Posts for Tag : Art in Covid

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…

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

Ascension – On Exhibiting

Ascension, Work in Progress, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150cm

I miss people and I miss exhibiting. The social aspect of art is a big part of the creative process and I miss it. 

In April I was due to have a one woman exhibition but like so many other things a Covid fall-out.  I was looking forward an arty party in a castle – an opportunity to see old friends and meet new people. A chance to dress up and be a social butterfly. What could be better? Making art is a solitary business. 

Solipsism questions whether art or indeed anything exist unless looked at? Do my paintings exist stacked in my studio? They are certainly not alive in anyone’s minds or life carefully stored in neat rows. A castle’s worth of artwork locked in turret! There is no sharing of energy, inspiration, passion or joy if the work is not seen.

So, by extension, do I exist painting alone in a ‘turret’ in South Lanarkshire, Scotland? 

To be an artist is perhaps to be Schrodinger’s Cat, both dead and alive simultaneously. Van Gogh’s sunflowers are alive in everyone’s minds. You can visualise his work this moment with ease. His living presence is palpable in both the brilliance of his brushstrokes and your mind right now, yet he is dead. 

To be an artist is the only job in the world where people talk about you dying when buying. Surmising your art will be worth a fortune when you pop your clogs. I always laugh. It seems like the best thing to do. 

Yet paintings do seem to gather energy by being looked at. It’s hard to explain. It’s as though the presence of the artwork is increased or revealed by the viewer’s gaze on it. The more a painting draws a person in, the better it seems to have succeeded as a living entity. The more a painting is looked at the more it seems to gather energy. 

As an artist, meeting people energises and inspires. So many amazing encounters at exhibitions, lasting friendships made, insights shared, stories told, laughter enjoyed. I learn about my artwork from you, from what you notice, what you say, how you react. I miss it. I miss you. It’s a really important part of making art. Without it the creativity process feels incomplete, like cooking a delicious meal and then not eating it. It’s the reason I organise a yearly community exhibition for local artists too. I need the input of people.

I guess like many people I too feel a little lost right now or perhaps just a little philosophical. This blog offers no conclusions as to what happens next. I just wanted to say I miss you. I miss meeting people. I miss spontaneous interactions and conversations and I miss exhibiting. Perhaps it is a strange thing to say in this world of ‘everything is online!’

Meantime, my default position is – paint, for this too shall pass! I am so grateful to have painting.

Stay safe and hopefully see you soon! 

Love Kirsten 

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk