This year, I have entered three entries to Series 2 Grayson Perry’s Art Club on Channel 4. I’m excited about this, not only because I may be one of the chosen ones, I read there were 10,000 applicants, however the difference in myself since first finding out about Series 1, the creative process, someone else’s deadline and finishing only to keep going is more balanced now.
I chose to enter three categories; family, nature, and work. All works I’ve done have been on paper, it’s the first time I’ve done that for years as I use my journal a lot as it‘s practical, I can keep my art in one place and look through it often. Whereas paper I tend to put in a drawer though on reflection I started using paper in the very very beginning and put them in a folder! I did this because I thought lo and behold if I’m chosen, I will have to give my sketchbook for the gallery viewing and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and do some different kinds of works.
I started each piece with an idea of what I wanted to do, for example for the family I came up with us all as Cocoons on a branch, each of us is doing what we’re doing in these times, my mother is sweeping, my partner is on his phone, SK is playing and I’m geared up ready for becoming a beautiful butterfly. I chose this theme as while a caterpillar is in the metamorphism stages, they cannot be touched, prodded, poked, or helped out because if they are it’s game over, dead. They need to develop and grow their selves, something we are all doing at this time.
I did each artwork in stages, I rarely had a block of time longer than an hour to paint in, the weekly deadlines came round quickly and I feel with more time I would have added more elements or planned for longer. This time around: done is better than perfect because hitting those deadlines was part of a new process for me. A process I used to set myself long before, I used to enter my art into things and sometimes they were featured, one time a piece of art got lost in the post, oh the embarrassment at a village art show! I wondered if I was past all this, trying and putting myself out there but I’m not, though this time in the right places, making more art means exploring myself and having some work to show for it, I’d love to get my art featured in art magazines I enjoy or outsider art events.
For the theme nature, I chose to collage on and around a pencil self-portrait, I was inspired to make my own style that Frida Khalo did so well with monkey and cat that I have on my Art wall. I have learned creative processes I like and don’t like so much, drawing self-portraits is so calming and I have to focus and feel free so not listening or watching anything is a must. It’s so easy for me to play a documentary or podcast in the background though this practice has reminded me about deep work at its best. I like cutting collage out with sharp scissors and not with a craft knife, I cut out two leaves with tiny tiny gaps in between them, the results look great however when you’re doing something that makes you go ‘Urgh, why? Never again’ and it’s not any fun at all, that labor of love isn’t worth it.
I added a storytelling element on top of my portrait, Frida Khalo often did portraits where the top by her head was evergreen and all things beautiful and living, then below her neck branches were dead looking and it cried desperation. For her, this was partly because she had many emotional and physical scars that played out her whole life and she painted them. I added an old branch with hummingbirds (delicate yet strong) and flowers (red, white, near where my throat chakra would be to represent truth) and a house in black and white, my focus for getting better with money and a future goal. I added more flowers and a skull to put life and death together, as it is beautiful yet short.
In the final entry I was tempted to draw the scene or write a quote from a scene in the movie Erin Brockovich, I mentioned it in this post on mindful spending. Instead, I chose the words KEEP GOING. My best friend tells me to keep going in finding a job that suits and it’s the title of a book, the third in the series by Austin Kleon, I haven’t read it yet. I planned to draw them artfully, I wanted to explore painting again on a small scale, I felt like putting flowers on a black background to make it vibrant against the blackness of relentless job hunting that I and others may feel at this time.
Joining in with things, you explore yourself, your canvas, and materials more. Ideas come and you follow them then more ideas come to other works you’re doing too.
This was another creative process that I didn’t enjoy as much as the result, warning light for me. I enjoyed looking through pictures of flowers and putting my idea onto the page. However, I remembered, any small drawings where I have to keep my hand focused and controlled over free and loose, something you do equally in drawing, is a no-no. It is like that because I have an old injury to my right hand and I seize up in my hand and get a dead arm quickly. I still draw and sew in this style though not much, I also have a shake and my lines wobble, an iPad is great for this issue and I use that sometimes instead. I have a great result though the process is somewhat painful.
I enjoyed the stillness of moving the brush into acrylic paint, that process is more free and loose, I am brought back to painting once again.
It was an artwork where if you stopped to look a lot at your process, you felt like you were getting nowhere at all though with time and patience it all came together.
I gessoed the flowers first then added painting pens and acrylic paint, if I was doing it again I would have penciled the flowers onto white background first, then painted a dark background, I ended up painting the background twice anyway. I started to become freer in my ideas of colours with every flower I added colour to.
Having a focus on Art has made me more open to painting and colours, I have been going through old art books, reading Raw Vision magazine (who knew the online version would be so darn good!), Strathmore mixed media magazine, and rekindling inspiration of so many colours from Sue Kreitzman, I love her home tour quarantine edition.
The other categories were food, travel, and dreams, I could have carried on though chose not to, I’ve noticed that while writing I’ve used the word ‘chose to’ several times, perhaps this is what entering something and making Art is all about, making more of our own choices and seeing them through to completion.
I have one sewing project I’d like to continue and another I want to start, photos to add to a scrapbook, journal pages to fill, and a memoir to write. I’m back at college after the holidays and learning to cook more Indian-style foods while of course, doing all the mothering duties too.
Much love. Go make something. You can watch Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4 or catch up online 4od after the 26th February 2021.