I believe that art, or at least mark-making, is an innate form of human communication. We have been doing it before we even started to speak. I mean that in the historical sense as well as the individual. The very dawn of human history is documented by cave paintings and hierogylphics. Every child naturally draws and makes marks. Human beings are successful as a species because we are self aware and self expressive. All children sing, dance and mark-make to express their feelings. So what happens? Why do the majority of people say they can’t do any of those things? That they were not ‘gifted’?
I’m not sure what it is that sustains the musical or the movement oriented child, but with art I think it is spacial awareness. Artists have a different way of seeing space and the way objects and colours are arranged and connected. Some children are born with that gift, and cannot suppress it easily.
All artists are 'self taught' to a certain extent. No matter what training they may have had, progress is only made through constant study and practice.
There are arguments for and against a formal training in art. Some say that it can stunt the individual expression of the budding artist. Many never progress beyond the boundaries of technique and the safety of general approval. Others say that having a good grounding in basic skills can only help an artist to grow in any desired direction.
It can be difficult to break free from the do’s and don’ts, with or without a formal education. I studied Illustration for three years at college. The standard of drawing we were expected to produce was extremely high. I had always had a gift, so I really enjoyed honing my skills. When I left college I knew that I could realistically represent any subject. I didn’t want to be an illustrator though.
Years later, when my children were at school and I had time to myself, I found it very hard to draw with my previous confidence. I also wanted to express myself more, but had no idea how to do that. I began a journey of discovery, learning to use watercolour and acrylics and then moving into three- dimensional works as well.
In the prehistoric temples, for example, I often record every tiny hole, groove and mark in the stone very precisely. I may then do several black and white tonal studies, recording light and shadows. From there I will go on to watercolour, still working on site. I absorb feelings, impressions and anything else which seems relevant
From this I am sometimes led to semi or purely abstract works, occasionally going into 3 dimensional works in mixed media.
I know that my solid grounding in drawing gives me a basis to work from and a confidence in my approach. I have been teaching drawing skills and watercolour techniques in Malta for years now. I find that giving people enough basic knowledge and encouragement helps them to discover their own unique talent. I think those who approach art through abstraction and trying to ‘express themselves’ are impoverished as far as their potential is concerned. They often give up in frustration and follow another creative path. This is a shame, as learning to ‘see’ by learning how to draw can enrich all creativity on every level. Being able to capture reality accurately gives us a basis to extract from, and also a mine of information to expand on and explore.
"PAINTINGS BY JENI CARUANA"
I have saved quite a few trees by not sending out invitations or making printed flyers or posters. I am relying on this, my Blog, emails and Facebook posts to advertise my current exhibition. I do hope this works as I really think that these are some of the best paintings I have ever produced. I am exhibiting again at the 'La Vittoria' Band Club in Mellieha. It is a great venue, run by some great people dedicated to the local community. It is easy to find, as it is in front of the main parish church in Mellieha.
No parking problems either....
Do drop in and see me - it is open every evening from 5 - 9.30 pm and on Sundays from 10am - 9.30pm and I will be there.
It is only open until Sunday 18th May.
I have put a lot of work into this collection over the last year, and I really think I have taken my work a big step closer to where I would like it to go. I would love to share it with you.
Besides simplifying the exhibition title (I am so fed up with exhibitions with grandiose, meaningless titles) I have also named the paintings simply too..... perhaps it's my age, or perhaps just the stage I have reached. I don't want to mess around any more. The paintings are the important things - they should speak for themselves.
In his inaugural speech, Marquis Nicholas de Piro must have telepathically picked up on my thoughts, and said
"I do not think that artisitic inspiration should be explained too much – all I am interested in is how Jeni’s work might influence me, and its power to assume any impact on my emotional stability. I do not really want to hear her version of what might have moved her. Ringing in my ears are the words of an Oxford Don and poetry critic I once knew. He said “Some of the worst poetry ever written was created with the sincerest intentions”. This is important and reflects all of art from painting to sculpture to architecture to music. Creativity to become great, does need a little bit of sophistication, and even enough hypocrisy to challenge the intellect. Jeni is not dreaming; she knows what she is doing. I think so, anyway. Yes indeed there is some naive art which I like and esteem, but now, today, this evening we are considering Jeni Caruana and she is anxious to pass on the stimulus she continually receives, the inventive, spur and motivation she chases and admires – and then passes on to us.
What she sees in a rough staircase attached to a rustic wall leading on to nowhere, and how she handles her paints depicting this scene made me gasp with pleasure. In another picture, her carmine nude contrasting the softness of reality with the mockery of falsehood – oh how it worked for me; but I would not want to hear why she did it."
The exhibition is in aid of Hospice Malta,
who deserve our support for their wonderful work.
In collaboration with 'La Vittoria' Band Club. Wines provided by Monte Kristo Wine Estates
My exhibition opens on the 7th May and everything is ALMOST ready.... Last minute hiccups apart, it will be All Right On The Night. If you are able to, please come to the official launch on Wednesday evening (see details in my previous Blog below). Or pop in and see me one evening, as I will be there with the paintings almost every evening from 5 - 9.30pm. Contact me HERE if you want to make sure I'll be there.....
But now, back to Drawing!!
Many people are so hooked on the outcome of their drawings that they seem to stop themselves enjoying the actual practice of it. In normal ‘left-brained’ life this is usual; we don’t want to do things that seem to be wasting our time. But it is rather like expecting to run a marathon after the first week in the gym..... drawing well takes practice and discipline.
Tearing up and throwing away the ‘not good enough’ attempts in sheer frustration is understandable of course, but a shift in attitude is much more beneficial all round. By taking a more philosophical approach and keeping in mind that the journey is more important than the destination, much of the pressure can be released.
Ask yourself why you want to draw – it’s understandable that we want other people to look at our pictures and admire our efforts, but maybe we should ask why that is so important? I wonder if, because children’s drawings are so often treated with amusement and even criticism, we harbour a deep need for our work to be accepted and approved? Maybe, because our childish efforts at self-expression were so dismissed, we attach huge importance to our adult attempts and can be crushed by criticism all over again.
By loosening up your approach you will find that what are called ‘happy accidents’ – a surprise result that seems to happen all on its own – will be far more likely and really exciting when they do. We humans seem to learn much more from making mistakes than by repeating our small successes hoping to improve, so make BIG mistakes!! Make glorious, over-the-hill disasters and really learn what your materials and tools can or cannot do..... and what have you lost? A piece of paper! What have you gained? Experience, knowledge, an hour or two of absorbing fun, and a lot of ideas to use next time!
Your NEXT drawing is ALWAYS going to be better...... and the next one, and the next one......
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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