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.
I love to paint the land and the sea, especially if I can be outside in the elements and with nature. However there is another side to my creative work which gives me freedom to just apply paint, texture and colour without any thought for the outcome or with any ego attached to the potential saleability of my work. This 5 minute film shows the development of a large piece created over 5 days. It took many changes along the way and the finished piece hangs in the yoga shala at Cortijo Las Salinas. Hope you enjoy the film and, as always, love to hear your feedback.
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
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 ……
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
I found these mushrooms growing outside my studio.
As I pulled one from the ground to take a closer look, the deep brown pigment sang to me as it floated into the air and disappeared. As I watched the spores float away I knew I wanted to capture them forever.
I noticed the sienna powder was rich and as I applied it to my blank canvas a series of work unfolded using the mushroom pigment as the main media combined with oil paint, glazes and gold.
A quote came to me …..
‘Without inspiration an artist is nothing . . .Without this mushroom I am nothing . . . Without this mushroom, these would never exist.’