On the 14th July 2017 the Malta Arts Festival hosted an amazing performance at Fort St.Elmo. Ultima Vez gave us 'In Spite of Wishing and Wanting', a world acclaimed piece by chroeographer Wim Vandekeybus. Powerful in its sheer energy and drama, the all-male troupe explored "fear, the desire for security and the dreadful magic of sleep". The music of David Byrne underpinned it all, and two short films added to the surreal atmosphere.
It's impossible to describe in words though - so here is a short YouTube clip to give you an idea...
I had asked to paint the performance because it sounded so unusual and dramatic, with some nudity and what seemed to be men flying in showers of feathers. I wasn't disappointed; the sheer physical energy and total focus took their bodies beyond human limits. I caught as much as I could - I was spellbound!
Last weekend though, I was further north, in Italy itself. Led by our intrepid Leader Andrew Smith, seven of us represented Malta at the Fabriano Watercolour Convention. Fabriano is the home of the famous watercolour paper loved the world over. The mills have now moved out of the town, but we toured the old paper mill and museum. Some of us even had a go at making hand-made paper!
We stayed in a nearby hilltop village called Collamato which means 'love of the hills'.
The Andrews Smith and Borg, Anna Galea, Sarah Calleja, Diane Agius, Joe Casapinta and I did our best to show Malta at its best. Anna gave a demo in front of hundreds of people (I wasn’t brave enough!) we danced to a brilliant ethnic band at the final party, painted in the streets with the rest of them, ate as much pasta and drank as much wine as we could. Malta should be proud of us. This was all self financed, I have to say. We deserve to be supported next time.
On the way back to the airport we stopped off at Gubbio and Assisi – both beautiful and full of delights.
The seven of us are plotting more adventures together including an exhibition of the works we created, so watch this space!
I wonder where I will be going next?
Meanwhile, my Tuesday morning classes are moving from Le Meridien in Balluta Bay to Palazzo de Piro in Mdina from the 3rd May. I am looking forward to helping students tackle those great open views from the upper terraces!
My classes still continue at Villa Bologna on Friday mornings. This Wednesday 4th May we will be opening our first Spring Exhibition of works there. My students and I are hanging two works each. It will be open to the public from 5th May to 2nd June, so do drop in if you are in the area.
Besides imagery we self-express through music, dance and the written word. The wonder of a sunset, the sorrow of loss, the joy and hope of a new birth, life often touches us deeply and we are moved to find ways to share it with others. We smile, hug, cry, give gifts. We celebrate and commiserate. It’s what makes us human.
There are plenty of painters out there who can reproduce reality and churn out commercially popular works, but many of them communicate absolutely nothing other than ‘here’s another one, buy me!’
We are all individuals; we all have different approaches to life.
Let’s enjoy being ourselves!
Every time I set myself up to paint a live performance I am hit by last minute nerves. I cover the floor in plastic sheeting, lay out my paints and brushes, clip the battery lights to my easel, and then, as I wait for the night to begin, I want to run away. I never know if I'll be able to do anything, let alone do it well. And it's all so darned public.
After the first effort, which often misfires, I usually forget to worry and just get on with it. I have to work quickly to get the basic shapes and movement, but the time seems to pass really slowly. I find myself watching things appear on the paper or canvas. I am drawing with paint. I try to capture the essence of whatever catches my attention and work on it until something else comes up, which is when I start another. The faster I work the less I think and censor what is happening. In some ways it's much easier than working slowly with a static scene, when there's too much time to second-guess and 'fix' the picture.
I am often asked how long paintings take, as if the length of time is a reflection on its value or quality. I can only say that each one takes me all my life. I have studied nude models in life classes, sketching people and making studies for years to be able to do what I do. Not many artists would even attempt this way of working. I often ask myself why I find it so fascinating!
After the event I just want to pack up and go home and let the paintings dry. I haven't really seen the pictures as I paint them; there is no time to focus on them individually. Next morning they always surprise me. Colours are distorted by the artificial lights, and also by my limited palette.
I just sit and look at them for a while, until I see what they need. I sort them into three piles; one to throw away, one to work on a little and one that needs a lot of adjusting. Some get overworked or just messed up while I'm working on them. Some just sing right from the start.
All I know is that I like to work with figures in motion, usually dancers and jazz musicians. The paintings seem to come from a deep and connected place that I cannot access in any other way.
To see the rest of the collection 'Quintessence by Renzo Spiteri" please click HERE
Please leave your comments below - I'd really like to hear what you think of these paintings.
To all my friends, 'followers', and students past , present and to come, I hope that you have had a wonderful, magical Christmas and New Year celebrations. May 2016 bring a cornucopia of joy, wonder, beauty, good fortune and all other wondrous things spilling into your life!
You may have noticed that I fell off the weekly blog ladder in the last few months of 2015. Sending it out so often was probably too ambitious - I'm going to try and write a monthly one this year, plus a newsletter-y thing about classes and whatever else I've been up to art wise.
I am looking forward to starting a new series of Creativity Classes to stimulate and inspire old and new students. The first one will be January 30th at 10am in my Manikata studio and after that on the last Saturday of every month. We will explore different methods and materials, techniques and tools as a path to finding unique and personal work. Everyone can gain from 'playing' like this; it's a great way to push the boundaries of your knowledge and discover new ways of working that will enhance your skills. We'll cover things like textural surfaces using tissue paper and collage, using 'found' objects, creating happy accidents and generally having a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, my weekly classes will begin again next week.
Tuesday 12th at Le Meridien 10am - 12.30pm
Thursday 14th at Ta Mena in Gozo 10.30am - 1pm
Friday 15th at Villa Bologna in Attard 10am - 12.30pm
Basic classes for beginners, improvers and wish-I-could-get-going-again-ers will start in February.
All classes are 20 euro, or 100 euro for 6 classes paid in advance.
Please Click Here! to contact me for bookings or more info. (PS I don't teach children.)
Here's to the most creative and fulfilled year of our lives!
It’s not common for a creative person to excel at business and marketing. One skill usually outweighs the other. Marketing the Arts is best done by those who are not directly involved in creating it. You can’t be over sensitive if you are good in business, and you can’t be insensitive if you are going to create meaningful pieces of art. Business people know how their world works; it is built on things that have worked in the past, proven methods and safe approaches. A good business model is a sound, logical left-brained piece of thinking, with steps to take to reach the goal.
One of the last things we may think of is a happy customer. Putting that into the mix often stifles the flow. That’s not good business, but it’s certainly good for us. We are feeding our own soul, helping it to grow and express itself in its own unique way.
There are many innovative ways of running businesses now, of course, with the internet so easy to access and use. Creative people, like me, can really enjoy making websites and skimming through hundreds of inspirational images online. I like playing around with the way the pages on my website look, and editing my own paintings. But I know that I fall down when it comes to the promotional and marketing side of it all. I start and then retreat. It doesn’t feel right for me to put ‘BUY ME NOW!’ buttons under my pictures. Feeling isn’t part of most businesses though, is it. What to do??
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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