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Abstract Art


I admit it!! I am a total art addict!! Not only do I love the experience of painting I also love studying the work of other artists and spend most of my day either immersed in the practice itself or looking at the work of others.  The genre of abstract art has always facsinated me and has become one of my greatest loves but also one of my biggest challenges to paint with a satisfactory outcome. But when that final paint stroke or mark is made it can be the most delicious feeling as I stand back and look at the balance and harmony I have created between colour, form and emotion.

I discovered the painting ‘The Talisman’ by Paul Serusier back in 2002. It was painted in 1888 under the guidance of Paul Gauguin and totally captured me. We don’t think of abstract art as being so old, but this painting became an iconic painting for a group of young painters who called themselves The Nabis and it inspired me in the same way as it did them. I couldn’t wait to copy it.

Gauguin instructed Serusier to paint what he saw straight from the tube whether it be a colour or a shape. It was painted on wood, a small cigar box in fact, with oil paints and is the only painting Serusier is really credited for as he was better known for his writing. However this painting spring-boarded the Nabis into action. I painted mine in the same way although on a much larger canvas, looking at my garden as I did so. It was a great lesson in abstraction and from then my love affair with the genre began.

As I continued to study the abstract artists, painters like Rothko and Pollock mesmerized me, Kandinsky and Miro excited me,  Mondrian baffled me and de Kooning made me shudder.  So many emotions would be stirred in me with each particular style. O’Keefe has brought me to tears with her beauty and sensitivity.   Hodgkin being one of my absolute all time favourites with the deep simplicity of his brush strokes makes me cheer. Oh! there are so many – too many to mention, in fact.

I then began a quest to ‘chase art’ making it a continual pursuit to find out where these famous paintings where hung, go and see them no matter where they are in the world and to sit with them, allowing myself to dissolve into them to see how they made me feel. It was a great basis for my understanding of what makes a great abstract painting.

Abstract art is hugely based on feelings and emotions, not only that of the artist but also of the viewer and is very personal experience for both.  So when I paint in an abstract way you get all of me in a painting, literally blood, sweat and tears combined with joy and love.  As the layers start to develop, the back stories, text and poetry are covered by more colour and texture until I finally add that last brush stroke and I know my work is done.  

When I accept a commission for an abstract painting there is also an element of the commissioner within the piece as we work together with preferred colour palettes and personal stories on the under layers and then I continue alone as I am immersed in the process through to completion.

So when you next see an abstract painting, spend a minimum of 15 minutes with it and lose yourself in the whole experience, see how you feel and what you see within the painting and within yourself.

I regularly paint abstract commissions to a particular size or colour palette and my work that is currently available can be seen at www.steffisartwork.com

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#portraitsfornhsheroes


A brilliant initiative called Portraits for NHS Heroes started by Artist Thomas Croft @tomcroftartist is an arts project where artists volunteer to offer to paint a portrait of an NHS worker. This began on April 4, 2020 during the Covid-19 outbreak when Tom put an offer on Instagram to paint a free portrait for the first NHS worker to reply to him. However, he received so many requests that he eventually put 500 NHS workers in touch with professional artists who volunteered to paint them. This offer really spoke to artists who wanted to lift the spirits of the key workers and snowballed into a massive project which now spans many countries worldwide and it is planned to have an exhibition of some of the portraits when the pandemic subsides.

I do not consider myself a professional portrait painter but decided to volunteer anyway and put out an announcement via social media where I received 15 nominations. The names went into a hat – literally – and the first name was Jude McBride who had been nominated by a friend. It turned out that she was the perfect choice, being a complete warrior woman working on the frontline who had also had a bout of Covid-19 herself. She has worked for the South Central Ambulance Service for 18 years based in Southampton and The New Forest and is the Paramedic Team Leader, responding as a paramedic and also the on call Operational Commander for this area when on duty to provide a large scale leadership role for challenging incidents and also provide support to the team. She directly manages a team of 25 staff and has a great team. Jude says ‘I love my role and am very proud to work with the people I do, who are all just amazing’.

We chatted on Skype for the first time to get to know each other, initially Jude was not sure about having a portrait of herself hanging in her house, but decided to go with it and sent through some photos of herself for me to work with. I used a combination of 2 or 3 of the photos as I wanted to capture her strength as a woman working on the frontline managing a large team, but also to convey her warm, caring nature. Her portrait, I hope, shows her looking like she had given her all on one of, I am sure, many challenging days.

Fortunately Jude loves her portrait and I really enjoyed painting her and felt I had really got to know a very special lady.

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#artistsupportpledge


A wonderful initiative how artists and art lovers can help artists called The Artist Support Pledge was created by Mathew Burrows who thought of a way of to help artists sell some paintings or creative pieces during lockdown using social media – in particular Instagram using the hashtag #artistsupportpledge

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, artists around the world have found themselves without work as galleries have had to close, teaching positions have come to a standstill as schools and colleges shut their doors and with exhibitions and art fairs having to be cancelled, sales have completely disappeared. Artists depend upon many different avenues to be able to sell and show their work and these closures mean that the online virtual world has become even more important as a way of getting work out into the eye of the art lover and collector.

Artists post a photo of a painting for sale for up to 200 £/Euros and when each artist has sold 1000 £/Euros of work, they pledge to buy another artists work – however in many cases artists do not wait to buy another’s work – we buy in advance as this is the way we are !  Artists support artists wherever they can.

Here are a few of my small works available all for under 200 £/Euros. Each painting is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity, signed and safely packed ready for to post.
More detailed information can be found on my website page #artistsupportpledge and I will keep adding new work every week so keep checking or go to my Instagram page.

So if you feel like treating yourself to a small work of art for yourself or as a lifetime gift for someone special, now is a good time to buy small works of art from artists.

‘The Edge of the Table’, mixed media painting on canvas with gold leaf

40 x 40 cms £/Euros 175.00

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When the planet stopped to breathe


After a very positive and creative start to the year, around the end of February my work began to change, my colour palette became darker, brushstrokes bolder, paintings were erased and restarted, my refinement lost its way.   As I began to paint over each canvas, organically this collection of abstract work began to slowly emerge, brighter, lifted and with a positive energy from how they began. The text from a novel that had fallen apart created the title for each painting, the words being abstract in isolation leads you to consider the painting in more depth and the deeper meaning behind them.   Painting in the abstract genre can be particularly challenging because to create an abstract painting the creative thought process is challenged the most. This series is based on how I was feeling using colour, shapes, brushstrokes, size and scale to explore that moment when the planet stopped to breathe.  

Some of these works are part of the Artist Support Pledge @artistsupportpledge where paintings are sold for £/Euros 200 or less and can be seen on my Instagram account @steffi_goddard_artist. This is a project to help artists sell their work as exhibitions stop running, galleries close and teaching dries up. Message me for more info of what’s available and prices.

Keep safe, keep healthy, keep breathing.

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Abundant Gardens Commissioned Series


Abstract Art series Abundant Gardens
Abundant Gardens Series

At the beginning of the year I was so lucky to have been given a joyous commission to paint a series of 3 canvases, one large and two smaller canvases for a beautiful home in the UK.  After visiting my client I came away with photos and an idea for a bright colour palette – perfect !  The brief was for a wall in a large, bright conservatory and to bring the garden from the outside into the inside space.  Fortunately it was sunny back in my studio in Spain and I was able to imagine the flowers and the bright sky without any problem at all.  These are the three chosen from the series and are now very happy in their forever home.  The large painting in the middle is the ‘Abundant Garden’, the painting to the left is ‘By Night’ and the painting to the right is ‘By Seasons’.

 

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Encaustic Art


Encaustic Art is a fascinating art medium using hot wax.  The effects and textures created are random and beautiful in equal measure. Encaustic wax is so versatile one needs no actual art training to use it, just a brave and eexperimental attitude.  Which leads me into a new art retreat I shall be including on my programme this year at Cortijo Las Salinas.  Douglas Mehrens from Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA is an Encaustic Artist and will be here from 24-29 October introducing us to this very ancient technique which is becoming the fastest growing medium used by artists right now.  We will be exploring this wonderful and unpredictable medium on board, canvas, paper and include charcoal, acrylic paint, inks, Crayola crayons mixed with beeswax, imagery and mixed media to produce some beautiful paintings which you will take away with you. Here are some examples which I saw at his museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico last year.

Encaustic is a Greek word meaning to “burn in”.  Heat is used to adhere it to a substrate, so that each layer of colour is fused.  It might sound difficult or complicated, but the ease and flow of learning this process is perfect for beginners with no experience in art and Douglas will be here to help us all the way.  As the colours blend through dripping and splashing and worked with any and every tool, you can watch the magic happen. It’s basically just a fun medium which can take you anywhere.

On this art retreat you will enjoy 4 days working with Douglas and during the week Adrienne, Douglas’s wife, will be sharing a day of mask making with us – taken from her experience with the Native America Cherokee tribe.  Each day will begin with either a yoga session, or a morning walk to the river or up to the top of Dos Hermanas Hills.  All materials, food, accommodation, yoga and gong sessions are included and the cost for all this is 950 Euros.  This does not include your flights, transfer or travel insurance.  The spaces are limited so if you want to reserve yourself a spot please email me and I will make sure this happens.  If you make your reservation deposit of 150 Euros before the end of February you will take advantage of the 50 Euros early bird discount.

Douglas and Adrienne Mehrens
Douglas and Adrienne Mehrens

So if you have always wondered about this interesting medium or want to explore and expand your existing knowledge, or if you just want to try something a little different, then this could be the retreat for you this year.  More information about Douglas and the Encaustic Art Museum he runs in Santa Fe, New Mexico go to https://www.eainm.com

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Art and the Poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca


Federico Garcia Lorca is one of Spain’s best known poets and now a popular icon.  Born in 1898, he lived the first ten years of his life in Fuente Vaqueros, which is close to Granada in Southern Spain.  He moved to Madrid when he was in his early twenties and  joined a group of avant-garde artists that included Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel.  The group, collectively known as the “Generation of  1927,” introduced Lorca to Surrealism, a movement that would greatly influence his writing and poetry.

Lorca was an active socialist and his controversial political views as well as his generally bohemian attitudes would ultimately cost him his life and during the Spanish Civil War,  Lorca was captured by Franco’s Nationalist Army and executed.   His works, and even his existence, remained a taboo subject in Spain for nearly four decades after his death. However as a result, Lorca has become not only famous for his exemplary poetry, but for his martyrdom at the hands of a fascist dictatorship. His works were suppressed in Spain for many years but have had a monumental influence on the poets and authors of Latin America and the world over and he is often credited with being the first author to introduce Surrealism into literature. His work has a lasting impact on Spanish poetry and Lorca has influenced many of my abstract paintings with his interesting use of words, often written in a surrealist or abstract voice.  Here are two of my abstract paintings complete with Lorca’s words.

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Echo

The flower of dawn has already opened

(Do you recall the depths of evening?)

The spikenard moon pours down its cold scent.

(Do you remember the gaze of August?)

 

The Cheating MirrorThe Cheating Mirror

Green branch barren of rhythm and bird.

Echo of a sob with no pain or lips.

Man and Woods.

I shed tears beside the salt sea.

In my pupils are two seas singing.

 

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My Abstract Painting Meets ILU Fitwear Equals Amazing Yoga Clothing Range !


 

Spring Equinox Spiritual Exploration

I am so proud to have the above painting used for the design on a yoga and fitness clothing range.  The painting was from an abstract collection of work called ‘Spiritual Exploration’ and was originally painted in watercolour on paper.  I had no idea how this would work on a clothing range, but now the range is complete and I am thrilled with the way it looks on this collection.

The collaboration between myself and ILU Fitwear has been an exciting journey to see how artwork can be used in this way and because of the nature of the printing process, each item is different and unique.  It’s like wearing an original piece of art as no two pieces are the same.

Here are some lovely photos of the range, modelled by my daughter Chloe of My Happy Body and photographed by Emma Jacobs Photography. The range can be purchased from either myself directly from Cortijo Las Salinas but if you can’t make it to the cortijo this year then Chloe has some in stock or you can go direct to the ILU Fitwear website.

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Wild Orchids of Andalucia Return


Found some very early orchids today, must be due to the very warm weather, namely a Serapsis Orchid, a Giant Barlia and the Dark Bee Orchid. Sunday 16 February 2020

Steffi's Blog

A burst of sunshine in between a few rainy days inspired a walk up the hill behind my cortijo to see if any wild orchids had started to peek through.  After half an hour of searching I was rewarded with a new find – a hybrid orchid was ready to reveal itself.  I am sure I will find a few more over the next few weeks, but for now enjoy the slideshow of current and past discoveries.

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Art as a Gift


Because art is a very emotive and subjective area, it is not always easy to buy art as a gift, however it can be one of the most personal and sensitive things you can offer someone as a beautiful and lifelong investment.  

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Art as a gift is perfect for many occasions, Valentines Day, any type of anniversary, birthday but in particular as a wedding present. As the couple plan to make a home together, what better than to have a special work of art adorning their walls that they have had a joint experience choosing together.  This can be an original piece of work already created by me or I can be commissioned to work with the couple to a particular size or idea they might have to work with the interior of their home.   It could include rose petals or flowers from the bouquet, confetti, love notes from guests, wax from a candle, sand if there is a sand ceremony or any other found object which is personal to the couple.  A piece of personal Heart Art could be a part of your marriage proposal with a secret message hidden within the painting.  I would even be happy to attend the wedding to create some abstract studies which could go towards the final painting.  My level of service is of a very personal level as I am totally emotionally involved with my work and will work with you and listen to any creative ideas you may have.

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I offer hand made gift certificates as part of the package and the amount can be in any denomination from 75 Euros for smaller works and prints up to an amount of your choice.  It can be a present from a group of friends and family who jointly collaborate which ultimately results in a very special gift and the experience of choosing the piece of artwork together makes a wonderful and memorable occasion.

Part of the process of a commissioned piece of work is an initial informal chat and a visit to me in my studio if convenient or a Skype/FaceTime conversation.  This way I can make a connection and get to know the client and their likes and dislikes and I then work on a few small ideas before embarking on the final painting.  This allows the couple to respond to initial ideas and allows them to be part of the process which is very exciting.  Every painting is signed an comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.  Email me steffi@steffisarwork.com for more information or to arrange an informal chat or use the contact form below.

 

 

And this is what the shaman said …


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She pressed her soles into the soil

She raised her arms above her head

With two eyes closed, the other opened and this is what the Shaman said

‘Brothers, sisters, take my hand, feel the pulse beneath the land

Sisters rise to your tired feet 

Brothers shoulders sunken in defeat from tireless work, worry and woe, just waiting for your time to go

I, say, No

Use the thunder that cracks your heart

The cracks are where the answers are

Don’t put things back to how they were

You are in pieces because it is time to learn

Look within your eye that feels the truth

Do it now there is too much to lose’

And with that, the rain began to pour and wash them all to their very core

The Shaman then softly kissed her kin

Moved back and made space for their healing to begin

art by Steffi Goddard              Poetry by Chloe Watts Goddard

 

I AM … My New Series of Warrior Women Paintings


My new series of paintings is about powerful women with a story, a history and a journey and three bright red warrior marks, evidence of their battle scars.

‘I AM – Two of the most powerful words because what you put after them shapes your reality.’  Quote by Bevan Lee.

These two very small, powerful words resonated with me. Usually the negative brain kicks in and words like ‘not enough’ or ‘unloved’ steal the limelight.

But what if I filled that little gap with words like ‘beautiful’ or ‘complete’ or even ‘goddess’?

Step aside negative mind and let the positive mind through.

It was in that moment this series of powerful women started to pour through me as if I was downloading data through my paintings.

Every girl in this series has their own story, their own challenge, their own warrior marks to emphasise the battle scars life has thrown at them. As you look into their eyes you may find a shared experience, may feel their emotion, their loss, their sorrow. I cried real tears as these girls poured out of me, all of them me in some way. I felt their war against themselves and heard their stories.

They are now available as a limited edition print or hand embellished printed canvas.  22 are also featured in my newly published ‘I AM …’ book which is also for sale via my Etsy shop or my website

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