all you do is paint, or that you cannot write good fiction unless all you concentrate on is writing fiction. Instead embrace all aspects of your practice and all of your creative impulses, allow them to influence one another and enrich each activity you take a part in and you will reap the benefits in your life.

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