No body told me blogging would be so addictive.  From the moment I got up this morning I have been trying to sieve the thoughts and ideas but more frustratingly I have been trying to make time to get these thoughts down.  As I walked the dog i kept laughing to myself because i thought i would struggle to think of things to write but it’s quite the opposite I now need to formulate a plan of action to enable me to manage all the ideas and things i want to write down.

I have decided that a good starting point would be writing down all the things i wanted to say last Tuesday when BBC Radio Wales asked me to talk about why and how the Vale of Glamorgan makes me happy.  Apparently the Vale of Glamorgan scores the highest on the “happiness” scale in Wales.  I would like to empathise with the rest of Wales who I am sure are also very happy but express it in un-measureable ways.

Being put on the spot on live radio meant I was able only really to talk about how having the opportunity to walk along the coastline and countryside and engage with the elements at work have a huge impact on me.  I mentioned how being outside in the wind rain or sunshine makes me feel wonderful.  Living so close to the sea makes me feel a freedom that i didn’t feel when living in a town.  I look out of my windows to a wide open space of sea, roof tops and sky.  I like being on land but i feel like I could escape if i needed to.  I do experience a lot of claustrophobia in life and the irony of this belief that i can escape to sea if i need to completely ignores the fact that when i am out at sea i feel really trapped and scared that I can’t get back to land.  How funny is that?  This claustrophobic feeling is both vertical and horizontal in how it manifests.  If I am in the sea on a board or kayak and a wave looms above  and over me I am filled with huge angst but also if on a calm sea i look back to land and forth to the horizon I also feel angst as if i am trapped.  The good thing is it doesn’t stop me doing it when i can because I LOVE being in the sea.  I think I may have been an squid or something in a former life destined to want to be in water but made to come out to provide sustenance for others (Let’s face it as parents we need at least 8 legs to keep up with our children).

The sea has provided me with so much inspiration in my painting.  When i look out at the sea there is enough space for all my thoughts.  The gentle movement or the phenomenal energy as the waves form are a pretty good measure of how my head processes life.  The ‘Sea’ as a subject has provided all the challenge, inspiration and motivation I have needed to ensure that i keep on looking at the subject matter and not try to restrain it or make it too static.  I am always telling students to “keep on looking” and then “look again” and so on.  I know I go on about “Perspective” but it’s the only thing that matters.  I’ve already mentioned how much I gained from geography as an artist but i cannot begin to tell you everything but imagine this:

“There are as many ways of seeing as there are eyes to see with”

I remember citing this from Dennis Cosgrove in about 1989/90 but i may have been citing him citing someone else!!??.

If you are an creative soul who spends time making, creating, painting etc then i hope you will find that quote helpful.  It is the reason behind everything I do as a painter and as the creator of The World of Ogs.  I use this quote with children and adults as a means of building confidence in our own ideas.  The Ogs do it perfectly by helping children and adults put down their inhibitions over sewing skills etc and as an art tutor getting students to look for them selves at their subject and paint what they see not what they think they should see.

My dad was very good at teaching me this.  I grew up thinking my dad could do anything.  He built things, he painted things, he wrote things, he cooked things.  He was actually an surveyor as a day job but i never noticed that because i never saw it.  I remember one day when i was agonising over something i believed i had done wrong. I can’t remember what it was but my dad said :

“Sweetheart, it’s the imperfections in life that make it interesting!”

OMG!! LIFE CHANGER ALERT!!!!!!  how liberating is that?  Since then i have not been quite so hung up  on the many things that once would cripple me.

Since living with such a great mantra i have heard other famous artists from across the Art World being cited as saying equally as powerful statements.  For example, in one of my art classes I quoted Miles Davies, the famous Jazz musician who said something like:

“… even when things don’t go right or as expected it’s what you do with that… you have just got to work with it and make it in to something new”

That is a really poor interpretation of what he said but the point is  accept it may not go to plan but work with the outcome and see what you can do with it and that’s where the really exciting stuff will happen.

Another crippling thought I have had over the years is:

“Oh but i’m not properly trained as an artist!”

Another good friend turned round and said:

“But we are self taught Fran!”

OMG!!! LIFE CHANGER ALERT!!!  How liberating is that one?

There’s more as well.  I have been the luckiest girl to have had so many inspiring people around me inviting me to acknowledge that my perspective is mine and is as good as any.  So to all you budding artists out there from this day on I am instructing you to value your eyes, ears and probably all the senses and parts of your body and all that goes on behind them.  Ask questions, formulate reactions and opinions, try to find a medium through which to express how you see the world around you.  And get at it!!

How exciting a challenge is that?  I am off to do just the same.  I am nearly ready to tell you about my most exciting challenge yet!

Thanks, Francine xx

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