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......
First of all - Happy Easter everyone! I hope that it has been a peaceful holiday surrounded by good company and plenty of chocolate!!
At the moment Malta is in full bursting bloom, with spring flowers seeming to grow as quickly and abundantly as they possibly can in every nook and cranny. The fields are green and overflowing with produce, tall with wheat and corn, clover and wild grasses, all dotted with bright red poppies and yellow 'Ingliza' (sorrel).
This year has inspired me just the same, and so - you have heard this here first! - I will be having an exhibition of recent paintings at the 'La Vittoria' Band Club (opposite the parish church) in Mellieha in May. It will open officially on May 7th at 7.30pm and I would love it if you could be there. I will be saving trees this year and not sending printed invitations at all, so please, just come if you can.
My classes continue, Friday mornings in the delightful (and flourishing) gardens of Villa Bologna in Attard, and the Saturday Morning Drawing Club in my studio in Manikata. Come and join in the fun!
After all the left and right brain theory about the opposing effects of logic and creativity (see my last blog post) have gone over your head :-), here is what I have concluded; that drawing is actually better if you can do it using no brain at all!!
This takes a bit of practice, because the only way to draw without processing is to have complete confidence in your technique and total disregard for the end result. It’s only paper, after all.
When I was at college I wanted to draw figures in contorted positions as part of a project I was doing. It was to be a mobile hanging and I needed them to have their arms and legs arranged so that I could cut out the figures and then hook them onto each other. My friends weren’t that accommodating (or flexible) ...... I came up with the idea of drawing moving figures very quickly, and then using them as the basis for my drawings. I had the brilliant idea of drawing footballers on the TV, and spent hours doing just that.
Along with the anatomy classes at college and my continuing love for working from live models, I now find that I can work really quickly as long as I manage to switch off and just let it happen. The trick is to watch the figure for a while until you have a feeling for the way they are moving – sometimes I really feel that I am dancing the flamenco, or playing the guitar (I can’t do either) – and so the drawing kind of comes from the inside out. Once I have that connection, I can take a mental snapshot and then draw it out before it fades, not looking back until I have finished.
I am very lucky to be allowed to draw and paint at all sorts of wonderful events and venues in Malta. Every year I set up my easel at the Malta Jazz Festival in mid-July and just paint non-stop for three evenings. I can also go along to the Malta Arts Festival dance, music and folk-singing shows. The weather is perfect for outdoor performances and the settings are spectacular.
Last week I was asked if I would like to paint a lovely performance “Mu-Danzas Boleras” at the prestigious Manoel Theatre in Valletta. Would I! I was given a box next to the stage – which I covered in plastic sheeting and had some real fun drawing with watercolour and ink.
I am asked sometimes why I don’t make life easier for myself and just draw from photographs – but where would the challenge or fun be in that? The end results might be more realistic perhaps, but they would not have the sense of movement and energy that I revel in. All I have to remember to do is disengage my brain (it’s getting easier with age) because otherwise I get in my own way and can’t draw a thing. And then afterwards I have to stop myself from trying to ‘correct’ them, as that tends to deflate them, and me, too.
I have to admit that sometimes I have a passing fit of nerves as I stand, brush in hand, thinking “you’ve done it again, set yourself up for a really public embarrassment”.
But I take a deep breath and remind myself of the Buddhist teaching “If you never get to know the nature of fear, you will never know fearlessness”
and Albert Einstein’s “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”
I am happy to offer you a half-price SALE on all my prints!
They are all printed using the best digital technology and show every detail of texture and brushstroke as clearly as the original. Each image is approximately 42 x 30 cms. Top quality inks and acid free 250gsm hammered card
make each one a very special record of the original painting.
I have several different collections of prints, this first one consists of eight of my paintings created on-site at the Malta Jazz Festival every year. I use acylics on gesso tinted paper and paint on the spot to capture the atmosphere and excitement of this great annual event under the stars.
This one, "Aviahai Cohen Trio" was painted at the 2011 Jazz festival. To see the rest of the series please click HERE
For my last solo exhibition in May 2013 I created a set of six prints of local Maltese landscapes. Most of the paintings feature the 'Girna' , or small stone farmer's huts, which dot the landscape in the North of Malta.
This one is called "Girna, Kennedy Grove" and the original was painted in watercolours.
To see all six, please click HERE
I also have a lovely range of prints made from paintings I painted on site at various of the famous prehistoric Temples in Malta. Some were created in the Hypogeum, the unique underground Temple, and others are of curled naked women, following the legends of sleeping oracles who spent nights down there to have visionary dreams.
To see the range of prints please click HERE
This one is called "Portal" and was painted in Ta'Hagrat Temple in Mgarr.
I hope that you find at least one that you like and make the most of this offer!
Meanwhile, here's to 2014, may all our dreams come true!
Best wishes, Jeni :-)
Pop up and see me if you can, or make an appointment for a convenient time....
Meanwhile, Hoppy Easter!!
For directions - just send me a message through the contact form - click the 'button' above :-)
The Way of Wisdom.
I have been REALLY busy lately getting my two new websites up and running.... They still have a lot more to go into them but at least they are off the ground now and I can 'play' with them. The first one is The Wisestones of Malta and it shows all (or it will do, anyway) the work I have done in the prehistoric Temples of Malta.They have fascinated me ever since I first came to live in Malta, and I have had several exhibitions on the subject. I find them endlessly inspiring - for me, they echo with the memories of ancient wisdom. They date back to a time before the pyramids, when a matriarchal society lived in peace with the environment and each other. No weaponry was found among the ruins, and also very little evidence of habitation, so the mystery remains; why is tiny Malta littered with so many Temples? Painting always helps me to slip into an altered state, and I think that connection channels into the work I do there.
I have been feeling the need to reconnect with the subject in a new way for some time now, adding new experiences and inspirations.....
charcoal on velour, 40 x 30 cms
...... and in the meantime, a bit of fun! I find that when I am working on things like landscapes (which I have been doing for a while now in preparation for my exhibition in May) I have to stop myself from getting too 'picky'. A good antidote is to stop and do something completely different, and as I have many, many sketches from live models in the studio, I have been working them up in as loose a fashion as possible.
Getting away from the full-colour landscapes, I have worked in monochrome - ink, charcoal, paint... and then I thought that if I could do fifty it would make a great collection!
So the new website
Fifty Shades of Grey Nudes is charting my progress - I have just put the 20th painting on there!
Check them out and let me know what you think!!
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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