Of Easter, and of self-worth

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Is our self-worth determined by what we see in the mirror?

The tyranny of the mirror. Oil on canvas 46 cm x 61cm

For most women it’s true that since they were little, they wanted to be pretty. They want to grow up to be beautiful princesses in their own fairy tale.

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On challenges and learning

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Now

 

Before

So far in painting, as well as in some other areas of my life, I’ve just done things as I see fit at that moment, without giving it much thought. I guess one can say I tend to be somewhat impulsive.

Well, this past week’s art class really challenged me on that score.

I shared with you under “Works in Progress” how I decided to make the background blue. What I didn’t share there was that I decided to go with a plain background with no detail – my thinking was that I didn’t want my background to steal the thunder of my subject (once again, like the orangey colour I had had in the background before).

But when I got to art class, my teacher started asking questions about why I had done things a certain way, and about what my thinking process was behind what I had done. I realised that I had actually done more thinking than I thought I had.

She helped me see that my flat, single colour background gave no context to my subject. It doesn’t help explain where the highlights come from, and why my shadows are so deep. (I had seen other people do it, and thought “why the heck not?” – not much philosophising went into that, right?)

The next question was about my background colour. She explained to me the different moods that different colours portray. My blue background put it into the “Mystery” spectrum. That was fine by me, and this is why: What I see in the micro-expressions in this little girl’s face is a question, and bit of doubt (Am I pretty enough? I don’t think so.). And it puts a question to the viewer: Do you value yourself according to what you see in the mirror?

To sum up, I can say that I was challenged this week to look a bit deeper into what I paint, and how I go about it.  I need to ask myself more questions about the particular picture I have in mind, as well as the colours I’m going to use to get my message across. Whereas before I just painted a picture because it “spoke” to me, now I need to start thinking about the fact that it also speaks to others, and make sure that I make it say what I want it to.

A little diversion

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This past week I’ve gone a little off my own “beaten track”…

Firstly

I had the privilege of going to a high-security residential estate that is being developed, to see the art works of Charles Goddard.

Charles Goddard explaining how his interactive sculpture was made.

Charles Goddard explaining how his interactive sculpture was made.

Goddard's Rhinos - past, present and future

Goddard’s Rhinos – past, present and future

 

 

 

 

 

Mansion at Steyn City with aqueducts surrounding it.

Mansion at Steyn City with aqueducts surrounding it.

 

 

The estate is the brain child of Douw Steyn, and is called Steyn City.

 

Mr. Goddard and his team are working on various art works, including tiled murals and sculptures.

Sculpture of a giant waking up and rising from the earth.

Sculpture of a giant waking up and rising from the earth.

The giant's hand

The giant’s hand

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Goddard at his "Indaba"

Mr. Goddard at his “Indaba”

Flower underpass

Flower-themed underpass

Combination of sculpture and mosaics.

Combination of sculpture and mosaics.

Mr. Goddard’s team consists of artists from two nearby informal settlements. He is in the process of training them to make art from inexpensive materials. When they qualify after two years’ training, they will each train ten artists, and in that way pay forward what Goddard has invested in them. Some of them are from neighboring countries, and they will return to their countries empowered to train artists there.

I think that’s a wonderful investment.


 

Secondly,
I came across a book called Illuminated Calligraphy, by Patricia Carter, in the bargain bin of a bookstore. I tried copying a couple of the illustrations in the book, and then decided to try my hand at making my own “illuminations”.

I thought the easiest would be to make a couple of bookmarks. I can always extend those designs to become page borders, or use them on greeting cards. These are the result of my efforts:

 

 

Bookmark_Purple flowers                    Bookmark_Pink flowers                    Bookmark_blue flowers                     Bookmark_Purple birds

Second week of March 2015

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The past week I’ve spent working a bit more on this site – I’m gradually finding my feet, and finding through trial and error how things work (or not).

For progress on my paintings, you could have a look under Work in Progress. Interesting how it sometimes works that the painting you think is going to be quick-quick, turns out to be the one that keeps you busy the longest. Or sometimes it’s an area in a painting that takes more work than you bargained for – it was the case with Coffee pot & figs (see Recently Finished): One might think the background is the least important, so it takes the least amount of time. Often that is so, but in this case it wasn’t.

Besides painting, I’m also doing my best to learn a bit of French, so I’m giving myself as wide an exposure as I can, by learning from a variety of sites. I’ve discovered sites with videos of real people talking and not only a “bot” voice, which can, at times, sound really strange.

In the evenings I’m working on a crocheted jacket for my daughter, which I can only hope might be finished some time this year, ha ha.