The first few months of 2016 were difficult not only financially but emotionally. Everything was dark, bleak or just plain missing from my life. Eighteen months ago I had re-located from my home in England back up to Scotland, the land of my birth. I missed my children and grandchildren and the friendships I had built up over many years in East Anglia. My father passed away autumn 2015, followed shortly afterwards by my old faithful spaniel. All I had to console myself was my art, which was just not being produced during that time. Change was needed. A new way of looking at things.
March 2016 was the start of me dabbling in new materials, encaustic wax. I experimented and worked away at developing a style I was happy with. I produced a few pieces I was happy with, all with a semi-abstract presentation. I continued this loose style of working and dipped my toe into the world of abstract art. I allowed the child within me to ‘play’ and change happened. Things started to improve for me in lots of little ways. I started painting and drawing once more. I had a bit of an income stream again through my own efforts rather than paid employment. People were starting to buy from me. Nothing the tax man needs to collect tax on but a little that helped towards paying some bills. I also had a couple of people come to me for tuition; and what an esteem booster that is. I was starting to believe in myself again.
My art has always been about what can be understood in the pictorial sense: the beauty and vistas of the landscape, the emotional through portraiture, the impressionist rendering of a still life. All easily definable, all given a title or a few words to ‘explain’ what can be seen. In the two years 2013-2015 my art was almost at a standstill with very little being achieved. I became interested in abstract forms early in the year 2016 and made an attempt at trying to instill some enthusiasm within myself to create once more. My art needed to be regenerated; it was becoming stale and I had no paid employment. It needed a new direction. It needed to support my living.
By mid 2016 my interest in abstract art became intriguing if not compelling. I read Kandinsky’s written works about spirituality and line making; studied his abstracts. I read about Klee, watched programmes about Mondrian and Van Gough. I started a series of pieces all centred around psychological theories and themes. The probation officer training from years ago was starting to come out in my art! It was as if unconsciously I was reflecting and directing the change needed to move forward. The workshops I offered developed into a residential course for a young German couple visiting Scotland for the first time. Two very full days of en plein air and studio working. Tiring but very satisfactory. Other workshops and individual tuition classes were booked by locals. A commission was requested and a few more small pieces of art got sold.
The autumn of 2016 saw me buying books by contemporary abstract painters such Rolina Van Vliet. Books with practical exercises on developing an abstract approach. I set up a project folder so that I could keep track of the ideas and inspirations. A reflective practice skill from a previous career would come in useful here.
We are now approaching the end of 2016 and I have produced some abstract paintings that I feel work as a form of communication as well as being a balanced composition. In November one of my encaustic wax paintings was selected by the Meffan Gallery (Forfar) for their Winter Exhibition (3rd to 31st December 2016). What a boost for my self esteem that was.
2017 for me is all about exploring the art of communication through abstraction. In the next year I aim to look at how abstract art can communicate despite differences (any form of discrimination) and whether or not an abstract work of art can ‘make a difference’. I would like to have an opportunity to develop not only some individual works of my own but also to find a source for a collaboration where there are difficulties and differences which may hinder or promote the end result. By the end of 2017 I hope to have a piece of research that will have enhanced my working practice in addition to creating a body of work that will form a suitable portfolio of abstract work. The ‘bread and butter’ ways of making art will have to continue alongside this major project. Workshops and tuition will continue to be offered on a regular basis and new works of art in my usual style will continue to be produced and offered for sale. 2017 promises to be a busy but exciting year ahead.