When they grow after a battle it is a reminder of those whose blood was shed. Thanks to John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field they are synonymous with Rememberance Sunday and Armistice Day. And now, Thanks to Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, The Tower as well.
Like many artists the symbolism is not lost on me and the timing seemed perfect to create a painting based on a view that included Tower Bridge.
There’s an irony too.
The Tower of London was once witness to many acts of war and acts of brutality that had nothing to do with was and everything to do with the sovereign’s desire to control the people.
We may think we live in more enlightened times and use civilised ways to resolve disputes but one does not have to look far to see ample evidence of peoples who are still living in brutal and barbaric times.
Conflict is not resolved by arming ourselves and retaliating. That just escalates the situation, however justified the fight may be. The only solution is by dialogue to find truth and reconcilliation between parties. Then by establishing fair and equal forms of government to ensure the needs of all and being met.
Which is why Memorials like the Poppies at the Tower of London are taken to heart. It’s important to remember how easily things can escalate and find ways to create lasting peace.
Every construction starts with a vision. Be it big or small, an initial idea is needed to direct what becomes reality. To celebrate the year 2000 many monuments were planned and erected.
The London Eye or Millennium Wheel is my favourite. I’m drawn to circles. Simple but strong, they are the heart of all engineering projects. They allow movement. The Millennium wheel’s construction is a seemingly impossible structure more air than substance. Identical components in a repetitive pattern, without ending or beginning, relentless like the passage of time. Laws of physics make it possible but the complexity required to create such a structure amazes me.
The wheel itself has been around for millenia…
so what better way to mark the turning of one than by constructing a wheel? A symbol of turning as the passage of time is marked on the clock.
This piece needed to be an abstract element with a hint of the full circle. Looking up, seems the right direction for dreams. A segment of time looking clockwise to an unknown future. An arc that will continue beyond the page but only exists in the imagination.
A 30 day blog challenge! And knowing I would need 30 ideas, I decided to make them count. I want to write my next book about my London paintings, so I’ve decided to start with…
A Painting tour of London in 30 days!
By sharing a Statement a day or the story behind each painting, and most of them have stories/statements to be told
As an artist you get used to creating art but you also need Artist Statements. Otherwise they are just pretty pictures. So I thought I’d use the dicipline of the blog challenge to create a series of Statements to create a London guide over 30 days. I’m restricting myself to images of London, to reflect my more recent work.
Starting on a Sunday with Church
The subject of my first post is my Painting
The Life of London Churches.
This was the first painting of this size I painted using this technique. It was quite a traditional subject matter and I was going to use my usual approach with blown ink accross the entire painting.
Two things stopped me.
The first was the Occupy London protest where people were camping outside St Paul’s to protest at social injustice. St Paul’s locked their doors to stop people going inside which goes against everything the Christian Church is supposed to stand for. As a Christian, I was not impressed. I’ve always been uncomfortable with decadent church buildings. Either the building is a church, in which case it should open its doors to all or it is a national monument. The conflict of interest trying to be both does not serve either well. The second point was the recollection that to the right is the headquarters of the Salvation Army known for their active outreach programmes.
I’ve always maintained that the blown ink technique I use reflects the life force emitting from buildings. In this instance it was lacking. So I painted the white of St Paul’s ostentatious and devoid of life. Whilst the almost invisible Salvation Army building is where vitality reaches out for all to see.
Painting frustration results in slow progress! No matter how hard you try, it just does not seem to work right. This work in progress of Keble has been like that. It is a building with an excessive amount of details. Apparently, it was meant to represent geological strata. I can see how, but the constant changing of levels and angles is a challenge to the most patient of souls.
To counteract such frustrations I turn to inspirational quotes.
One of the best artist’s quotes I’ve read is
“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and do the work!”
Or something like that. It’s a good mantra and one I take to heart when things just don’t seem to be working.
I also take breaks, move around a bit and then return.
I find architecture can be subtly out and if I keep working I miss obvious errors. Whereas, if I take a break, I can spot the glaringly obvious ones as soon as I return. It’s amazing how the brain can be fooled by the familiar.
Turning the image and source material upside down highlights perspective errors.
I may work in an abstract style but the perspective has to be right.
Finally, I play lots of music!
Music helps me focus and energises me!
So, after much struggle, I’m finally at the painting phase and it’s working out well…Now.
On paintings like this, I often want to leave the masking fluid in situ as the colour works perfectly for the yellow bricks. But that isn’t going to happen this time! I need to do more on the tree to capture the sense of being under a big tree, but I’m nearly there with the painting.
It’s a spot where, I imagine, many students take a break from similar frustrations or to quietly read/study in the fresh air!
What would you do in such a spot? How do you overcome frustration?
Olympians and Artists have more in common than you might think.
I’m not a sports fan but with the Olympics fever gripping the UK. I’m forced to notice sport.
Buoyed along by the fervour and sense of National pride, I’ve even watched parts. The opening ceremony and parts of events.
The enthusiasm is infectious.
But more than that you are witnessing people at the pinnacle of their careers.
But you don’t just wake up one morning as a Gold medalist!
You might wake up with the vision or dream but it’s only the first step of many. Long hours and punishing training regimes are necessary to become an elite athlete.
Working to achievable goals.
Steps along the path that bring them closer to their ultimate goal. There will be many, many failures along the way. But each goal achieved is a step in the right direction.
And the same is true of an artist.
You may wake up with a dream of what you want to be. But it takes time and training to get there. you need to make steady steps in the right direction. Learning techniques, developing your style. Gaining experience exhibiting and talking about your work. Developing practices. Researching the right opportunities for you. And the list goes on…
Above all you need to develop a positive mental attitude.
To visualise success and focus on your ultimate goal! Fighting past the failures. And there will be many otherwise you’re not taking any risks and risks are necessary for any artist to grow.
Do you have times when inspiration is NOT the problem?
You have masses of great ideas but you’re still not getting things done. Why?
You lack focus.
The trouble is you want to do them all!
It’s a specific form of Procrastination which can result in the Blank Canvas Syndrome. I.e. staring at the canvas not wanting to start.
So, what do you do?
First of all, write them all down immediately! Never waste precious ideas for you may never have them again. Trust me you’ll thank me for that one. Avoid the agony of hours trying to recall an idea you had last night – only to find it’s gone forever.
Once you have them safely recorded you have several options.
Start at the top of the list and work down.
You can do that, can’t you?
Look down the list and see if one sings out to you.
Do that one!
Still not working?
Are there any that you can’t start now?
If not why not? Put them to the side for now. Concentrate on pieces for which you have what you need to start now. If there’s only one, do it! Need to write a list of what you need to complete others? Do that LATER!
If that fails you could…
Copy your list and cut up into individual pieces, fold them up and put them in a bowl.
Do the first one you draw out. No cheating!
Or throw them up in the air and do the one you catch!
Get a friend to choose one of your top 3.
There are plenty on other ways you can choose once you start to think about it- be creative and have some fun choosing.
But you must decide to start the one you choose, no matter what.
And don’t get distracted with ideas to help you choose. Remember, that’s what got you into this mess in the first place!