learning curves....

A week ago I stepped outside my comfort zone, taking a streetscape plein air class with Leon Holmes. Leon is a world reknown plein air artist, who actually lives in WA. He travels constantly, painting all around the world. I spent two days learning the ins and outs of plein air painting, focusing on urban settings (streetscapes).

Day 1 I felt clumsy and awkward at my new plein air easel (also from Leon - he makes/sells them) and my new colour palette. This is the beauty and the terror of workshops - they push you in new directions, away from old habits and familiar choices... Day 1 work went in the bin, and that old familiar feeling of artistic self doubt and frustration was well and truly at play in my head. However, after cleaning up my messy palette where I had created havoc and getting back to it fresh and with a new toned canvas to work on, I chose some scenes that really resonated with me and actually produced some pieces that I was pretty happy with.

I achieved my personal goals in this workshop - to convey a street scene (architecture), to include people in those scenes and to also paint loosely and with bold strokes... While obviously, I was still new at this game and still have so much to learn, I was happy with my progress over the two day. Pages of notes have been poured over since, hints and tips from Leon noted and acted on, incidental mentions of artists to "have a look at" have been researched and followed on social media! I learnt so much!

But expanding on a greater theme - it has been a wonderful two weeks of new experiences... I started the week before the workshop, with a surfing lesson - my first in my life. Again, I was wondering what the hell I was doing in a wetsuit, on Brighton Beach, being shown how to get up on a surfboard at my age. However, its something I have always wanted to try, and again, after getting over my awkward embarrassment etc, I bloody loved it. Was I good at it? No... the mind was willing, the body weak. But is it something I would try again? Absolutely. I loved the feeling of catching a wave, that surge of power behind you... And of course, it was another experience with my beautiful ocean that I adore, another level of information, knowledge and immersion. I then followed that with the Leon Holmes workshop - again, outside my comfort zone and loving it...

This week came some more intellectual experiences... On Wednesday night I attended Nick Cave in Conversation. To listen to one of my musical favourites explain and explore his creative process, his values and his thinking was a privilege. He mixed up a genuine Q&A with solo songs at a grand piano, all in the glorious setting of the Perth Concert Hall. He spoke a lot about his creative process, which is basically showing up to do the work. His songs don't just come to him - they are crafted from hours and hours of what he described as nothings - he reads poetry, listens to music, he writes - repeat. Out of hours and hours of his nonsense and nothings might come two lines that resonate - he used the term "shimmer" and that is the essence of a song. It reminded me of the importance of hours at the canvas, and that not every painting is a winner, but that they are all useful.... He also talked about grief, songs,new music, old music, influences, family, collaborations, rehab, friends, state of the world, optimism vs pessimism, learning how to play the piano, the effect of amphetamines on chord progressions in his songs (too many to play now!) and so on - for three hours.... For whatever reason, Nick Cave was genuinely trying to engage with and answer his fan's questions.... an interesting process in itself. But definitely a mind at work here, and highly eloquent.... I will be pondering some of his answers for a while I think.

Finally, last night I went with some friends to a Fringe show at the Blue Room Theatre. I went along, 20$ for a ticket, no expectations and absolutely no knowledge of what I was really going to see. The artist - Will Greenway - tells stories. Interwoven, finely crafted, poetic, linguistic, funny, sad and very Australian stories. For over an hour I sat quite stunned at what I was seeing and being part of. Again, I will use the term privileged. The theme of living in the moment, grabbing life by the throat and making the most of it was beautiful - and something that I am really working hard at, so it definitely hit home with my current thinking.

Anyway - that's my two weeks - oh, and I did some painting... Lots of works in progress, with lots needing those last touches. But have just put my latest piece - "Amongst the trees..." up on my website.


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