Posts for Tag : art blog

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 …

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Looking Through Your Eyes

The process of painting is fundamentally abstract – colour brushed onto surface.

So why are artists driven to abstraction? What is the motivation?

And does a painting gather energy – become real, gain a life force, by being seen by you?

Does a painting actually exist if no-one looks at it?

 

I have a theory that paintings gather energy over time by being looked at, until images, take Van Gogh’s sunflowers, become part of our consciousness. The dialogue that Vincent had with oil on canvas becomes a time and space that we share with him and part of our own visual language. The past act of painting becomes our present. It is simply there in our minds. Images to fall into. Spaces to contemplate and inhabit and mind about.

 

It is all a bit quantum and no science based arguments here … but I believe the act of looking at art has something very magical in it. Do paintings exist if no-one looks at them? (Sorrow for all the paintings locked in vaults and museum basements and not sharing their soul with people!)

 

In the abstraction of the act of painting, me the artist, sometimes stops clearly seeing the art work. This is why many of my paintings take years to finish. And I mean years. To work out the answer to the problem started. To find the end of the abstract story for the painting to become its own compete presence and have a ‘soul’ and talk to us in a way that I believe only real paintings can! A place for you to contemplate the abstract –  that place that motivates me to show up and paint day after day, year after year. A kind of other world.

 

Computer generated art undoubtedly makes fantastic images, but the direct bodily relationship, that physical human transmission in the act of painting, I don’t really think is there. That undefinable presence.

 

This is why we still go to galleries and look at real art.

Standing in front of a painting we are able to talk directly to the artist.

Seeing through the artists eyes – seeing the surfaces, the images, the ideas.

What you are looking at is what the artist looked at, the very thing.

You can feel their soul, their life force, their physical energy.

Their hand and heart and thoughts transmitted through marks and colour, line and form onto canvas.

Their presence in time. That moment then, this moment now.

It is a gift. If you don’t live with a real painting, buy one and see what happens to you (I sell original oil paintings starting at £100 because I really want people to own real art. Small framed gems to contemplate) or go to galleries and be awed. Listen to the artist speak to you across time.

 

For me it is a two way passage –  the mystery returns to me when you look at my art and talk to me about it.

By the time you are looking at it, the painting has its own life force that has nothing to do with me …

I was just part of the abstraction making it …

I showed up and used some of my time on planet earth doing it …

Now when you look at it – your dialogue, interpretation, desire or dislike for the work means I start to see it differently again.

You become part of it’s story too …

 

Is it talking to you?

Are you held, captivated as I was in the dialogue of paint and colour on canvas?

Is it finished?

Are you seeing things that I haven’t noticed?

Does what you feel about it mean you just have to own it?

If yes, the journey of the painting into the world begins …

How many years, centuries will it be out there?

How many people will look at it?

Will children grown up with these images and colours as part of their psyche?

How many hands will it pass through?

How many conversations will it provoke?

What will the painting witness?

 

This weekend a friend came to visit and the helpfulness of his eyes over my work was profound.  His eyes just looking and honest feedback really helped me see my own work more clearly. I saw through his eyes. Paintings are meant to be a dialogue after all …

 

So PLEASE KNOW when YOU look at my work and have a response, you are adding energy to the painting.

I don’t need you to be nice and say it is good, JUST honestly look. The paintings have a life force of their own and your energy adds to it, our consciousness becomes shared.

A painting at its best opens a window onto another dimension that is really hard to describe in words …

A dimension that hopefully lasts over time and becomes part of the visual dimension of your life.

 

OK enough musings on art, back to the studio ….

 

 

I painted ‘Darwin’ about 15 years ago and kept him as I love his soulful eyes.

Might however put him into the next exhibition details below.

Exhibition starts this Friday …

In fact he may become the new poster boy as I sold the elephant on the flyer yesterday : )