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Author Archives: Betty Davies
Tell you what, portrait painting can drive you NUTS!!
After the marathon struggle, and still on the easel, it all looks so ‘perfect’. Then comes The Assessment….when the ‘finished’ work is propped up on the dining room sideboard for another look in a different light. Can be devastating! As well as ego shattering.
….And then comes the process of ‘adjusting’, which can sometimes take longer, and be much more harrowing than the initial time of genuine fun and exhilaration in the studio….because, of course, the portrait must be perfectly balanced, otherwise one eye can look like it is on some sort of stick, and projecting about a metre or so in front of the other….or the nose resemble that of the old rhinocerus!
…..And the worst thing I can do is to ask my lovely Stan to tell me what is ‘wrong’….which he does….because he has a terrifyingly savage eye for detail and accuracy!…Which of course really does nail it…but then again it means still more problems to solve!
…..And then I think, ‘Well, I’m happy with it now’, and up it goes on social media, or taken to the gallery, and therefore exposed to more critical scrutiny. Ego all but non existent by then.
…..And then months later, you revisit…and again, horrors, horrors, why didn’t I see that before?? And it’s all a bit too late now, because the painting is invariably in another state, or on the other side of the planet, hanging on somebody’s wall, AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT !!
And so why do I keep torturing myself? Because I am totally hooked, absolutely obsessed….and wouldn’t have it any other way….
Have just experienced one of those months where too many things have kept me from the studio. All good things, mind you, and all a part of everyday life but nevertheless I am looking forward to putting August behind me and getting back to ‘work!’ It has been a case of snatching the odd hour here and there, which has surprisingly resulted in two finished pieces!
I decided that I would lighten up a bit this month and have a bit of fun with two characters….and so I did…But I couldn’t help myself. I went back to my favourite subject, and out popped this old fella! I painted him to the soundtrack of One Night The Moon, hence the title, Unfinished Business.
Thought I had painted Fellas In Hats out of my system,
however the trouble is, I am not short of subject material,
and I can see myself adding more and more to the collection!
Why not, though. That’s what life is about, isn’t it?….following one’s passion, and doing what nurtures that much desired sense of inner delight!
Have almost completed my Fellas in Hats collection, ready for an exhibition next year….
…..And having painted these lovely fellows out of my system, I now find myself contemplating the subject of strong women, and in particular, the Elder ladies of our outback communities. Mothers who have invested much in the next generation, and who have the answers to the issues that persist…..
If only the whitefella would acknowledge that, and relinquish his need to interfere…..
This morning I received a lovely message, accompanied by a photo, from a man from Melbourne who had purchased a set of three Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior paintings for his wife’s birthday. She had seen the paintings on the website, had expressed a particular attraction to these three, and so her husband took it upon himself to surprise her for her birthday. He went to SO much trouble over the purchase, and was SO excited at the prospect of surprising his wife on her special day….which is today.
It always makes my female heart sing when I encounter a man who wears his love for his wife on his sleeve with such openness! It was particularly sweet that they invited me into their special day in this way, and so it has made my day a special one too!
It is sadly the case that for no apparent reason, your creative genie can leave the room on you….which is what happened to me. Again. And of course who turns up next? The little voice that comes to sit on your shoulder to gleefully tell you that you are finished as a painter! However, if you choose to ignore the voice, and resist the urge to want to control the situation, or to force an outcome, then the genie eventually returns….Which is what happened to me, when she reappeared several weeks later and whispered three little words in my ear: “Blokes in hats”. In that moment I was transported into renewed passion, and full of ideas for the new project! Within a very short space of time, seven of these lovely old fellows have appeared on canvas, in quick succession, and once again I am in heaven! I have no idea where this will lead, or if indeed it will lead anywhere at all, however that is not my problem. My part is to do what is in front of me to do and simply enjoy doing what I do….and the outcome, if there is to be one, will take care of itself…or it won’t….but it is about just getting on with doing what you do, regardless of the final outcome. Doing it because you HAVE to do it!
This month I have been mulling over the work of the British Biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, and his theory of Morphic Resonance. The idea that the whole of the universe has a kind of memory and that each individual within a species draws on a collective memory, as well as contributing to it. Experiments over many years have shown that if a new trick is taught to say, a group of rats in the one locality, that before long rats all over the world will learn the same trick quicker, and straight away!….So that it enables new patterns of learning and thinking to spread faster than they might otherwise do. Not to mention changing the very nature of the rat.
It light of all the terrible events that are occurring in the world, it made me wonder what would happen if, instead of us humans allowing ourselves to be transfixed by the evil, we turned our attention to pondering Goodness, which is equally if not more so the reality of this planet on which we all reside at this present moment in time.
Where do I begin to say what I need to say about this most lovely human being? Words can be clumsy, and the truest meaning of them not always grasped.
This is Trevor Jenkins, Rubbish Warrior. Living on the streets of Darwin, because he wanted to do what is said that Jesus commanded of the rich young man, which was…..Sell all and follow me. And so he lives with integrity as a homeless man who creates the most beautiful sculptures out of the rubbish that unthinking souls scatter around in our public spaces. He leaves them in strategic places in order that we might contemplate the folly of our sometimes insensate actions… and at the same time rethink our attitudes to those people we might be tempted to label as “rubbish”.
Loved by the majority, and labelled by others as an “eccentric”….which is….what??
I consider that the five hours I spent with this man has enriched my life, as he is one of the most open and empathetic males that I have ever encountered in all of my 70 years in this human experience. A beautiful, honest, open soul, blessed with intelligence, of both the brain variety and of the Heart, and he has left a profound mark on my life.
My original intent was to paint him once, however so far, and in a very short space of time, four have so far leapt off the canvas, and I do not know that I am done yet!
Have been mulling over this Dickens quote and thinking how often it is the case that we jump to judge before looking with innocent perception….and it lets us down every time….because it is the head that judges, but the heart that sees the beauty beyond the imperfections.
“Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”
Three women this month. The little ones are especially fascinating, and delightful to paint,
because there is always so much written on their little faces.
Hope, defiance, questioning, feistiness. Love it!
June, and I am back in the studio, after spending most of last month on the Two Capes Walk in Western Australia (can highly recommend!) with my lovely life mate.
Something a bit different for this month, as I am going to be working on two lovely “White” faces as private commissions. Two chappies, as it turns out. Lovely subjects, actually….and I love painting the men, as there is invariably such gentleness and sensitivity underneath all that muscle and “manliness”. I am hoping that I will be able to do justice to what I perceive to be “the real them”.
How often I find, in my studio, my thoughts drifting from the physical world and into the intangible, yet magical, “beyond”…. My preferred reality, as it is one of wholeness, perfection and pure love.
Painting this old Indigenous man, and my thoughts kept wandering to the very real sense of timelessness that one experiences when standing there at the windows of our home and looking out onto the MacDonnell Ranges, which we are told are over 900 million years old, making them one of the oldest landforms on the continent. A timeless Soul, is this old man, at one with, and having knowledge of, this timeless land.
Today, the Gallery manager informs me, a lovely lady from Victoria came into the gallery and explained that she has five children ranging from mid 20’s to 30’s….that she is a grandmother and had never really purchased anything for herself!….Until now….and she chose, as her very first gift to herself, “The Pause!” My four very precious children have long left the nest, but I can identify with her situation, as we mothers give ourselves totally to our children for the many years that they are in our care, and are quite content to be putting their needs before our own….So that when the time of mutual independence finally arrives, one of the hardest yet most exhilarating exercises is to purchase something entirely for “me!” That very first purchase is a very special one, and because this lady has chosen one of my paintings as her very first gift to herself, she has made it a very special day for me too!
Australia Day is always a day of mixed emotions for me, and the way I deal with it is to head out of town and into the bush for a few hours….where I know my sense of wellbeing will be strengthened. Living in a town with a high indigenous population, I had cause to wonder, when, two Australia Days ago, a convoy of vehicles drove through my neighbourhood streets tooting horns, and waving the Aussie flag. Not an Indigenous flag in sight to indicate inclusion. It caused me to wonder how it would feel, were I on the other side of the fence, to have my culture superimposed by that of another culture, and to have that culture’s flag waved under my nose, once a year, every year. Since then, every Australia Day gives me cause to wonder….just wonder….without seeking to lay blame….or to provide an answer….but merely to ponder…
This month ~ children! They are lovely to paint, as unlike most adults, they are still unguarded, and wear their emotions externally!
Have spent more hours than not in the studio, painting up a storm before the really hot weather hits…because by mid December it gets so hot out here in Central Australia that the paint almost dries as it hits the palette! Well, a slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it is not much fun having to “fight” with the paint to get it onto the canvas!
After a long period of sickness and five “bin jobs”, I have finally broken through,
much to my relief!
Painting is about lots of hard work….and confidence…..
and when confidence is undermined, well, the results are there for all to see (or not see, preferably)!
Smiling again, though, and working hard to make up for lost time!