From the beginning stages I had felt this to become a self portrait and bit by bit I developed into something I liked. This is one of those times I can say – painting 10 minutes a day really paid off.
My first self portrait that I did in 2012, was expressive and showed what I felt and had in that year it may not of been any ‘good’ but it was my expression of my life. This too is expressive but in another way, I didn’t want to focus on what I have, possessions, dreams and ideas.
I chose colour, lightness and to signify a new chapter by including my spiritual name – Ajeet (overcomer of obstacles) Amrita (opening of the heart to golden grace) Kaur (princess/lioness).
The hair is made up of a combination of acrylic and tempera paint, I don’t have any dark brown acrylic so I used what I had. Applied vigorously has made cracks appear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I wanted a way to show the grey hairs I have and this accidentally fits that!
I am very out of practise in blending facial tones, even for folk art, so that is something I will continue to learn and develop.
This painting has gone through many changes, I think around 20+ layers and had been on my easel for a year till I was reading the story each day and what I was reading came through onto the canvas.
The figure is the one thing that stayed, I knew it was going to be the central piece and it worked out well that much like the story, my figure is expanding from the heart centre and reaching out. The words were inspired by visionary artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) who I saw on a Raw Vision magazine cover issue 86.
I didn’t plan to write as much as I did, though I find writing with a paintbrush therapeutic, there were so many good nuggets of encouragement and wisdom from Martha Beck, I filled the entire space!
This portrait was produced in 2012 and describes my feelings from 2012-2015, my worries and visions fit into my stomach area, looking back now this is an area all about emotions hence the phrase ’emotional eating’.
The outfit in the painting was the actual I was wearing, the paint marks show that painting really felt like my identity and way through all the woes of life back then.
The sun and the tree just appeared painting one day, the seed is the most important part as the seed symbolised ideas, hope and birthing my creative self.
The expression on my face in the painting is one of strength but also fragility.
Drawing gave me a reason to get out more, to own my spot as an artist on the go by getting out into nature and drawing, I also enjoyed a hot Summer.
It gave me a sense of personal freedom when drawing in cafes and in town. I learnt not to be distracted by the glances of other people and to just draw! Each to there own after all.
I had better discipline to learn and do more, I created a sketchbook just for my own learnings and set aside time to learn and develop my skills with books, youtube and blogs.
I went to life drawing class for the first time- actually I went to two and got two very different experiences from them.
The first was one day a week for 4 weeks, this got me into a good practice of going to somewhere each week for a purpose, I showed up each time regardless of how I felt. This class was tutored, helpful for pointers of what I was/wasn’t doing right but quite strict and rigid. I felt out of place amongst many drawers who’s work were incredible.
Instead of just one male model to draw there was a range of females and males, nude and clothed, also a bunch of supplies to play with too! This kind of workshop is a great experience whatever art level your at. I think I will go to another in the future as I won’t have in the back of my mind that what I’m doing is for a course, it’ll be for me!
I tried different mediums, my favourites were – dip pens and markers, mixed media and drawing on coloured paper.
I explored different terms and themes, through I wasn’t the best at producing them, I’m grateful to have learnt drawing basics and fundamentals.
A list may be of help to people want somewhere to start in learning to draw:
Shadow and light
Positive and negative space
Line and wash
I got inspiration from things outside myself, in my usual art practices I tended to go ‘inside’ of myself in my own bubble to create.
While drawing I could focus on a subject, research about it and then draw. I did this with a picture of a Hummingbird and learnt interesting facts and specifics about their anatomy.
I also drew outside literally, when my course required me to take a sketch book walk, draw nature and the town.
I got further inspiration from going to galleries, something I’ve done for a while but this time I did it and will continue to do it at a deeper level. Making notes in sketch book while in the gallery, drawing a representation of art on the walls and taking my time around the place, makes it more of an experience. During my course I visited the Saatchi and Royal Academy in London for the first time.
Drawing allowed me to draw things I would never do, such as items of clothing, shoes, my bathroom.
I learnt to draw quickly and get as much down as I could when drawing my cats, moving people and models as they are unpredictable and time limited.
I drew clouds for the first time with pastels and trees close up as well as learning all about facial features positioning and body parts.
Analytical (controlled) is precise, careful and deliberate.
I am good at free intuitive movements and less on controlled almost perfect drawing.
For anyone putting these two styles together doesn’t work at first. You can become frozen from constant analysis and block a loose attitude for intuition.
The trick is to become disciplined at keeping them apart and to use them alternatively at appropriate times.
In his great book Keys to Drawing, Bert Dodson mentions an artist Eugene Delacroix and shows his study of lions. This is the first time I had come across the term ‘artist handwriting’.
To try Delacroix’s style drawing can be broken down to do the first few lines vague and loose, then give direction for the more accurate lines to follow.
I find this way balances my brain and body – to co ordinate movement in a way that produces a drawing where I can enjoy the process more and allows me to be loose and light, not tensed up and frustrated with outcome.
At the start of October 2014, I thought I had everything worked out. I was leaving a job to go into a new field and had with the finance help of my family a chance to a Degree in something I loved Art, to go on to do an MA and be an Art Therapist – my dream job.
I had a set plan, I was overjoyed that my life had some direction to it, it was ambitious and exciting.
At the start I enjoyed it, I was mark making, drawing things around me and using my sketchbook to record my learnings.
It stayed this way for some time, then things got harder. It hit me that degree level probably wasn’t the best way for a non drawing skilled person to start. Instead of an exercise taking 15 minutes to complete it would take more like 40 minutes to an hour.
I felt the hardest hit (which turned out to be a blessing) when my tutor suggested I do the course for personal development only. I hit the roof, and cried. I felt devastated. The Mr assisted in picking me up and with his help I re worked three assignments in two weeks, read the best drawing books out there and could actually see an noticeable difference in my drawing skills!
However, on completing my third assignment a townscape, and realising I was still unhappy with it, I decided my option was to re work it and go through hours of drawing hell again (I wanted to scream, shout and cry at the very idea) I thought about doing drawing for personal development.
As I thought about drawing for personal development, learning all I can and completing the course with no follow up or recognition at the end, I felt a mix of lightness, sureness and an intuitive guided yes.
I announced it to the Mr (who was my rock at every drawing hurdle and wanted me to learn and love what I do rather than it be a miserable experience) he was very supportive. Other people close to me were not so supportive and I understood that too. I had after all just said goodbye to a big dream of mine that I had been talking about for years! Eventually, everyone came round to the idea and as it was all paid for and up to me to complete it, the decision was entirely mine.
A big tip for creative people considering a course or degree:
Go small first! Try out a short course online, I studied with the OCA or go to an in person class first. Learn how you work, develop your skills and interest and go from there. I can clearly see that rushing from depression to a degree was not a smart move. Slow down, there is enough time. Then go from there to something bigger.
Where do I go from here:
Well, it seems I am back to where I began, being a painter. I’ve come full circle! Though I have more confidence in my attitude and ability to create. I have grown immensely having learning to draw, to drive and develop my yoga practice all at the same time! I now have total permission to make the art I love and make my own tools and products.
Some drawing related posts, things I learnt along the way:
Painting with fire officially finished 6 days ago and with some determination and cheers of encouragement from the face book group I have finished my final painting!
This one I am calling ‘Connected’ as that’s what I feel the two people are, I won’t write an analytical report on this painting as I feel this is my most true and raw piece, paint speaks when words can not.
This painting has been through so many changes – the person on the left used to be multi coloured, then blue! The person on the right used to have big wings and I don’t know why they are nude they just are, that’s the way it is.
I think the ‘windows’ with flowers on the body relate to chakras, I’m doing a self portrait with chakras at the moment in pencil (where everything has to be precise and exact) so painting these loosely was so much more freeing.
As I sat outside with my paintings in front of me, Chris Zydel refers to this as a ‘closing ritual’ I could see the path from where I had started and where I had come.
In my first painting I did a bold fearless free shape, then moved on to lots of different elements and detail for my second (both these with some relation to how I felt physically too).
The final one was the only time (so far) that I filled the page with paint and kept going and going because it didn’t feel finished! There was more to show and share and something to say about how I feel (in my mind) with paint!
I am incredibly grateful for this Painting with fire experience as I feel freer with my creativity – I will continue to implement it into my morning routine (a very good habit these past few weeks).
I feel more confidence and ease around a range of set ups and paints and fully alive when intuitive painting, something I aim to implement in other areas of my life!
This is my second painting I’ve done in the Painting with fire with Chris Zydel course and it’s very different to my first Woman’s Worth.
I’m finding that although intuitive painting is a process that is done mostly the same with each new paper I start, the uncertain though magical way of painting this way can bring about so many different creations.
This one I have titled Paths, roads, tubes, eggs; as that’s what I saw developing throughout and still relate to now.
I’m on Week 3 of Chris Zydel’s online course Painting with fire and loving every moment. I paint mostly in the mornings as it’s quiet and the sun is rising, it’s very peaceful.
This is my first finished painting I’ve called A Woman’s Worth, you will see why as you scroll down…
The whole course is designed so that you paint intuitively on your own, though it’s as if you are there with the wild heart queen herself! There are notes, videos, mp3s, live spree casts where you can ask questions and a Facebook group too.
Any level of painter/creative/non creative would be suited to this course, though I think this goes deeper than I’ve ever painted before.
You really paint from your whole self, go with what you feel, come up against resistance and it’s a journey, sometimes is hard but you come back to your body and a place of love and keep painting!
A great point that was brought up that really resonated with me as I’ve decided to ditch being an art therapist goal was that art therapy is more about analysis and intuitive painting is all about expression. That’s also the theme of my upcoming goals (and slogan of course) to do expressive art and creativity, to create freely.
The painting below is about opening up, about being whole and free. It is also a giant vagina ha! I’ve also had some small health issues lately with my body and especially female system.
Sometimes I notice I paint them rather than talk about them, you will see this again in my almost finished second painting. They just come through and I listen, following the feeling and guidance from my intuition.