There comes a time in an artist’s studio practice when there is nowhere to work. All surfaces are occupied, references are piled on the floor and there is a very real danger of spilling coffee on the masterpiece or putting the mug down on top of a very nice little sketch. Don’t ask me how I know!
The amount of time spent in preparation and mental manoevres to get to a flow state is often greater than the time spent painting. I have been gearing myself up to working in oils seeing as most of my watercolours have rigor mortis – they lie twisted and dried up in an After Eights tin. Hence a bit of a clean up and a rummage in the tool box for a spanner or pair of pliers that will get the tops off paint tubes.
I am struggling already with paint that has no mind of its own and needs me to place every blob and stroke. It sits on the surface like a tiny turd and I have to resist the urge to saturate it in turps and spread it over the canvas like a wash. It does not work like that, and so I feel like a complete beginner again! Thanks to YouTube and a million art tutorials I am more confused and frustrated than ever and remind myself that this is the life of an artist. I am far from cutting my ear off but slashing the canvas and throwing my brushes at the wall is a recurring thought.
I’m afraid I don’t have much staying power – the initial thrill of painting wears off as I get into difficulties and there is always something new and exciting in the garden (or over the fence!) that I want to paint. However, I think I must revisit some of these unresolved masterpieces. I have the finished pictures in my head – I just don’t know how to get them onto paper!!
My youngest daughter graduated in July so I escaped the dry, winter cold of Botswana for what I thought would be the wet, summer cold of Wales to attend the Graduation. It was a magical day – the countryside was beautiful and the weather glorious – so we decided to go road tripping to Land’s End! The sun shone with barely a wobble for two weeks as we punted about the south-west in a hired Chevy Spark, braving heat and humidity and Cornwall’s tourists! Of course that included us – but meeting up with Ken and Dora Howard on Sennen Beach made me feel a little less like a foreigner. Artists have been painting Cornwall forever, and having seen its beaches and harbours through Ken’s eyes for many years, it was wonderful to see them in real life! I even managed a sketch or two…..
I tried numerous studies of St. Michael’s Mount and the harbour – they did not turn out well but I have lots of photo references so I shall work on it! Mousehole harbour and the beach at Sennen were just as I imagined from Ken’s paintings and as Dora invited us for supper, we got to see St. Clement’s Studio with its interior landscape of easels and paintings – if that doesn’t inspire me nothing will!!!
My dream has always been to have an art studio. I tried to run one a few years ago which I gave up as I had no idea of business but I LOVED having a space of my own. I didn’t really have a plan or a vision for it, just an idea that ‘stuff’ (Art) would happen and as long as I managed to pay the rent it was fine! Not so. That law about work expanding to fit the time available to do it was one that I knew well and I couldn’t be creative and free AND be business minded at the same time. So I closed it and ‘worked’ from home and eventually was simply involved in Art through various organisations.
My daughter Phillipa is a gifted photographer and after three years of exploring and wandering around London, Scotland and Grahamstown she wanted to come home – to live and work in Botswana. I have always wanted to print gift wrap and greeting cards so the idea of a publishing company using Phill’s photos and quirky art and poetry, combined with my fine art and cartoons started to take shape and we formed a company. Each of us has our own identity as artists but our commercial work is published through Artists Inc. Studio. I believe we are the first fine art publishing business in Botswana and as we want to fly the flag and to be authentic we print our cards in Botswana. We have not yet succeeded in producing exactly what we want but will persevere – I now have a vision for the studio and for our business! On 21 July we finally had an Opening Party to celebrate our art, our space and our new adventure!