Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've taken a fence


In my personal life there are obstacles to me being and doing all I want to. These are fairly easy to identify and not impossible to remove or get through. I think, though, that there will be more as I go along. I'm picturing it as a journey across a landscape. As I climb over a fence into a new field there is a feeling of space for a while until the next fence comes into view.
But the bigger picture that I'm exploring is not about me personally. It's about whether there is "more to life" than just what I usually see and experience. Whether there is a "spiritual" dimension.

I think there is, and I'm interested in understanding how I can freely have access to it ... and it to me.



So what's the problem?

I think it's religion.

It seems that religion gets in the way and forms a very effective obstacle to free and easy access.

I read somewhere that the 'ligion' part of the word 'religion' comes from the same root as the word ligature ... something that is used to tie up or to strangle.

Makes sense.

Priests, rules and regulations, rituals - they all define how, when, where and whether we are allowed to engage with 'spirituality'.

Some (not all) of my most formative spiritual experiences have been mediated to me by others (the new priesthood) and have ended up being used to control me - not liberate me.

When I've sought to express myself I've been told I'm independent, unrealistic, disobedient and even demon-possessed.

I've been told to change my appearance, change my behaviour, tone down my humour and cut my hair.

As you can probably guess, I have rage.

I'm sure many of you have stories you could tell about how religion has been used against you.

My plan is to produce some bigger pictures which have colourful, vibrant backgrounds but with big, f**k-off fences in the foreground (solid, three-dimensional ones). These fences will have religious words, phrases and symbols on them.

That's the plan.

But I'm not going to do it yet.

I'm too angry and I don't handle anger well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Fence Post

The ideas I'm working with in my art are intended to be general, not specific; global, not personal. However, there is inevitably a biographical interpretation of everything I do.

As I mentioned previously, I'm starting to explore the idea that there are fences between the 'seen' and the 'unseen'. This means we can see where we are and where we want to get to, but there are barriers in the way that have to be overcome somehow.

On a personal level, I've been thinking about what those barriers are for me. As I work through my 100 DAY experiment (this is Day 86 - 2 weeks to go), it is important that I not only think about where I want to be and what I want to do, but also that I identify the fences that are blocking me, and how I can get over them.

These are the ones I've identified so far, with some thoughts on how I am dealing with them.

Lack of Resources
This has been a real problem for some time - particularly in terms of money. It's tempting to think that if I had access to unlimited funds, then I could fix anything and everything. But that's a fantasy. A nice one though.

Nevertheless, the question remains : how am I going to do what I want to do with very little?

I am working on three responses to this:

1. I don't need much. Resourcefulness is as important as resources. Working with very little provokes creativity and generates (for me) a greater determination. I hate being denied anything and that acts as a spur to me to get what I want in whatever way I can.

2. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Linear thinking means that if I want this, then I need that. But I've had to find different ways to solve problems. I've had to keep my eyes open for solutions ... and they've often come in unexpected ways.

3. Changing my outlook to think more in terms of abundance than lack. There are loads of opportunities and resources out there in the world ... I just need to find out how to access them .

Which brings me on to ...


Lack of Know-How
For a long time, I would moan that I didn't know what to do. If only I knew what to do I would get on and do it. Yeah right.

Now I know what to do I've been moaning that I don't know how to do it. And that's got a fair bit of truth in it. How DO you live the lifestyle you want to live? How DO you make a living as visual artist? How DO you access resources and relationships?

My answer to this is that "there's nothing new under the sun". None of my 'problems' are new. Someone, somewhere has worked out how to do it and has probably written about it (probably lots of people in lots of different ways). Particularly with t'internet, there is a wealth of information, resources and know-how available. I like new ideas, so this is a great opportunity for me to do some research and discover creative solutions to problems. It's also an opportunity to look outside my own field and find out how others have resolved similar problems.


Lack of Confidence
I'm not sure about this.

I'm always enthusiastic about promoting others - I generally believe in people and want to see them do well and achieve their goals. If I can help, I will. But when it comes to promoting myself, then it's a different thing altogether. When I do, it feels like arrogance rather than self-confidence.

But I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. Obviously I believe in what I'm doing or I wouldn't do it. And I'm sticking at it even though it hasn't been at all easy at times (most of the time, in fact). So there must be some confidence at work there.

I just don't want to be one of those people that people avoid. Boring, self-obsessed, head up their arse.

Which links, in my thinking, to ...


Self Image
I don't know what I look like.

I've seen photos of successful men : smart navy suit, white shirt, red tie, or - for the more casual look - grey trousers, a navy blazer and an open-necked white shirt. Bright white teeth; short back and sides; highly polished shoes. If that's what success looks like then you can keep it.

But I don't know what success looks like for me ... or what it wears.

I don't want to look like anyone or anything else. I want to look like me.

But I don't know what I look like.

I'm snagged up on this one.

So, moving on ...


Optimism
The pessimist thinks that nothing is going to work out OK so there's no point doing anything.

The optimist thinks that everything is going to work out OK so there's no point doing anything.

I tend to be an optimist and I've only just realised that it's not a good thing for me because it leads to inertia. It's a hurdle to me getting things done.

So, more than ever, I'm taking some kind of action every day, on the basis that actions have consequences which, in turn, give me something to work with.


So those are some of the fences I'm trying to clamber over.

What's fencing you in?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't fence me in.

When I were a kid, all of this were just fields (said the old geezer ... me).

I would go out walking and sketching for hours. All around this area were fields, woods and a river. I could wander anywhere.

It's all changed now, though. When I went for a walk recently - to do some drawing and take some photos - there was only one path and it was fenced in on either side. I particularly wanted to get down to the river, but it wasn't possible. I could see where I wanted to get to, but couldn't get there. Eventually I found a section of fence that I could climb over (at my age - honestly!) though I did get a bit stuck when the sleeve of my jacket caught on a branch. It ripped when I fell free.

It's an apt metaphor, though, because I've been thinking a lot about fences. Like you do.

The art I make is mainly an attempt to explore and depict different dimensions of 'reality' - in particular, that which is 'seen' and that which is 'unseen'.

As I continue to think about the 'seen' and the 'unseen' and the inter-relationship between the two, I've begun to realise that there are barriers between them. It would be nice if they could flow freely and easily into one another but it seems not.

There are fences - obstacles that you can see through, but that can't easily be crossed.

"A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage."

I've taken lots of photos of fences, and here are some of them. I'm also making lots of sketches, but I'll post those separately.


(I appreciate these are probably the most boring photos ever ... but I'm going somewhere with this ... honest.)




Monday, March 16, 2009




I've just completed these two new pictures.

Or, at least, I think I have.

How do I know?

Often I will include words in my pictures, but recently I took some of my paintings to a gallery and the owner said she didn't like the graphical elements.

That threw me a bit.

So I've spent days with these pictures, sticking words on and then taking them off. Repeatedly. And I still don't know which I prefer.

Also, I haven't been able to get a format for the words that has pleased me aesthetically. I quite like these two pictures and I've put a fair amount of time and effort into them, so I don't want to screw them up by adding words that look crap.

For me, the words (and the symbols I sometimes include) are like hyperlinks. They are intended to trigger additional thoughts and insights related to the overall themes I'm addressing. They are part of my visual language and my style.
The top one's called "Nature Song" and the bottom one's called "Earth Hymn".

Anyway.

In the end I decided to stop faffing around and photograph them, so I can move onto other things.

But I'm still not happy.

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