Our idea is not a product at all though - we feel that we need to help address the very basic lack of awareness that is still evident around us. Our dream is 'ecoarti' - inspiring eco-responsibility through artistic ventures; workshops and events to underline the message that seems to have been around for ages but doesn't seem to be working. Our polluted air and plastic filled seas bear witness to the failure of the 3 R's;
1. Refuse unnecessary packaging and single-use plastic
2. Reuse it for as long as possible.
3. was Recycle, but it's pretty obvious that globally we are not coping with the sheer amount of waste we are producing. As ecoarti we will create installations from rubbish and waste materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Our third R would be aRt - make rubbish into something memorable and perhaps even useful. I don't suppose we'll ever make a fortune by doing this, but there are many ways to feel rich!
Our next project is "Bahar taz-Zibel" ("Sea of Rubbish"), working with 70 teens to create a mural 8ft x 52ft to make them more aware of the impact plastic and other debris has on sealife. If only a few of them go home afterwards and take the message with them it will be worth it.
We want to show that rubbish can actually be a resource when used with imagination and creativity. Instead of letting it depress us, let's reuse it to make Art.
So, just to catch up with what's going on in my life at the moment...
Last Thursday, the 16th February, saw the launch of the project "Forgotten Landscapes" curated and organised by Mark Magro assisted by Kristina Quintano. Mark chose four abandoned locations in Malta and asked four artists to work in them. He chose Marika Borg, Mark Mallia, Caroline Said Lawrence and myself. He documented our progress in film and words, producing a book and a feature film from the experiences we shared.
I produced four large (70 x 50cms) pastel works on embossed paper working in the enigmatic dereliction of Fort Cambell, the last fort build by the British at the end of WW2. Its fabulous location overlooking the intense blue of the sea and Malta's wild northern coast made its abandonment feel even more intense.....
The exhibition is at St James' Centre for Creativity in Valletta until 2nd April. The paintings were not for sale at the opening because it was a funded project, but they will now be sold in aid of Dementia Research, a subject close to many of our hearts as so many of our loved ones wander into their own forgotten landscapes. Please contact Kristina for details.
Meanwhile, I'm experimenting with textural surfaces in my work, and encouraging my students at Villa Bologna to do the same on Friday mornings
Today the Painting in the Park classes begin - Sunday afternoons in and around the Majjistral Visitors Centre drawing, painting and generally having a creative time together.
In March I will be running a Crash Course in Drawing Skills - three classes to get you going! They will also be held at the Majjistral Centre on Wednesday mornings from 10am - 12.30pm on the 8th, 15th and 29th March.
I'm also planning to start a life class on Tuesday evenings at the Centre, but more of that another time!
I am looking forward to two painting holidays in May. We are going to Trapani again; I think we only scratched the surface of the endless locations last time!
May also sees the first Malta Art Fair in aid of ALS. I will be taking part by remote control as I will be away in Sicily.
In between all that I will be playing happily in my studio or out in a field somewhere splashing paint around.... and also obsessing about my latest Big Idea which isn't really painting or drawing at all. If it works, I will tell you all about it.
If it doesn't, well ssssssssh !!
Please contact me for more details of classes or paintings
The Golden Hour
Ronnie somehow managed to round up a contingent of locals to be our guinea pigs and BBC stars, and the week began. I have to say it wasn’t easy; being asked to repeat myself with my palette held higher, or find a good view in the director’s choice of venue really was a challenge at times. Anika had just finished a 3 year degree course in Fine Arts using oils, and found watercolours a difficult transition.
The programme was a huge success for us, and launched Malta Art with hundreds of bookings.
For me it was a baptism of fire, and I have never really been nervous in front of cameras, groups of students or in interviews since. If I survived that, nothing else could be as nerve wracking!
It was a very interesting experience though. There was only one cameraman and to film us riding into Mdina on a horse-drawn Karozzin we had to circle the town and go through the iconic stone gate at least four times. Once to film us from the back as we entered the gate, once close up as we went into it, once as we emerged on the other side, and again as we continued over the cobblestones into the town. Ouch. I remember that when watching TV reality films – nothing is as simple as the editing would have us believe!
Drawing Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes
The only way I can paint or draw really quickly and accurately at live events is to have complete confidence in my knowledge of the human form and how it moves. My years of studying in life classes have given me a solid feeling for anatomy and a connection to the way we humans fill space. I love working with models, male and female. Human beings are all beautiful, miraculous and unique. It’s a privilege to be able to spend time studying someone’s unique body shape and simply be allowed to stare at them without embarrassment or misinterpretation.
For the last year or so I have been working on a collection of drawings and paintings called ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes’. To see the works so far please visit my Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes site. Here are some of the latest works, which have not been added to the website yet. I would like to exhibit them to coincide with the premier of the film in Malta, but we’ll see what happens.
The Practice of Drawing
In much the same way, small children make marks to represent what they see around them. They start with scribbles and random dots, but as they gain control of their hands, the marks become recognisable as people, animals and other objects. They are also happy to copy things that other people draw for them, which is why Maltese children usually draw houses with pointed rooves!
Learning to draw is similar to learning to speak in that it is a perfectly natural thing to do, but for some reason we don't think it should be a slow process of making mistakes and learning through practice. We seem to have an unrealistic expectation of being able to learn a few basic techniques and then turn out masterpieces for everyone to admire.
If you go to a singing teacher he will give you breathing exercises first, not a song. No one would expect you to sing those exercises before an audience.
Do yourself a favour - don’t expect to turn out ‘proper’ drawings when you are doing exercises. They are designed to help you learn to SEE and are steps to being able to draw well. Your progress will show in how differently you start to see things around you, not necessarily in the drawings themselves.......
Never be afraid to make mistakes; they will teach you much more than anything else.
“The sooner you make the first five thousand mistakes, the sooner you will be able to correct them” Kimon Nicolaides 'The Natural Way to Draw'
It all depends on you, and how much you are prepared to invest in practice.
Drawing up the Ladder
Somewhere along the line though, we decided that we just weren’t able to make things look 'real' enough. We copied the symbols of houses and people that we were shown, but they still didn’t look right. Maybe someone laughed at our purple lemon, or our six legged horse. We were told to make grass green and skies blue. Little by little we lost our innocent creativity in an attempt to what? Please other people?
Many children then give up, and the precious gift of creative self expression slips away. Some love their art classes at school, and do well in their exams, but when Real Life kicks in, who has time to practice drawing or painting? Years later, when circumstances change, and they have some time for themselves, many decide to take up art again. It's a shame to lose contact with that playful love of making pictures, but luckily it's really never too late to rediscover it.
I really love teaching adults – it’s such a great feeling to help someone realise that actually they can draw much better than they ever thought they could, just by being shown a few simple ‘tricks’. My previous Blogs (see archives!) have given you every single one of those ‘tricks’. I wonder if you have tried any? They really do work. All we need to do is see the world as it really is instead of how we think it is. And then draw a line around the shapes. It only takes one basic drawing class to get that ‘Ah-ha!’ feeling. Of course, it then takes practice. Anything worthwhile takes practice.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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