helenic: (Default)

Stef replied to my cringing email apologising for not sorting out her Glastonbury ticket refund with laughter, hugs and reassurances. I called to check that you can't transfer ownership, but she's confident we'll work something out one way or another. She still hasn't sent me her photo ID picture, but perhaps she doesn't have it. I'm barely in touch with her, so I'm just going to have to leave that one till she gets back to me.

I did finally chase up the Glastonbury people about whether our crew tickets were confirmed. Which was very interesting: I had a long and fruitful chat which I wish I'd had a few weeks ago, but apparently someone was meant to get in touch with me and the message got lost along the way. Filthy hippies.

We've been allocated to the Green Futures Field to do general field decoration as an independent team. The Green Futures Field is the campaign central: lots of charity and NGO stalls, eco issues, everything based on sustainable energy with lots of info on that. Stef apparently asked them for six tickets, so they've assumed that we have six people able to turn up and make something beautiful. I don't know if Stef had anyone in mind but we need to confirm names by Wednesday.

They want our team to arrive on Sunday 22nd June, giving us three days until the festival opens to the public on Wednesday 25th. They can provide space for us to camp together and some food, but we'll basically need to self-cater. Then we'll be going crazy on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday making the field as beautiful as we can - he wasn't very clear on the details of this but it sounds like any ideas we have on how to use the space will be valuable - there might be someone there directing us, there might not. They can provide some materials but any we can bring with us would be useful. There'll be fences and banners to paint, grottos to fill with interesting sparkle, and basically a huge four-acre space to make as pretty as we can, presumably with the help of other teams.

Everything needs to be ready to launch by Wednesday 25th, so we need our bit to be presentable by then, although we can add to it over the next few days if we fancy it.

I've emailled all this to Stef, because I'm not actually sure if she realised how much time she'd be needed for and I don't know if she has that much leave. The other question is, who's going to take the other four tickets? I'm hoping Simon will be up for one, although I haven't managed to get through to his phone to ask him yet. If any of you fancy spending the days leading up to Glastonbury making pretty things, in exchange for a free ticket and the whole festival free to enjoy yourselves, let me know!

I'm really glad this is actually happening, especially as I still haven't heard back from the Secret Garden Party and I don't want to put loads of work into Glitterbugs if we don't actually get to do it, but on the other hand we're getting increasingly pushed for time ... I'm wondering if we could actually use a lot of the Glitterbugs ideas for the Green Futures field, and then ship it all back to London and finish it up in time for the SGP three weeks later.

So it's good to get it finally confirmed. But it does leave a whole host of other questions. Especially if Stef can't actually get the time off work - I don't think she'd realised it would be a whole week away. I'm definitely up for this one even if she can't make it - a week messing around with paint in a field with a bunch of hippies sounds like EXACTLY the holiday I need. Assuming I can pull a team together, that is. Go on, you know you want to. We might even be able to hire a van and split the cost between us - Simon could possibly drive it - to make getting there easier and save us lugging art supplies and tents on the train. Plus it's my birthday on the Saturday of the festival itself, and now I know my crew job will have finished by then, I intend to PARTY. Come and help me? :)

EDIT: More than enough offers now, thankyou to everyone who's commented! I'm going to have enough trouble working out who to take up on their offer as it is ... although if any of you don't end up on our team and are still desperate to do it, feel free to organise yourselves and email Sam at gff dot org dot uk to register your interest :)

helenic: (moon : mirror)

This is the first in a series of Goddess paintings. It was originally intended to be an icon for my altar, but it's not quite right - and nor is the second one, which is still unfinished - so I'm going to keep trying until I hit on what I'm looking for.

The process by which I created this painting was a new one for me. It grew out of a religious ritual, at the end of which, still in a meditative, trancelike state, I called on Dana (the primary goddess I honour) and started to paint, letting the awen speak through me. I didn't evoke the goddess during the ritual - the intention was to centre myself, do some personal magic, and then open myself to the power she represents and let it manifest through the painting. I didn't expect anything magical to happen with the first painting, but it's the start of a longer soul-work. The eventual aim is that I'll be able to get myself into a headspace where she can be revealed through what I'm painting. I anticipate that quite a few paintings will be finished before this starts to happen, but in the meantime I'm painting personally significant, positive artworks which are finally starting to get close to the pagan iconography I've been talking about for a while now. Commisions and seasonal tidbits are all very well, but my art, the art in me that feels like it means something, is a revelation and exploration of a panentheist divine, but who is revealed most powerfully through the inspiration process itself. It's an exploration of the divine in myself and how it relates to the divine in the world. It's magic realism, playing with various mythologies and symbol sets. It's invocation through imagery, the divine made very real, very physically manifest in the object of the artwork. I'm not sure what else it is yet. But anyway, this is the first one.

Drawing Down the Moon
Oil on Canvas, 12" x 12"

(click for full-sized version)

So. This was started freeform, in a vaguely ecstatic meditative state, charged up with power from the ritual I'd just performed. I started it without any plan or ideas, and in fact for the first two hours or so I very deliberately kept my eyes unfocussed (I've used this unfocussed, high-energy, trance-painting technique before, most memorably with my nude portrait of Kristen). I went back to it a few days later and started fleshing out the details, keeping my mind blank, letting the forms and the colours speak to me. This is the first painting I've done by myself which was as spontaneous and improvised as the K~nesis paintings were. It's an artistic method I pretty much entirely learned from working with Kristen, and I'm indebted to her for that. I wanted to see if I could harness some of that particular creative energy and apply it to my own art; if I could manage to create unplanned art without tapping into Kristen's extraordinary creative energy.

This is also the first painting I've ever done without any reference to source imagery or photos. Even my most unique and imaginative solo work has, historically, been informed by huge collections of source imagery, whether they're photos taken by me, by others or even persuading people to model for me. This is the first time I've broken away not only from my training that had me knowing in exact detail what I was going to paint before I started, but also completing the work without referencing anything outside my head.

It's been a fascinating experiment. Encouraging in some ways - I'm glad that my abilities as a figurative painter aren't restricted to copying from photos or life, even if my anatomy knowledge does leave something to be desired. Technically, I'm pretty pleased with this painting - it's a strong composition, the details are polished, the figure looks human, the symbolism is moderately clever, if totally unsubtle. As a test of my abilities as an oil painter, it's a good start.

But. Can I just say. You know how when I first started getting fired up about pagan iconography and one of the things I was saying was that I wasn't going to do any bog-standard wishy-washy BLUE FUCKING GODDESS PAINTINGS?


It turns out that when you turn my intellect off and tap directly into my subconscious, what you find is that I HAVE AN INNER BLUE FUCKING FLUFFY WICCAN FUCKING DOLPHIN. Lady Frieda Harris, eat your fucking heart out. Could this be any more derivative? My god. Um, I mean, goddess.

Ahahahahaha. Oh, I love it. I love it just as much as I think it's the most hilarious, ridiculous, mockable thing ever. AWESOME.

The title of this piece is, in case you couldn't tell, ironic. In my heart it will always be my Inner Fluffy Dolphin Painting.

Oh, and it's for sale, although I don't have time to put it on etsy tonight. It's small, but it's taken me a couple of weeks on and off, so I was thinking maybe £250? I don't know though, if any of you want it, make me an offer. There'll be prints as well at some point, when I get round to sorting my vast backlog of print orders out. Until it sells I'm hoping to hang it in the Pembury along with the rest of the stuff I'm working on at the moment.

Or I might just have to keep it, as a reminder to myself to never take myself or my art too seriously. Ever.


May. 31st, 2005 09:33 pm
helenic: (Default)

Is the fact that at the moment I can't think about anything other than painting, and how to market my paintings, just another bit of procrastination - an indication that I'll do anything other than revise? Or am I right in suspecting that I shouldn't be aiming to be an academic, I should be aiming to be an artist? I've been trying to read about Pindar's Odes and I have to keep stopping every ten minutes to make a note of a new composition idea, or online portfolio layout, or the design of the flyers I'm planning to leave around Cambridge advertising my work. Is this recent flush of artistic inspiration and drive, which has been steadily building over the last twelve months, the culmination of somewhere I've always been moving towards - an emotional signpost, the fruition of everything so far? Or is it just that faced with revision, anything else seems attractive?

I remember saying all through my adolesence that I would never be an artist because although I acknowledged I had a fair amount of technical skill, I had no original ideas. All I did was copying - I was good at it, but it wasn't new. My sketchbooks weren't explorations, they weren't dynamic, full of scribbles and diary entries and observations, all crowded pages of ink and collage. They were neat examples of illustration. Most of the time what I was illustrating were the stories in my head, but still, I thought that made me a writer of stories, not an artist. This is why I dropped Art at AS Level in order to concentrate on my Greek. This is why it never even crossed my mind to apply to art college, although I was told that I'd have been offered scholarships like a shot. (The girl in the year above me that I had a crush on got a scholarship to Glasgow, and my teachers told me, privately, while I stared at my shoes and felt guilty for wanting to go to Cambridge, that I was better than her.)

That's not true any more, the thing about not having ideas. Of course I still have a very precise and deliberate style; none of that dynamic, creative mess that foundation courses love so much. I'm working on that, as I think a bit of scribbliness and scratchiness and expressionism would do me good. I'm planning to start a series of quick oil sketches from life, for example, assuming I can find sitters. One of the paintings I've had in my head since last summer is so surreal as to be almost abstract and it'll be an exciting deviation from my habitual style. Lots of bold colour and paint sculpting, mixing paint with glue to create big palette-knifed wads of texture, that sort of thing. But more usually, I know exactly what I want to produce, I always have. The image appears fully formed, and all I need to do to work out a detail of it is "zoom in" on the composition in my mind's eye. Preliminary sketches and studies have always seemed redundant. I played along at school and it did my graphite technique a lot of good, but it was never compositionally necessary. I always ended up with exactly the same image I'd started with in my mind - but the teachers wanted at lease a pretense of idea development.

At the moment, I want to be an artist. I don't know if I'm at the my-degree-seeming-pointless stage of academia, or the anything-else-god-PLEASE stage of finals, or whether it's just taken me this long and standing on the proverbial academic cliff-edge for me to realise something. We'll see after finals, I suppose. It's also possible that this is a subconscious defense against the very real fear that I won't get a first, and therefore funding, and therefore the chance to do post-grad, my lifelong ambition. If I convince myself my actual vocation is to something else, the disappointment at having my academic dreams crushed (and my expectations of myself disappointed) will be easier to bear.

At the moment, I feel like as soon as my last exam is over I'll gleefully throw myself into the projects my head is currently filled with. It would be ironic if I worked twice as hard at something else after finals (surely the energy should have gone into the degree) but also, I suppose, a real indication that this is what I should be doing. But the ideas are the biggest hint so far. I'm seeing one or two new paintings every day - all new and fresh and powerful, and it's as much as I can do to memorise the composition and negative space and colour palette, make a mnemonic note or brief sketch of it. I don't know when I'm going to find time to paint them all but that's not the point: the thing is I've never had this many ideas before, ever, and it's startling and unsettling and uncoils energy in me I barely knew was there. Is this what it's like to be found by a Muse? If so, my dear, then you have bloody awful timing.

April 2016

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