I love the new year. January is a time for a good clear out in the studio ready for another year of commissions, exhibitions, workshops and art holidays. Its amazing how the clutter grows without me even noticing throughout the year. So a tidy studio is a ready to go studio ….
So far I have 6 commissions to be getting along with, including 4 large canvases for a beach house in Ireland, 2 exhibitions coming up in March and April, 2 art holidays planned which need to be co-ordinated and the usual stream of workshops for the visitors to the cortijo and my studio. Hope to see you here in Spain soon.
Try this as an alternative, or in addition to, your daily plank – the Upward Plank Pose.
Begin by sitting with your legs out straight, place your hands behind your back and press your palms down against the floor with your fingertips towards you. Lift your pelvis and straighten your legs whilst driving your toes to the floor. Press your shoulder blades against your back and look up and smile !
There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood. Connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and can help you see a way forward and out of any dark space you may find yourself in, and for whatever reason.
I find that certain poses in particular have a unique energy and mood shifting properties, my favourites being:
1. Camel pose
Backbends are heart opening and energizing. They are great if you are drowsy at work or are having a hard time waking up in the morning. Camel, Bridge, and Wheel are all great backbends, but I find Camel to be simultaneously grounding and stabilizing, as well as a huge emotional and energetic release.
2. Pigeon pose
Spending a solid two minutes in Pigeon or King Pigeon on each the right and the left side, breathing with conscious awareness the whole time, is a great way to move stuck energy and relieve tension.
3. The Bow
The Bow is a wonderful pose that helps boost energy and keep your metabolism burning strong. Bow also opens up and stretches the front of your body while strengthening your back muscles. Great for a mid afternoon pep-up when energy starts to disappear and you are thinking about a chocolate bar!
I have spent some time this week with some lovely art students and the question they needed an answer to was ‘How can I become an artist’ and ‘what do artists do all day!’
Well the following is the best way I can answer this question. I have this list pinned up in my studio and refer to it whenever I forget myself!
How to be an Artist
Stay loose Learn to watch snails Plant impossible gardens Invite someone dangerous to tea Make little signs that say ‘yes’ and post them all over your house Make lists, lists and more lists Make friends with freedom and uncertainty Don’t be scared to be you Look forward to your dreams Cry during movies Swing as high as you can on a swing Cultivate moods Do everything ‘for love’ and ‘with love’ Take lots of naps – for thinking and dreaming Give money away. Do it NOW. The money will follow Believe in magic and imagine you are magic Laugh a lot and giggle with children Celebrate every gorgeous moment Take moonbaths Read and draw (or doodle) every day Listen to old people Open up. Dive in. Be free. Bless yourself as you are blessed Drive away fear Entertain your inner child Get wet Hug trees Write love letters Talk to yourself SING everyday (especially by yourself) Believe the impossible is possible Care about everything you do Take long walks in the rain
Abstract Art fits into the current age, it does not inhibit creativity and is the basis of painting freely and spontaneously. It is the optimal way of developing your artistic talent. An Abstract Art Workshop weekend will be help at Cortijo Las Salinas from 27 September until 4 October.
If you have ever wanted to pick up a paint brush for the first time or would like to improve your existing talents, I shall be holding two Art and Painting holidays at Cortijo Las Salinas in Spain this year.
Immerse yourself in the landscape, sketch in the studio or break out and have a totally abstract moment ! The choice is yours – click here to find out more ……
Watching the BBC News this morning, they showed a programme listing all the famous people who passed over in 2011, however the only artist i.e. painter, they mentioned was Lucien Freud. In 2011 there were a number of notable passings in the art world which should not be forgotten.
The California Minimalist John McCracken (b. 1934), died aged 76 years
One of the Beaux Arts quartet Jack Smith (b. 1928), died aged 82 years
A very sad loss for me personally was the departure of the legendary Cy Twombly (b. 1928), died aged 83 years, whose work I love,
and of course, not forgetting the very sad departure of Lucian Freud (b. 1922), died aged 88 years, best known for his thickly painted portraits of the contemporary nude and the best painting of The Queen ever painted.
There may be more, less well known artists to add to the list, but each and everyone will have contributed in their own creative way to the most amazing of all artistic genres – the visual arts, and with all the artists listed above living well into their 70’s or 80’s (even 90’s) it can only prove that art really is good for you! R.I.P
Two years ago, Jodie lost her sunglasses. It was a complete mystery as she had been wearing her new Ray Bans with pride and they suited her very well, so the day they went missing we spent a long time trying to find them.
There are many hiding places at Cortijo Las Salinas, the cortijo is full of nooks and crannies, so we did the traditional procedure of ‘tracing your steps’ and ‘where did you last remember wearing them?’ to no avail. Needless to say she was very upset and went back to the UK without them.
Things often go missing here and, of course, we always blame each other for moving things or putting things away unnecessarily, however it is not usually that simple, for neither of us are actually that tidy so sub consciously I always blame our invisible residents. It is at times like this that I am reminded of the early legend that Fina relayed to me about the cold night back in 1875 when the clay pot in which her great grandmother was making the soup for the family was not on the table where she had left it when she returned from answering an urgent knock at the door, when no one was there, only mist.
Anyway, a few weeks ago we had a group of French people spending a holiday in the cortijo and the day before they were due to leave Magali came to us with a pair of sunglasses she had found. She had been exploring in the olive groves which are up behind the house and she discovered a black glasses case complete with sunglasses and receipt. We immediately recognised them as Jodie’s glasses however something was not quite right about the scenario. To find anything in the olive groves is a near miracle as the farmers weed, water, prune, havest, continually throughout the year, but to find something in tact, completely perfect and totally clean was quite a mystery. These glasses had survived a whole season in the olive groves, through all weathers and farming without a single mark or scratch on them. The case alone should have been filthy with dust and soil, but no, nothing, not a mark anywhere, they appeared to be just as they were when purchased in the shop.
So, another strange and unexplainable happening at Cortijo Las Salinas, invisible residents? Your guess is as good as mine !
Having been a painter all my life, the most difficult thing about creating a painting is finding the inspiration to make an original and inspired work of art. After all without inspiration an artist has nothing.
So as I walk with trepidation the relatively long distance from my kitchen where I make the brown nectar called coffee, to my studio where I am meant to make inspired works of art, a sickness enters my stomach. I know today is fortunately, a relatively rare day, where I feel uninspired and uncreative and wonder how any spontaneous arm movements might take place.
My studio, custom made to my very own design, with large high ceilings, big bright windows, overlooking the vast olive groves of Andalucia, has everything an artist needs to be inspired, or so you would think! Ha! Not today though and I open the door slowly, balancing my Iphone on top of my coffee cup and walk in. The smell of the oil paint mixed with the glazes and all the other products I have, hits my nose and I feel slightly comforted. I look around at all the many previously completed, ‘inspired’ paintings hanging from their wires and see some of the chaos left from yesterday’s attempt at creating a work of art. Had I lost it forever? I wondered, and sat down pensively drinking my coffee.
You see, inspiration doesn’t generally pop into one’s head, or at least not in my case, sometimes an active approach is required. I look towards the sea of olive trees and today I find even these annoying, so I finish my coffee and wonder for how much longer I can procrastinate. Perhaps the walk back to the kitchen for more coffee will help, and while I am there I can put some washing into the machine, feed Picasso (my cat), and check my emails. Yes, that’s what I shall do.
I return, with more coffee, but no more inspiration. I blame it on the planets, the time of the month, too much wine last night, anything except the truth. I can’t paint anymore! I finish my coffee and decide to go out for a walk.
As I meander down the old Roman track which leads from my cortijo, I can feel the cool breeze upon my arms and immediately wish I had brought a jacket, I also curse under my breath as my shoes are totally inadequate for the bumpy old track and dust and stones creep between my toes. I find my mind wandering about nonsense just as a hoopoe flies right in front of me and stops me in my tracks and I watch him fly by, an incredible bird, distinctive with its stripes and a characteristic undulating way of flying which is something like a giant butterfly. I stood stock still as he fluttered past at quite a speed and smiled at how beautiful he was noticing how blessed I always feel when I see a hoopoe. I continued down the windy path way and noticed little fruits appearing on the plum trees which line my track, knowing I would be able to pick them soon. I made a left turn just before the Roman bridge and headed down towards the river. The San Juan Rio is an amazing river and runs from a small local town called Castillo de Locubin continuing for miles, we are very fortunate that it virtually runs past our cortijo and I now consider it mine. I love spending time alone here by the water, watching it at different times of the year as it does different things, making different patterns in the flow, sometimes watching the fish jump out of the water, seeing little turtles swimming close to the bank, the black dragonflies flutter by and the different sounds of nature that can be heard. Today, though, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The water was higher than normal, the current flowing dangerously fast over the top of the small flat bridge, making it impossible to cross, the water splashing furiously about making white whirlpools and swirls as it thrashed around, fish jumping all over the place trying to swim upstream, the noise was deafening and I remembered we’d had a thunder storm a few days earlier which must have affected the flow of the river. I sat down on a large stone and realised in my dour mood as I left the studio I had no sketchbook or drawing implements with me. Still it didn’t matter; my mood lifting I virtually ran back to my studio and began to paint what I had just experienced.
Inspiration – what’s that ?
Article written for the Spanish County Life magazine