Monday, February 22, 2010

Art and Creative Writing Be A Character In TalysMana Contest Entry

It's a great compliment wh
en people pay me good money to make a special painting for them. If it's to be a portrait, not everyone can come and sit while I push paint around a canvas for hours on end. So they send me photos of their children and grandchildren, pets, and even houses or favourite landscapes.

They wan
t me to re-create an image that is personal to them, realistic and instantly recognisable. They choose photos that are about how they see themselves, and how they want others to see them.

I love the continual challenge of striving to m
eet the very particular expectations required of me. It means I get the opportunity to paint subjects I wouldn't normally be able to choose, and develop delightful friendships with people all around the world. And I get paid for doing it - how cool is that!

But there is a flip-side to my passion for painting, which may be more about myself. It starts with a pure white blank canvas, and no plan. If thoughts and imagery try to butt in, I push them away, until my mind is completely cleared. Only then, do I pick-up the first brush to hand, dip into a random colour, and just paint.

If the brush is large, the paint strokes turn out broad and flowing; sometimes the marks are small scribblings that make no sense at all. But on I go, putting one colour next to another, adding shape, tone and texture, until suddenly, to my own amazement an image emerges, that 'speaks' to me. And then some other part of my brain takes over.

The 'Red-Haired Madonna' was created this way. I have loved bei
ng a mother, and somehow with this painting I said everything about how it felt when my boys were small enough to keep safe in my arms. For a few short years, I had the power to protect them from the bad in the world. How different that painting is compared to 'Mother of the Missing'; the fear and terror in that haunted expression were dredged-up deep from some frightened place.

The still watcher 'In Disguise' could be a metaphor for those times when I can't always be what I want to be; occasions when I have to adopt an extra personna t
o hide behind, or get to fight for me; then biding my time until the crisis passes, I can then remove the layers and relax into myself again.

When I was younger, it seemed that any troubles I had were mostly self-inflicted. Being a quick learner, I dealt with that. As I get older I'm having to fight on the side of the angels, against forces outside my control, or experience. The old skirmishes have provided a useful apprenticeship.

I used to dream of living on a Mediterannean island where I could spend my time languishing in a 'Summer Daze'. I live on that island now, atop a mountain overlooking the sea, but still I dream of being somewhere else. (see Figure in a Landscape)

Friends and other artists are a constant joy. I paint about those I meet day to day, in reality or in cyberspace.

At the end of the day I have the love of my life and best friend. We're an 'Odd Couple'; my grandmother would have understood us. People like
e us, she would say, were "Somat together and nowt apart". And if you don't understand broad northern English dialect, that means 'something together and nothing apart'.

So are my abstract expressionist paintings autobiographical? Or are they like characters in a book, conjured by artistic licence and imagination? You be the judge ;)

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