Art through the Artist’s Eye
A picture tells a story as seen through the eyes of the artist. It could be a representation of something the artist thinks is beautiful, or it could be their way of playing with colour to evoke different emotions.
The desire to express oneself through art is as old as humanity itself. This type of expression satisfies the longing to produce something that is fundamentally an extension of oneself. It is also a method of communication that can depict social life, a belief system, something from the imagination or something grounded in reality. In its essence, painting stretches the mind to think about, and develop different concepts.
Painters explore shape, colour, shading and things in juxtaposition to each other, as well as human relationships. The resulting artwork speaks a visual language, which amongst other things, tells us about history, hierarchy and the value systems of people and society.
Throughout the ages, art has taken on different styles and movements, as people looked for different methods of self-expression through creativity. Once an art movement gained recognition, the idea spread and it gained followers who were inspired by that particular style or ideology.
People learn things differently and visually are one of those methods; therefore, painting helps with mental development. In that way, both the painter and painting can become enablers.
Art can be used as a healing medium, as in the case of art therapy. When used in that way, art can help individuals to articulate their emotions through paint; it helps people to awaken their thought processes and express creativity, in what Maslow calls self-actualization.
Journey to becoming an Artist
I come from a long line of artists. My maternal grandfather was very good at arts and crafts, as were my uncles. My grandfather worked in the saw mills and made things from wood. He crafted egg stands, made clothes horses and clothes pegs, and also decorations that went in front of houses to the eaves. My first and second cousins were also great at art; however, I did not know this because we were separated by a continent. The influences, I had around me though, were my mother and younger siblings, all of whom were very creative.
When I was a child, one of my favourite activities at primary school was painting. I got lost in my world of imagination and beauty, as I worked on the shapes, colours and scenes in my head. Painting allowed me to explore new perspectives and to think differently. It allowed me to indulge and feed my imagination; the discipline of painting or drawing carried me to a plateau of peace and harmony.
At the age of 14, someone outside my family recognised my talent for visual art, so I was sent to an art school for Saturday classes. There, much of the programme concentrated on nude life drawings. It fascinated me how the models could sit so still in all of their naked glory without so much as a shade of embarrassment, while I squirmed at having to watch their anatomies. On a lighter note, I also learnt typographic and lithographic designing there.
Paintings for me have to reflect vibrancy and colour. I like colours to be bold and to evoke happiness and joy, or awaken an appreciation of beauty within me. Therefore, whenever I view someone else’s work, I look for those emotions. I also try to get into the artist’s mind-set, and to seek fresh inspiration from their perspective.
I like the impressionist movement that began in the 1860s. I like works that capture the beauty of nature in brush strokes that are bold and erratic. Of the Impressionist painters, my favourite is Claude Monet (1840-1926). My favourite works by him are: The Japanese Bridge (Water Lily Pond Water Iris), and the Artist Garden at Giverny. I love the vibrancy of the colours in these pictures; they draw me into the vibrancy of the garden and I can almost feel that I am there. Both of those works were painted in 1900, when Monet was in his sixties.
I also like the Post-Impressionist works of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The Post Impressionism movement took place in the late 19th century. My favourite pieces are: The Starry Night (1889), Café Terrace at Night (1888) and Starry Night over the Rhone (1888). In these paintings, van Gogh uses contrasting colours to illicit a mood. It was the same with his brush strokes. They are bold and erratic and one cannot help being drawn into the picture.
When I paint, I focus on how things look in juxtaposition to each other, how shape, shade and colour complement each other, and which brushes to use or what kind of brush strokes to apply. It is difficult to say what inspires me to paint a picture. I may want to capture the essence of a person. Or perhaps immortalize something of sentimentality. Then again, I may be moved to capture on canvas a beautiful scene from the natural environment. I prefer to work in acrylics because they come in a wide range of colours and are easy to blend and to clean.
My Mother the Artist
My mother was a prolific artist; her creativity surpasses anything that I could ever do. She worked with ceramics, textiles, raffia, sugar craft, lithographs, and typographs and expressed her creativity in many different ways. My mother was influenced by Japanese art and architecture, and this is reflected in her pieces.