Sunday, June 26, 2011

Breaking the Block

I was chatting to a friend this week who mentioned that since her father died recently she has been unable to do much creatively. She brings out her beads and wire work and then sits with them on her knee unable to make anything. I've been in that situation. I was like that after my Dad died. It's not that you intend to have this block, it's just that it happens and you have to figure your way out. And apparently it's happened to me again.

Admittedly since Mum died in January I have been fighting "something" that has been attacking my immune system for the past few years which has since resulted in several trips to Hastings Hospital for rheumatologist appointments, x-rays, blood tests and MRI scans of my hands. For the past two months I have been taking Methotrexate once weekly resulting in nausea and now a lung infection I can't shake. In the middle of all this I was appointed the newsletter editor for the Arts and Crafts Corner Otane so had to create an email list, update the membership list after the AGM, learn how to work the document template without mucking it up etc. Even my cat died a month ago.

But I still went along to Portrait sessions so I would be drawing for at least two hours a week. I entered a painting in Art Hawkes Bay's annual Vidal's Exhibition in late January although it didn't sell. I also organised a Life Drawing Workshop with Rosemary Stokell which, after a glitch in February when our model couldn't work with us, was finally held over the weekend of 13-15 May.

Rosemary had worked with us previously in October 2009 but we hadn't managed to complete all the exercises she'd wanted us to do during that session. This is why this time the workshop was extended to take in two hours on Friday morning when we worked on two colour exercises with famous nude works as references using only complementary colours such as purple and yellow or orange and blue. Suffice to say I didn't make too great a job of mine.

The following day we worked with a live model completing a conte drawing in the style of an artist who worked in a manner opposite to ours. In my case this meant someone who wasn't afraid to draw lines that weren't "perfect". Rosemary also reintroduced us to blind and contour drawing in order to warm us up which worked so well for me that I now use it in my weekly drawing sessions. Have to admit that the sketches I do without looking at the paper are more lively and interesting than those I do later. The final day we continued working on two paintings with our model holding very long poses standing and sitting. One was in complementary colours and the second in flesh tones. At 4pm our model left and we sat and discussed everyone's work and how they had developed throughout the weekend. The workshop ended at 5pm with a drive home in the dusk.

Had just got over this when we were gearing up for our annual exhibition at Otane. We had painted part of our east wall a deep green to feature work on a chosen theme. This year it was "Myths and Dreams" which certainly brought forth some interesting work by art group members. All my intentions to do a couple of paintings for the wall came to nothing due to illness but I hauled out my watercolours and painted "Fae". Yeah well you can't win them all.....

After last year's exhibition where we sold only one painting during the four days we weren't expecting many sales at all. The recession and recent floods in Central Hawkes Bay had hit the local economy hard and art is always the first to suffer in such a climate being considered a "luxury". But surprisingly crowds were good and we sold five works from the wall and five more from the cash and carry section (unframed). Although my paintings didn't sell I was lucky enough to sell some stoned jewellery, cards and soaps- helped no doubt, by the Mayoress, Janette Butler, opening the exhibition while standing next to my display.

Then on the 22nd June twelve members (plus two partners) of the Otane Art Group attended the National Exhibition held in the Pan Pac Foyer of the Napier Municipal Theatre. Over two hundred works were exhibited including a carved kauri bath robe, three amazing mosaic mirrors, and a wide range of drawings and paintings. There were several good abstracts that stood out for me plus two flower works by local artist Nola Webber. It was also good to see that three drawings had sold. In fact when I attended over a quarter of the exhibition had sold and yet some of the prices were pretty high. On the down side I heard the usual refrain "Wow that paintings is really good. It's just like a photo" and had to bite my tongue.

After spending an hour at the exhibition we had lunch at Chantal's organic green and totally sustainable cafe near St John's Cathedral before I introduced two friends to Aaron's Emporium. I am ashamed to say how much I bought there. Canvases, brushes, paper, paints......I felt guilty all the way home even though I will use everything eventually.

So I have done all I can to break this block. I've tried a workshop, attended an exhibition or two, bought supplies, have been reading. If none of that helps and I still don't paint then I will have to put it down to another likely