Wednesday, 4 July 2012

New painting, life and the inner critic.

Aloha lovely reader. :) In between the night shifts while waiting for video lessons to render and signing up new students to my mini art workshop Summer Girls (btw you can always join this one, it's an open-ended self study sort of thing, over 155 students have already signed up! woohoo! sign up here if you want, super cheap!), I've been feverishly working on this baby:

In my early twenties all I did was work on large canvases with acrylics. Working small like I do now (and I considered 12 x 9" super tiny then) used to do my head in. I didn't have the patience to work on tiny detail, used to drive me mad. So I bought canvas after canvas and painted and painted and painted. Most - if not all - my paintings used to frustrate me. I hated them. I loved painting, loved paints, loved what the paints did on the brush, but I almost always hated the outcomes. I now know that this was a super important part of my progress and process. I NEEDED to do those paintings to get where I am today. For Life Book, today, I have prepared a lesson in which we'll work on the 'inner critic'. That inner voice that can render us stifled, depressed, paralysed and -at times- incapable of even starting a painting! And I was reminded of the quote by Ira Glass:
"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."
This is true, it is so essential: in spite of your 'sucky work' (what is that anyway?), you gotta press on. You either work with your inner critic, dissolve the thoughts, ignore them, love them, repress them or soothe them. Whatever you do with the thoughts: do not let them stop you from painting. You gotta press on. "Good work" comes from making volumes of work. When the author Neil Gaiman was asked: "how do you write good stories?", he answers: "just write, keep writing".

In one of my lessons for my Ultimate World of Whimsy course I talk about how my paintings used to make me so depressed, that there came a day that I decided to stop painting forever. I just didn't want to be miserable any more, but every time I painted and looked at the final results I felt deeply depressed, so, I decided it was time to stop painting. But before I stopped I was going to make one more painting. One very last painting, just to get it out of my system and say goodbye to the process of painting. So, without any expectations this time round I started painting and painting and painting some more. And I fully painted with the intention to let go of the painting process after this painting was finished and so I had no expectations of this painting being 'good' or having to pleasing me somehow. I simply, just wanted to do one more painting to get it out of my system. Like a saying goodbye of sorts. 

Miraculously (or maybe not!), the final result pleased me so much that I decided I should CONTINUE painting after all! But here you see, because I intended to let go of the painting process, there was no inner critic present while I painted and therefore I had more freedom to paint, I was more care-free and I produced a painting I liked. Lesson: let go of expectations, focus on the painting process and the journey and the inner critic has little to say! 

This was a pivotal moment in my painting 'career'.

It did not mean however, that all paintings after that moment pleased me, no, but I did continue painting and did not give up which meant that I created a huge volume of work on canvas (many of which are now lying stacked under my bed waiting to be reincarnated, hee hee!).

Anyway, I've totally digressed, but in a roundabout way have come to what I wanted to show you, the progress steps of this new large painting on canvas (indeed: a reincarnated one). 

I used one of my old canvases, one of my old paintings I don't/ didn't like and had the intention to create an abstract painting inspired by the likes of Tracy Verdugo, Flora Bowley and this amazing little girl Aelita Andre:

And I did start off doing mostly abstract, but I am so addicted to faces that I could not help myself but put one in. And I LOVE her face so much, there is such emotion in it that I really don't mind that I wasn't able to stick with an abstract. (Abstractism eludes me. I can do it, sort of, but I never know why I do what and when/ how to finish it. But abstracts intrigue me more and more so I keep dabbling :)). 

Here are the progress shots so far:

Splatter random paint over former not-liked painting.

Take photos of self while painting because you remember that you don't have many (or any) of yourself painting; now I do! yay! :) Making patterns with sponge brush.

Sponge brushes are fun.

Make shapes, add colour. 

Splatter effect done with brayer. 

I liked the idea of a jellyfish on the left.

And a snail in the bottom right hand corner. 


But but but, I NEEDED a face!

Close(r) up.

More layering - adding darks and lights and more shapes (little squares).

Playing with the idea of adding a bird shape.

Did not like bird shape, more plant like shapes instead. Tried new bird shape in top right corner.

Texture/ paint detail. 

Liked the feel of the flat, elongated, pink plant shapes, need more of them. Go away bird shapes. More plant shapes instead.

This is where it's at the moment. Work in progress. Not finished yet. :)

The rest of my life - a quick summary.

  • Dylan and Elliot having been sick has meant me being behind on so much work, I've had to do a couple of late night shifts which has left me rather spaced out - I worked until 4am on Saturday!
  • We have a holiday booked to Spain on the 6th of July to the 17th July!! I SO look forward to it, but not sure how relaxing it's going to be, and I won't be able to completely unplug, work still gotta happen, hey ho!
  • Reading (while breastfeeding): "50 Shades of Grey" which is badly written and needs to have less sex scenes and more story in it, but so far, it's keeping me mildly amused (though -perhaps- sadly, not "aroused" ...).
  • Elliot has cut his first tooth and has started to crawl. Both he is doing 2.5 months earlier than Dylan did. Wow!
  • Dylan is mostly an awesome little boy with momentary lapses into toddler melt-down mode, but overall he's adorable and lovely. Here are some Dylanisms off late:
    • I ask him: "Dylan are you ok?" Dylan: "Yes pweese!"
    • On top of the bouncy castle slide: "read, stead, GO!"
    • Any time anything goes wrong Dylan says with full drama: "oh dear!"
  • I'm still instagramming my life (I'm willowing if you want to follow me), here are some of my instagrams for the last couple of weeks:


Elliot 7 months. 

Had such a wonderful time with some amazing people. :)

Reconnected with awesome beautiful people at the NVC parenting weekend. 

Last night. :)

Dylbee and me - Dylan 2 years and 10 months old. 

When this boy smiles it's literally like the sun has entered the room. :)

Elliot beautiful 

Woohoo. I captured the first time Elliot got himself into a sitting position! Proud mama! X

Elliot gets himself in sitting position for first time! (Then promptly fell backwards and hit his head, woops!). 

Been pretty sick for the last 2 days but back on the mend now. Hello! :)

Elbie and me

We're at a fair with all sorts of cool stuff and Dylan was allowed to hold this amazing little owl. :)
Dylan holding pretty owl at a fair in Shoreham.

Lol. Elliot's face is hilarious!

Such a good pic. Elbie's face is hilarious. 

Dedicated beautiful daddy.

The beautiful daddy, the glue. :)


  1. What a great story and great work. Lovely pictures of your family. But specially the and your drive to paint. Thanks. Have a nice vacation.
    Lovely greet

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I am great at giving advice but horrible at taking my own advice, so hearing about someone else going through similar problems and overcoming them is comforting. Thanks to your blog and other like it, I have started a journal and began painting again and I am painting in a whole new style that I've never had before. I find that I am wanting to paint more and more and I think sometime soon, I will return to canvas despite past failures.

    Thank you!


Thank you for connecting with me. I appreciate you! <3


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