Jurassic Art Blip

Time is a weird concept isn’t it? Now, this present, can’t just be a tiny sliver, a knife edge, between the past and the future. Time is vast. Unfathomable. We are not separate from the past and future, but somehow linked on a multi dimensional continuum. Time travels like the light from a distant star.

Painting dinosaurs I realised how little anatomy has changed over millions and millions of years. The more I painted these incredible beings the more mind-boggled I became. This one 50 million years old. 100 millions years ago this one walked the earth…

Our individual Earth walk appears to be the teeniest tiniest blip! Or is there something else going on for it feels vast while we experience life and important too.

Apparently scientists have discovered that life as we know it could be a holographic projection, but I don’t really understand that concept! All I know is that I seem to want to project something onto canvas while I am here, and plant trees and be around my animals.

Chickens are apparently the closest living relative to T Rex. Chickens are adorable!

This summer’s joy has been seeing children loving Jurassic Lanark dinosaur trail around town and New Lanark World Heritage site. So many excited children captivated by dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are an enduring fascination for children and I understand why kids love them.

‘Lanarkausaurus’ on display at The Tolbooth, Lanark until end of August, part of Jurassic Lanark.

Some of the work on display…

And my favourite quote of the exhibition from one little boy to his dad – ‘That’s a proper painting!’

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Tree Lovers – Will You Help me Plant Trees?

Tree Lovers by Kirsten Harris

We are heading to autumn and I hope to plant a lot more trees. Will you help me? 

These prints of tree drawings will pay to fence off an area of land to protect the young trees and get more planted. I am on a mission and asking for help! It’s just one artists attempt to do something directly useful for the planet. 

I will blog about ideas and inspirations in the drawings over the coming days and be making more tree art too.

It is time for me to get focussed again! I have been developing my art but not really promoting it during Covid, as it seemed somehow irrelevant in a time of crisis. But this morning I feel focussed again. By keeping my purpose in mind, promoting my art is easy. My purpose is trees! That’s important!

All these prints are available on my website with many others and lots of beautiful original art.

Will you help me make a difference?  Trees for the future for someone else to love after we are gone!

Thank you so much in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Perhaps a print would make a nice gift for someone?

Best wishes and big kisses

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

All prints are £20/$28 for A4 size 21 x 29.7 cm

£30/$42 for A3 size 29.7 x 420 cm

Postage £5.50 worldwide. 

PS I will be putting lots of new work on my website over the next few days. Keep an eye out for something you like. xx

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All printed on white art paper

Why Blog?

Curious Cats by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Board, 40 x 50 cm

I haven’t blogged much lately, so thought I would write a ‘why blog’ blog to give myself a kick up the creative bum!

Simply put,  blogging takes you forward. 

It’s an odd thing but it’s an effective way to speed up the creative flow. I think it’s because pressing ‘publish’ has  a commitment to it, a slightly scary hurdle to jump, but what a gift it is to be able to send our ideas out into the world in an instant. 

Seth Godin describes the three keys to creativity as curiosity, generosity and connection.  I like his list. 

Blogging seems to foster all three as habits. 

Curiosity – It’s definitly a curious thing to not know what to write until committing to write. Like art,  I never know what the image will end up looking like. This is both the challenge and excitement. Curiosity is a place of wonder and exploration that’s never boring…

Generosity is a word that speaks to me. I have been feeling a bit closed up, static. I guess a bit of Covid fallout, finding myself stuck in a startle pattern of sorts with white noise playing in my head like a radio out of tune. I’ve been painting a lot but when thinking to write a blog, then fuzz…

So, a blog on blogging! 

Blogging kind of focuses the brain, a way of tuning in to a ’higher’ frequency. Writing frequently keeps tuning this frequency! White noise is flipping boring after all. White noise –  the sound of a static life!

Generosity is fearless and stimulates fearlessness! 

How easy and safe it is to hold on tight, but how much more expansive and joyful to be generous. Sharing our creativity with the world is an act of generosity. We have an unbelievable opportunity to spark generosity through blogging and the connections worldwide we can make by sharing ideas and the ripples these cause. 

Connections – through my art, blogging and my facebook page I feel connected to all sorts of people I have never met, but who I know I like enormously. By connecting we have the potential to be incredibly creative for our beautiful world. I intend to keep planting trees through selling my art. Connecting with others through art is my way of doing so. 

Thank you Seth, your three keys to creativity have stimulated my thinking and got me going again.  I feel better already!

Seth blogs daily, worth checking out. He is an interesting thinker. 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk 

This original framed painting is available on my website, as are prints of it. How many cats can you find?

The Last Tree On Earth

The Last Tree on Earth

One dawn this spring I was watching the bronzy morning light on the tree outside my window, half asleep, drifting.  I ‘saw’ an image of the last human in the world lying in the tree reaching for the last apple.

It was a powerful semi-lucid moment. I decided to paint the image to further my commitment to somehow keep planting trees through my art.

A series of paintings started to emerge.

A few days later I was asked by another artist to join her in exhibiting on the theme of Orchards in 2022 and see if we could find a historic orchard to reinstate working alongside a community Orchard Group.

She knows I am into tree planting but had no idea I had started painting apple trees. I was delighted to say ‘yes’ or rather ‘YES PLEASE!!!’  I feel more excited than I have felt all year.  A new adventure and clarity of purpose.

We have a potential site for an orchard already. Things are moving fast. It’s exciting.

Series 12 x 12 inches. Acrylic on board.

Please do join my blog to be kept in touch about the art and the orchard as it progresses.

With love 

Kirsten 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

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Art of Positivity!

Is there such a thing as a mistake?

There’s a philosophical question if there ever was one!

Maybe everything really IS always working out perfectly…

Sometimes it feels hard to know but loving the artfulness of an attitude of positivity, I would have to choose to say, ‘yes to perfection!’

As Einstein said ‘The most important decision in life is to decide whether it is a friendly or a hostile Universe!’

So when I am hurt, pissed off, angry, disappointed, scared, sick or injured, everything is working out perfectly…

And when I am happy, contented, joyous, healthy, laughing and full of beans it is too…

Whether a painting is going well or badly in entirely subjective.

It’s the Yin Yang, the ‘and but’ of life – holding duality in one’s mind and seeing, or aiming to see, an ever expanding bigger picture. 

It’s bloody challenging at times! 

One way of finding out whether one’s thinking about something is unhelpful is to ask the question that author Byron Katy works so brilliantly with ‘Is it true?’ 

Try it next time you find your thinking in a bit of a negative rut. 

When you really look at the question there is always more than one answer, which in itself is liberating as it allows ease and freedom, a state which in itself is ever potentially creative.

Take it easy!

Love Kirsten

Two paintings I had a lot of fun with… Maisie and Action Man. Yes, I have conversations with a bird called Action Man…

No! by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Board, 12 x 12 inches

Action Man by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Board, 12 x 12 inches

Lanark’s Closes – Astronomy, Magic, Superstitions and Alchemical Brews

The illustrations for Lanark’s Closes house a veritable ark, with two dogs, two magpies, a cat, lion, unicorn, horse, several chickens and an elephant! But I wanted to add some less obvious details too.

Astronomy – The drawing for Hunter’s Close shows a telescope pointing at Orion’s Belt. David Hunter was not only the first person to install electrical lighting in his shop in Lanark but an enthusiastic astronomer he was commissioned by the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh to make a telescope.

Locating Orion’s Belt is the easiest way to find Orion, the hunter. I chose Orion as a pointer to Lanark’s coat of arms with its two hunting dogs when the Forests of Lanark were Royal hunting grounds.

Orion’s Belt is also known in British folklore as Jacob’s Rod, Peter’s Staff, The Golden Yard-arm, The Ell, the Yard Wand, Our Lady’s Wand, the Magi, the Three King’s, the Three Mary’s or simply the Three Stars.

Magic – The dandelion clock in each drawing symbolises wishes and hopes for the future. Who hasn’t blown on a dandelion clock and made a wish? I believe in the power of positive thinking and positive intentions. Mind magic! We create our own reality with our thinking. Or as Einstein famously said “The most important decision is life is to decide whether it is a friendly or hostile Universe!”

The saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ was first recorded in by James Carmichael by Tinto in the 1700’s. In several drawings a magpie holds a single seed, the seed of a good idea is indeed magical.

Alchemical Brews – Brewery Close led to Gilroy’s, The Brewers. I decided to add the formula for brewing, or how to make a potion, to the drawing in the hope that it might interest someone. Brewed dandelions are an incredible medicine for lots of things too! For those who like a more simple brew, the kettle’s on in Ritchie’s Close!

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Superstition. Two magpies for joy appear in every drawing. Does anyone else say ‘Good morning Mr Magpie’ if they see a solitary magpie to counter ‘one for sorrow?’

The spider that appears in the window of McKenzies Close is not only a reference to the weaving industry but a money spider, creating abundance! One dead magpie lies on the floor, symbolising the demise of this once huge industry in Lanark.

Lucky horse shoes appear in the image for Duncan’s Close, which is also a reference to Riding the Marches every year during Lanimer week in order to retain Lanark’s Royal Burgh status. Duncan’s Close housed both smiths and stone masons. One dog has a paw on a March Stone showing the importance of the symbolic stone.

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Close Encounters opens today at 10am at the Tolbooth Lanark. The twelve original drawings for the street history panels are for sale alongside drawings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys.

Beware of Bull – Close Encounters with the Community Bull!

Bull’s Close, Lanark was so named as it was where the community bull was historically kept. I love the idea of a community bull! It’s easy to forget that farm-yard animals, especially chickens, lived amongst people in towns.

During lockdown many people have returned to keeping chickens and growing their own vegetables, including me, and there are an increasing number of community gardens, which has to be a brilliant thing.

I’ve also noticed that during lockdown people seem to have got kinder too. Have you noticed that?

Truthfully, I’m dreading a return to noisy skies with people flying around the planet filling their bucket list! The only bucket I’m interested in is the one that holds black gold, ie compost and manure, and is used to grow plants and trees. Creativity not destruction!

My fantasy is a community art forest. The vision is that we plant native and hardwood trees and the forest has interesting art in it too, beautiful seating, planting that frames views… An inspiring place on many levels.

Anyone want to help make something like this happen locally? There will be plenty of enthusiasm!

Do you have a piece of land that would be suitable that they would like to put in trust for an Art Woodland/Forest? (‘You don’t get if you don’t ask!’ my grandmother told me!)

In Japan there is a new healing art called ‘Shirin Yoku’ aka Forest Bathing, where folk are encouraged to be in and with nature. What a brilliant idea. A forest heals people and the planet!

Writing about the community bull has inspired me to share my thoughts. Thank you bull! Slow down, be in nature, stay in your home area more as a long term decision, support local, plant trees…

There is so much beauty to explore locally. It’s not sustainable to run around the planet in crazy self serving ways for much longer!

We are the spoilt and spoiling generation!

Let’s not talk about ‘getting back to normal’ but create an extraordinary thoughtful future for all the young folk. It is terrible to know, from my visits to primary schools to talk to children about their vision for Lanark in the future, that these young souls are anxious about the planet’s future and feel helpless.

Close Encounters with the natural world is the way forward! Please do get in touch if you want to help me find a way to create an art forest for the future!

Love Kirsten and Lanark’s Community Bull!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Bull’s Close, Lanark.

Cobblers – More on Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

Lanark’s Closes led to a network of workshops and small businesses. Now they lead mainly to carparks, such is progress! I can’t help thinking, as an artist, that it is small businesses that help keep communities alive and vibrant. Lanark thrived as a market town for 600 years due, I am sure, to these small businesses.

Ritchie’s Close shows a tin smith at work, the tools of his trade around him. If you look closely, a door opens to a school room, once also in this close, with two children on their way to school. A tin kettle boils on an old stove and a tin mug sits on the windowsill.

Thomson’s Close shows both a public house and a coil of rope from the rope works that it led to. And yippee, I had managed to get a unicorn into the drawings. Happy me. The magpies fight over a bit of string, or is it a worm?

Thomson’s Close

McKenzies Close shows the weaving trade. Textiles have been hugely important in Lanark since Medieval times, with Unesco World Heritage site, New Lanark, just down the road. A spider’s web echoes the spinning theme.

McKenzie’s Close

Wide Close and Bernard’s Wynd both show the shoe industry. Next to the elephant in Wide Close a family look out from a shoe shop, and Bernard’s Wynd has the word ‘Cobblers’ in the window. I can’t resist a bit of humour in language. Bull’s Close, home to the community bull, has a sign with the words ‘Beware of Bull!’

By this time I had given myself the challenge that the name of each close should be somewhere in each drawing.

Bull’s Close
Bernard’s Wynd. Spot the Medieval window arches!

Supplying stout shoes to Glasgow and America – wouldn’t it be wonderful to see regular markets in the Castlegate again? They’ve been held there since Medieval times after all!

As I hope you can tell I had a lot of fun with these illustrations. The original drawings are for sale at The Tolbooth Lanark, if anyone would like to invest in a bit of Lanark’s history.

A lovely bonus to this illustration project has been getting to know Ronnie Cruwys of Drawing the Street who too has a passion for history and the clues of what went before us in our built environment. Ronnie has painted the backs of the closes. We hope to see you at Close (but not too close) Encounters!

Buns and Pies – More Waffle on Creating a Series of Illustrations

The commissioners had wanted a different type of art for the panels that were going to adorn the town – serious, proper art! I would have to hope that Lanark, which always seems a good humoured and chilled-out kind of town, would respond to a bit of quirky humour instead. It’s odd being second choice artist when you think the original choice of artist was better qualified for the job too. That very human odd couple, ego and self doubt, would have to leave the room before getting on with the job!

Veitch’s Close had been home to a popular baker.  I had already established my supporting cast of characters, (blog here) so warm Scotch pies and begging dogs for the next illustration. The dogs, that reoccur throughout the series, are taken from Lanark’s 600 year old heraldic coat of arms. I reckoned they must be hungry! 

The drawing is set in the 50’s when men wore flat caps and women scarves. After a year of lockdown hair – bring back the scarf! 

In the original drawing I messed up the spelling of the word ‘Scotch!’ Working in pen and ink, this is a disaster as it means redrawing the whole thing. Lovely Jenny at Lanarkshire Print House came to the rescue and deleted the clumsy word on photoshop, then posted out a print so I could rewrite ‘Scotch’ for the artwork to be printed onto the panels. Thank you Jenny!

My favourite bit in the drawing is the dog sniffing a chicken poking out of a women’s string bag. 

Hopefully the drawing gives a sense of gossip and chat as people queue for their buns and pies. Nothing much has changed has it? We’re still prepared to queue for a warm Scotch pie!

Close Encounters opens on the 26th of April at The Tolbooth Lanark. All twelve original artworks for the Lanark Closes street art panels are available to buy alongside Ronnie Cruwys’s beautiful and atmospheric paintings of the backs of the Closes.

Two Dogs, a Cat, Two Magpies and a Dandelion Clock – On Illustrating Lanark’s Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Closes I was provided with some factual info about their past. I love history so found it interesting but also dry, as these things often are. I needed to find a way to give the information some life through illustrations that hopefully both children and adults would enjoy.

I began by looking at Lanark’s heraldic shield. Lanark is a Royal Burgh. On its 600 year old heraldry I noticed two dogs. Here was the start of an idea.

Lanark had been royal hunting grounds in Medieval times so this is why, I presume, the dogs are on the shield. I decided the dogs would appear in each cartoon providing a bit of fun and mischief but also linking into the long past of Lanark. Six hundred year old dogs were going to be given a new lease of life and turned into cartoon characters.

Now I had dogs I wanted a cat for cat lovers. Around the corner from the high street is the statue of ‘The Girnin’ Dug.’ The local story of neighbourhood feuds involves a cat chase, so here was my cat.

One idea was leading to another but now I had a cat I wanted two birds. I chose two magpies to symbolise ‘two for joy’ as I wanted the panels to be positive for the town. Lastly, I added a dandelion clock.

Much of my artwork over the past few years has been inspired by the saying ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, which was first recorded by James Carmichael in his book of Scottish proverbs in 1628. The Carmichael lands lie just outside Lanark by Tinto Hill, from where the Clydesdale Horse originates too.

So the dandelion clock acts a kind of signature of my artwork plus referencing more local history, as well as a positive symbol of hope, wishes coming true and transformation.

The dandelion clock too as a reminder of the huge importance of wildflowers as pollinators for bees. I sincerely hope that people will stop seeing dandelions as weeds but as the miraculous plants they are!

Now I had a cast of characters to use in each panel to link the Close illustrations together and attempt to bring to life the hustle and bustle of a busy market town over the centuries.

The historical facts could now wrap around these repeating elements. I really hope locals and visitors to Lanark enjoy the set of 12 drawings. Here is the first pre – drawing I made to bring the dogs to life.

I think we need to name Lanark’s two dogs!?

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The original artwork is going on exhibition and is also for sale, including this first pre project drawing of the heraldic shield …

Open Wide – More on Illustrating Lanark’s Medieval Closes

When I was asked to illustrate the history of Lanark’s Medieval Closes, for information panels to be displayed in the street, I was shocked, to say the least! I am definitely not known for images of buildings! Animals yes, dandelion clocks yes, horses yes, buildings, no! Perspective, Argh! ‘Steer clear’ has always been my motto!

I suggested another local artist but was told that she’d been asked and turned the job down saying she could draw buildings but felt she didn’t have the imagination to bring the history to life. So number 2 choice happily said ‘yes’! A job during lockdown and a challenge sounded more than fantastic!

It was obviously time to learn to draw buildings, take on perspective and create narratives. Sack the perfectionist, I decided, and create some comedy and fun to illuminate the history. A bit of possibly dodgy perspective wouldn’t matter and at least there was an elephant in one of the histories so I knew I would be able to do that!

The backside of the elephant was no problem having painted hundreds of elephants. I decided an elephants bum was funnier than a head poking out of the Close. Cartooning people in historically apt costume made me smile and wonder about the lives of folk in the past. So just a matter of some windows and an arch. Bingo!  First one done.

I realised this project was already a lesson to learn not to say ‘I can’t’ do something, ie draw buildings, just because I’ve never done it before! How often do we do that in life? Anyone relate? My mind and art were being opened wider by the Wide Close.

Wide Close was one of the gates to Lanark when it was a Medieval walled town and has a much bigger opening than any of the other Closes because of this.

So why an elephant in central Scotland? Here is the story from a book written in 1895 for anyone who plays the lottery or like me, loves elephants.

I haven’t rewritten it as the style it is written in is a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy the story. 

Close Encounters opens 26th April at the Tolbooth Lanark. The original illustration are for sale with a certificate of authenticity. There are only 12 illustrations up for grabs and 12 paintings of the backs of the Closes by Ronnie Cruwys. Her paintings remind me of Van Gogh. Just fabulous! Poster below.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you at this celebration of a little bit of the history of the Royal Burgh of Lanark.

Time Passages

Medieval Lanark – a walled town

The Tolbooth on the left. Notice the thatched Medieval cottage to the left of that

I love the idea of time travel – finding portals that allow you to travel into a history that’s still alive through fragments in the environment. Clues like echoes or ghosts of souls that trod before us. 

Lanark has twelve remaining Medieval public waythrough ‘time passages’ in the form of Closes (covered alleyways) from the High Street, then the King’s Highway.

Two years ago I visited 5 local primary schools and did a ‘town planning’ art project with the children. The children were asked how Lanark could be a better place. Classroom teachers then developed the ideas with the children which led to a wonderful exhibition at The Tolbooth.

Linking ideas of art, history, landscape, street design, architecture, environment, play, nature, gardens and community…  the children worked individually and in groups and came up with BRILLIANT ideas.

Seriously, I think children should have more of a say in the decisions that go on in the community. Their ideas were both creative and imaginative as well as thoughtful and loving, showing a high level of concern for others and the environment. 

One simple recurring theme was that Lanark’s Closes were dark and scary. Since then the Closes have been sympathetically painted in a light colour and lighting has been installed. During lockdown I was commissioned by Discover Lanark to illustrate the history. The panels were put up in town a month ago. 

Bull’s close, where the town’s community bull was kept! The Tolbooth is at the white building at the bottom of the high st

Each panel has information about the history, and ‘underground’ type map and an illustration that I hope is a ‘time passage’ in itself. Hopefully children will no longer find the closes scary but find humour and a history treasure trail in the drawings.

The more I looked the more I found. If you look at the entrance of Bernard’s Wynd, the entrance is set back to the level of the original Medieval wall. The higgledy piggledy Medieval town was later straightened out with buildings required to be built forward into a straight line.

Interesting to note how the Tolbooth still sticks out. Perhaps it was too important at the time to be changed. I believe it was council rooms then! Although looking at the thatched buildings in the old postcard it looks as though there may have been a close running in that direction that was built over when straightening occurred. Just noticing that now looking at the postcard in the context of the closes. More clues! Love it!

The line of the enclosed Medieval building at Bernard’s Wynd continues through the inside of The Horse and Jockey pub next door. Will definitely need to go and check that out when doors open.

At the back of Bernards Wynd are stone remnants of two arched Medieval windows, the house where William Wallace is believed to have stayed while in Lanark.

The Tolbooth is opening with Close Encounters on 26th April to celebrate Lanark’s historic past.

Exhibited will be 12 beautiful atmospheric paintings depicting the backs of the Closes by restoration architect turned painter, Ronnie Cruwys of Drawing the Street and the 12 original illustrations for the street panels. Plus historic photographs will be shown on the screen.

All original artwork is for sale – twenty four opportunities to invest in a little bit of Lanark’s history!

Ronnie and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Thanks for reading

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

See all the close images below poster…

Spring – The March Hare

This painting started as one thing and became something completely different.

It was inspired by seeing a hare and spring springing in the garden with the first snowdrops and an incredible blood orange snow moon at the beginning of the week. The idea of life’s potential about to burst forth, almost vibrating with energy yet still contained by winter’s chill.

This painting emerged over 5 intense days. It wasn’t planned. Or rather I had a plan and it went in a completely different direction.

It is loosely divided into the four elements –

Earth, the hare and dandelion clocks.

Fire, the sun and eye.

Water, the sea and fish and

Air, the dragonfly and seeds.

I allowed myself to stay in not knowing where I was going and enjoy exploring acrylic on board.

Some symbolism –

The Hare – rebirth, resurrection, dawn, fertility, spring, immortality. A hare or maybe the white rabbit of the magician?

The Dragonfly – wisdom, light, transformation, adaptability. Connecting with our own courage, bringing more joy into our lives. A pollinator.

The Fish and Sea – flow, fertility, swimming your own course despite the currents. Environmental awareness.

The Teardrop or Raindrop – My grief for how we treat nature, desiring to do more to help. Renewal, cleansing, healing.

The Webs – The interconnectedness of all things. The importance of insects and pollinators. Creation. The spider spinning magic, connected to the number 8, the sign of infinity. Beginnings and endings being interconnected. Life and death.

The Moon – Tides, time, seasons. The feminine.

The Dandelion Clocks and Seeds – hope, new beginnings, abundance. Wishes and the magic of life. Wishing to plant more trees this spring to allow the magic of nature to flourish.

Toadstools – altered states of consciousness, seeing beyond the mundane.

The Eye – seeing the truth, seeing beyond illusion, the eye of god, being alive. The great mystery of life! There is a trinity here too with a creature of the air, earth and sea, each with an eye, yet the smallest one, the dragonfly has a human eye. We need to take responsibility for what we are doing! I remember as a child that when we went out on a Sunday in my dads car the windscreen would be covered in insects. Now that never happens. With no insects we have no life on Earth.

Not too much symbolism in this painting then! I didn’t realise I had painted so much in until writing this blog. I definitely had fun painting it. At one point I had painted a horse, deer, badger, highland cow, cat and a random fried egg in the scene, but they all got painted out.

Spring – The March Hare, Acrylic on Board, 50 x 60 cm

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Nineteen

Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,

And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.

Give up kindness, renounce morality,

And men will rediscover filial piety and love.

Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,

And bandits and thieves will disappear.

These three are outward forms alone: they are not sufficeint in themselves.

It is more important

To see the simplicity,

To realise one’s true nature,

To cast off selfishness

And temper desire.

LAO TSU

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The Tao Te Ching is loaded with ideas so selecting what resonates.

‘To realise one’s true nature’

I think that art is a kind of seeking of one’s self. I guess it’s what motivates to keep making artwork. The joy of ‘Aha’ moments, happy accident, skills coming together, letting go. The pure sensory pleasure of colour or paint on canvas. The thrill of an abstact line turning into something recognisable. The expression of pure feeling…

Great week in the studio resolving problem paintings – the also rans in the reject pile. Quite a big reject pile – I seem to have a lot of problems, some going back ten years!

I want to clear my studio to really learn how to work in non-toxic acrylic paint. So resolving oil paintings seemed like a good plan and instead of wanting to burn the problem paintings I felt on fire this week.

It would appear artists creates problems to solve. A crazy game but the best fun when it comes together.

Simple ideas applied – design, differences and values.

The work came alive and with it me too!

It’s the best feeling being in the zone. Dubbed the zone by children I taught Alexander Technique to at school discovering it was something they could access for themselves through a bit of Alexander Technique ‘forward and up’ thinking. A real ‘life skill’. I used to feel on fire every time I taught.

Today – intention to pack my oils to the shed and create space for acrylics! This is BIG! This is putting myself into being a beginner as I really don’t like acrylics or know what they can do but my lungs really, really don’t like oil paint!

I am finally motivated to give acrylics a real go, rather than simply fiddle half heartedly.

Beginners mind! The first three ‘give up’s’ in this verse perhaps instructions as to how to find it!?

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These four paintings of speeding cheetahs were part of a series I did about ten years ago and had got stuck with. Happy with the energy in them now, and they definitely portray the feel of shifting forward and my ignited energy this week. Although they don’t really represent themes I am interested in painting now, my ‘finisher/completer’ is doing a happy dance!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Eighteen

When the great Tao is forgotten,

Kindness and morality and arise.

When wisdom and intelligence are born,

The great pretence begins.

When there is no peace within the family,

Filial piety and devotion arise.

When the country is confused and in chaos,

Loyal ministers appear.

LAO TSU

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When The Tao is forgotten…

I didn’t write for the last two days as have been totally absorbed in problem solving shelved paintings, as well as trying to come to terms with acrylic paint. Everything else forgotten.

I have felt stuck in a rut for so long that I wanted to keep pushing through.

Breakthroughs appearing through just staying with it. 12 hour days painting. My arm is sore today so a day off I think.

Painted over some landscapes that I didn’t like. Adding drama though rethinking the design and contrasts.

Lots in the last two days feel like jumping off places to move forward. Will share more discoveries tomorrow. Today my little landscape reworks… I am feeling breakthroughs in these so looking forward to exploring landscape from start and not as paint overs but really need to rethink oil paints as my lungs not happy. So exploring mode – open to chaos to find a new way forward in art and life.

(Just remembered my dream. I was walking up a hill and something was pushing my up. An invisible hand on my back giving me momentum and energy. The hill was overlooking Princess St Gardens in Edinburgh but wasn’t Edinburgh.

The night before I dreamt dad was telling me he had bought a castle up North for us, the oldest castle in Scotland, and I had to go and find it. I did and it was part of a restaurant in a modern ugly shopping centre! The ancient huge hearth and old stone walls were still visible. The restaurant was being done up, so in chaos.)

****

Tao Te Ching – Sixteen

Empty yourself of everything.

Let the mind rest at peace.

The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.

They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.

The way of nature is unchanging.

Knowing constancy is insight.

Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.

Knowing constancy, the mind is open.

With an open mind, you will be openhearted.

Being openhearted you will act royally.

Being royal you will attain the divine.

Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

LAO TSU

****

I’ve spent a few days sketching ideas for the mural, but I think writing down what I want to achieve might start to clarify ‘ten thousand things!’

So, what do I want to say? My Shirley Valentine wall moment!

Vibe – fun and magical, a place where the children can find imaginative freedom. Smile generator.

Scale – The bigger I can make it the more impact and fun. Need scaffolding! Wheelchair height detailed elements, bigger shapes higher up.

Comical elements – in the form of good ideas and the way I draw – expressions, action etc

About – the natural world and freedom of imagination

Incorporates – wildlife, trees, flowers, animals, birds, insects and perhaps a magical unicorn too. So much potential as to what to paint and how to paint it that the ‘ten thousand things’ become overwhelming. Let ideas rise and fall until I see what is left. I love the words in this verse – ‘the way of nature.’

The Way of Nature – a working title for the wall!

3d elements – planters planted with brightly coloured real flowers. Real nesting boxes attached to drawings of the trees. Eric said he would make some boxes. Could attach bird or other cut out shapes to the front of the boxes, so the nesting holes became mouths. Other 3d ideas?

Colour – Paint the walls a colour first. Get rid of the white! Maybe section areas into key colour elements and get help from the groundsmen to do the big painting job! Good plan. Pale greens and blues for one wall. Maybe reds and brights for the other.

I am realising that good planning is key to the success of this

So here is a thing –

Anxiety, caused by living in the future!

Depression, caused by living in the past!

Creativity, freed by living in the moment!

So my task is to keep staying present with ideas and let them come. That presence is what I think is meant be ‘constancy’ in the verse.

The wall will start to come alive with the planning I do now. Keep planning! Enjoy the planning! It’s a learning curve.

I’ve noticed moments of anxiety over the past couple of days when I jump too far ahead with the project and moment of feeling low when I think because I’ve never done a huge mural before I’m not capable. Past and future mind games. Best avoided by noticing and letting go. Lying in Alexander Technique Constructive Rest for a few minutes usually changes my mind!

This mural is a wonderful challenge – learning loads already.

So another thing – fear and excitement are much the same feeling. Label this excitement, so as not to keep hitting the wall!

Photo – second wall that I can paint.

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Fifteen

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.

The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.

Because it is unfathomable,

All we can do is describe their appearance.

Watchfull like men crossing a winter stream.

Alert, like men aware of danger

Courteous, like visiting guests.

Yielding, like ice about to melt.

Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.

Hollow, like caves.

Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?

Who can remain still until the moment of action?

Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfilment.

Not seeking fulfilment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

LAO TSU

****

‘Who can wait quietly while the mud settles. Who can remain still until the moment of action?’ Lao Tsu

Find poise. Poise before action. Calm before the event. Preparation to move forward with ease by coming from the still point. Wait quietly in this time of Covid.

Good idea!

Patience. One step at a time: keep planning the mural. It doesn’t have to be that ideas are formed today, this is a process. A challenging one.

Thumbnails of birds, quietly and quickly drawing by the kitchen door. Committing not to invent lines but to simply observe and move on, looking for the essence of form. Looking for bird characters to imprint on my mind, potential candidates for the wall. Seeking fluency. Woodpeckers, robins, a blackbird, sparrows, tits. Then the crows arrived.

It’s surprisingly tiring to draw like this.

Later a quick stream of consciousness sketch. Ten minutes. Allowing the pencil to flow without thinking about where it’s going. No need for completion or good drawing. Shapes becoming form. Owls appeared.

Later I got muddied. Felt overwhelmed again by the wall. ‘I can’t do it! I don’t know what to do that will look good! I’ll mess it up!’

I walked and spoke to a friend. She laughed out loud, hooting with mirth when I said I didn’t think I was capable. Thank you Woody, it helped!

I returned refreshed, thinking ‘just keep drawing birds.’ Birds for Valentine’s day. A lovely task for the day. Tweet, tweet, twit t’whoo!

Bird cartoons started to appear. Fluency allowing fluidity.

Evening, an idea for a 3d element: planters at wheelchair level, with birds (or other characters) painted underneath. Flowers, becoming hair or plumage. Small sensory gardens. Something for the children to observe growing throughout the year and hopefully be able to engage with. A detail in a bigger picture.

A quick scruffy maquette made with a toilet roll and a couple of scraps of card. It took all day to hatch an idea to develop for the children. I love that the birds brought flowers on Valentines day and true to the verse, the snow began to melt.

****

Having fun now…

Tao Te Ching – Fourteen

Look, it cannot be seen – it is beyond from.

Listen, it cannot be heard – it is beyond sound.

Grasp, it cannot be held – it is unintelligible.

These three are indefinable:

Therefore they are joined as one.

From above it is not bright;

From below it is not dark:

An unbroken thread beyond description.

It returns to nothingness.

The form of the formless,

The image of the imageless,

It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.

Follow it and there is no end.

Stay with the ancient Tao,

Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of the Tao.

LAO TSU

***

I started to think in earnest about how to achieve a huge mural in the spring. Something I’ve not done before. I visualised standing before it smiling, a photo being taken, the children happy, inspired. Creative visualisation before the event.

And then an epiphany walking past two big paintings on my wall.

‘Just be you! Paint your art!’

It doesn’t sound much of an epiphany, but it’s as though I had blocked the flow thinking I should be someone else ie a mural artist who knows what she is doing!

The epiphany said – let it flow, it will come, you cannot push water into the pool, it flows into the pool and becomes a pond. You can do this.

I walked, feeling excited, laughing at my own idiocy. Biting wind, drifting snow. Then started drawing out ideas, letting them flow. I know now that it will come together and I will enjoy the process, no longer scared and overwhelmed. It’s as though I have found the straight line, the path, my brain no longer bouncing from side to side with possibilities.

The straight line – self worth.

‘Stand before it there is no beginning

Follow it there is no end.’

Later a conversation with an artist friend and a penny dropping. A great big AHA moment.

Me – You’re the queen of perspective

Ronnie – I just think of a clock face

Me – (penny dropping) OMG, I CAN do perspective. A clock face, that’s BRILLIANT!

I am looking forward to drawing from life today, playing with the clock face. And to continue letting ideas flow for the wall.

Tao Te Ching – Ten

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,

Can you avoid separation?

Attending fully and becoming supple,

Can you be as a newborn babe?

Washing and cleansing the primal vision,

Can you be without stain?

Loving all men and ruling the county,

Can you be without cleverness?

Opening and closing the gates of heaven,

Can you play the role of woman?

Understand and being open to all things,

Are you able to do nothing?

Giving birth and nourishing,

Bearing yet not possessing,

Working yet not taking credit,

Leading yet not dominating,

This is the Primal Virtue.

LAO TSU

****

One line – ‘Are you able to do nothing?’

The art of non doing – Alexander Technique.

Tired yet still striving. Why?

Lockdown with no job, yet restlessly pursuing. What?

The how to finding flow – stopping!

If I didn’t have animals I would have stayed in bed.

To do nothing

Or to non do and allow. Trust.

To be, not being lazy.

Walk Maisie. Slow down enough to see. Walking the question ‘are you able to do nothing?’

On the way home – a zero in the snow. And then a spiral.

81 verses in the Tao.

8 – infinity.

1 – at one, the one…

The infinite feel that is present within each of us when we let go. The feel of the infinite – Alexander Technique hands on, riding in balance, a spiral, simply walking the snow.

‘Everything that lives and breathes and moves, lives and breathes and moves spriallically.’ Don Burton

*****

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Translation of The Tao Te Ching – Gia-Fu Feng, Jane English

Tao Te Ching – Five

Heaven and earth are ruthless;

They see ten thousand things as dummies.

The wise are ruthless;

They see people as dummies.

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.

The shape changes but not the form;

The more it moves, the more it yields.

More words count less.

Hold fast to the centre.

LAO TSU

****

The verse made me think of the sea, the wind, the forces of nature. Another windy bitterly cold day. I felt tired, low.

I found abandoned paintings of seashells in my studio and reworked the small canvases into seascapes.

I wondered why I had given myself the task of going through the Tao Te Ching, The Book of the Way. But I feel rudderless, drifting, and the words are considered sacred, holding meaning to be understood. It is a way to learn from – lessons in the flow of nature.

Does the word dummy means quiet?

or

People are foolish how we treat the planet, dummies indeed.

‘The more it moves the more it yields’ an Alexander Technique like phrase. When we fix our bodies we become stuck in our attitudes, our emotions, our life. Most people are fixed, held together by tension. ‘Yield’ yet ‘hold fast to centre’. Move from the balance point that aligns everything. It is so simple yet a challenge to return to.

I miss the children I used to teach, I miss teaching.

‘The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows’ – the tides, the tides of breath. A sea shell washed up on the shore.

‘The shape changes but not the form.’ We are all connected by breath, by life, on our small precious planet. Now more than ever we should see this truth!

***

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Tao Te Ching – Four

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used but it is never filled.

Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!

Blunt the sharpness,

Untangle the knot,

Soften the glare,

Merge with dust.

Oh, hidden deep but ever present!

I do not know from whence it comes.

It is the forefather of the emperors.

Four Feathers, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 40 cm
Letting Go, Ink and Acrylic on Paper

Tao Te Ching – Three

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarrelling.

Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.

Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.

If people lack knowledge and desire, then intellectuals will not try to interfere.

If nothing is done, then all will be well.

LAO TSU

****

Feather Study, Acrylic on Canvas

Feathers, found treasures. Still Life.

Painting, I thought about friends in hospital. The feathers became angels sending healing – a wing, a prayer, a focus to mediate on, to stay steady and send love. Feathers holding light, air, space.

A long day painting, absorbed by delicacy.

I read the text many times, ‘strengthening bones’ resonated.

Wing feathers flying through the air. Miracle structures. Lifting up.

Walking to strengthen bone…my injured foot, delicate but functional.

The day was cold, bitter. I didn’t walk.

Maisie, my dog, didn’t want to be out in the day more than necessary either.

Swan Feather, Acrylic on Canvas
Feather Study 2 – Acrylic on Canvas

Tao Te Ching – Two

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.

All can know good as good only because there is evil.

Therefore having and not having arise together.

Difficult and easy compliment each other.

Long and short contrast each other;

High and low rest upon each other;

Voice and sound harmonise each other;

Front and back follow each other.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.

The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,

Creating, yet not possessing,

Working, yet not taking credit.

Work is done, then forgotten.

Therefore it lasts forever.

LAO TSU

***

Heat, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 30 cm

The words seemed like the point of a pen becoming a line then getting tangled to make a shape before remerging as a straight line and coming to rest. Quick drawings, concentrating. One line drawings.

Later in the day, the sun shone and although temperatures are still well below freezing I wanted to paint in oils, to unleash some emotion. My unheated studio was so cold I painted really quickly looking for the essence of the subject. A hot subject and a subject endlessly challenging – zebras – the horse with stripes.

During the day my mind swung from thinking that being inspired by the Tao was a brilliant idea and perfect learning, inspiration and guidance for now and the horrors of covid to being utterly pretentious. But the games of contrast the mind plays are in this verse so… onwards…. with gratitude for a quiet life and life itself.

Stay safe,

Love Kirsten

https://www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

TAO TE CHING – A Journey

Maybe, like me, you feel you need some wisdom and guidance in your life right now but don’t know where to turn or who to turn to. I suspect I am not alone in feeling somewhat lost. Yesterday I picked up the Tao Te Ching from my book shelf.

Reading the first few verses I had a thought that I would like to see if I can do a drawing responding to each verse over the next weeks. There are 81 verses.

This ancient text seems like the perfect wisdom to the challenges of the present time. Letting the verses inspire through drawing seems like a perfect way to aim to embody some of this wisdom.

Lao Tsu, was an older contemporary of Confucius, and keeper of the imperial archives at Loyang in the province of Hunan in the sixth century BC. Taoism is concerned with spiritual levels of being. It has been translated more frequently than any other book than the Bible. The edition I am using is translated by Gia-Fu Feng.

I have no idea where this art journey will go and I set off with trepidation and excitement, and trying to let go of any fear of not doing justice to such a timeless text but just to try and be with the words for the next 81 days or so. Yesterday I thought I would be doing a 28 day project, but it just got wings!

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu

ONE

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.

These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gate to all mystery.

TAO TE CHING – Lao Tsu

Egg Pyramid by Kirsten Harris

I made the egg shapes dipping the inners of toilet rolls into ink and printing them. They seem to make the perfect egg! Who knew?

Half a Dozen Eggs by Kirsten Harris
or The Tao Te Chicken!

Mountain Art

Glencoe Mountain Rescue by Kirsten Harris, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 80 cms approx

A few years ago I started chatting to a random stranger parked next to me. He was fixing a cable to the front of his Land Rover and talked about fundraising for Glencoe Mountain Rescue to buy them a new Land Rover. His friend had recently tragically died in the mountains. I spontaneously offered to paint something to auction towards the fundraising. This is the painting.

The book cover is something I drew at the start of this year for my good friend Susan, who has climbed every Monroe in Scotland. The Aonach Eagach is, apparently, one of the scarier mountains to climb!

Though I suspect my relationship with mountains will be largely artistic, I thought I would bring Susan’s book together with the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Land Rover painting.

We are so lucky here in Scotland to have such an amazingly stunning landscape and brave volunteers who are willing to risk their own lives when walkers get into trouble in the mountains.

Link to Susan’s book here, recounting some of her adventures hill walking in Scotland.

Swimming the Aonach Eagach by Susan Jack

Available on Amazon

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

How to Fail as an Artist! 12 Fool Proof Steps to Failure!

Sometimes I have a dreadful sense of humour but I guess it’s good I can still make myself smile. So here is – How to fail as an artist! 12 fool proof steps to failure!

  1. Don’t finish anything. It’s safest to not start at all.
  2. If you make the mistake of starting don’t show anything to anyone.
  3. Think everything you do is terrible.
  4. Develop worry while you paint, especially whether people will like your art or not. This will help you mess things up.
  5. Think everything you do should be a masterpiece and then despair that it isn’t and give up.
  6. Copy other artists artwork or style. Definitely DO NOT develop your own style on any account or there is a distinct danger of failing at failing.
  7. Compare yourself to other artists, preferably negatively then beat yourself up for being a useless artist. Even better if you broaden that to being a useless human being. Who needs artists anyway!?
  8. Refuse to sell anything and/or don’t put prices on your art. This is a moot point as you won’t have shown your art to anyone so it shouldn’t ever become a problem.
  9. Don’t take any risks with your art and definitely do not experiment with art materials! You don’t want to accidentally succeed!
  10. Be scared to waste materials. In fact fear is an excellent emotion to develop to guarantee failure. White paper is very scary after all and art materials are scarily expensive! Best to just leave them be, they’re doing no harm sitting in the cupboard.
  11. Procrastinate. That kitchen junk drawer really does need tidying up!
  12. Most importantly, absolutely refuse to believe in yourself so that you don’t happen upon your own confident style. Follow the first eleven steps and this one should be easy!

For goodness sake do not sign up to my blog or you might get more of this nonsense!

Just kidding…

Stay well, stay safe and stay creative.

Love

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Ear Worm

I have an ear worm that I want to clear.

In conversation a friend said she feels she is not a successful artist if she has doesn’t sell and has art ‘hanging around’.

A worm lodged and started to grow. The little wormy voice started telling me I am not successful because I have not been making an effort to sell and have a Covid cancelled exhibitions worth of art stuffed into every nook and cranny of my home.

My wardrobe is full of paintings. Clothes? Who need clothes, art lives in wardrobes! My spare room, stuffed to the gunnels, no friends can visit anyway. Brimming cupboards, heaving drawers of drawings, framed paintings tucked under the bed, every wall space full. In fact my walls look as though an army of worms has attacked there are so many nail holes from hanging and rehanging over the years. 

But truth be told, since Covid I haven’t felt right about proactively marketing my work. I have sold a few pieces when people have approached me, and exhibited in one group show locally when lockdown eased, but somehow, rightly or wrongly, I have had the idea that I shouldn’t expect other people to put themselves at risk delivering parcels for me, and stay home meant stay home. I even produced a calendar that I decided to postpone until 2022. I have also been shielding my mum in her 80’s.

But I want to release the ear worm that is telling me I am not successful because I have a house full of art. Insidious little beastie begone!

I started to wonder if art actually exists if it’s under the bed, or in a cupboard? Does art only exist if it is seen, like Shrodinger’s cat?  And even, due to lack of space, should I stop painting and do something else?

Or is the purpose of art the glimpses at the mysteries of life that one experiences in it’s making? I think success for me this morning as I aim to let go of the poky little ear worm is that I wake up and want to paint and draw and for that I am grateful.

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and the voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh.

‘Oh No!’ Oil on Canvas by Kirsten Harris
This was painted and sold years ago, but feels apt!

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

In Praise of Chickens

2020 is summed up by the word chicken for me. Just before lockdown I bought two from the farm up the road. Enter Bunty and Jinty. Red, next doors hitherto quiet cockerel (I didn’t know they still had one) soon appeared cock-a-doodling joyously on the fence and pretty soon there were chicks. Gorgeous, fluffy, miraculous chicks. 

My previous encounter with chicks was on a school trip with the nuns to Greece in the 70’s. It was Easter. Chicks were being sold on street stalls in plastic see through eggs with little air holes in. I bought one and called in Henrietta, after one of the nuns, which led to an encounter nun wrath.

Any ex convent girls out there will know that nun wrath is not a pretty sight! Red faced, shaking with rage, after a lot of furious berating, Sr Hen pinched me hard telling me to cry and dragged me back to the stall to return dear sweet Henrietta and get my money back. Naughty me, I am still laughing.

Most of 2020 was spent building things for chickens, a chicken circus of ideas to amuse (me mainly) plus attempting to keep the hens from escaping their field, finding them escaped, bribing them back home, drawing them, watching chicks grow and generally marvelling at these wonderful, generous birds that used to be worshiped and are now treated so miserably so often in our society. 

Now the chickens are in avian lockdown. I didn’t mind me being locked down but felt mighty miffed at Bunty, Jinty, Barbie, Cindy and Action Man’s liberty being curtailed. No more running around the paddock for the cheerful chooks.

Have you ever seen a chicken run? They’re comical and chickens are much more obedient than my dog, Maisie, which wouldn’t be hard –  the chickens actually come when I call. They are now enclosed in a crazy sculptural run made from an old poly tunnel sliced in half, lengthwise and attached to the side of my house with a tunnel to it from their existing roost.  Looks mad, but hey ho, it’s temporary and works and was free to make, entirely constructed with someone’s chucked out stuff. 

So, whilst I marvel and feel somewhat in awe at how others have embraced online teaching and learning, online exhibitions, online meetings and somehow found a new way forward via online and I haven’t and feel like a Luddite and a bit lost with finding my way forward in the new paradigm, I want to start 2021 in praise of chickens, because they really did keep me amused and busy all year, and I’m truly grateful for that. 

Here is a small selection of some chicken art made in 2020 …

2021 – Let’s make it a clucking good one!

Happy New Year

Love Kirsten and the chickens xx

Chicken Love, Chalk Paint on Board by Kirsten Harris
Learning to Fly by Kirsten Harris
Black and White print available
Chicken Rhythms by Kirsten Harris Chalk Paint on Board
Bunty, Chalk paint on board
Chicken Halloween by Kirsten Harris
Print Available
hawser
The Chicken Circus by Kirsten Harris
Chicken Thumbprints by Kirsten Harris
Watercolour on Paper
I love you by Kirsten Harris
Chalk Paint on Board

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

The Girnin Dug

Camp, The Girnin Dug

Lanark is home to a nearly 200 year old statue of a  dog called Camp, known locally as The Girnin Dug. 

Camp, a large black and white dog, was the beloved companion of Deacon John McDonald, deacon of the dyers trade.

As a sign of wealth, merchants would aspire to a town house in the Medieval Castlegate, at the foot of the high street. Building his town house, Deacon McDonald found his neighbour, Miss Mary Inglis of Vere House, objecting to both his new house and his loyal but boisterous dog, Camp.

One day in hot pursuit of a cat, Camp knocked over Miss Inglis in the street.  Shortly after Camp was found poisoned. Miss Inglis was the prime suspect. 

Deacon McDonald used art as revenge. Saying nothing to Miss Inglis he instead commissioned a snarling, grimacing, gurning stone statue of his faithful friend, which he erected on the gable end of his new house, staring directly into Miss Inglis’s morning room, her favourite place to sit and watch the world go by. 

Local legend says Miss Inglis eventually blocked up the window. The Girnin Dug still girns at 15 Castlegate.  Vere House is demolished. 

20-20 Vision – Eye Level – Dogs

20-20 Vision – Eye Level – Dogs is based on my wee scruffy designer mongrel Maisie, aka Crazy Maisie, who inspired a previous blog 101 Life Lessons from my Dog, link here. I was Maisie’s third home as a 12 week puppy. She was, to say the least, hyper active – literally bouncing off the wall. I love her to bits! She is now six. During lockdown I spent a lot of time clipping her with a tiny pair of scissors and drawing her too.

This collection were all drawn from life in the garden over several days during lockdown, April – May 2020. I admire Picasso’s fluid line drawings – the way he makes a simple line look so easy as it flows out, the result of years of observations and skilled hand to eye coordination. It ain’t easy, I got better as the days progressed.

***

24. Flat Out by Kirsten Harris, Postcard size, Ink on White card. £20
25. Eye Level by Kirsten Harris, Original Drawing. Postcard size, £20
Cultivate Fascination, A5 Print £10
Spring is Magical Pen and Watercolour, A5, £30
Follow Your Nose, Pen and Ink, A5 Size, £25
Playing Ball in Fun, Pen and Watercolour, A5, £35
Silence Speaks Volumes, Pen and Watercolour, A5 size, £35
Meditating is Bliss, Pen and Watercolour, £40
Power Naps are Essential, Pen and Watercolour, £40
This is drawn on white paper despite the bluish tint on the photo
26. Postcard size original drawing. £20
27. Postcard size original drawing £20
28. Postcard size original drawing £20
29. Postcard size original drawing £20
To buy and keep Maisie in an endless supply of balls, email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld or PM me via my facebook page Kirsten Harris Art.
With very best wishes Kirsten and Crazy Maisie. x

Previous 20-20 blogs include The Power of Cow, Get Back on Your Unicorn and My Top Twenty Black and White Prints. More to follow – horses, cats and chickens soon. The original drawings in these blogs are not available elsewhere.

Lots of original paintings on my website. Thank you for looking. Kx

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Maisie ball in mouth, chasing a crow

20-20 Vision – My Top 20 Prints – Black and White

I thought I would make a blog collection of my favourite 20 prints, as part of my 20-20 blog series with a bit of info about the ideas behind each drawing. Seemed like an easy idea but it’s taken hours to put together.

Click on the titles, they will take you to the appropriate page on the website.

All prints are black and white. All hand signed and titled A4 size prints are £20/$26

So, as they say, at number one we have …but really in no particular order…

1 – If Wishes Were Horses – this drawing went viral. When I drew this image I thought it was a bit scratchy but was too tired to redraw the idea so posted it to my facebook page Kirsten Harris Art, where it flew into cyberspace and created a stir. Which goes to show how much I know about my own art!

If Wishes Were Horses

2 – Four Winds Medicine Wheel – I woke up one morning with this idea in my head, so jumped out of bed and drew it. The winds of creation, deep space, feathers and horses – light and power. Goodness knows what I had been dreaming about that night, but the image is like a portal, like sleep itself.

Four Winds Medicine Wheel by Kirsten Harris

3 – The Journey – I was invited to a hen party to zip wire in the forest. I found my body locking down which was horrible and embarrassing. I bowed out as the forming queue behind me didn’t allow the space enough space to process what was going on. How often do people push horses without giving them enough space to process what is being asked? This drawing is about how everyone, including horses, sometimes need time to find courage to move forward on the journey. As I drew I wondered which is the easier or harder choice – going down the pole or forward on the wire? Saying yes or saying no?

The Journey by Kirsten Harris

4 – In Our Hands – 5 horses balance on the finger tips. Life balances in our hands. Are our hands balanced or greedy and grasping?

In Our Hands by Kirsten Harris

5 – Trust – I hope this drawing speaks for itself?

Trust by Kirsten Harris

6 – The Guardians – I see a stand of pine trees from my studio. One day the trees seem to turn into horses and a new series of drawings and paintings emerged.

The Guardians by Kirsten Harris

7 How The Cat Got Nine Lives – A cat tries to catch dandelion clocks. Nine clocks in his paws and a dandelion seed cat in the wind. The cat is based on my neighbours cat, Orlando, who often watches what is going on at mine, perched on the fence.

How the Cat Got Nine Lives by Kirsten Harris

8 – How to Make a Dream Come True – I suspect at different times in life we have all experienced the different stages of the drawing, sometimes watching others longingly and sometimes the active participant.

How to Make a Dream Come True by Kirsten Harris

9 – The Magic Stop – A drawing for horse riders. Stopping a horse on an out breath, sensitivity and poise, forward and up into movement.

10 – Dawn Magic – I’m and early riser, I love the dawn, the quietness, the light, the cobwebs and dew. This drawing is the idea that all sorts of magic abounds before we wake up such as horses growing wings and walking on silken threads.

Dawn Magic by Kirsten Harris

11 – The Magic Forest – Magic is everywhere, horses know it, sense it in the wind and teach us dense humans too!

The Magic Forest

12 – Feel – Another drawing for riders. I used to have a cockatiel called Custard, a wonderful, incredibly tame bird who was given to me one night in a pub in the Welsh mountains and I took home on the train. The delicate light feel of a bird sitting on my finger, the feel of a horse balancing. I drew this with one hand, the other hand modelling for the drawing.

Feel by Kirsten Harris

13 – In Nature We Find Ourselves – this drawing is based on three old Scot’s pines at the end of my neighbours field. I have photographed them hundreds of times, usually from where the horse in the drawing is standing. The ‘three sisters’ are part of my daily winter walk, when the farmers cows are inside. I look forward to winter as this walk inspires me every day. The same walk with a different view each day.

In Nature We Find Ourselves by Kirsten Harris

14 – When Dreams Fly – When dreams and aspirations, hopes and wishes fly out into the world, magic happens. Make them good ones. Seeds like wishes can fly over mountains.

When Dreams Fly by Kirsten Harris

15 – Sky Horses – Feathers represent angels for many people, so horses and feathers seemed a perfect combination.

Sky Horses by Kirsten Harris

16 – Transformation From seeds to horses to seeds. Life is about continual transformation, one way or another, whether we like it or not, life is about change.

Transformation by Kirsten Harris

17 – Connections – Webs of muscles and connective tissue, webs of thought and direction, the intricate connections of the web of life. This drawing took some working out. It’s not been a popular seller as a print but I really like it, as it says a lot to me about thinking riding and spatial awareness in movement.

Connections by Kirsten Harris

18 – To Earth We Return

Life and death through the journey of a tree. Inspired by the old beech trees in this area of South Lanarkshire and a commitment to keep planting trees.

To Earth We Return by Kirsten Harris

19 – Heart Horse – This drawing uses heart shapes only to create the horses head. It took a bit of working out but I think it looks like a horse.

Heart Horse by Kirsten Harris

20 – The Witching Hour – Horse trees, cats, witches, horses, spider’s webs and an owl. I had great fun drawing this.

The Witching Hour

All prints – www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Prints are £20/ £30 – Click on the titles to go directly to my shop.

Thank you for looking!

My next 20-20 blog will be about unicorns, the symbol of Scotland with original sketches from £20.

Stay safe and

Best wishes, Kirsten x

Blog 1 – 20 -20 Vision The Power of Cow here

20-20 Vision – The Power of Cow

Tough at the Top by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
£20

I love drawing. It underpins everything. It’s a zone, a skill and a challenge. When the hand eye co-ordination works and the line really starts flowing drawing is a wonderful place to hang out. A place to realise ideas through images.

In 2019 everyone was talking about how wonderful 2020 would be, 20 – 20 vision and all that! It went a bit pear shaped but the year’s not over!

My new 2020 vision is a desire to make people smile with my art.

Winter has definitely arrived here. With the wild wind and the nights drawing in, an idea blew in a few days ago.

I will do themes for drawings. 20 at a time, priced from £20. Original art for the price of a print. First come first served!

I don’t tend to sell my original drawings, let alone for twenty quid, but these are extraordinary times and I feel inspired. I’m hoping to channel my inner Picasso, the master of the fluid line!

I feel more fired up with enthusiasm than I have been all year so I hope I will draw 2020 to an end with vision.

My first theme is – The Power of Cow

I have been drawing cows for 10 years. Cartoons, daft drawings, ideas and the odd oil painting of Highlanders in between. Selling my cow drawings online is new to me. Cows have always been local. My lovely vet, for example, has a collection of original cow cartoons.

Join me, support me, make a collection of original art. Why not?

20 – 20 themes that I intend to draw and explore include – horses, cats, chickens, dogs, unicorns, hares, birds, Christmas and angels… and who knows what else. 20 drawings on each theme, from £20. (26 US dollars)

I will post out original drawings worldwide. If you wish to follow me and make a collection over the next couple of months I can reserve drawings for you and post in one go if you like.

Postage and packaging will be charged at cost. Drawings will be no bigger than A4 size. Maybe original art for gifts this year?

Wish me a good fluid line and I hope we connect between now and the end of 2020!

2020 – you are a challenge! Well, I am setting myself a challenge that actually interests me, so there!

Stay safe, love Kirsten

To Laugh is Human, To Moo is Bovine by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
£20
Cow Therapy, Try Mooing by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Seriously, try mooing, it feels great. Lol
Cow vid Nineteen by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Gotta love a bad pun!
Mood Moosic by Kirsten Harris
£20
14.8 x 21 cms
Make Moosic by Kirsten Harris,
14.8 x 21 cms
£20
6 Cards with envelopes £10
Limited Stock
I Herd it Through the Bovine by Kirsten Harris
14.8 x 21 cms
Pen on Paper
£20

To buy just email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld.co.uk

Look out for my next 20-20 drawing project. I think I will be doing 20-20 Cats next. Sign up to my mailing list to be first in line or is that feline!

Stay safe, love Kirsten

Moon Cowlendar by Kirsten Harris
Pen on White Paper
21 x 29.7cm
£50

Email me at kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

I Miss You by Kirsten Harris
£20

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

COPYRIGHT

A Closer Look – A Photo Document of Lanark’s Closes

There’s so much history on the doorstep.

Not long after lockdown eased I decided it would be fun to take my eighty something mother, who had been shielding, on a tour of Lanark. She has only recently moved to the area. We decided to make a doorstep adventure.

Having once lived in York, I told mum that Lanark’s Closes are like York’s Shambles. Lanark’s Closes go back to the Medieval era too, so it seemed a reasonable if exaggerated comparison. Lanark’s Closes unlike York or Edinburgh’s Medieval narrow streets have been largely neglected. More buildings are scheduled to be knocked down to be turned into car parking or are in a perilous state!

One Sunday morning we had our first outing for months. It was an interesting walk. I took photos. We had a lovely morning looking for history by walking up and down the Closes, first one side of Lanark High street, and then the other.

Some Closes, I learned afterwards, are adopted way-throughs by the Council, others not. Other old alleys are now hidden behind locked doors to the High Street, so inaccessible.

Nowadays Lanark’s Closes seem to mainly lead to carparks. In the past they would have led to workshops and industries including breweries, skin works, rope makers, boot and shoe makers, public houses and more. So much history erased! But the evidence of activity and life through the centuries is still there if you take a closer look.

That evening I shared a few photos on my Facebook page and was amazed by the response including The Tolbooth Lanark asking to exhibit the images.

‘A Closer Look’ is this walk. My mother features on the poster for the Tolbooth exhibition, much to her amusement.

***

All photographs Copyright Kirsten Harris
Prints available on request

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

Artist Seeks Flow!

‘How the Cat Got Nine Lives’

Flow, we all want it, but can we always find it?

Flow, that wonderful feeling of ease and spontaneity, when life seems to magically take you forward. It feels great doesn’t it? And it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing because it all flows together seamlessly.

And then there’s the times when you wonder ‘where did the flow go?’ Things seem awkward, frustrating, uneasy, unsettling. Kind of like walking through thick mud and rough terrain, whilst getting caught on thorny branches. We try to grab at flow and it just doesn’t work!

So, how do you find flow?

Do you just make a start at something? Do you decide to have a day off, go for a walk or lie down and rest? Do you pray to the gods of flow to come to the rescue? Do you work on untangling yourself, finding easier ground to ‘walk’ or analysing the mental, emotional or physical blocks that are blocking the flow? Do you talk to a friend, tidy the house or set an intention?

All of these and more are no doubt good strategies…

Flow, when the paint is just the right consistency and applies to the surface with ease

Flow, when your hand draws well and lines have fluidity

Flow, when ideas simply arrive

Flow, when the painting takes you on an unexpected journey and tells you what to do

Flow, when your ego is sound asleep and you’re in the present moment, alive to the creative process not giving two hoots what the end result is

Flow, when you don’t run out of loo paper and have good food to eat!

Flow, when there is a sense of purpose in your art and you’re committed to it

Flow, when you trust the process and that and that alone is enough

Flow, when you allow life and creativity to happen

Flow, when you honour your voice and your life and don’t think it needs fixing or improving

Flow, accepting and enjoying what is

Flow the only way to go!

And here is the dictionary definition ‘…moving in a steady continuous stream or a supply of something…’

I love it!

Moving … steady… continuous… stream… Allowing a steady stream forward. Energy from within, energy from without… allowing the continuous supply of inspiration to move steadily through us…a stream of consciousness, like this blog! Trusting the rainy July Monday morning flow!

The Merlin Tree

This drawing is based on the wizard Merlin’s connections with Scotland. Legend tells that Merlin died at a small settlement called Merlindale at Drumelzier near Broughton, not far from where I live. This drawing is inspired by a visit last year.

About my drawing…

The three moons symbolise Merlin foretelling he would meet his end by threefold death – pierced by stake, suffering by stone and drowning by water.

Merlin is said to have died at the fork of the Powsail burn and the river Tweed, a beautiful magical place with a timeless atmosphere. An old thorn tree marks the spot, thus ‘The Merlin Tree.’ Certainly the name Merlindale appears on ancient maps, so who knows, maybe it is true.

Peering through the railings protecting the gnarled old tree, which replaces an earlier one blown down in a storm, it’s just possible to see a plaque, overgrown with nettles, commemorating Merlin’s death. I love the way Scotland, so rich in history, totally underplays such fabulous legends. You have to know how to find this place.

Tinnis Castle, an ancient hill fort, is in the background of the drawing. The story goes that Merlin fled from Tinnis before he was killed, having revealed a secret. I have used a bit of artistic license and relocated Tinnis geographically so it could be in the drawing, in reality it is behind the line of sight.

Three foxes form the trunk and deer make up its’s crown. These two animals are associated with the Merlin legend being the animals that Merlin is said to shape shift into. In Celtic mythology the fox represents quick thinking and wisdom as well as observing yourself and others whilst remaining unnoticed. The deer represents the gods of the forest and wild animals – the Celtic god, Cernunnos. Merlin was supposed to have spent many years wandering the forests of Scotland.

The wizard is also in the tree. The idea for this came walking in the fields behind my house when I spotted Merlin in a windswept beech tree and took the black and white photo below. I had walked past the tree hundreds of time and never noticed the figure.

Inspiration for The Merlin Tree. .
Nature says it so much better!

The foxes look towards Merlin for wisdom. The roots of the the tree and his hands are one and the same, connecting with the earth. His hands reach towards fungi, pointing towards shamanic altered states of consciousness, and of course I had to draw some dandelion clocks to represent the whispers of legends down the centuries.

This artwork heralds a new technique for me, working pencil on canvas, which has an unexpected fluidity. I made this drawing at the beginning of lockdown, sitting on the floor surrounded by pencils. Luckily I had bought loads of pencils from the car boot sale a couple of weeks earlier for 50p! A pencil point lasted about 2 minutes drawing on the rough surface of canvas, so I sharpened about 50 pencils and after a couple of hours drawing, it was a boring half hour sharpening pencils again.

Apt perhaps that pencils are surrounded with wood. Little magic wands!

‘The Merlin Tree’ by Kirsten Harris, Pencil on Canvas, 100 x 120 cm

www.kirstenharrisart.com

The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree
Detail – The Merlin Tree

Further reading ‘Scotland’s Merlin – A Medieval Legend and Its Dark Age Origins by Tim Clarkson

Is it True?

Is it true?

I’ve let external criticism get the better of me and it’s been painful!

I’ve felt like the child who, having spent hours happily building a fantasy sandcastle, covering it with shells for windows and doors, building pebble pathways, constructing channels and fetching buckets of water from the sea to make a moat, has an adult walk over it, not noticing the sandcastle let alone the pleasure and delight of creative play, leaving the child bereft, distraught, dismayed and hurt. 

‘Not good enough!’ is the decree! Old voices emerge to bite one hard in the bum!

‘Ouch!’ 

This morning, after a week of attempting to recalibrate by furious tidying, I ask ‘Is it true?

On whose authority do I decide whether something is right or wrong, good enough or not, or true? Who do I believe and why? 

We are being asked to make these decisions in new ways at the moment. So many different opinions. On whose authority do we decide anything in life? 

And so, I commit to rebuild my ’sandcastle’ and keep creating because at the end of the day my choice is to trust my heart.

Nineteen Corvids, Unicorns and The Tree of Life

Corvid is the family name the crow belongs to. The crow not only symbolises death but also intelligence and destiny. I wanted to make some art to mark Covid 19. The Crow became my image. In numerology 19 becomes the number 1 which symbolises new beginnings.

The nineteen crows in the drawing aim to suggest peoples different experiences of lockdown, the rainbow coloured leaves hope and new growth. At the centre of the drawing is our local hill, Tinto – mountains to climb, the birds eye view. The dandelion seeds represent wishes and dreams, but also the spread of the virus and ideas.

The majority of the drawing depicts empty skies. Hardly a plane flying, hardly a car, just the sound of the wind and the birds. A space, a chance to breathe…

********

The second version of Nineteen Corvids is inspired by Medieval art, which I thought was apt as the Medieval era was a time of plagues and pestilence.

The Tree of Life, the lungs of the planet, life so precious! Two rabbits cuddle at its base. A vine of love wraps round the tree. Can we transform destruction to love and growth?

The water of life flows, abundant with fish. A kingfisher and swan guard the precious water. The kingfisher is said to be the first bird to fly from Noah’s ark after the deluge and is considered a symbol of peace, promising prosperity and love. Swan represents our ability to retain grace. A beautiful and elegant bird yet incredibly powerful. The colour white represents purity and the frog cleanliness and healing.

And so the river of life flows on, flowers grow. Spring turns to summer…

The three unicorns remind that life is ultimately mysterious – birth, life, death. The unicorn, an ancient mythological horse is found in antiquity and is the symbol of Scotland, chosen as a beast powerful enough to stand up to the English lion.

In Medieval times the the unicorn was believed to heal sickness. The wild woodland unicorn could only ever be captured by a virgin. This myth is thought to represent the Virgin Mary and so some believed that the healing power of the unicorn and its association with miracles represented Christ.

Magical healing Alicorn powder made from the tusks of unicorns was sold in Europe as late as 1741! Unicorn horn (narwhale horn) was an extremely precious commodity.

It would be easy to laugh at this superstition if it wasn’t for the fact that the Chinese sickeningly still use rhinoceros horn for medicine. They might as well bite their own finger nails for all the good endangered rhino horn is going to do them!!!

And so…

Do email me if you would like to come to my upcoming castle exhibition here in South Lanarkshire in due course or join my blog to be kept in touch.

Best wishes,

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk 

I Manifested a Castle!

The Dream by Kirsten Harris, Pencil on Paper

In the winter I decided I would like to exhibit in a castle, as you do!

I am a bit of a workaholic and have painted myself into a corner at home so a bit of creative thinking led to the idea that a castle would be ideal! Yes, a castle would be big enough. The idea made me smile… think big, girl!

Several wintery evenings enjoyed sidetracked looking at castles here in Scotland and thinking how cool it would be to win the lottery and buy one, visualising how amazing I would make my castle look. As you do!

But guess what? There are no castles in my price bracket! Dah! So I decided to draw a castle instead!

‘The Dream’ depicts a girl standing on a mounting block beside her horse ready to ride up a mountain. She stands outside a turreted castle protected by her horse tree guardians. Distorted perspective and a ghost like girl suggests that this is the imagination at work, a parallel universe. A dandelion clock represents wishes fulfilled, the mushrooms represent altered states of consciousness. The unicorn on the flagpole says anything is possible, dreams are good, life is mysterious, forward and up!

Whilst drawing ‘The Dream’ I suddenly remembered seeing a post on Facebook months before that a local castle, Sheildhill, had been sold and would be reopening as a hotel at some time in the future. I scrolled Facebook until I found what I was looking for. Bingo!

Why not ask?

I went for a nosy…

There were a couple of white vans parked outside. The downstairs windows were boarded up but there was a light on further inside, the front door was slightly ajar.

I tentatively pushed it open…

‘Hello!’ Hello!’ HELLO!’ No reply!

I could hear the sound of distant banging and ventured in. The place was a mess and obviously being renovated but ‘WOW COOL!’ A spiral stone staircase, dark panelling and a suit of armour. Walking hesitantly past another stairway, this time a grand sweeping one, obviously of a later period, I curiously peeked into some of the downstairs rooms…

This is perfect! Big walls!

Artists love walls!

I followed the sound deeper into the building and found two men with hammer and saw in the kitchen and mayhem everywhere. Full scale and big scale renovations were taking place. Amazing!

‘Um, hi, I’m looking for Mr Frame?’ (Perfect name thinks me!)

They directed me out through a dark passage into a garden where I found Mr Frame with a roaring chainsaw in hand lopping back a yew tree that was blocking a window and causing green mould on the stone.

‘Hello, I’m Kirsten, I’m an artist…”

Mr Frame, still wielding his chainsaw, listened to the daft explanation of my thought that it would be fun to exhibit in a castle as I had run out of space at home and had enough art to fill one, so I had made it a mission to manifest a castle by drawing one.

It sounded daft to me as I was saying it but we got on immediately and had a hilarious conversation and the upshot of it was the family said…

‘Yes… because my work is quirky!’ (Best compliment ever!)

I had manifested a castle to exhibit in! And then Covid 19 disrupted everyone!

At some point I am sure we will be celebrating the grand reopening of the hotel. It should have been in April 2020.

Do email me to find out more.

Copyright Kirsten Harris

A Bit Medieval

I have been making art to fit frames as the picture framer is closed and I had some antique frames in the studio.

Medieval tapestries were the initial inspiration for these paintings and it struck me whilst painting that everything is a bit Medieval at the moment.

We are living in the time of a ‘plague’ and the only option for toothache, which I have, is extraction and then only if my face has swollen up like a sheep’s bladder, which it hasn’t! The skies are blissfully silent of metal and bird song is a wonderful to listen and paint to. Getting into the Medieval vibe has been creative time travel this week locked in my tower!

The owl is a symbol of change and intuition and the unicorn a Medieval symbol of purity and grace.

‘Pensive’ is for everyone living alone. ‘Beak to Beak’ and ‘Good Friends’ are about respect and equality. Gosh we need that in the world! Have we progressed at all?

Painting ‘The Tree of Life’ is a contemplation about my place on the tree of life and my continued determination to plant trees whilst I am here. There are over 30 birds as well as other animals in the painting. I slightly regret that I didn’t have a better quality board to paint on, but needs must, so I used what I had. I hope it lasts the tests of time as I loved painting it.

The frame used to house a painting of my great grandmother so have subtitled it ‘The Great Grandmother Tree’ and hope she doesn’t mind that I have pinched her frame! I have a matching frame, and plan to do The Great Grandfather Tree next …

Stay safe!

With love, Kirsten

Art work painted on hardboard using chalk paint and wax…

Going Backwards to Go Forwards!

I’ve been ‘excavating’ my studio as my friend calls tidying up!

Tidying up art style means going through every canvas and seeing if I can finish or polish it.

Years ago I met an artist shaman in Zimbabwe who told me to finish every painting I start as a key to success. It struck me as a very good, simple and yet challenging advice.

Even though I am mad keen to get on and make new work towards my postponed exhibition I have been going backwards to go forwards.

Thoughts drift through my mind as I paint like this phrase, going backwards to go forwards. In horse riding a few backward steps is a good way of gathering the horses energy to go forward with more power. Yesterday I revisited a series of car paintings (now added to website) that were languishing inside a box. As I did more to the series done over 5 years ago the thought that the past is getting resolved kept reoccurring. Energy expended then is being honoured and completed and traumas such as dad’s death from cancer, healed. Art is like that. It kind of talks to you.

And sometimes it just takes years to finish a painting.

I remember years ago I was working on a big lion oil painting. I couldn’t work out why it didn’t look finished. It took a friend to look at it for about ten minutes and then exclaim ‘there’s and ear missing!’ Dah! We both burst into laughter. A few more licks of paint and the painting was done! And then the friend decided he wanted to buy it.

This small thistle oil sketch was half done. I had sketched out the shapes in paint and abandoned it to the eaves of the studio. I thoroughly enjoyed finishing it the other day and it has given me ideas for new work…

And as I have been excavating my studio I see that a robin is nesting in the eaves, flying in and out of an open window. How wonderful life is!

Walking into Ideas

My art has become increasingly about ideas! I guess I’ve spent the first large number of years of my life learning how to paint and draw and now I want to express ideas and do more with my art.

So where do the ideas come from? Truthfully, I walk into them in the field. The ideas for drawings, projects or blogs just pop into my head. I do the same walk most days. The fields behind my house have become my source of inspiration.

For a little while in the summer the farmers cows live there and out of respect I don’t go, but for the majority of the year I am the only human visitor. It’s my own private wildlife sanctuary, my source of inspiration, my talking woodland, my stream of consciousness, my flowing viewpoint.

I love these fields with all my heart. They are ancient fields, many of the beech trees are dying and reeds are taking over the ancient paddocks. Remains of wire, where fences once were, have grown into the trunks of many of the beech trees. Victorian clay drains lie on the surface having been trampled to destruction by the cattle. The ground is rough underfoot testimony to Scottish wet summers. And the fields are full of wildlife. It is perfect habitat – a shallow stream, grassland, trees. Deer, badger, moles, woodpeckers, hare, duck, wrens, owls, duck, geese, wildflowers. The fields are alive.

This is ‘my’ remote island retreat in central Scotland. A burn more or less surrounds the area making it inaccessible to the casual visitor and a stream and stone wall separate it from the far end of the next farm.

These fields are my heaven on earth. They teach me, give me ideas and restore my soul.

In my big abundance manifestation fantasy dream heck why not think big vision, I buy these fields and create a wildlife sanctuary, allowing re wilding. With no cows eating the young saplings as they start to grow the re wilding happens quickly. I restore the ditches so that the beech trees no longer sit in floods causing them to die and pull up any ragwort that has blown in. And beyond that I surround the land with love and give it to nature and the animals.

Four years ago I was in the field admiring a dandelion clock when my mother phoned to say dad had died. Time stood still. The fields took on a whole new resonance.

This past year I have hobbled around the fields with a torn plantar plate in my foot, needing to walk despite pain and it’s never failed to be worth it. Then, returning home nourished, spending the rest of the day drawing or writing ideas that I have walked into in the field.

And these days as I walk I dream that I will manifest the way to buy the land and be a custodian of a wildlife sanctuary. Ahhh! It’s good to have ideas!

And tomorrow I will draw…

A few of the thousands of photos I have taken in the field!

Messages from Dog

I sketched Maisie from life everyday last week to get more fluent at drawing dogs. Yesterday we went for our walk and realised we were in the same bit of field as a week ago when ‘the sky’ told me to draw Maisie for a week.

‘Oh why not? I’ll lie down again!’

Looking at the sky feeling the muscles in my back let go the wispy clouds started forming dog shapes.

‘Ha! I’ve learned how to draw dogs, a sure sign if the clouds are turning into dogs.’

And then as suddenly as the idea to draw dogs a week ago came, a title for a series of drawings popped into my head – Messages from Dog!

Here is the start of the series…

Note to self – lie in the grass more often! I get ideas that way.

Chill by Kirsten Harris
Copyright


Dog Blog – 2 – Sketching from Life

I am drawing my dog Maisie, a little Cockerpoo, this week as an exploration of drawing, character and line.

Today more lighting sketches drawn from life with two thicknesses of pen. Maisie does not keep still even when she is resting she keeps moving, ever alert, so it is a challenge…




All images copyright of the artist

Dog Blog 1! Lightning Sketches

How am I going to learn to illustrate dogs?

My plan –

1 – don’t go for finished product

2 – do lightning sketches to work out how to draw hairy hyperactive dog Maisie

3 – see if a character starts to emerge

4 – observe and draw as fast as possible

5 – don’t make up lines

6 – do at least 14 drawings a day



What next? Talking to the Sky and Setting an Intention.

The wind was cold but the cushiony grass looked inviting. I’d often felt the desire to lie down in that spot but had never done so. I guess the desire had always seemed too random. Today I let myself follow the impulse.

I let go for several minutes looking at the grey scudding sky.

‘What next? Let me know what next? What will you have me paint or draw? I need guidance!’

The answer came taking me by surprise – ‘Illustrate the dog blog you did three years ago in a week!’

‘Wow, really, a week? Thats 101 cartoons! That’s 14 or 15 drawings a day! Thats difficult! Where did that idea come from? I’m no good at drawing dogs, it’s a big task, it will take ages, do I have enough ideas to make 101 fun cartoons?

Resistance, lack of self belief, fear, doubt… all the crappy stuff that gets in the way, jumped up to argue with the voice, flattening the inspiration like a big boot on a seedling.

Hurdles. Those self imposed hurdles, that stop us even having a go.

Maisie came and stole her ball out of my pocket demanding play. We played ball at ground level, her level – me flat on my tummy, eye to eye, it was beguiling.

‘Thats it, just play, play at ground level’ the sky voice said.

‘You’re grounded anyway, why not have fun cartooning! Set an alarm clock for 1 minute, 5 minutes, ten minutes to get going. Do lightning sketches to allow fluency and flow to find you. Draw fast, with quick and simple lines. Allow those drawings that you admire so much to come. The ones that look so easy but are born out of practise. You can do it! Play and enjoy yourself without judgement or ego.’

So, today I commit to 101 cartoons of my little dog Maisie. I don’t know if I can do it, but I will never know if I don’t have a go!

I have, according to the voice, one week. All the time in the world!

Here goes…


Should Paintings be Pleasing?

Should paintings be pleasing? Nice? Attractive? Should they be decorative and easy to live with? Should they look good? Should they make sense? Should they obey rules?

Or are paintings something you have a relationship with? Are they a place to ponder, to lose yourself? A portal into another dimension in some way? Should they have a narrative or a message? Or should they challenge you, confront or inform?

I think the best paintings give you a space for meditation and escape. Good paintings are decorative. Great paintings are extra dimensional. And some paintings are just plain rubbish, but if the artist learned something and had a good time, who cares! And as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Certain paintings literally talk to me in the process of painting them. Ideas come. The paint makes surprise demands and you follow not knowing where you are going. You let go into the paint. Do this, do that, the paint commands.

This painting – is it finished? Is it rubbish? Does it talk to you like it did to me? Is it just – what it is! Is it just plain odd? Is it work in progress? Is it an idea half formed? I don’t know.

I wanted to paint a landscape but it became about the winds of change. The cold winds then became horses. Unexpectedly, but maybe not surprisingly.

The wind has been strong and cold here for these past 3 weeks in lockdown. I have spent as much time as I can outside. I have to earth myself. Earth girls are ease. An alien amongst trees and animals. I’ve loved the peace! Just the wind and birdsong and the odd tractor passing. I have chosen to just continue doing what I have done for several years, just more so, no distractions, no imperative to do anything else, just be a hermit, paint, not listen to the news, write blogs, paint some more, walk the same walk everyday, be with my animals, plant trees, tend the land. I am used to being alone. It is peaceful and blissful for me.

As the horses came to life in the painting so came the title ‘Birth of the Clydesdale.’ These horses were first bred in sight of Tinto Hill, the defining landscape feature in this part of Lanarkshire. Tinto, a mother hill, a breast hill, a hill of local rhyme.

Thoughts came too… change comes to help us. Mother Earth knows best. This lockdown is wonderful for nature. We all need to rest, to reconsider… change is in the wind, the world is changing and it is for good. Branches get broken in strong winds and trees fall. Don’t be frightened, death comes to all of us, breathe deeply, listen to the wind, the wind carries ideas, be present…

How precious the strong magnificent Clydesdale horse must have been for farmers… What a change for the better to have kindness and strength, power and endurance to work with you. The expression ‘If Wishes were Horses’ was first recorded near Tinto too.’ First collected by James Carmichael in 1628 . The expression is a theme in my art. If Wishes Were Horses – once upon a time the Clydesdale horse was wished into being.

Maybe I will repaint this huge canvas, maybe I will add a Clydesdale or two and trees in the foreground or maybe it is finished, I don’t know! For now the painting has stopped talking to me. So I stop.

And does it matter if anyone likes it? Does it matter if it is good or successful as a painting? Not really! The wind whispered in my ear and I was happy.

Birth of The Clydesdale by Kirsten Harris , 100 x 150 cm, Oil on Canvas

Portraying Movement

This is an edited version of a 5 day free class given via FB to a local art group during lockdown.

Day 1

Find a photo that speaks to you of something that portrays movement that you would like to paint.. running animals such as cheetahs, horses are favourites of mine, but it could be cars or cyclists, people, weather, the sea etc. Have fun looking for images

Day 2 

– When you have found your inspirational photo decide some words you would use to describe the kind of movement. For example flowing, fast, jumpy, swirling etc. 

Is there more than one kind of movement in the photo? If so describe the different movements 

– then with the minimum amount of lines on a bit of paper (printer paper or back of an envelope will do) draw lines to describe the direction of movement. So you may have a curved line, of several swirly lines or a couple of straight line etc. For example a photo a leg might be moving in one direction and an arm in another. Then you might need to use arrow lines to map it. 

Add your words to your simple lines. You now have a simple direction of movement map and words.

You may find you want to turn you abstract movement map  into an abstract drawing or doodle, but only think about the movement, not the subject. Stay abstract.

Day 3

– You now have your words and direction lines. Stay abstract and work out what medium best describes your words. If your word is glide or flow or swirly for  example find ways to paint in colour those words.  You can experiment with different media to find out what works best for this image – ie watercolour, pastel etc 

Let the brush follow the directional lines you’ve mapped out. This will help give the flow of movement in your finished painting. 

– task 2 – spend the rest of the day playing with actual movement your word describes. 

Gliding round the house or whooshing your arm or hand for example. So a bit of actual movement. Have fun with it. See if you can physically find a feel of the movement. This will help with your painting.

Day 4

A photo captures a static moment in time, a painting can do more than that. 

I think it is important NOT to have strong outlines if you want to portray movement in a painting, or your work will just look like you have copied a photo!  We will add detail in due course but it’s amazing how little detail you need for people to read an image.

So today colour a whole sheet of paper using your 

– direction of movement (your map)

– feel (the words you are going to think about as you paint, ie floaty, flowing, whooshing, punchy, fast…) and let the background and foreground mix together. Almost like camouflage. This will be quite abstract again.  

Think transparency, now you see it, now you don’t! There’s a dancer or dolphins there and now there isn’t. No hard edges! 

You will be getting to know your subject doing this and might be amazed by what you come up with. So think about colour and brush stroke that expressed the energy of movement you want in certain places.

And most of all have fun! Go for it! Swirl and twirl, whoosh and float, punch and walk some paint about…

Day 5 – the finished painting 

If you watch something move 

– you are not going to pick up every detail. So stay loose as you add detail

– you are going to have blurry or broken edges

– the movement is going to leave a trace of where it has been in the background. So let the colour of what has moved ie a piece of red material flowing in the wind, leave traces of red paint strokes in the background as though it’s shedding a bit of itself as it moves

You can add as much or as little detail as you like to your finished painting. It is your painting but If you feel you are losing  the sense movement refer back to day 4. 

This gestural painting is the feel you are looking for as you add detail. Balance your painting between detail and directional flow of the paint. The background now needs to have the directions of movement in it as you add detail to the foreground/subject. This will keep the sense of movement and give a feel of where the movement has already travelled.  

– think movement

– keep your arm nice and loose as you paint (I often swing my arms before I start painting to loosen and warm up,it definitely helps!) 

I really hope this has helped and all makes sense… 😄Most importantly have fun painting and go for it…

‘Boldness has a genius to it!’ Goethe 

Stay safe my friends ❤️

Extra notes – You may feel you have lost something of the abstract joy of day 4 in your finished painting, so there is a great value in having another go. I wrote a blog a while ago called Why Do Artists Repeat Themselves? (link here) and here is another blog on portraying movement link here.

Have fun and happy painting!

Visit me on FB at Kirsten Harris Art

Opening to Angels

Opening to Angels by Kirsten Harris

I’ve always been fascinated by the handprint in cave art. The palpable presence of our ancient ancestors in the decision to make a statement with a simple hand print. The open hand symbolises letting go and release as well as receiving and showing friendliness. The hands are channels for our energy, our mind through the body out into the world and back. The horses respond to our release with release. We sometimes have to learn big lessons in trust to let go into the connection available when we open ourselves as a receptive channel of awareness and discover our presence can be light as a feather yet powerful, our touch fleeting yet meaningful and our being poised and energised like a spring at the same time. 

This image is now available as a hand signed black and white print. I am creating quite a collection – drawing to plant a woodland, making prints that plant trees! Your support is hugely appreciated. I am in a drawing frenzy as Autumn approaches and the tree planting season with it.


www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

No Room For Doubt!

No Room for Doubt!

‘There is no room for doubt in art!’ Sean Scully

The opposite of the word doubt is confidence. Other words to describe the opposite of doubt include belief, conviction, trust, definiteness, faith, ease, truthfulness, solution, calm, clarity, knowledge…

At art school we were encouraged to be bold, to be confident, as a key to being an artist! That was the main input. Express yourself no matter what!

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius, power and magic to it.’ Goethe

In the documentary “Unstoppable, Sean Scully and the Art of Everything’ Sean says ‘There is no room for doubt in art!’ He describes doubt as an entirely unhelpful emotion that gives you nothing and creates a block. He says to be an artist you need to be driven, not care what anyone thinks and not doubt yourself.

I needed to hear those words! Maybe you do too?

I AM AN ARTIST not a doubter! I needed to be reminded to not doubt in order to reconnect with conviction, trust and ease to the flow that drives me forward. Luckily I have never had a problem with motivation up until the past couple of months when I have let doubt creep in, like an unhelpful ear worm, due to a whole bunch of events colliding, including an attempted scam where, despite my body screaming at me ‘there is something wrong’ I doubted what my intuition was shouting with almost disastrous consequences. Thankfully I woke up in time! However it left me traumatised and doubting myself.

Art is about exploring connections with life, love, god, creativity, spirit, whatever you want to call it. Art is about faithfully being yourself, whatever and no matter what! What else can you be!?

‘Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.’ Lao Tzu

We are often ‘taught’ to doubt, to not trust our intuition, to not trust our self, to not have self worth, to be humble and hold back, to not be at ease, to have fear, to give our power away and accept authority without question.

A whole load of (negative) events caused me to allow myself to doubt and block the flow of my art and therefore my life. DAH! How ridiculous can a girl get!? Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

‘If you stop doing the wrong thing, the right thing can do itself!’ FM Alexander

There is no room for doubt in art (or life). It is utterly unhelpful! Having faith and trust in yourself is a good thing, not an arrogance.

Art can transform experiences, trauma, disillusionment, hurt. Art can reconnect us to passion, to love, to life. Art can deepen our understanding of the experiences we have! We just need to show up wholeheartedly to the process and the solution is in front of us.

It is time to clutter clear doubt from my studio!

Time to just embrace that despite feeling a bit broken, including physically from breaking a bone, I can make art and be creative from where I am right now. The pain can have expression. What else? How else can change occur? That is clarity instead of doubt!

It’s a choice – confidence or doubt. Approaching art with definiteness that the years of knowledge and practice allow is an act of faith. In committing to the process the flow finds you …

Let go, make art!

I thought I would share these thoughts as doubt can show up in many areas of our life and I agree with Sean Scully – there is no room for doubt!

Trust your intuition! Trust yourself! Trust your heart! Trust your art!

Forward and up! Love Kirsten

(The image is a painting called The Moon Woke Me, Oil on Canvas)

The Perfect Circle – Lesson from Art History to Apply to Riding

Four Winds Medicine Wheel. Print available at www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

In his book Lives of the Artists, Georgio Vasari (1511 – 1574) recounts a story about the artist Giotto (1267 – 1337). He tells how the Pope was commissioning art and sent messengers throughout Italy to bring back samples or artist’s work. When the messenger visited Giotto’s studio, Giotto took a brush and keeping his arm close to his side painted a perfect circle in red paint with one brush stroke. The messenger thought he was being made a fool of. However when he recounted the ease with which Giotto had painted the perfect circle the Pope commissioned Giotto, recognising mastery.

Whilst teaching in Japan, I took lessons in Japanese brush painting. One of the tasks my teacher had me repeat many times was to paint the Enso, the Zen Circle. The circle is painted as one brushstroke to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. It is a training in one’s ability to be whole in the present moment. The quality of the circle is altered by the quality of one’s presence.

If you are a rider I would like to challenge you to pick up a brush and paint a circle. Can you paint a circle freely and with ease? I would suggest that the circles that you ride (if you ride circles) will reveal themselves to you in the circle you paint!

Circles symbolise wholeness, infinity, eternity, time and timelessness, movement, the rhythm of life, unity, harmony, relationships, breath, Earth and our being in the Universe, connection…

By riding circles we have a way to connect to a wholeness within ourselves and our horse (or not!)

Why not give yourself and your horse a break for a bit to train your mind. If you cannot think or paint a perfect circle I don’t think it is possible to ride a perfect one! What do your circles look like? Practise painting circles with both hands.

Good luck!

I am off to practice my Zen circles…

Horsy prints and other artwork www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

For media downloads including Walking With Your Horse www.kirstenharris.co.uk

Disillusionment and Creativity

‘Seeing and Seeding’ Photograph by Kirsten Harris


The etymology of the word illusion comes from the word luminare or lumen meaning to light up, too illuminate, to shine brightly. The words illusion and disillusionment are ones that I believe have changed from their original pure meaning.

I am using the word illusion to mean creative light and disillusionment to mean a dimming of the inner light, that creative spark within all of us that is most powerful.

I was musing with a friend as to why I was feeling out of my creative flow. I realised I was feeling disillusioned by many things, people, events and in the main feeling put off proceeding.

As soon as I realised the word disillusioned meant a dimming of inner light, I felt the spark of creativity re-emerging, re-igniting like a pilot light guiding forward. My whole mood lightened up. Fuck it, no-one or no-thing was going to dim my creative light! I am alive now!

One of the meanings of the word illusion is fantasy or vision. If a population is in the main disillusioned we remain passive, obedient, sticking to the status quo. But if we see disillusionment as a calling to bring our inner light of creative visions into a future reality that does not exist yet, we have power. We become master illusionists! We become powerful magicians using our creative minds as instruments of change right now. Having a future vision or fantasy that doesn’t yet exist is, after all, how all creativity, invention and change comes about.

It may feel hard not to feel disillusioned looking at a planet on the edge of crisis and a population that seems, in the main, to only give lip service to caring. We rush around at high speed in airplanes etc consuming, working, doing our bucket list! Or we are stuck simply trying to survive in an expensive consumer society.

I propose it is time for a creative FUCK IT list instead of a bucket list!

Fuck it I am not doing that anymore.

Fuck it I am going say NO!

Fuck it I am going to create a different vision for the future.

Fuck it I am going to speak out.

Fuck it I am going to find simple ways to change things in the environment that I exist in right here, right now.

Fuck it, I am going to love getting creative!

Fuck it no-one is dimming the power of my light!

Our illusions are in fact not so much fantasy but fantastical vision of creative energy where mighty good power lies, where healing occurs and where miracles (may just) happen!

So as individuals and as a population are we illuminated or ill?

This is a magnificent planet of immense shimmering light and beauty. That same light and beauty is within me and within you, within and without. Switching our creative light on one person at a time to be master creators of a healthy future for our planet is what I believe we need to learn do. We need to create healthy visions for our world and share them with each other!

It is time to learn how to switch our inner vision back on!

So VISION ON my friends…

What lights your creativity up and what’s on your fuck it list?

Written with love

K x

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

We need bees! Beautiful bumble bee in my garden last summer. LOVE!

In Our Hands

(I shared this originally as a facebook post on my art page Kirsten Harris Art. I wanted to write something to go with the drawing and to write from my heart about horses. I thought I should post as a blog here. I hope you enjoy it. ) 


‘In Our Hands’ by Kirsten Harris

5 Thoughts – 
1. Our hands have immense sensitivity. Can you let your hands be neutral? Do your hands know how to listen to follow your horse or do they control and bully? Do you use your hands to pull at your horse’s sensitive mouth and head? Or do you allow the energy of your heart-brain and the elasticity of your body to move through your hands into a flow of union and connection? 

2. Can you sit in balance on a chair, easily for a prolonged period of time without discomfort? If not, learn to do so before you sit on a horse. You are only bringing your inbalances to your riding and teaching your horse tension otherwise. You will create imbalances. Find your own poise first and then you will find the poise of your horse. It’s magical when it happens and totally worth the work on your self.

3. Horses are teachers for our heart and soul. We have much to learn from them. If you feel anger, frustration or ego around your horse walk away. Take wise counsel, breathe, let go. A horse is not a sponge for your unprocessed stuff. Negative thoughts and emotions do not belong around your horse

4. Be patient and learn to be at ease with yourself. Meditate. Listen. Let go. Horses will teach you about timelessness, unity, flow, courage, the divine, non verbal communication, boundaries, energy… Horses will teach you how to think into the vastness of the universe and the great mysteries. Be patient with yourself and your horse. Learn to get out of your own way to allow the door of knowledge to open. There is plenty of time. It is all you have. Enjoy the process. 

5. It is OK to feel fear. You and your horse are both flight animals. It is not OK to take your fear out on your horse. Let your heart be open and soft. Love your horse with all your heart. Let your ego dissolve so you are pure around your horse. Be a child of wonder and awe in his presence. Be fully present. Enjoy what you are learning and experiencing right now. Don’t compare your journey with your horse with that of other peoples. The journey of ‘should’ and ‘ought’ will only get in your way. You and your horse are both unique and marvellous. Your horse is an honest loving mirror into your essence, your soul in space right now if you dare to peek. Do you love what you see? 

Written and drawn with love
Kx

copyright Kirsten Harris 
www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Artwork and prints
www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

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A Jar Full of Possibilities!

My friend, musician Emma Smith, wrote a lovely blog recently called ‘How to Deal with Overwhelm’. Link here

 

It inspired me to do my take on her idea and to finish off this year with a brain storm of all the thoughts, inspirations, ideas, intentions, goals and wishes I have for my artwork moving forward and write them individually on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. As my blue glass jar filled up I wondered if it would be empty next year or in fact be twice as full as ideas do seem to inspire more ideas!

 

One of Emma’s suggestions for the days when you feel a bit lost, overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed, is to pick out one of the pieces of paper and see what ‘chance’ wants you to do, which might be meditate or go for a walk. As mine is an arty jar I decided to add wild cards too such as go on an art date or lie in semi supine for twenty minutes and let go and let inspiration come to me . Link to Body Magic here 

 

However for me the main benefit of this magic jar is to get all my ideas stored in one place. I have a tendency to write ideas on scraps of paper or in different note books or on my phone, but collating everything in this way in a physical place feels really helpful and very heart pleasing.

 

It doesn’t so much feel like a ‘to do’ list or a bucket list but more a kind of sweetie jar of passion or a cauldron of possibilities and a beacon drawing me forward into the new year.

 

I am sure this idea can be adjusted for any passion such as blogging or health and fitness …

 

Wishing you much love and happy creativity as the year comes to an end.

 

Kirsten xx

 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – Art

www.kirstenharris.co.uk – Alexander Technique

 

Uncluttering My Sluttery!

Apparently the Victorians had a word for a room into which unwanted, unusable, needing to be mended stuff was dumped – a sluttery!  I love it. Why do the useful words drop out of usage? So here’s to admitting that I have a sluttery!

 

I am guessing most other people have a sluttery too, though they may of course be in denial! But I bet I am not the only slattern in the vicinity!

 

Do you have a secret kitchen drawer or cupboard that you would be appalled at the thought of someone looking inside? Or perhaps an attic or shed that even bigger stuff is dumped into. All that ‘it might be useful one day’ stuff that we don’t want to deal with. My sluttery has  got so jam packed that it is overspilling into my life. I hide my inner slut no more!

 

I think we all have a mental sluttery too! Unresolved stuff,  that has got to be a good thing, a creative thing, to own and to take responsibility for.  We hold onto whole load of cluttering thoughts that stop us moving forward in life and keep us in a slatternly frame of mind thereby giving us excuses not to be the person we might really be. The ‘I am not x,y, z enough!’ stuff.  The excuses and procrastinations that we might just need to let go of.

 

From an Alexander Technique perspective this thinking stuff can manifest as physical aches and pains and emotional or creative sticky stuckness too. We all have unhelpful thinking habits in our mental sluttery that may keep us in a physical muddle.

 

So, these last weeks I have been uncluttering my sluttery, and the expression has been making me laugh and making the job a whole lot easier. The acceptance of my sluttish behaviour has been fun.  My inner slattern has been showing up in the stuff that I haven’t wanted to deal with or finish or throw away. The paintings that I am never going to resolve, the ends of paints that have dried out …  I have decided to dump the slut!

 

Good bye to the pretence of being organised and neat by shoving the crap into my sluttery and hello to owning a sluttery and sorting it out to create space and along with it the grace of acceptance of less than perfect me and with that the fluttery exciting possibility of new creativity coming soon and no doubt having fun refilling my sluttery again over time ….

 

So, here’s to our brilliant Victorian anscestors for actually naming the place that they dumped their stuff, rather than pushing it out of the conscious mind and here is to the revival of having a named sluttery and with it our ownership of our difficult to deal with stuff which is just work in progress on many levels after all …

 

 

 

 

Letting Go of Blocks to the Creative Flow

I have felt blocked in my artwork. Despite having masses of ideas bubbling to get out, the flow of energy to pick up a brush has not been there for a few weeks. That is a first for me for years and years!

 

So I have been thinking about letting go of psycho-physcial and emotional blocks and how to do it and why we get blocked in the first place. There are no profound insights here, but some musings as I declutter my studio.

 

– From an Alexander Technique perspective the answer to letting go would be to simply STOP,  lie down in semi supine, let the ground support you and allow time for the whole system to come back into balance.  A little bit of Body Magic required.

 

I haven’t particularly wanted to lie down recently but I have wanted to sit in the garden a LOT and just listen to the birds and watch the garden grow. I have spent mornings recording bird song and found balance through simply being the listening. And I have taken photos on my iPhone of bugs and dandelion clocks. Intuitive listening as to what to do next has always been part of my creative process. Trusting that listening and looking are simply enough has to, I guess, be enough.

 

– I am decluttering my studio ruthlessly. I totally understand now how folk in these TV documentaries become hoarders. The hoarding and holding on seems to come about in response to some emotional trauma that they feel unable to deal with, and thus holding on to a physical manifestation of their love and life becomes their way of dealing with that trauma.

 

My response to my dad having cancer and his horrible death was to paint even more than ever. The result being that I have physically run out of space in my house and studio for any more paintings or furniture to Up-Cycle Danishly! Short of moving house some radical decluttering is needed. Letting go physcically is feeling good emotionally. I have always aimed to finish paintings, an aim which can take years, as once the painting is started they can become problems that are hard to resolve. A couple of days ago I decided I was simply not interested in those problems anymore. They have been recycled. The first glimmer of space in my studio and brain. Yippee! I have let go of the physical manifestation of some past problems.

 

– As I oil paint in a space which could benefit from a lot more natural light, I had come up with the solution to hang lots of mirrors to throw light around. The mirrors are now all going back to the charity shop. Everything is only borrowed, let the borrowed light flow forward! I realised yesterday that the space they are taking could hang finished artwork and I will invest in some better lighting. Let there be light! More brain space and flow potential awakening. No doubt it is bad Feng Shui to have loads of mirrors anyway but I am no expert!

 

– I heard Robert Holden describe decluttering ‘as taking you back to what is important’ or words to that effect the other day. I think that is a lovely description. In this decluttering what I am left with are art materials and paintings and a desire to make my grotty garage studio a more light filled lovely space.

 

– Having always been someone with easy access to my emotions it has felt strange to me to hold on, unable to cry, needing to stay strong and solid rather than let go and potentially disintegrate. Probably living alone has solidified the need to stay strong. In some ways I have beaten myself up for this ‘lack’ of grief, but am now finding out that I am not alone in the inability to cry at the big events and that there is simply no right or wrong or ‘how to’ with grief. Death, like life, is a process.

 

Life and death surrounds us daily when we open to it. We are as part of death as we are of life, denying that or putting a ‘should’ in the mix of how to deal with life or death is to block the flow. My way to move through it has been to paint and write blogs. I have learned huge amounts in this process and am still learning.

 

Holding on and letting go are perhaps just mirrors to each other and part of the necessary human experience.

 

**********

 

Some of my bug photos – short, important, beautiful lives  ….

 

 

 

I Love Artists!

What could be better than gathering a group of artists who are scattered across this much over looked part of rural South Lanarkshire and who in the main don’t know each other and putting together an exhibition on a shared theme.

 

This time Tinto, our much loved fire hill, is the source of inspiration in a show at the Tolbooth, Lanark called 36 Views of Tinto, a homage to Hokusai’s famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji.

The last exhibition in October was inspired by the Falls of Clyde – Romance of the Falls.

 

So, a short blog of appreciation for all the artists …

 

What really strikes me about doing a group show with these people, whom I am just getting to know, is what intelligent, interesting, creative, easy going, solution orientated people artists are.

 

Artists are great!

It takes passion and courage to be an artist and a lot of self awareness.

 

To me it beggars belief that folk still think of artists as ‘mad’ and are quite happy to say it to their face, even if it is in jest. I am not being PC here, far from it, but making a point that sometimes we don’t question our assumptions.

 

For more musings in a blog called ‘Mad’ – click here! : )

 

So my thought for this morning is this – the world needs people with these amazing capacities as advisors, inspirers and general ‘earth angels’!

 

I love artists!

 

 

The Path of a Painting

The idea for this painting came from walking in the mountains. I wanted to make a painting which was more about the experience of walking uphill, than a portrait of a hill or mountain. I have called it ‘A Spiritual Path’, as it is about the push to keep going in life when the path seems steep or challenging.

 

I looked at Hokusai’s ‘Climbing on Mount Fuji’ as inspiration, in particular the abstract, atmospheric feel, the mark making and colour

 

 

Climbing on Mount Fuji

by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)

 

Maisie on my lap while I contemplate the work of Hokusai and plan my painting and Walter mows the lawn!

 

Painting mapped out

 

‘A Spiritual Path’ is a large canvas, 110 x 150 cm.

I painted standing up keeping the thought of walking on rough ground as I made the marks on canvas, inspired too by my current explorations with The Alexander Technique.  I wrote a blog as a warm up to the painting ‘On Being Wiggly, Part 2 – Here is a link to part 1 and 2

 

And here is the path of the painting –

Maisie with ball on table, she knows the game of art or the art of the game!

I have to chuck the ball out of the open studio door between brush strokes to keep her entertained while I paint.

 

Looking like a big breast at this stage!

I guess that is Tinto the fire hill for you.

Wanting to bring in a suggestion of

Fallburn Roman Fort at the bottom of Tinto,

the semi circle marks

 

Decide to

 

 

 

 

A Spiritual Path

by Kirsten Harris

Oil on Canvas

110 x 150 cm

 

 

Before

 

After!!!! Several days later

 

Brushes stuffed into rubber gloves to stop them drying out during the process!

Messy Painter! : )

 

This painting will be exhibited at 36 Views of Tinto Exhibition, Tolbooth, Lanark

16 May – 6 June 2018

A Conversation at the Picture Framers …

On my recent trip to the picture framers for 36 Views of Tinto Exhibition I had a conversation that I have been thinking about all week. I want to share it –

 

I was helping another artist choose a frame for her painting for the show.

A woman in the shop became involved in the discussion.

She was framing her husbands painting, who she described as one of The Scottish Contemporaries.

My artist friend starting belittling her own painting as ‘only an amateur effort that Kirsten has kindly included in the exhibition, I am not sure why, it’s not very good ….’

The other woman replied – ‘Yes, there are only two kinds of artists amateur and professional’ or words to that effect.

She wasn’t being snobby (well maybe slightly) but she was just stating a perceived truth!

 

‘Is that true?’ …. I thought, and found myself saying what I believe to be true –

 

‘There is only one kind of artist, and that is artists, because as far as I can see everyone puts there heart and soul into their work and that is the only criteria that matters!’

 

Come and see the 36 Views of Tinto Exhibition at the Tolbooth, Lanark if you are in the area – where local artists have put their heart and soul into interpreting Tinto our local much loved landscape feature. Maybe you will find something you want to own. It is going to be a great exhibition!

 

Look forward to seeing you … and by the way, my friends painting is very good and I am sure it will be snapped up!

 

 

Withdrawn and I

In my last blog (link) about drawing through February I used the word withdrawn, realising I have been a little withdrawn of late. It is an interesting word in the context of drawing as it appears negative, withdrawn as in stand offish or depressed, but is it?

 

The act of drawing – to move a pencil around paper, to make images, marks, lines on a flat surface – is by it’s very nature withdrawn, a solitary activity.  A degree of withdrawing from the world is necessary to make time for art, to be in the alone zone, that is creative. Withdrawn can mean to be depressed but it also means to take money out, withdrawing a deposit made earlier.

 

To draw is to put money into the bank as an artist. Explorations in drawing are deposits of energy that can be taken out for future use later, either as skills, ideas or artworks to sell. To draw, is to make a journey into the unknown To draw can mean to leave something undecided, no obvious winners – it’s a draw. Drawings don’t have to be finished.

 

To withdraw also means to inhibit, to draw back, to step or retreat back, which is interesting in an Alexander Technique context as being back in your back allows a space to occur where something ‘magic’ happens. ‘Back back’ we say.  It is a skill that that is as profound as it is light.

 

Withdrawing can also be a form of meditation or constructive rest (link), withdrawing from the urgencies of the day at least for a while, to allow ease, change.

 

Staying back in your back is important for drawing, not only the arm connecting to the back to avoid pain, but back enough from your work so as to not be lost in the detail. Backing off enough to stay aware of the whole image but being drawn forward enough to actually create something. An opposition of direction, an expansion of awareness.  It is an art in itself.

 

Withdrawing can mean knowing when to stop because this is a ‘battle’ you are never going to win. A waste of unfocussed energy. A waste of life. Why is withdrawing seen as negative when it is in fact powerful?!  Withdrawing to allow change. Withdrawing, not so much about being defeated but more about looking after yourself.

 

Backing up a horse is a useful exercise. Asking the horse to take a few steps backwards gathers the horse’s energy so that stepping forward again is done with more controlled spring, coil, balance, poise … You can train a  horse so that you only have to think ‘back back’ and your horse will go back, drawing his energy up into poise, drawing you up on his back. (link)

 

As a self employed single person I have to draw on my own resources constantly. Withdrawn in terms of a relatively isolated location it would be easy to fall into feeling lonely, especially in the middle of winter. But day after day, year after year, the act of drawing, literally drawing up energy from the well of a creative source somewhere inside, takes me to a place of peace, calm and ease, where the days pass happily and drawings are made. If I feel negativity I only have to show up at the drawing board to be drawn into a happy focussed place within minutes. I learn to trust , my mantra –  ‘everything I need is already here, I just have to line up with it!’

 

Withdrawn? I guess I am just with drawing!

 

 

‘Ahhh Ha!’ by Kirsten Harris

Pen on White Paper

 

The Daily Ease, A Walk in the Woods, Colouring Book LINK TO BUY

28 Drawings Later – Drawing some conclusions, half way through

I’m doing a project called 28 Drawings Later aka getting through a shitty February in the wilderness! (Us Brits like to moan about the weather, a national form of therapy and endless fascination!)

The title 28 Drawings Later appealed – the suggestion of a journey, the suggestion of arriving in a new place – bring it on!

 

Hmm, I thinks to myself – drawing through the depth of a snowy winter means I can stay inside and watch daytime TV, not like last years madness of painting seascapes in oils all winter in my freezing cold studio. Drawing will be a doddle by comparison and give me a focus through the hideous weather.  I’ll do it!

 

I envision myself knocking off a quick sketch everyday no problem, but instead it has got me ‘drawing conclusions’ about my lack of method and random processes as an artist as well as my desires and hopes. It’s the 13th of Feb and I’m nearly half way through this drawing everyday thing and feeling like I haven’t even got going …

 

Conclusions drawn so far

  • I have different styles of drawings for different moods. Guess I must be moody!
  • Initial enthusiasm soon turns into an inner dialogue of … why are you doing this? You work every day anyway … why am I making myself DO a drawing project, it’s not like I need motivating … I ignore the chatter and start
  • I have an idea that I want to draw horse anatomy. So far, day 13, I have got nowhere near that work. Procrastination February!
  • Week one, I seem to be in a quiet cartooning mood, with ideas developing around lightness, buoyancy and uplift.  The drawings make me smile and feel ridiculously content and happy, which is just as well as the TV seems to have got stuck on a channel entirely devoted to true life murder stories.  Days pass and daytime telly becomes a gruesome backdrop of how and why people kill each other, horrible and yet quite fascinating! I convince myself that Goya would have watched these documentaries unable to switch back to my usual diet of antique and cookery programmes or put some music on. Animals start floating off the page … I discover programmes about forensics, I like anatomy I tell myself, watching cop shows is research!
  • Week 2, I manage to turn the telly off, but rather than get on with the ‘oh so accomplished’ anatomically correct horse drawings that I can see in my ever hopeful mind’s eye, I start finishing bits of furniture, up-cycling Danishly! Doodling and finishing stuff is part of the process, I console myself, feeling like the Queen of the Procrastinators whilst sensing some fear around finding that my inner Leonardo da Vinci really doesn’t exist!
  • Having got rather carried away with buying and painting furniture recently I spend most of the second week thinking I really must sell some of it. (Artist as hoarder.) I seem to have a particular ‘thing’ for chairs. Feeling sad at the thought of restraining my trips to the car boot I get a genius brainwave –  if I rid the house of two sofas and a very large arm chair, bought for my even larger now sadly deceased dad, that I never sit in, I can paint more furniture and buy more random objects that appeal and I don’t have to sell my painted furniture that I like and takes ages to do.  I could even do some still life drawings to justify buying more stuff! Realising the total genius of this idea I conclude that sofa’s are crap for the back anyway, take up a ton of space and it means I can make another drawing area where the sofa was and start channeling my inner Leonardo properly. It is now totally obvious to me that I am not drawing the way that I want to because of the sofas! I  just need to find a van and a man to help me take said lumps of back breakers, posing as comfy chairs, to the charity shop. I am, it turns out, not a hoarder at all but the High Priestess of clutter clearing!
  • Feb 13th happy with my plan to release sofas from my life, I realise that I have been a bit withdrawn (interesting word) of late. I am just tired, tired of the endless snow and rain in South Lanarkshire and mud, lots of mud, but my brain is now racing with  ideas of what I would like to achieve with my drawing and painting. The next painting is always going to be the best one! This is exciting! This is motivating! So as it is February and snowing again, I decide to allow myself to be with nature, and rather than beat myself up with my coloured pencils and sticks of charcoal, align myself with the bulbs in the garden that are just beginning to show and know that all these brilliant drawings too are hiding just out of sight, a bit frozen in my consciousness but about to burst forth when ‘winter’ lets go of its grip.
  • This seems like a jolly good reason to do lots of resting in semi supine aka The Alexander Technique aka Body Magic (link) to help the budding art grow from the inside out and of course give Leonardo a chance to find his way to Scotland … maybe he just doesn’t like the snow either! Happy that the Alexander Technique always illuminates,  I am off do do some drawing … or maybe just lie down for now … Spring up spring!

‘Love Time’

by Kirsten Harris

Pen and watercolour on White Paper

The Lightness of Being a Horse

by Kirsten Harris

Pen and Watercolour on white paper

‘Up!’

by Kirsten Harris

Watercolour and pen on white paper

‘The Bird that Wanted to Fly’

by Kirsten Harris

Pen on white paper

 

 

My painted furniture – side panels from a corner cabinet and set of shelves

 

More Alexander Technique drawings here The Daily Ease A Walk in the Woods. Colouring Book

 

On Tintock Tap – Symbolism in a Traditional Lanarkshire Rhyme

ON TINTOCK TAP

‘On Tintock Tap there is a mist,

And in that mist there is a kist,

And in the kist there is a caup,

And in that caup there is a drap;

Tak’ up the caup, drink aff the drap

And set up camp on Tintock Tap’

 

 

Tinto, 1/1/2018

 

To me the traditional Lanarkshire rhyme, On Tintock Tap, is less a rhyme and more a riddle full of symbolism, though it could of course be suggesting that there is great wealth buried under the 4 metre high Neolithic/Bronze age cairn which, never excavated by archaeologists, is believed to be the biggest in Scotland.

 

Walking up Tinto I started to think about the meaning of the symbolism in the rhyme, much of which is spiritual symbolism that shows up across cultures and traditions. Here are some musings …

 

Tintock/Tinto – meaning fire hill, is an immediately recognisable and identifiable hill seen for miles within this part of Scotland. Fire is associated with the sun and the stars.  Fire symbolises energy, life, courage, determination, action, risk taking.  The inner light, the inner spark, the divine fire burning within. Fire serves as a beacon and messenger, the light can be seen from afar, especially from the top of a hill. It’s fire is an invitation for people to come together.  Warmth, hope, energy, passion and will power, transformation, transmutation, creation and destruction, creativity and dynamism are all part of the symbolism. On top of Tinto is an enormous man made cairn, who created it and why? Fire also represents home – the home fires and dance – the dancing fire, primal energy, sexuality. (Many think Tinto looks like a giant breast the cairn being the nipple). Fire is made from burning wood. The element of wood is represented by the staff or magical wand and the tree of life. The ancient Beltane festival and the Baal Fire are associated with Tinto – traditionally lit across Britain on May 1st, half way between the spring equinox and Midsummer to bring good fortune and show togetherness, Beltane was a time when cattle were driven out to summer pasture. The simultaneous lighting of fires stretching across the landscape to show the unity and connection of people. Tinto has associations with the seasonal clock.

Tintock Tap – climbing to the top of a hill or mountain symbolises the will to succeed, aspiration ambition, success, reaching your highest potential, a challenge needing energy, higher attainment, a bigger perspective, leadership, a vantage point, self control. Climbing to the top of a mountain is the closest we can get to heaven on earth. Mountains symbolise eternity, constancy, stillness and firmness. Traditionally the mountain is earth and female. The sky, clouds,rain, thunder and lightning are male. (The River Clyde can be seen snaking through the landscape below Tinto. The view from the top is truly astonishing.)

Mist – Mist symbolises a veil, the hidden, the ethereal, the mysterious. What is shrouded in mystery? Mists of uncertainty, clouds, doubts, questions and anxieties, blurred vision, lack of clarity. Mist is a slow drizzle that blurs and distorts our vision and perception preventing us from seeing clearly. Mist can hide something that is real and true but is perhaps not meant to be understood or seen right now by our rational minds. Mists will lift in time. An invitation to leave the analytical ‘male’ aspect of the mind and enter the ‘feminine’ intuitive state on the top of the mountain?

Kist –  meaning chest. A treasure chest, secrets, something that you hold very close to your heart and want to keep safe, the body, the home, security, a container. Here is a mystery within a mystery, the mysterious mist contains a treasure chest with hidden things inside. How do you find the treasure and open the chest? The treasures of the heart.

Cup –  The cup is a a container for the spirit to be held as it pours from heaven to earth. Cups symbolise the spirit, receptivity, the heart, love, emotions, water, the holy grail, (Roslyn chapel is within view!?). Suggesting that the top of Tinto is an important spiritual place. As above so below.

Drop – water, a tear, life itself, a drop of blood, the individual, millions of drops of water to make a river, the river of life symbolised by water, the element of life. Purity and fertility. Rain fall. Cleansing. The emotions. The human body is over 60 percent water. Water is linked to the moon, governing tides. Water is symbolised by cups. Water finds a way … Water takes the path of least resistance to find it’s course. Drinking from the cup to quench a thirst, physical or spiritual?

Set up camp – take the path up the hill to set up camp, to stop! A steep path represents a journey that requires the energy to persevere to reach the look out point. To set up camp is an invitation to stop, to meditate, to look, to be and get clarity, take the time out for your self, to be still, to experience a new or different perspective. A high vantage point from which to plan your journey, your next direction.

 

The astrological  elements are represented in this verse – Fire, air, earth, water,. Where better to study the astrological clock than from the top of a hill.

 

So, to conclude – this traditional rhyme seems to be suggesting to me that Tinto is an ancient place of spiritual and physical importance with a profound message for anyone who wants to seek it ….  And perhaps there really is gold hidden under that giant mound of rocks, after all Wanlockhead the source of the pure Scottish gold of Kings is within sight of Tinto. Who knows … a mystery indeed!

7/1/2018 On Tinto Summit

 

8/1/18 Sunrise over Tinto

 

I am looking forward to painting Tinto for

36 Views of Tinto Group Exhibition at the Tolbooth in Lanark – 16 May – 6 June, 2018

check out the Facebook page 36 Views of Tinto, Exhibition here

 

Thanks for reading this blog.

Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

ON TINTOCK TAP

‘On Tintock Tap there is a mist,

And in that mist there is a kist,

And in the kist there is a caup,

And in that caup there is a drap;

Tak’ up the caup, drink aff the drap

And set up camp on Tintock Tap’

 

 

 

 

Mad!? Part 2

About a year ago I wrote a blog called Mad!? It was a rant about why artists aren’t mad, in response to being called a mad artist one too many times. Mad!? Link to blog

 

This blog is a consideration of the fact that ‘mad’ might be a very apt term after all!

 

Mad – when you find your self dressed in oversized, second hand, blokes’ sallopets and wooly bonnet, painting in an unheated studio, with the door open for ventilation and a hot water bottle strapped to you, when it is minus 2 outside and blowing a gale.

 

Mad – when in those said conditions you are painting a herd of zebras in the warmest colours you can find for an exhibition straight after Xmas in Lanark, and realising that the painting will never dry in time.

 

Mad – when you are wishing Xmas could be cancelled so you could get on with painting and then realise that you painted right through Xmas for the last few years anyway.

 

Mad – When you would rather paint than do anything else, but every painting is a giant struggle to achieve.

 

Mad – when your dog plonks her ball on your paint table and between brush strokes you throw it out through said open door to keep her amused, over and over and over again.

 

Mad – that the dog loves it when you paint as she finds distracting you a very good game indeed.

 

Mad – When the electrics in your studio are not working so mid winter Scotland you are working in the near dark, trying to catch the last rays of light before night falls at the ridiculously early 3.30pm, and then feel frustrated for the rest of the evening as it is over 16 hours before the sun rises again.

 

Mad – when you wake at 4 am, think bugger – still 5 hours before daylight, might as well write a blog about art in the meantime.

 

Mad – when you have long since run out of wall space in your own house, and can barely swing a cat for finished paintings and painted furniture, but rather than focus on selling you just want to paint more, as the next one will be THE good one!

 

Mad – to live in the middle of absolutely bloody nowhere and be a self employed artist. Great for the peace to get on with it, terrible for the scarcity of folk and general total lack of social life. Urban self gone missing!

 

Mad – that despite that you realise that being a somewhat reclusive artist might be who you really are!

 

Mad – to rather buy art materials than clothes or have a holiday. Nothing makes you happier than to buy white paper, clean canvas, tubes of oil paint and new brushes.

 

Mad – the price of aforementioned paper, canvas, oil paint and decent brushes!

 

Mad – to be the great ruiner of brushes!

 

Mad  – because it’s only 4.15 am and not daylight for another 4 hours at least!

 

Mad – because due to freezing studio conditions over last 3 days, your back is feeling somewhat tight and you have a bit of a chill, but you can’t wait to get back out there and try to resolve the massive painting you have started!

 

Mad – to start a massive oil painting in the first place when you could sit in the warm house and draw.

 

Mad – about art!

 

Time for a another coffee and to do some drawing until dawn  ….

 

With love,

Mad artist … or not so mad …

Mad!? Part 1, link here 

 

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

 

 

Framed for £100!

Do you want to collect art, but don’t know where to start?

Do you want to give someone a really amazing present for Xmas, a wedding or special birthday?

Do you already collect art and want to add to your collection but are running out of wall space?

 

  

Here is a solution –

  • This collection of small seascapes framed for £100. They are like windows to the beach. An attempt to portray a feeling that looking out to sea the view is unchanged … I am seeing what the cave people saw. Our distant ancestors of the neolithic, the bronze age … Perhaps when I paint the sea, I am connecting to my inner cavewoman! Looking inland at the landscape it is changed probably beyond all recognition from that distant past, but gazing to the horizon of the sea, there is a sense of the infinite and the timeless.
  • Small paintings are ideas being worked out, emotions explored, a passion for the sea and the sky – the moving elements captured in paint. Small paintings are intimate and personal.

If you are interested in any of these treasures washed up by the tide of 2017, you might want to check out my blog too.  I wrote over 40 blogs called ‘Diary of an Exhibition’ this year about painting the sea

 

I LOVE THE BEACH  AND I LOVE THESE SMALL SEASCAPES 

All paintings are oil on canvas or oil and sand on canvas and are £100 each, framed with a white frame and gold slip and signed on the front.

 

 

SMALL SEASCAPES GALLERY – FRAMED FOR £100 Click this link to see what is available. 

 

Email me if you see anything you like …

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

Postage worldwide will be charged at cost.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Postcard from Lanark

I just wanted to write a short blog to sum up the Romance of the Falls exhibition.

When I started this project I bought a postcard on ebay, for £3.

Not wanting to promote any one persons work for the group exhibition I needed a strong image for the poster.

 

The postcard had been sent from Lanark to Calais in 1923.

It reads on the back –

Spending the week-end here. A lovely place. Think you would like it. Love Nessie

 

 

Nearly 100 years later, the postcard became the poster for an exhibition, the Facebook banner, the invitation and was screened on the interactive display on the high street.

 

I love that this simple, thoughtful greeting from Lanark was kept all those years and got a whole new lease of life, finding its way back from France to Lanark!

Butterfly effect through the ages …

 

In 1923 Lanark and the Falls of Clyde were still a tourist destination. I challenge you to find a postcard of the Falls for sale in Lanark today!

That is because the hydro electric stole the power of the Falls shortly after this card was sent and Lanark as a tourist destination fell into decline.

 

The landscape around the Falls of Clyde is till under threat.

Please check out this Facebook page

 

Save Our Landscapes – New Lanark/ Falls of Clyde

 

For over 200 years visitors, artists, poets and writers flocked to the Falls of Clyde. It would be wonderful to think in 200 years time the same thing is happening. It was a wonderful summer with the falls in full power. I would LOVE to see them like that all the time. I think it would be very good for the area and put Lanark back on the must go map!

 

Please like the Facebook page

 

Save Our Landscapes – New Lanark/ Falls of Clyde 

 

(sorry the link not active, you will have to cut and paste onto Facebook to find the page!)

 

Best wishes

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

Have you ever thought about investing in a dream?

EPSON MFP image

Have you ever thought about investing in a dream?

My current dream goes like this –  I want to make more Alexander Technique inspired cartoons next year and I want to plant trees, to do my bit for this beautiful planet we live on! I also want to engage children and teenagers with the Alexander Technique thought processes, so that is simply something that they naturally know from a young age.

I am an artist and Alexander Technique teacher and I have been slowly working away creating images that hopefully express AT in a fun way. A task that I find exceedingly challenging, but very engaging.

One teacher, phoned to ask to use one of my cartoons to promote teaching the technique within the BBC. She said  ‘The Alexander Technique needs more images with a sharp wit like these.’ Amazing feedback!

Another teacher said I was wasting my time making art to promote Alexander Technique, that people simply were not interested!

If I am wasting my time, so be it! I care about Alexander Technique with a passion. It can so simply and profoundly transform peoples lives. It transformed mine. If I can do a wee bit to bring it into peoples field of attention via a cartoon or a verse or something else, yippee! To me that attempt is not a waste of time – it is my dream.

What do you think?

This is my latest project. The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods.  An Alexander Technique inspired colouring story book for children and adults. All profits will be used to plant trees.

It is the sort of thing as a child I would have loved, and I think would have given me a ‘heads up’ on some useful thinking that might have kept me out of trouble in more ways than one!

If you have ever thought about investing in a dream, perhaps you will think about buying one of these. You can enjoy the black and white images as they are, colour them in, read the stories and AT inspired ideas contained within to a child, enjoy them yourself, give as a gift or know that a tree has been planted.

To buy click here

 

Free postage in the UK, please email me for international postage. kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

Many thanks, Kirsten

fullsizeoutput_15f1

‘Feeling a Bit Prickly!?’ detail from ‘The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods’

 

Kirsten Harris 001

‘News – Skeleton Slumps at Screen!’

FB logo for The Daily Ease – Alexander Technique.

Organising a Group Exhibition

The last few months has been filled with organising Romance of the Falls exhibition in Lanark, and I loved it!

 

It has been a tremendous opportunity to meet other artists and locals in the community. As a self employed artist working from home it is easy to find oneself isolated. I no longer feel isolated. I feel connected to some great people.

 

The 3 arty parties we threw for the exhibition saw not only artworks bought but friendships formed. Like minded folk connecting. Be that artists with other artists or art lovers getting a chance to meet the artists and vice versa. It’s been great! The feedback has been really positive.

 

Today is the last chance to see the morphed exhibition – Artists Choice.

 

A big thank you to everyone who has exhibited or visited and especially those who have bought art work.

 

A massive thank you to Ian Leitch for his continuous tireless and voluntary work at the Tobooth and support of this exhibition. You’re a star!

 

Much love Kirsten

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art, Bamboo Glasses and a Foul Mouthed Pub Landlady

Last night at the exhibition opening of Seascapes at the Old Chain Pier in Edinburgh, stories were told about the eccentric landlady who presided there in the 50’s and 60’s. Her family had owned the pub since the turn of the century.

 

My friends mum and dad, revealing how they went on their second ever date to the Old Chain Pier 55 odd years ago, reminisced.  Last night was their first time back…

 

Apparently Betty Moss was a character and a half, always resplendent in oriental costume and bamboo glasses. She swore like a trooper, shot a gun to the ceiling to call last orders, swung a cutlass over her head to deal with rowdy customers and told everyone to ‘fuck off children’ at the end of the night. It was a sailors pub and she was in charge! 50 years later she is still talked about, her photo, found by the present owner in the cellar, hangs above the bar.

 

 

(Betty Moss – check out the earrings!)

 

Back then every inch of the pub walls were covered in postcards from all over the world. There was no picture windows to the amazing sea view! I guess sailors don’t want to look at the sea whilst drinking a pint and a nip. In fact everything about the inside is different, yet the memory of Betty Moss lives on.

 

Later in the evening my friends gave me ‘how to’ instructions on a contemporary kind of postcard,Instagram, wondering why as an artist I hadn’t made use of this ‘postcards to the world’ form of communication to show my paintings.

Um, no answer apart from not knowing how to do it! Dah!

So I was given a brilliant impromptu masterclass from a professional marketeer, the art director of an ad agency and someone who has 1000’s of followers on the said platform… WOW! Thank you guys, I hope it all went into my brain. Brilliant stuff.

 

I wonder what Betty Moss would make of the social media conversation? By the sound of her she would have embraced it long since, have made big ripples in new medias and be talked about all over the world!

 

Hmmm ….. where are my bamboo glasses?

 

 

 

 

Exhibition on until the end of January.

Framed seascapes from £100

check out my website… www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

‘My Walls are Too Small!’

‘My walls are too small for a big painting!’

 

It’s a comment I hear a lot and it always makes me laugh. I look at the person and think, ‘What a load of rubbish, you don’t live in a hobbit hut!’

 

So here is my low down on why ‘my walls are too small’ is not true!

 

  • It may just be a matter of education, you may never have tried a big painting on a wall and so have no idea how amazing it will look, so are possibly assuming your walls are too small.
  • Did you know that a big painting in a small room will make the space look bigger?Breaking up the space with lots of small paintings can actually make a room look smaller.
  • A big painting adds wow factor to a room. It can save decorating. Just hang a big painting and bobs your uncle, you have impact. I am not a fan of rooms with a TV a sofa and white walls, the so called minimalism. Add a big painting and your room will suddenly have a heart!
  • Most ceilings are much taller than you! (I will make an exception for very tall folk entering low ceilinged ancient cottages) Most big paintings won’t be taller than you. Therefore your walls are definitely not too small!
  • If you buy directly from an artist most artists will be more than happy to let you try before you buy. I am like to hang a painting for someone who is interested in my work and try different wall positions to see if the painting is going to work in the space,  with absolutely no obligation to buy. So do ask. In fact my sister would say I should come with a warning as I will probably help you rearrange the furniture too!
  • On the subject of redecorating – if you are redecorating think about choosing the art work first then the wall colours after. It’s logical if you think about it!
  • A big painting can add structure and cohesion and flow to the look of a room, pulling all the elements together. By the way you can hang oil paintings in bathrooms.
  • And here is a radical thought, it is ok to take paintings down and put new ones up. I rotate my paintings all the time creating a new vibe in the room instantly!

 

So, go on … I dare you, think about being bold and buying a big painting. A big painting needn’t be more expensive and your walls are probably certainly not too small!

 

 

Wind and Sea and my hair being buffeted by the weather! – SOLD

A Falling Romance – SOLD

 

 

A big painting and some handsome men!

SOLD

Michael Douglas and a big giraffe painting … Genius me, I managed to get both him and the painting out of focus! I think I was too excited by having him at my exhibition! What an incredibly nice man. He loved the giraffes ….

 

There is another big giraffe painting hanging at the Tolbooth in Lanark this week.

 

Two upcoming private views – this week

 

 

and now for something completely different here is a link to my colouring book – I love it! Xmas pressie idea …

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods  Colouring Story Book HERE

 

My Colouring Book

How about a giving a gift of planting a tree via a colouring book this Xmas?

At the same time you will be sharing a a healthy dose of Alexander Technique and mindfulness nature wisdom …

 

If that sounds appealing you have nothing further to do than click here and buy The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods, my Alexander Technique inspired colouring story book.

 

I am super proud of it – it is hand drawn and written with love inspired by walking in the woods with my dog Maisie. All profits will be used to plant trees, so please do consider supporting this environmental/educational project.

 

Front and back cover .. showing details of drawings inside…

 

  • ‘A very beautiful combination of writing and pictures’ John, AT teacher
  • ‘It’s making me want to go for a walk … That’s amazing in itself!’ Dougie
  • ‘Within the Words and magical illustrations are lots of wonderful reminders of the wisdom and teachings of the Alexander Technique. It is a delightful, gentle, joyous book of wisdom for all ages.’ Sally

 

The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods buy here! 

(sample pages when you follow link)

 

Please ignore the bit on the link that says local pick up only. I haven’t figured out how to change it!

Free postage in UK.

Please email me for costs to post abroad.

kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

I hope to hear from you

 

Love Kirsten and Crazy Maisie dog x

Maisie walking int the woods in Scotland

 

 

If you love art you will adore an open studio …

Every year all over the country artists open their studios to the public.

This is a fantastic chance to buy directly from an artist. It is a win win situation for both artist and art lover. Here is why …

 

  • No commissions to pay to middle men aka galleries, art websites etc. This means that the artist does not have to add money to the price of the artwork to allow for commission, meaning that you the buyer can purchase the work at a better price.
  • The artist gets to meet you the buyer. Over the years many of the people who have bought my work have become great friends! Why? Because we share a similar vibe as evidenced by the art that we both like. Some unspoken, unquantifiable, joyous link is established. When you buy through a gallery or a website the opportunity to make that connection is not there. It is huge loss.
  • From an artists point of view it is absolutely brilliant to get feedback, positive or otherwise from your visitors. You learn so much by folk coming to your studio. Don’t be shy to talk to the artist about their work. It is also brilliant to know who has bought your art. Having put your heart and soul into the art work, to not know who has bought it is a little bit sad.
  • Open studios are often in the artists home. Visiting you get to see what influences the artist, how they live, what they surround themselves with, the environment the work is made in. Very famous artists studios have been known to be dismantled intact and rebuilt in a gallery situation after their demise! I can think of two examples local to me. Ian Hamilton Findlay’s amazing garden Little Sparta is now an out post of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. I was lucky enough to meet Hamilton Findlay and look around his garden before his death. Link to Little Sparta Trust here. Also Leith born artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s studio has been rebuilt in the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh Link here.
  • An artist will want to find you something to sell at a price you can afford! Trust me on this! It is such a good feeling when someone want to have your work in their home, it gives you impetus to keep on creating. At an open studio you will see work that you won’t find on websites or in galleries. Ideas, work in progress, sketch books, unframed masterpieces … you will find treasures!
  • The artist will be delighted to see you. It is a lonely business being an artist. Folk paying an interest in your work is amazing. You will probably get a cuppa or a glass of wine or a bit of amazing home made cake!
  • It is a great day out. These days artists  often collaborate to make a yearly artist trail in their area. My open studio this weekend is part of the Biggar Little Festival.
  • www.kirstenharrisart.com

Open Studio – Up Cycled Danishly

I have been working towards Up-Cycled Danishly for over two years.

That is, painting furniture and doing seascapes for the walls.

This open studio I have achieved it the look I was after… It is not quite a fabulous as I hoped due to lack of space, so everything is a bit  crammed, but mission accomplished!

The idea was to up-cycle furniture in an antique Danish peasant style, as inspired by my Danish grandmother, and combine the furniture with seascapes. A look that reminds me of my childhood and one that I have always loved. I have a few inherited pieces of painted furniture so decided to add to the collection. My rule was to take solid pieces of furniture and improve them, rather than just make them look different. They were to look old and as though they were meant to be that way.

 

Bizarrely the  best brush I found for painting the motif details was a Japanese sumie brush, designed for painting on rice paper not wood. But it worked.

It has been a huge amount of work. Painting furniture is a slow business.Also bulky! My house is now beginning to be rather, um, full! Time to let go and sell a few pieces to create space to keep painting.

 

In order to set the room up I have turned my painting studio aka the garage into a dump. Anything that doesn’t go with the look has been put in there. OMG, total mess! But hey ho, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, and being a finisher/completer type (so a human resources friend once told me) Up-cycled Danishly it is.

 

Essentially the look is striped upholstery and rugs, roses and other flowers, hearts and birds as motifs, colour schemes blues, greens reds …

 

Carnwath, the nearest village to me, prides itself on being the village in Scotland furthest from the sea, which to my mind says nowhere in Scotland is very far from the sea! But oh to now transport the work to an old farmhouse on the coast with lots of space to see the pieces in interior design vignettes as opposed to squashed together.   In the meantime here is is in South Lanarkshire –  Up-cycled Danishly.

I hope you like it. All work is for sale.

 

Up-cycled Danishly

Next weekend … 28-29 October

My house …

Coffee and Danish biscuits and a warm welcome …

 

Berry Knowe Cottage, Westsidewood, Carnwath, South Lanarkshire. ML11 8LJ

Phone me for directions – Kirsten 07711 903537

Or by appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out this Free Creativity E-Course Testemonial

This blog is a letter from someone who took my free creativity e-course. (link below.) Maybe you can relate to what she says about spending 50 years thinking she wasn’t creative …

 

‘Kirsten, through your online art course you made me feel like I CAN be creative after 50 years of thinking I can’t! You opened my mind to a new possibility and showed me art – my art creations – in the simplest of things. This is a mind opening, chink of possibility. I have yet to transform this new way of thinking into an actual, physical piece of art although I did go and cover my walls (the canvas) in paint recently. It was hard physical work and my arms ached for days afterwards but as I did it I reminded myself that this too, the simple act of decorating a room, could be classed as art when thought of in this way. Paint on a canvas. Strong roller strokes of a colour I love … And now I love the new feel of the room I have recoloured and recreated.

 

I want to find another slightly less physical way of covering a canvas in paint. I like words. They too are art I now realise. Squiggly lines on a piece of paper that convey something – a thought, an idea. I love the thought that putting on my moisturiser and painting my face with makeup is also an art form. This opens up my mind so much to all these ways of being creative. My garden – selecting just the right flowers and placing them in certain places that I choose, is a creation. Who knew? Me! Artistic. What a concept!

 

I love the concept of the physical body and the mind working together (or maybe letting go together) to allow a piece of art to flow and become. My art. My expression of something – as it is and as it shows up in that moment. But can I manage not to judge it? That’s a challenge. Years of internal criticism habits are hard to erase. A lot of old thinking patterns to break and yet you have helped me make a beginning. I don’t think I shall really draw or paint – I don’t think it’s my medium although I don’t rule it out, but you have opened my mind to the possibility that I can be artistic in so many other ways… my signature, my writing, an arrangement of objects, flowers, a choice of a photograph to take – oh so many possibilities suddenly appear. And art can be fun it seems – not too serious a business after all.

 

You work your magic in so many ways. Thank you for all the thought, love, experiences and fun you poured into this wonderful creation of a course – I loved it. It is a gift.’  Sally, Scotland

 

Why don’t you sign up for 8 days of ideas about creativity in the free e-course below, it is totally free, just an artists way of making connections …

 

 

 

Free Creativity E – Course – Testemonial

This blog is a letter from someone who took my free creativity e-course. (link below.) Maybe you can relate to what she says about spending 50 years thinking she wasn’t creative …

 

‘Kirsten, through your online art course you made me feel like I CAN be creative after 50 years of thinking I can’t! You opened my mind to a new possibility and showed me art – my art creations – in the simplest of things. This is a mind opening, chink of possibility. I have yet to transform this new way of thinking into an actual, physical piece of art although I did go and cover my walls (the canvas) in paint recently. It was hard physical work and my arms ached for days afterwards but as I did it I reminded myself that this too, the simple act of decorating a room, could be classed as art when thought of in this way. Paint on a canvas. Strong roller strokes of a colour I love … And now I love the new feel of the room I have recoloured and recreated.

 

I want to find another slightly less physical way of covering a canvas in paint. I like words. They too are art I now realise. Squiggly lines on a piece of paper that convey something – a thought, an idea. I love the thought that putting on my moisturiser and painting my face with makeup is also an art form. This opens up my mind so much to all these ways of being creative. My garden – selecting just the right flowers and placing them in certain places that I choose, is a creation. Who knew? Me! Artistic. What a concept!

 

I love the concept of the physical body and the mind working together (or maybe letting go together) to allow a piece of art to flow and become. My art. My expression of something – as it is and as it shows up in that moment. But can I manage not to judge it? That’s a challenge. Years of internal criticism habits are hard to erase. A lot of old thinking patterns to break and yet you have helped me make a beginning. I don’t think I shall really draw or paint – I don’t think it’s my medium although I don’t rule it out, but you have opened my mind to the possibility that I can be artistic in so many other ways… my signature, my writing, an arrangement of objects, flowers, a choice of a photograph to take – oh so many possibilities suddenly appear. And art can be fun it seems – not too serious a business after all.

 

You work your magic in so many ways. Thank you for all the thought, love, experiences and fun you poured into this wonderful creation of a course – I loved it. It is a gift.’  Sally, Scotland

 

Why don’t you sign up for 8 days of ideas about creativity in the free e-course below, it is totally free, just an artists way of making connections …

 

 

 

Disappointment, Destruction and Recreating

The last ever trip I did with my dad before he died was to go and see a field shelter that I wanted to buy for my ponies. Here it is

Sadly within a few short months it started to collapse as the arches were built out of unsuitable material. I phoned the guy who built it who came and stuck a bit of wood in the middle saying ‘I didn’t realise it was this bad’ and promised to come back and fix it. He did not. Nor did he answer my phone calls. I felt so disappointed having saved up for a year to buy it.

So I paid someone to take it down as I was scared of it collapsing on my ponies and felt really upset. A pile of timber sat in my driveway for several months.

 

This summer a retired friend offered to help me to rebuild it, reusing as much of the wood as possible. Tears came to my eyes when we got the bones of the structure up as it felt enormously healing. Recreating something ten times more solid – I know dad would be really cheered.

Here is the finished shelter …

 

So despite being really upset about the lack of response and the shoddy workmanship of the original arc here is what I learned …

 

I learned about the art of hammering, with a free neck and a free wrist, letting the momentum of the hammer do the work.

I learned about the kindness and pure goodness of people  ‘I am not doing it for you, but for the ponies so they have shelter in the winter’.

I learned about patience. The original arc was erected in a morning. Our shelter took us many days, making sure that the structure was entirely solid from base up.

I learned about pacing yourself when doing a big job like this. Work away with awareness and consideration and a structure will emerge and you won’t ache.

I also wondered whether in the long run it is entirely more satisfying to make something yourself than to buy off the peg!

 

My friend tells me that I would now be able to build a shed myself, though I am not entirely convinced, but I do have a much better sense of construction having gone through this.

 

The tortoise and the hare story springs to mind.

We got there and the ponies LOVE it!

 

 

 

 

 

Press Release – Romance of the Falls Exhibition

During the Napoleonic Wars when Europe was closed for The Grand Tour, The Falls of Clyde at Lanark became a ‘must visit’ place on what became known as Le Petit Tour.

 

Determined to continue the Romantic tradition, Romance of the Falls is an eclectic, exciting group contemporary art exhibition at the newly refurbished historic Tollbooth in Lanark’s High Street, opening on the 12 October for a month.

 

Following in the the footsteps of JMW Turner, Jacob More, The Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott to name a few of the greats who have drawn inspiration from this spectacular scenery over the past centuries, a collection of artists are once again being inspired by The Falls of Clyde which have been flowing at full power all summer. It was the building of the hydro electric power station in the 1920’s that caused the Falls of Clyde to fall off the art map! (See before and after photos at end of this post).

 

Painters, sculptors, steam punk makers, furniture creators, illustrators, glass workers, jewellers, textile artists and a film maker exhibit side by side in this powerful exhibition, each interpreting the theme of Romance of the Falls in their own style, ranging from wildlife to landscape, abstraction to surrealism.

 

A percentage of sales from the art will go to the Tolbooth to continue their exciting refurbishment work, bringing this fifteenth century former prison into an exhibition and event space with wow factor. The next phase is refurbishing the magnificent high ceiling upstairs room.

 

Art work will be exhibited on both floors during this show.

Come and see what amazing artistic talent there is in the area!

 

ARTISTS EXHIBITING – Jacqueline MacAteer, Mark Davies, Myra Gibson, Veronica Liddell, Stephanie Whatley, Julie Grey, Evelyn McEwan, May Carnan, Nancy Scott, Kathleen Stewart, Pat McKenzie, Ellen Mc CAnn, Isobel Stamford, Jill Sievewrithg, Jean Mellin, Eve Whittle, Trudi Green, Kaye Shearer, Andy Cross, Hazel Findlay, Elspeth Wight, Jo Green, Janey Horberry, Eileen Hood, Christine Brown, Jane Kirkwood, David Randall, Ewan Cameron, Trevor Taylor, Kirsten Harris

The Falls of Clyde by JMW Turner

Two photos of the same view at Bonnington Linn.

Firstly as Turner and the Romantic artists and writers saw it and the second with the hydro electric diverting it’s power most of the time these days.

 

Above the left hand waterfall is a little iron bridge, now uncrossable, that led to the island in the middle of the falls and a folly temple. It must have been so exciting to cross the fall with it’s 30 ft drop.

 

Remains of the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ opposite Corra Linn.

Mirrors gave visitors the feeling that they were standing inside the waterfall.

Now under threat of collapse from development work at the hydro electric sub station.

 

 

 

Romance of the Falls Exhibition venue – The historic 15th century Tolbooth in Lanark’s High Street and it’s beautiful community gallery.

 

 

Press in the Lanark Gazette

Monkey at a Waterfall

‘A Falling Romance’ Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

 

Painting on a large scale involves using your legs.

 

Not only do you stand at the easel but in Alexander Technique speak you have to use your monkey. That is to bend at the hips and knees to get into deep squats. Monkey is a must if you are not going to end up with back ache as a painter of large canvases. (An Alexander Technique teacher will show you how powerful your monkey is!)

 

Walking back into your back to get a distance perspective also helps. Walking backwards away from the easel is a chance to connect the arms deeply into your back to flick paint, smear, scratch, dab and throw paint as you move forward and up again into the painting.

 

Staying active up and out of the hips, legs and feet to move while you work is also essential. Move with the paint to let it flow.

Dance like a butterfly, paint like a bee!

 

This style, as used in ‘A Falling Romance’ could be described as action painting or whole body painting. It is exhilarating, gestural, fun and messy. A bit like pogo dancing at a punk concert –  you just have to let go, go for it and not really care!

 

Inevitably beautiful passages of paint get lost in the craziness of the process.

Creativity, destruction, flow …

Let’s go…

 

If you want to let go more in your creativity adventure with a bit of Alexander Technique thinking thrown in, why not sign up for my free creativity e-course.

It’s fun – 8 emails over 8 days to get you thinking a little differently … hopefully!

It may be a good place to start and was written with love … link below

 

 

In the meantime –  here is a monkey (ok a chimp)

Darwin, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 50 cm

 

Link to my free creativity e-course below

To start learning Alexander Technique click here

 

 

 

 

 

An Ashtray and the Inspiration behind Romance of the Falls Exhibition

I smoked as an art student. Nearly all of us did. It was the 80’s after all and we thought we were cool. What we didn’t realise was that the ashtray we were casually flicking ash into was worth a million quid! Now that’s cool!

 

Professor David Hill, the world renowned Turner expert and author, was our art history lecturer at Bretton Hall College in the 80’s. Every class from cave painting to the High Renaissance, from pop art to pointillism, David Hill would find a way to bring Turner into the conversation.

 

As a first year I hated Turner, and with artist Jane Tomlinson took a pop at Turner by writing a joke essay about a fictional Mrs Turner and handing it in. Anything to argue against the revered man. By the third year I was converted and wrote my degree thesis on the Turner Prize.

 

David Hill wrote a book called In Turner’s Footsteps, so of course the big inspiration behind gathering a group of artists for the Romance of the Falls Exhibition at the Tolbooth, Lanark 12 October – 12 November is to follow in Turner’s footsteps drawing inspiration from the Falls of Clyde. Ever since I have visited the Falls I have thought ‘I am walking in Turner’s footsteps’, seeing what he saw. An idea for an exhibition has been brewing for several years. David Hill

 

For the million pound ashtray story and David Hill’s discovery here is a link to his website … well worth a read, quite amazing.

The Bretton Hall Marbles: #1, The Ashtray and the Million Pound Plant Pot

The Royal Academy of Arts in Edinburgh have kindly allowed us to  reproduce Turner’s Falls of Clyde painting as a postcard which will be on sale at Romance of the Falls, Contemporary Art at the Tolbooth, Lanark 12 October – 12 November.

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851)

The Falls of Clyde 1801

 

A Falling Romance – work in progress …

Detail from a much bigger oil painting’ A Falling Romance’ work in progress  ….

Looking down onto Cora Linn …

Looking across to Bonnington Linn

 

An old postcard looking up to Bonnington Linn.  Details of the upcoming exhibition

 

In the days when The Falls of Clyde was on the ‘must paint’ list for artists, visitors were able to get to the base of Bonnington Linn to paint the scene.  There was also a little red iron bridge, now unusable, over one of the cascades to the rocky island in the middle where the two falls separate, which housed a temple. The island is covered in trees so I have no idea how much remains.

 

The experience of the waterfalls then must have been more intense. Coupled with the fact that since the 1930’s the hydro electric has ‘stolen’ the water, subverting it though the power station. My guess is that action alone caused the Falls of Clyde to fall off the ‘must see’ list!

 

Unbelievable luck for this group of contemporary artists ‘Romance of the Falls’ as coincidentally the river have been running in it’s full glory again all summer due to repairs to the substation. So, in part, we have been able to see what Turner, Wordsworth, Naismyth, Burns and countless others greats saw. The left hand cascade on the old postcard is now-a-days usually dry, though not at the moment, so go soon if you get a chance.

 

Researching the history, I found an old etching by a nameless etcher.

 

I decided to imagine myself into the view from below, using the etching as inspiration. Many of the romantic paintings and engravings of the past show naked nymphs prostrate at the base of the cascades too. Not a naked nymph in site during my walks in the beautiful woodlands by the Clyde this rainy summer so decided against nymphs!

 

I began and soon realised what a flipping difficult task painting a waterfall is. I don’t want to paint a portrait but somehow portray something about flow, power, movement, energy, growth in a semi abstract way.

Water coming from the sky, over the falls and into the earth.

Wow and I thought painting seascapes was hard!

 

The first layer of paint came out as a pretty but fantasy-like waterfall picture. Hmmm, ok, but not what I had in mind… more walks …. more layers of paint …. more and more respect for the unknown etchers level of detail and truth about the landscape ….

 

To be continued …

 

 

A Walk in the Woods – Art Muscles and The Tree of Life

‘The Tree of Life’ by Kirsten Harris

 

You don’t get big bulgy biceps, if that’s your thing, without a lot of time spent developing them. The same can be said of art – developing a painting, an exhibition or collection of drawings takes time and dedication. Skills, like trees, take decades to grow.

 

Many years ago dad said to me –

‘If someone ask how long it takes to do a painting say  – a lifetime. Each painting is a culmination of your lifetime spent painting.’ I felt very supported in that moment.

 

I have no idea why I paint, I just do. But sometimes ideas come to me whilst painting.

 

Having spent the last 15 months since dad’s death painting even more solidly than ever, I started fantasising that it would be great to stop painting for a bit and develop a different kind of muscle.

 

The ‘Aha Moment’ came – tree planting!

A tremendous rest of a lifetime project waiting to be explored and grown.

 

So, with that aim in mind, I have made a colouring and story book called The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods. Hopefully it will appeal to children and adults alike.

 

The exciting bit – all profits will go to planting trees. The time spent quietly drawing these past few weeks will hopefully see a woodland habitat growing in the future. I want to plant trees! Trees for life on our beautiful planet.

 

A Walk in the Woods is a story and colouring book with a message – kind of Alexander Technique thinking meets eco-warrior meets animal lover meets tree hugger with a couple of unicorns thrown in for luck! Get the picture?

It is a walk with a black pen over white paper with a good intention.

 

Buying The Daily Ease – A Walk in the Woods, you will be part of this artist’s tree planting project. Together we can do a bit for the planet.

If you are interested  please email me …

Colouring book pre-orders being taken (or should that say tree-orders!)

 

It will be available to post in the next couple of weeks with a link on my website.

A Walk in the Woods is for sale at £10 per copy (plus p&P) – which is the projected cost of planting one tree.

Pre-order now

Let’s plant trees!

Love Kirsten x

 

Contact me – kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

UK 07711 903537

 

(When you buy a painting directly from an artist, support an art project, comment on an art work or give feedback, please be assured it is worth its weight in gold. Artists have no paid holidays, no line managers, no work reviews, or promotions, no bonuses or incentives. You do that job by being supportive. So a big thank you for all past and previous support.)

 

 

 

 

 

What a Nun Taught Me

Sister Marie Therese, an ancient French nun, was the art teacher at our convent school.

 

She was very keen on us copying and seemed to have a large supply of chocolate boxy 1930’s style pretty pictures for us to chose from, which is odd considering her own art work. (See blog The Nun, Picasso and Me.)

 

One day whilst happily copying an idyllic thatched cottage featuring a little cat beside a bowl of milk, Sr Marie Therese did her rounds of our desks and declared

 

‘Zat painting eez finished.’

‘But Sister, the cat is terrible!’ I replied.

‘No Kirsten, it eez finished. Only God is perfect. Ze cat must be bad to make the rest of the painting good. Stop now’

 

My fourteen year old brain was rather confused by this odd statement and horrified by the cats spindly legs and tail, but dutifully packed away my paints.

 

Now having just ruined a very large canvas of four cheetah in my search for perfection, her words came back to me. Why did I think the painting was not good enough? I had liked it for a year and then suddenly changed it dramatically because something was not quite right. Maybe that something was just my own thinking!

 

Today I will have another ‘go’ at the said painting and by the end, if I can resolve the mess, it will be a totally different painting to the one that I tried to perfect. Dah!

 

So Sister’s lesson is perhaps to beware perfectionism and not good enoughism to allow a channel to flow through. Accept your painting will never be perfect and let go to humbly enjoy the fun of painting in the perfect moment now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White Elephant and Treasure

The White Elephant, Oil on Canvas, 150 x 100 cm

 

I remember as a 5 years old at a village fete being totally fascinated by something called The White Elephant Stall. Where was the white elephant? And why a white elephant? It was the best stall as it was full of interesting stuff and weird objects.

 

I have just googled the origins of the expression and so it goes – the Kings of Siam gave such animals as a gift to courtiers they disliked, in order to ruin the recipient by the great expense incurred in maintaining the animal.

 

The title The White Elephant came to me towards the end of painting this huge canvas when I added a tiny calf. Despite the fact that the painting is mainly magenta, purple and cerulean blue, the focal point of the painting is the tiny white elephant lit by the moon and the river.

 

I have painted the theme of elephants at a water hole before (see blog ‘Why Do Artists Repeat Themselves?’) inspired by seeing a huge herd at the river in Chobe, Botswana on a camping trip with mum and dad. An amazing wonderful never to be forgotten sight that I love returning to in my imagination.

 

So to collecting treasure – art and stuff …

Art is subjective. As well as elephants, you would definitely have to love magenta and want to make a big statement in a room to own The White Elephant. A painting you love may not appeal to someone else. One person’s treasure is another persons white elephant. Exciting.

 

Car booting is a favourite Sunday morning expedition. Treasure hunting in a field, Maisie gets lots of attention and dog biscuits from kindly fellow treasure hunters, who like me are gleefully clutching their new white elephants.

 

This summer I seem to have been making a collection of wooden boxes, I even found one with an elephant carved onto the lid. I don’t know why I am drawn to collecting boxes at the moment and I don’t really care, stables for white elephants perhaps, new treasures yet to be found.

 

Time to get up and go to the car boot, a walk at the Falls of Clyde then back to the studio for the rest of the day to work on a huge waterfall painting ….

 

Link to The White Elephant painting here

 

Punctuation and Painting

I am lucky to have a friend who is punctuation and spelling goddess. Or as she would describe herself, a pedant. My ability at both p. and s. is OK but I always seem to make silly mistakes: often the same one. Habitual grammar gaffes. Dah!

 

Looking through a piece of writing and finding your own apostrophe catastrophe is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Impossible to see. Fiendishly good grammar pals are a blogger’s godsend, although she tells me that writing about punctuation is bound to invoke Muphry’s Law: that’s the one where you will inevitably make a punctuation mistake.

 

Today I have been going over seascape paintings with fresh eyes looking for the missing brush strokes, the tiny blob of paint that can make the painting flow and sing. Punctuation for painters!

 

My question to myself as I look for completion is ‘Can I add brilliance?’  Highlights and lowlights to add meaning and drama; black and white paint are on my palette.

 

This is a very different and more considered process in comparison to the one described in my blog: ‘How to do a Truly Terrible Painting and Have a Totally Terrific Time’.

 

Before every exhibition I set aside several days to look at my paintings and ask whether I can add an apostrophe-like dot or dash of paint in just the right place to complete the painting’s flow or link a passage of paint. A painterly full stop. Sometimes the full stop might be just a completely random contrasting flick of colour, or simply realising I’d forgotten to sign the painting.

 

Historically, the Royal Academy of Arts in London had a day called Varnishing Day. The artists would climb ladders, brushes in hand, to their already framed and hung paintings, and make these tiny finishing touches.

 

Framed and signed paintings on a clean wall look different from unframed canvases in the studio. The frame and space reveal another dimension to the artwork.

 

A painting is never really finished until someone buys it and takes it away. Until then there is always the chance that I will see another missing comma, which can lead to a whole new passage of painting – even a total repaint. Looking for grammar mistakes can be a dangerous business!

 

If you miss the full stop because you didn’t listen to the voice that said ‘Stop Now’ but instead keep going enthusiastically, you then have to keep on painting until another one reveals itself. That can be quite frustrating. It’s easy to miss the ‘Aha’ moment: that moment of completion.

 

So, here are some thoughts on painting and punctuation. If you too need a proofreader then I highly recommend you employ wordsmith Woodstock Taylor. You can find her on Facebook. I will be asking her to check my punctuation for this blog, so any mistakes you spot are indeed Muphry’s Law in action!

 

Below are some seascapes that have been checked for visual punctuation today.

 

I always have small framed paintings available on my website for £100, plus p&p worldwide – a great way to start collecting original art or a fabulous gift.

I love doing my small oil paintings and as for a gift –  who doesn’t love the sea?

 

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

 

 

Make Art Not War – Weapons of Mass Creation

At art school a tutor commented that my brushes looked like they had been at war. A comment that stuck with me, but I did not really understand.

 

Twenty years later whilst painting I was listening to a Radio 4 programme on post traumatic stress disorder, previously known as shell shock and realised that I had grown up with a father with shell shock. A man blown up in Cyprus working for Special Forces. It came as a shock to me. A revelation – of course why had I not seen it before!? It was so totally obvious. The programme went on to talk about secondary PTSD, that growing up with someone suffering these conditions the child could/would inherit a version of the condition.

 

Another ten years have passed, I have done nothing with this knowledge apart from to consider it and be utterly grateful that I discovered Alexander Technique at the age of 24 beginning the process of letting go of holding within my system and understanding the incredible power of transformation that our thinking and awareness holds for us. The past thirty years without Alexander Technique seems totally unimaginable!

 

My dad died a year past, and I have been painting solidly as a way of coping with my grief and the shock and the freezing of my surface emotions that came with his revelation of cancer and painful passing. The only way I have been able to let go is to paint, unable to cry and with no-one about to hold me or comfort me, I channelled my whole self into art, painting and writing. (Having been a person who cries at Lassie movies my entire life this inability to cry really surprised me.)

 

It came to me the other day whilst painting that what I have been doing since a little girl, when I would hide in my bedroom and paint, is channelling war – channelling the aftermath, turning destruction into creativity, finding a way to stay me and hold my course, be in my life line, despite the reverberations, the echo waves, the explosions, the untransformed shock that these soldiers hold within, past war scenes and battle fields that would leak into a suburban household.

 

I stopped painting last week, suddenly utterly exhausted. I come out of this phase with the thought that my paintbrushes are my weapons of mass creation and that artists are totally necessary for our beautiful planet right now.

 

Please create –  find ways of expressing your self, your ideas and inspirations, making connections – channeling what comes through you, listening deeply. Our job as artists I believe is to allow beauty, inspiration, truth, light, hope, healing, power, passion, the good stuff to shine through us.

 

So my war cry is – art warriors of the world rise up!

I truly believe your unique contribution is needed right now!

Enough of this nonsense about artists being mad or self indulgent or your art not being good enough. Art is healing on many many levels and this planet could do with some of that, the more the better methinks …

 

(written with love and tears)

 

Alexander Technique link

Artists Statement

As a painter my interest lies primarily in the process of painting – brush strokes, mark making, colour – the surface texture of paint, the flow of a line, the feel …

 

However, what lies behind the feel, flow and joy of painting is something I have started blogging about this year. That is, how my training as an Alexander Technique teacher influences my artwork. An influence much like the wind over the water that creates a wave … the breeze rustling the leaves of a tree … that invisible influence that changed my life and art. The awareness that the direction of my thinking influences me as I paint.

 

I am becoming more and more interested in what blocks and what allows creativity – yours and mine. I have been writing about it in my blogs on my website. The blogging becoming an important part of my art process this past year.

 

How does our thinking and sense of ‘self’ affect our artwork and creative minds?
I am sure the world needs unblocked creative thinkers right now!

 

An open flowing in the moment awareness and conscious balancing psycho-physical presence at the easel reveals something that is both palpable and recognisable to the viewer but at the same time mysterious and somewhat undefinable.You know ‘it is there’ but can’t quite put your finger on ‘it’ …

 

That mysterious thing was pointed out to me many years ago at an exhibition. Most of my paintings had ‘it’ a few didn’t. The visitor took me around my own exhibition and asked me what I had been thinking about and it struck me that she was absolutely right, the ones where I was truly present, without trying hard or thinking about the end result had a quality that was missing in others. They had it factor!

 

Since training as an Alexander Technique teacher in 1993 with the late Don Burton, my artwork has flowed. The unblocking of my ‘self’ and return to an easier balance allowed art to move through me, without me getting in my own way all the time. It is of course an ongoing challenge that keeps me going into the studio day after day. Life can be tricky and unhelpful habits can re – emerge. The question, how to stay in the flow, keeps the process of painting interesting and engaging.

 

As well as ‘presence’, another theme running through much of my work is portraying movement. I am moving at the easel, the natural world I am portraying is moving too! Kinaesthetic awareness in a ‘static’ painting. Seascapes have become the latest challenge to express this interest. The ephemeral quality of the sea and sky provides a huge challenge.

The sea is constant yet moving, light changing and influencing the vision and moment.
The body of water a metaphor for my own body, the light – the living soul.

How can I express the beauty and magnificence of what I see and feel?
A question that I will be working on for a long time.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Kirsten

 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk – art blog, free creativity e-course
www.kirstenharris.co.uk – alexander technique blog – the daily ease

 

 

 

 

Writing a blog is better than talking to yourself!

Cartoon of negative chatter that gets in the way of creativity

 

I have been writing blogs! And it is interesting to me because it has now become part of the creative process. A bit of a revelation really and something I would recommend to any artist. Totally vulnerable making for sure, but it moves you through your ‘not good enough’ stuff and other unhelpful habits the moment you press PUBLISH. You move forward, learn about your process and despite blogging being solitary, as is painting, it is a fantastic way of connecting with people and the feedback is incredibly useful. Blogging has become part of my creative flow. I would never have thought in a million years that I would become a blogger! Blog on!

 

I am a painter and an Alexander Technique teacher, not a writer, but the challenge was set about a year ago to see if I could write about how AT influences and impacts on my art. It does for sure but writing about it?

 

So the title of this blog – well AT people and painters talk to themselves!

As an Alexander Technique passionista I am using my conscious thinking to maintain an easy upright stance. An internal and external present moment engagement. Helpful thinking that brings me to an easier loving sense of balanced self which is turn helps my painting!

 

As a painter there is a dialogue about which colour next, which mark, which brush to use … following the journey in something I am loving doing. The more I am loving the moment in paint and really comfortable in and with myself (thank you AT for changing my life) the better the result. People see something that they relate to.

Talking to myself in an AT way as I paint causes something to flow that works much better for me AND the artwork.

A line becomes an image becomes a day engaged in the present moment being creative and balancing in the ‘tension’ of it.

 

A bit like learning to drive … at first it is exhausting being so aware and concentrating on the road, but as you become proficient it becomes an easy habit. Painting with AT thinking driving the creative process is a habit for me. Folk come and visit and say ‘You have so much work!’ … as though it is not right! But what interests me is how artists get into the creative flow – unblock and become prolific.

 

I look at my paintbrushes( which do look as though I have ‘been at war’ as a tutor remarked way back at art school, nothing has changed there then!) and think – these are my weapons of mass creation! Surely that is what the world needs right now MASS CREATION. Individuals who are in the creative flow. Not locked up tight slumped in front of the TV thinking they are not good enough, not talented, not an artist in any way, filling in time with other peoples creative production instead of bringing their unique creativity out into the world!

 

So I will continue to talk to myself in my art stream and enjoy the moments of shared positive up flowing connection that the blogging brings too. Another creative layer, the writing informing the art from within and without.

It can be lonely being an artist … blogging connects.

Amazing world!

 

(Interestingly the more I write about art and AT, the more crazy it seems that I have two separate websites, one for the art and one for the AT! www.kirstenharrisart.com and www.kirstenharris.co.uk)

 

 

 

Light Waves

Solo

I have just been offered another solo show. It will be my fourth this year and I have said yes.

Solo – alone! Yup, that is true! Me, my paints and my animals. But somehow when I am working I am not alone. Painting definitely bridges the gap between here and there and keeps me present moment present tense aware and in the flow. And so I work. No point being addicted to worrying about the future. Best just enjoy the journey as I have no idea where I am going, but it is probably to the studio!

 

Filling four galleries, plus organising a group exhibition and doing an open studio event has made me think of the expression ‘rising to the challenge’, as I crawl into bed for an hour with my computer before going out to teach an Alexander Technique group class this evening!  Rising?Perhaps a bit of sinking for now!

 

Alexander Technique –  Forward and Up! FUP! Why not rise to the challenge? FUP It!

Life wouldn’t present the opportunity if I couldn’t do it surely! So just show up and paint. Let the challenge rise me!

 

The breath breathes itself, we can consciously control it, but we don’t have to think about our every breath.  My breath breathes me, why should the art not paint itself? Flowing like the breath onto the canvas. If I get out of my own way enough something interesting happens and the strange thing is that the more present I am to allowing painting, the more other people can recognise an undefinable but palpable quality. It sounds pretentious I know. But the reverse is also true, we can worry the paint to becoming an ugly muddy mess.

Allow painting, allow breathing, allow flow, allow solo …  or resist – think the work is not good enough, that there is not enough time, hold the breath, lose trust, worry about lonliness …

Choices …

Do I live life or does life live me?

 

Solo! So High!

Can’t wait to start painting again tomorrow …

 

 

 

 

 

‘Art and Anatomy’

Does lying on your back make you a better painter?

Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) – Self Portrait as Skin from the Sistine Chapel

 

We all famously know that Michelangelo lay on his back to paint the magnificent Sistine Chapel. This has always intrigued me – how did he do that? As an Alexander Technique teacher it is appealing to think that he found some sort of blissful connection to his back, his lengthening and releasing spine, allowing his genius to pour out. Some kind of High Renaissance version of semi-supine, aka constructive rest, that allowed him to paint with ease.

 

As a painter I have always been dubious. It turns out that the fact that he lay on his back to paint is a myth. Michelangelo was not comfortable in his skin at all, as this fascinating poem shows and the Self Portrait as Skin also seems to reveal –

Michelangelo: To Giovanni da Pistoia
“When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel” 1509

 

I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

 

Michaelangelo describes in great detail the physical discomfort he was in, not lying on his back but squashed into a crazy distortion to do the work. It really does make more sense that he had to contort himself to create such an extraordinary feat on a ceiling.

 

He says being physically stuck is affecting his thoughts, that he doesn’t feel right, that he has lost his confidence as a painter – ‘anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.’

 

I find this utterly fascinating and can relate to the lack of confidence that comes from being or feeing ‘screwed up!’ Simply put slumping and holding tension in the body effects the thinking processes and emotions.

Pyscho-physical unity of poise leads to more confidence and better thinking, as Michelangelo says – being in a bent  stuck body leads to thinking that is ‘crazy, perdifious tripe!’

 

Learning Alexander Technique certainly released my creativity. During my training with the late Don Burton I would regularly go into the movement studio in an evening and paint and paint filling the walls with artwork overnight.  The art had started to flow as the Alexander work released my ‘knotted and folded’ self.

 

I would suggest that anyone interested in developing their own creative process would do well to learn some Alexander Technique ‘Body Magic’ and lie on the floor and use the thinking like a magic paint brush. Learn to paint your own anatomy from the inside – exploring the shapes and contours, landscapes and places of your body with your mind to free into your unique creativity.

 

So does lying on your back makes you a better painter?

 

When I first came up with the blog idea title it made me titter in a very silly British humour kind of way! However, thinking about the question and discovering the poem by Michelangelo, I think it is a really useful question for painters and other creatives to think about. Maybe we don’t have the extraordinary genius and talent of Michaelangelo, but we can learn from him and recognise the truth in his words that being ‘stuck’ (tense, slumped, held, in pain, sore, physically contorted and out of balance) really does affect our thinking and our creativity and leave you, as he says, ‘not in the right place.’

Cartoon ‘The Zone’

Lying in semi supine to free up your creativity …

 

If you feel ‘a crooked blowpipe’ here is a link to a media download, BODY MAGIC, to be listened to lying down for you to work with  – CLICK HERE 

‘The Hallmarks of the Alexander Technique are creativity, spontaneity and adaptability to change.’ A.R. Alexander

 

Cartoon ‘Art and Anatomy’

(Me screwed up at art school!)

How to do a Truly Terrible Painting and Have a Totally Terrific Time …

To do a good painting you have to be prepared to do a really, really shit one.

So here is how to do a truly terrible painting in oil paint and have a totally terrific time

 

  1. Put on some rubber gloves, yup a bit kinky this ‘art thing’ darling, and if your lungs are sensitive like mine you can don a face mask too. Sexy, not!
  2.  Squeeze a good worm of scrumptious oil paint directly onto the canvas
  3.  Smear the paint on with your fingers – give it a good old enthusiastic rub and enjoy the sensation of colour and the tactile give of the canvas, add a few more colours and play
  4.  Sprinkle sand onto the painting. ‘Sand should surely look like sand in a seascape’ you think to yourself.
  5.  Get a palette knife and push the oil paint and sand around – crusty!
  6.  Blob some thinner over the crusty, lumpy oily paste, ‘oh heck it can’t get any worse!’
  7.  Mess about with a brush and realise using sand on a paint brush is going to wreck it really quickly …

 

Your painting should have gone through several truly terrible stages by now

 

8.  Keep thinking about the thing you want to paint (seascapes for me) and imagine being on the beach and wonder why you are working in the studio today? Promise yourself a trip to the beach asap, you need a holiday! Art is a tough business!

9.  Scrape paint off, squeeze more paint on. Repeat process. Repeat again. Try to forget how expensive oil paint is.

10. Start to wonder what the heck you are doing?! How on earth can you make such a terrible painting and wonder how this is ever going to come together? Totally embarrassing!

11. Be appalled by the fact that the horizon isn’t even straight!

12. Beat yourself up mentally a bit more and wonder if Van Gogh had such problems and then remember that he did and feel a bit better.

13. By now you have probably got oil paint on your face, your arms and your bum if you have been for a pee during the process.

14.  Oh well ‘keep calm and carry on’ and then you think ‘What calm?!’ Art is about suffering and passion!’ Suffer baby suffer, feel the passion, go for it and paint some more.

15. Somewhat desperately you wonder if you could call on the dead for help and try psychically channeling Turner and Rembrandt to paint for you …

15. ‘Oh! Maybe that worked’ …. suddenly something starts to emerge from the flotsam and jetsam of smeary colour, a beautiful brush stroke, a delightful colour combo that is ‘talking’ to you and then suddenly – AHA there is a seascape!

16. Feeling really rather proud of your masterpiece you reward yourself with a sink full of washing up, because your hands are now so covered in paint, despite the rubber gloves, that they need a jolly good soaking even after several scrubbings. This is no problem for you as you have a terrible habit of using a new mug every time you have a cuppa so there is a tsunami of crockery waiting for your attention …

17. You go to the kitchen, feel appalled and uninspired by the total chaos at the sink, (I thought I washed up this morning) make another cuppa, decide not to wash up and go do another painting instead!

 

She paints seascapes …

www.kirstenharrisart.com

 

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Dreaming of Love

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

Beautiful Old Grey North Sea

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

How Far to the Other Side?

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

The Moon is Falling

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

 

 

The Light

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

 

Fire Ball

Oil and Sand on Canvas

23 x 30 cm

Early Light, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 23 x 30 cm

 

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

Rain on the Beach

Oil and Sand on Canvas

 

Rain, Oil and Sand on Canvas, 40 x 50 cm

 

A Strange and Beautiful Place

Oil on Canvas

 

Stealing Clouds

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

 

Life is Beautiful

Oil on Canvas

40 x 40 cm

 

Early Evening

Oil on Canvas

40 x 50 cm

 

Light Rain

Oil on Canvas

40 x 40 cm

 

 

 

 

The Field

Tinto and Stone Walls 23×30 cm Oil on Canvas

 

‘Paint the field of intention’.

The words ‘the field of intention’ were with me all day. A weird instruction from my ‘higher self’ if you want to call it that.  Words to override the blues and feeling that I might be a tad mad, that I woke up with. Too much time spent alone no doubt!

‘Paint the field of intention!’ …

Ok! I will paint the field … plein air paintings and see what happens … positive action. If in doubt .. Paint!

 

Always assisted by Maisie the day goes like this …. paint, throw the ball, paint, throw the ball … all day!

She makes it very easy and ensures the ball is in reach …

Both obsessively doing our own thing and keeping each other company.

Crazy Maisie and Me!

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I watched a documentary recently about the Japanese artist Hokusai 1760-1849 – who in later life called himself Old Man Crazy to Paint. He did a famous series of woodblocks called 36 views of Mount Fuji. It came to mind as a bit of artistic license crept in – Tinto Hill started to appear in some of the landscapes.  Not quite Mount Fuji, but I can feel a series of paintings coming on with views of Tinto! I can see Tinto Hill, with it’s distinctive profile, from the other side of my house.

Ideas come when you paint …

 

I have mainly avoided landscape painting for a long time but was encouraged back to it the other day by a neighbour. Thank you! I enjoyed my day doing these small oil paintings, studies in the field of the field. A blue start got colourful.

 

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Hay Field and Scots Pines, 23×30 cm, Oil on Canvas

 

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Field with Sheep, 23×30 cm, Oil on Canvas

 

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Tinto and Stone Walls, 23x30cm, Oil on Canvas

 

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Rain Clouds, 23x30cm, Oil on Canvas

 

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Enclosures 23×30 cms Oil on Canvas

 

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Rain Clouds and Cows, 35x35cm,Oil on Canvas

 

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Grass Field, 23 x 30cm, Oil on Canvas

 

 

The Field of Intention, 23 x 30cm, Oil on Canvas

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Summer Clouds, 23 x 30cm, Oil on Canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Form and the Formless

Cartoon of me at art school

 

In contemporary art anything goes! Artists have ultimate freedom! No rules! Break rules! Push boundaries! Explore! Create! Be original! Be daring! Be courageous! Be bold!

 

There is no paradigm, no truth that holds art together.  Unlike music which has an agreed set of notes and scales, a form from which to create from and from which to break the rules.  Artists can do anything and call it art! Any medium goes. The formless – well that sounds easy! Just let go and make art ….

 

Alexander Technique – I prefer the name Alexander Principle –  has a paradigm at the core of it. That is why I love it so much. It is reliable, interesting, illuminating. A technique implies something one learns, practices and imposes.  A principle is the truth. True for all. Something to uncover and reveal, something to understand. The head neck back relationship governs the functioning of the body, our thinking effects our functioning.  How does your head balance on your neck? Posture and poise – posture an imposition, poise a truth!

 

I am thinking that the reason Alexander Technique is taught to actors, riders and musicians, for example, rather than regularly to artists and at art school is because the head neck back relationship more obviously improves performance in music or riding. Don’t pull your head back and your voice will sound better.  Find balance and your horse is free to balance and move. Is this true in art where there is no agreed form from which to observe from?

 

I know as an artist that my ability to stay in the core of not knowing, the freedom to create, is vastly enhanced by learning Alexander’s principles. I know I have only dipped the surface of what is possible allowing freedom as an artist. One can so easily get caught up in technique – how to apply oil to canvas for example or simply paying one’s own way. One can be limited by other peoples taste and judgement and by our own.

 

Having no boundaries can create a muddy puddle, energy simply seeping and disappearing – a river is channelled by its sides and flows forward. Form containing the formless. Water directed by structure.

So as an artist what is the channel?

The channel your intention, your focus, your desire to create, your passion?

Forward and up in focus feeling your way forward not knowing?

An understanding of how the channels of flow in the body work?

An ability to be freely balancing and notice when you are not?

 

Artists and anatomists worked together historically, dissecting and drawing to understand the human body. Science and Art. Anatomy is at the core of art. The bones of it. I believe that knowing how to draw the human body is a key to freedom. A license to do what you want. I am a bit old fashioned that way perhaps. Life drawing classes have been at the heart of art training for centuries. Drawing from the body giving a framework to a body of art –  both the form and formless.  The artist and the artwork. Drawing the skeleton, muscles and person to enhance inner and outer knowing. Alexander’s ‘directions’ an art form, an anatomical skeleton of awareness. Paintbrushes of thought drawing our whole self to its poised potential within and without – our key to freedom in creativity.

 

I wish I had been taught Alexander’s principles and actual anatomy at art school rather than just sitting in front of a naked body hour after hour and drawing it without any understanding of the balance of the human form, mine or the model.

 

Is learning about balance a way of understanding both form and the formless and freeing our creativity? The art of art!

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about Alexander Technique you may be interested in my media download Body Magic – here is a link.

 

 

 

Head Up, Head Down

It’s a strange thing … I was mulling how the brilliance of Alexander Technique could be summed as ‘head up’, yet somehow it has given me the ability to keep my ‘head down’ and focus. Just get on with things.

 

Well the neck is a flexible mobile thing, so perhaps it is not so strange.

 

I was also mulling how being an artist is at the same time a lonely pursuit yet a place to find oneself and a connection with something greater and so never lonely.

At one or alone?

Or all one –  like the body.

 

Thoughts whilst walking waterfalls …

 

A waterfall is about constant flow, power, being in one’s power, being free to move yet in cold conditions a waterfall can freeze, unlike the sea which is about ebb and flow and much less likely to freeze.

 

I found my way into Alexander Technique because my neck froze, became immobile and painful. The best thing that could have happened in retrospect because it was an invitation to self discovery and the flow and gave me a second career and ‘backbone’ for my art.

 

My last exhibition was all about the sea, this one is about the river and waterfall … and both are giving me an opportunity to explore and merge my art and Alexander Technique thinking. Which one informs which?

 

A painting can be a bit like a waterfall. Go with it and it takes you into flow, its journey, listening for what to do, breathing and freeing yourself to it …

Judging the process is like hitting a rock, it is going to hurt …

Your thinking can hurt you or free you …

Let your neck be free and paint, flow with the tides of breath and inspiration …

 

Letting a painting take your energy over the waterfall into the unknown is like the metaphor sounds both scary – a potential neck tightening experience and exciting.

 

Why sit on the banks of a painting … be prepared to drown …

Why know what is going to happen next?

 

The Alexander Technique journey is a like that too – move out of the known into the unknown and into the flow …

Where is it going to take you?

 

Painting the first waterfall yesterday already feels like an invitation to further abstraction, from form to the formless.

Water flowing, paint moving, an invitation to let go more …

Head up to flow downstream …

 

I revisited the waterfall today and it is so interesting that even after one painting the relationship with the place has changed.

The image seen has altered, the noticing increasing …

 

One waterfall, renewing constantly … like the body

 

I am enjoying this new subject matter and have no idea where it is going to take me …

Just heading downstream …

 

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Flow, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm

 

Upcoming exhibitions –

 

Edinburgh Festival

Glass and Thompson

4 Dundas Street

Edinburgh

 

4th August – 5 October

Moray Arts Centre

Findhorn Foundation,

Morayshire

August 30 – October 4th

 

Romance of the Falls Exhibition

The Tollbooth

4 High Street

Lanark

12 October – 12 November 2017

Waterfalls – Symbol of Abundance

 

Waterfalls – Symbol of Abundance

 

I love a good symbol!

 

In the Chinese art of Feng Shui (Feng meaning wind, Shui meaning water) waterfalls and images of waterfalls, in the form of photographs or paintings, symbolise an abundant flow of wealth, prosperity and good fortune.

Feng Shui is described as a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relationship to the flow of energy (chi) and how it effects us in our environment. It is 3000 years old. Applying Feng Shui helps to balance your home and health and creates abundance!

 

In order to attract a flow of money into the home, Feng Shui experts advise that waterfall paintings should be hung in corridors, offices and living spaces.

A space that you move through where every time you see this symbol of abundance you activate your good fortune! In other words waterfalls paintings are wonderful things to have in your home.

 

This all sounds very good to me as an artist currently painting waterfalls and organising a group art exhibiton called Romance of the Falls drawing inspiration from the spectacular Falls of Clyde near my home in South Lanarkshire.

 

Feng Shui experts also suggest carrying a photo of a waterfall in your purse to ensure that money always flows into it.

I have currently taken hundreds of photos of the four Falls of Clyde on my iPhone – Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, Dundaff Linn and Stonebyres Linn, I wonder if that works too!? : )

 

Whether Feng Shui is correct or not (it is an ancient system so why not) one thing seems abundantly clear to me – the idea to organise this art exhibition  has come at a very auspicious time …

The Falls of Clyde, which has attracted artists and visitors for the past 300 years is running at full force for the next ten weeks.

Water is abundant!

Who knew that the Scottish Hydro would be doing repairs for ten glorious weeks? Not me. I am absolutely delighted!

 

The Falls are a power place …Energising
The noise of the Falls is exhilarating
The walks beautiful

I totally recommend a visit ….

 

During the Napoleonic wars when trips to Europe on the Grand Tour were not possible, The Falls of Clyde were on the route of Le Petit Tour …

 

I am so happy to go be able to go there as often as I can over the next few weeks and walk and look, be inspired and paint the area. Following in the footsteps of JMW Turner, Wordsworth, Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Samuel Taylor Coleridge to name a few …
I am loving learning more about the amazing history of the area and connecting with new people locally.

Feeling abundant just being in the idea of the Falls of Clyde and very happy with this new adventure and exhibition to work towards and today I painted my first waterfall painting so am embracing the new theme.

Happy Summer!

 

Romance of the Falls

Contemporary Art Exhibition

The Tolbooth

4 High Street

Lanark

12th October – 12 November

Link to Romance of the Falls Facebook page here – please LIKE to see the work of other artists as they make it over the next weeks …

 

Flow

Oil on Canvas

100 x 150 cm

 

 

The Drama of Art

Recently a friend suggested I like drama …I do!

As Shakespeare put it  ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts.’ (As You Like It)

I used to teach Alexander Technique to actors too – I loved that job and the drama students that I worked with.

So, guilty as charged, give me a good drama with great dialogue and I am happily entertained, especially if it has a joyful, illuminating or interesting ending.

 

Up until painting in the studio today, I have always seen myself as enthusiastic audience for stage or screen production. Today I recast myself as star of my own production – the drama of art.  Well why not … funny thoughts come to you when you are painting.

 

Today as I worked on a huge very colourful painting of a running cheetah that I started about 15 months ago and abandoned for as long, it came to me that being an artist really isn’t so different to being in theatre … creativity in all its forms is full of drama, pathos, tragedy, comedy, adventure, surprises …

 

As an artist you are of course the producer and director of your own scene aka a painting, but also the hero or villain of the piece depending on how it plays out.

Your painting can become a stage set for life in someone’s home.

A great painting invites you to look at it over and over and allows a dialogue of thoughts to unfold in the viewers mind over time. A great painting holds the viewer in front of it and even changes a persons breathing. Watch people at an exhibition – you will see it –  captured and entranced, the breathing deepens and slows, perhaps something akin to love.

 

Some paintings are like action movies, in production they unfold rapidly. It is exciting. The excitement and movement recognisable to the viewer.  Energy transmitted. When I am the producer of that kind of painting I can say that my direction has been clear. I knew exactly what I wanted, was organised and focussed. I allowed the painting to emerge and enjoyed myself hugely.  The painting itself becomes the hero of the action.

 

Other paintings are like soaps – they go on for months, sometimes years. I did some work on a painting that is at least ten years old today, it is still not finished. It is definitely a soap opera kind of painting – a creation scene with lots of animals swirling in a vortex.  These soap opera paintings teach you lessons about art along the way. These paintings are problems waiting to resolve. Every time you spend time at a soap opera painting you leave dissatisfied – oh well next episode I might find out what happens. You rarely do! But it is great fun making all those bits of story line –  painting over and over, reworking the same image in a slightly different way.

 

Other paintings are episodes in a long running series of paintings, complete stories in themselves but starring the same cast, for example Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers, Munch’s the scream series or Monet’s garden scenes.

 

And of course there are cartoons and animations. Simply narratives where anything can happen. The madder or more exaggerated the better. Drawings can be just a rough or scratchy stick person,  it doesn’t matter – just a  great idea played out.

 

Now to the villain – sometimes paintings are simply bad!

They have to be painted over, destroyed, abandoned, discarded. After you have tried to nurture, coax, reform and bargain with the painting and failed miserably several times, you only have one option – to just give up and put it down to experience.  Chucking away all that time can feel like failure.

 

So before you give up on a painting –  fight the good fight with all thy might –  with your sword – your pen, crayon, chalk or brush,  and use these paintings to make a right old mess of things. It is liberating and something interesting might happen!

 

Hope it helps thinking about art as a drama?

What dramas are you having with your creativity?

 

 

‘Be More Maisie!’

Maisie photo bombing with ball …

 

Ever since I was given Maisie, my Cockerpoo, as a 3 month old ‘please have her we can’t cope’ pup,  I have been saying to myself ‘Be More Maisie!’

 

She was wild!

She still is highly energetic and completely obsessed with catching her ball and making sure it is as easy as possible to reach. She is the queen of anticipating your next move. Extraordinary, as she really does seem to be ahead of my thinking. (‘Dull humans – not very bright’ she no doubt thinks!)

 

So my motto is ‘Be More Maisie!’ Because Maisie was never going to be more me!

 

Maisie needs a lot of freedom, a difficult dog to hand over to someone else to look after, so I stay at home more than ever. No holidays just Maisie appropriate trips like the beach, which led to a decision to do an entire seascape exhibition over winter. Good decision, thank you Maisie!

 

‘Be More Maisie’ has led me to focus even more deeply on what is important to me and made me realise what ‘ball’ has been my absolute underlying motivation with regards all decisions and my desire to work hard since the age of 15. That is owning and riding my own horse at home. I had a moment of absolute realisation this week that painting and teaching Alexander Technique has been very good to me and allowed my dreams to come true! A long route to a goal but achieved nonetheless.

 

I am not from a horsy background and I forgot to marry a wealthy man (actually I forgot to get married … Whoops!  Ha Ha!) so I have painted my way towards my goals. Each exhibition achieving another step in direction of my teenage vision.  A house, some land, a stable, a horse, who turned out to be a messed up horse who needed a lot of patience, a companion who turned out pregnant, so now 2 mini shetlands! A studio overlooking it all …

 

I have just kept painting for years. Self motivated and self disciplined. No you don’t have to be in the right mood to paint, you just have to do it!

 

My motto prior to ‘Be More Maisie’ was ‘If in doubt Paint!.’

I guess there has been a lot of doubt over the years because I seem to have done a huge amount of paintings!  Smiling.

 

My next goal is saving up money to build an arena. Meantime this summer I have decided to forgo my garden, the only flat area I have and turn it into a mini arena. I have been training Angus on sloping ground but it makes the job of balance a lot harder for both of us. So as long as it is not too wet I will hopefully avoid turning the lawn into a mud bath.

 

This decision has reminded of another thing I say to activate my creativity –

 

‘Everything I need is already here, I just need to line up with it!’ It is a useful saying as it eliminates all excuses and gets me thinking …

 

So I have lined up with riding peacefully in balance on my lawn which is a great idea! I could have done it years ago, but had to let go of some old fashioned thought about lawns being mowed and pristine. OMG really! The Shetland ponies taught me that there is no need to mow the grass they were more than happy to be gardeners. Years of relentless pushing a mower no more! Less is definitely more …

 

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Wee Walter and Lettie

 

Painting is a solitary activity by its very nature and latterly more so. But rather than resisting aloneness and thinking I am missing out on ‘the party’ I endeavour to remind myself to  ‘Be More Maisie’ and keep my eye on the ball. There is a huge massive pleasure in being present. Really present to one place for a prolonged amount of time.

 

‘Being More Maisie’ is helping me say ‘No’ and stay focussed because I simply can’t say ‘Yes’ as much as I might other wise with her in my life.

Maisie is no people pleaser … Maisie is a Maisie pleaser!

Maisie knows what she wants to the exclusion of nearly everything else – no snoozing, bug hunting, sniffing and other doggy pleasures for Maisie. She wants to catch a ball.  If she has a ball in her mouth she is not going to be distracted from her mission of getting someone to throw it for her to catch again and again. Focussed and happy, crazy Maisie has become my teacher ….

 

Knowing what you want is often the hardest thing in life.

It seems a stupid and simplistic thing to say but I think it is true.

In Alexander Technique terms I would call it ‘finding and maintaining your direction in activity.’

 

Once you have that figured out it is just a matter of keeping your eye on the ball and practice. Success coming from a clear focus on your goals, even if it takes decades.

 

So the lesson from one small hyper active Cockerpoo – stay focussed and ‘Be More Maisie’ – in other words do what you LOVE with commitment and passion and enjoy yourself … A little bit of dogged determination goes a long way and brings joy.

 

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What are you doing on that laptop – here is a ball!

 

For more Maisie inspiration – click here for ‘101 Life Lessons from my Dog!’

 

Thanks for reading

 

Forward and Up!

Kirsten

Slow Cooked Art!

When you have been painting for years you, the artist, are inevitably left with a pile of ‘also ran’ paintings …

The ones that were just not that good, the ones that no-one snapped up, or the ones that you turned to the wall because you couldn’t resolve the problem you set yourself by starting!

 

It is part of the process …

 

Last week I decided to go through the pile of  ‘iffy’ paintings and see if I could finish any and find the magic wow factor.

 

There was a bit of logic in my decision to do this …

I have two one woman shows coming up and need a lot of work …

I am also curating a group show locally …

 

Revisiting the also ran paintings is smart art, as the majority of work is already done … it is just the illusive finishing point that needs to be found.

 

I got into the flow of reworking and achieved a lot …  thoroughly enjoying myself, I think it shows …

 

It is almost as though some paintings have to cook in the oven of your mind before you can see the way to resolution. This cooking process can sometimes take years! This batch of paintings are the slow cookers and I am really pleased with the result.

 

All currently available on my website from £100 upwards, click on titles … I hope you like the results?

A visual feast of African heat … animals poised in the sun or on the run …

 

 

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Pink Puddles

 

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Poised

 

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In the Same Direction

 

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Listening into the Depth

 

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Forward

 

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Watching

 

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Bedazzled

 

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Zebra Crossing

 

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Leopard Grass

 

Upcoming Exhibitions 2017

Edinburgh Festival Exhibition, Glass and Thompson, 2 Dundas Street Edinburgh. Starts 4th August …

Romance of the Falls, Group Exhibition, The Tollbooth, Lanark, Starts 12th October

Open Studio at my house – weekend of 28-29th October

Planting Seeds and Heavy Boots

A quote from Elie Weisel author and holocaust survivor came to my attention this week, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

 

‘The most generous thing you can do is receive everything’ Elie Wiesel

 

Do you receive everything?

Ideas, compliments, different opinions, criticism, questions, gifts, love, inspiration, attention …?

I learned this week I definitely have more work to do on learning to receive.

 

This week I have been working on a colouring book. I seem to be incredibly slow at the drawing. Putting in long hours figuring out each one. It is a challenge.

My idea is to find a way to illustrate Alexander Technique concepts with simple line drawings and verse …

Something children will enjoy!

Something that might plant some seeds of good advise and direction to last a lifetime.

Something that if I had owned and loved as a child might have prevented me slumping and putting my back out at the age of 24. This is a ‘gift to the universe’ type project. The kind of project that I hope will make a difference to someone somewhere – a butterfly effect book with transformation within.

 

A second piece of advise came to me this week – to seek sponsors and patrons.

Again the message about receiving. Ask and receive … Wow a new concept, thinking about that one.

I was told that there are people out there who want to be angels to the arts and help artists realise there dreams, especially ones that improve the world. Maybe you are one of those people? Certainly art patronage has a long tradition historically.

 

So to the heavy boots …

New seeds in art taking root can feel like being an explorer in a dark cavern …

You have the germ of an idea that is planted in your mind and then the seed starts to push through the ‘mud’ to find its way to the light like a little plant.

The creative act is a seed being born.

If you don’t protect, nourish and cherish the sapling plant heavy boots can trample it without realising. Ideas are a bit like that. We have to be tenacious as artists – sensitive enough to do the work yet strong enough to keep nurturing our art and let it grow. A balance. And not tread on our own ideas with our own heavy boots.

 

Ideas for The Daily Ease colouring book were emerging this week and I blogged about the process, I was feeling excited like a child. Then someone asked me a perfect legitimate and probably loving question asking for more … I heard it as criticism!

My stuff coming from that child place! The wounded child rather than the creative child emerged and had an internal reaction and so instead of looking at my stuff and turning it around Byron Katie style I reacted and deleted my blog from the page thereby losing the opportunity to respond. I know it is idiotic, but wow I have learned a lot from my daft behaviour of thinking what I had offered wasn’t good enough rather than receiving the comment which was helpful if I had allowed it to be!

 

That is what Alexander Technique is about, learning to change habitual reactions to give us the chance to make better choices.

 

My reaction showed me how important this particular art seed is to me, and that this colouring book has growth in it for me as an artist and a human being as well as the potential for growth that I hope to share with the world.

This fact of course must be true for how can it be a genuinely helpful ‘gift to the universe’ if I don’t learn and grow in the process of making it?

 

So I finish this blog with more ideas for images –  seeds and big boots and butterflies!

Back to the drawing board aka garden of creative endeavour …

 

Oh, and if you have a creative seed remember that with a little light – the is your attention – seeds can grow and thrive. If you think you are not good enough then think of the plants growing out of cracks in the pavement in the most impossible conditions! It is often just our own not good enough habits that stop us from being creative.

Seeds want to find the light.

 

Thanks for reading.

Forward and up!

Kirsten

 

 

The Daily Ease Colouring Book – Dog Ease

This page is a variation of a drawing I did to illustrate my blog 101 life lessons from my dog. I hope to turn that blog into a a wee book at some point as it makes me smile. (link here)

 

So to the colouring book – how does one introduce the concept of a free neck, prone, supine, whispered ah and other Alexander Technique goodies to kids in a fun way?

Animals are such wonderful teachers … so it’s doggies or dog ease!

These drawings are relatively simple but I am liking the simplicity.

I think I could add more words such as poise, awareness, rest, letting go etc but I will leave that to whoever is working with the book …

Hopefully this page says enough?

I am sure that as an older child and teenager, if I had been encouraged to roll about and rest on the floor as I had as a very young child, I would have avoided the pain I found myself in by the time I hit my early 20’s!

It was the Alexander Technique that was my life saver!

 

So I guess this colouring book is a bit of a mission …

Hope I am rising to the challenge?

 

Ok! Back to the drawing board!

 

To order email – kirstenfharris@btopenworld.com

 

 

The Daily Ease Colouring Book – Alexander’s Story