Thursday, January 28, 2016

So where am I then?

I think that I will delete this blog, or at least shelve it (unpublish it or whatever happens when you temporarily disable the thing) ... I've been feeling like this for a long time now, as there isn't really any purpose to this blog anymore.  I don't think anybody is reading it and if they are, they certainly aren't commenting.  And therefore that's the reason I suppose.
So this is the last postie for a while or forever, we'll see how the wind blows.

I am devoting a lot more time to painting these past few weeks than I am to writing - even though I have the mantra, 'write something every day - just say it', posted on the wall above my laptop screen - it's not working for me though!   Yeah, okay, I DO write but mostly unintelligible psychobabble in my car when I'm waiting outside schools to pick up kids to take home again.   And when I get to the laptop to add to the story/stories that are saved there, I spend a couple of hours dabbling about, tidying up paragraphs, making projects for research and not much else.  I might write a really good bit - maybe even a few thousand words of the good bit - but then I leave it alone and forget about it.  It's not grabbing  me.

That's not the case with painting.  I can never just 'leave it alone to stew' kinda thing.  It has to be finished, I have a definite goal, a vision, an emotion, there is something there that I 'want to get out' and I won't stop until I get it out.  That's drive, that's passion, that's what is called a vocation.  Writing is a sideline, always was and that's why I think I felt such a fraud when I was so very successful at it back in the Nineties.  I really was - there was fame there, it was happening, I was getting 'a name', getting recognised.     But it was like I was ashamed to say I was a writer, in case someone stood up and said, 'But hang on a bit, she only does it in her spare time, she's not the real deal, she's not a professional writer, where's her degree and why are you paying her for Chrissake?!'   And that's why I quit it, that's why I stopped writing for Southern Africa's largest daily newspaper.  It was as though I was so sure that someone was going to come along one day and call me out as a sham and I wouldn't know what to say in response because that's how I felt myself!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Am I going batty? Turning into a sad old cat woman?

I wonder if I should have made more effort when I was forty to find a replacement spouse? Or at least made the effort to grab a few boyfriends on the way up to sixty.   I had lots of possibilities (weirdly, all much younger than me), plenty of internet pals, cyber-romances, web wastes-of-time but no real actual human being relationship and now I think I'm paying the price.

It's great to have your independence, to be free of the mind control ... which is often what happens in a relationship hey?  I see it all the time and it makes me mad.  It's great to be your own person, answer to yourself, sort out your own life/money/car/job - it makes you strong.  I never did that when I left school, like loads of other liberated girls of the Seventies.  I stayed at home basically until I was married and then moved into my own house, newly built, that I'd saved up for during my engagement with my then, husband.    I only ever truly found my own feet (even though it was short-lived) when I got divorced and moved into my own flat - and again I bought my own place, I didn't rent.    I was so strong, mentally, when I lived in my little flat.   

However, things didn't work out -mainly due to me losing my job, then my flat and eventually having to move back in with my Ex.   The situation became really untenable shortly after he contracted early-onset Parkinson's and we split for good when I moved in with my eldest daughter and her son-in-law.    The reasons for this were many, not least of which economics, it allowed us all to buy a large home and eventually (although we didn't know it at the time) pay for our remove to the land of my birth.


I've spent a long time living with my daughter and son-in-law, due to a variety of circumstances and reasons, all of which seemed logical and do-able at the time.  We've had battles, feuds, major fights, arguments and stand offs but I'm still living in the same house with my extended family.  Something my mother warned be against doing when she was still alive.  I didn't comprehend then but I do now.   I've lost myself and been absorbed, assimilated, like the Borg.  I've become, 'the Nana'.  Would that have happened if I'd had a partner? 

When there's 'a partner', this usually means that there's somebody there who will 'have my back' whenever I get stuck in tricky situations - either domestic arguments or general day to day life problems.  If I had a partner and was in a relationship would I feel stronger in myself?    I guess there's no point dwelling on it 'cos that ain't going to happen.  I am no longer attractive to a man because A, I have too big a mouth about my own opinions, B, don't have the giggly stupid girly thing going on (you know, where you're obliged to laugh at all his stupid jokes and agree with him all the time) and C, I just can't be arsed.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The process (unfinished, untitled)

The chalky virgin surface of the canvas beckons. I mix up a sizeable amount of modelling paste and smooth it out onto the canvas. It flakes and moves about, as it hasn’t had time to get into the teeth of the canvas, so I have to press it in with the palette knife and my fingers. I don’t put gloves on, what’s the point? I want to feel the texture of the paste, otherwise there is no joy in the creative process. Working with texture on a canvas is an intuitive response, it’s not something that a person can actually plan – the feelings in your fingertips decide where the texture is going to go, how much pressure I am going to apply to each section of the canvas. I have no real formed idea of what this piece will look like, other than it will be an impression of something previously seen, or an emotion felt.

I run out of modelling paste, so I find a new container of caulk and load it into the cartridge gun, so that I can squeeze it out onto the canvas in thick ‘worms’.   The caulk is a different colour to the modelling paste and it is much thicker. I like working with the caulk, even though the ruddy, ochre brown, is not pleasant to the eye, I enjoy the feel of the medium beneath my fingers. 
When I am satisfied that I have enough surface texture, I begin to manipulate it further with tools (a knife, a piece of wood, some objects lying around the table and my fingers), then I lay pieces of plastic over the surface and press this into the paste, which now resembles a type of clay. The plastic leaves faint veins and crevices in the surface of the clay paste. I put the canvas aside and leave it all to dry, this can take 24 to 36 hours or longer, depending how much paste and caulk I have put on the canvas and how thick it is. The beauty of modelling paste and caulk is that the mediums do not crack whilst they are drying and even though the surface of the canvas is pliable and not rigid, the mediums on top do not move about and seem to knit well with the canvas warp and weft, always drying very hard and sturdy.

I pick up another canvas that I had pre-treated with paste and caulk earlier, it has actually been standing for about a week and the surface has had chance to ‘prove’. I remove the plastic and admire the soft impressions it has made on the drying paste underneath. It at once suggests waves and rocks, so I decide to turn this into an abstract seascape but this is just an idea, it could become something much different by the time it’s finished. Sometimes I paint over my work many times before I am satisfied with the finished result. Sometimes I absolutely hate the painting and my efforts to turn it into something that I find pleasing, so it stays hidden from sight in the back of the workshop or I destroy it and use pieces of it for other works. I am not ‘precious’ about my paintings, they are what they are, they become what they want to become, I try not to force my hand but sometimes I do have enormous fights with the canvas, although I never win.

I am wary of white, it bleaches out my creativity, I only use white when I’m feeling very, very secure in myself. White is the last pigment (I can’t call it a colour) I use. I don’t need white in a painting to feel light or space, I can feel that with yellows, blues, even shades of purple and black. For this painting I start with blue. Not one blue but every blue that I have in my workshop. I apply the various hues in lines, across the painting, mimicking the shades of the sea. It’s only when I start working in the darker hues, using green, yellow and purple, that I start to think about my mother.

We are sitting on the wooden bench, which was cemented into a concrete base (so people won’t steal it), looking out over the crashing waters of Kwaaiwater in Hermanus, South Africa. This was my mother’s favourite place, she (and I) could spend hours watching the sea, hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale in the months when they came into Walker Bay to calve.

My mother, sits with her grey anorak and silk scarf pulled tight over her ears and tied securely beneath her chin, so that she doesn’t get earache from the wind, it’s blustery up here, the tide is turning and gulls swarm about hoping to catch fish. A fine mist of spray wafts across us but we don’t bother, we are talking about nothing in particular, glad to be here in this lovely place.

I leave her for a few minutes because I am younger and I should be clambering over the rocks, like young people do in search of things that young people search for, whatever that is. I manoeuvre out onto a group of rocks but immediately realise that this isn’t the best place to be standing, it’s an unstable spot, I could fall into the surf or onto the jagged rocks below. So I move back like a responsible person, like an older person.   I hate myself for moving back but I’ve done my exploring.    I make my way back up onto the path to go and sit with my mum. She looks so alone and fragile sitting up there by herself on the bench.

I look down at the canvas and see that I’ve included the white, I’ve splattered the white all over the rocks and the sea. The churning swell of the sea blasts out massive forceful sprays of white as it plumes high into the air and then hits the rocks
I’m crying. 
Enough for today.


(This may find its way into my book, don't know yet) 

Scattered thoughts



Foggy morning

IS just massacred a bunch of children in Pakistan and I watched a not very funny Nazi joke on YouTube, sent to me by Dave this morning over Whatsapp

Stephen Hawking reckons science and technology will be humankind’s downfall – or something like that. As if that’s a new idea.

Sometimes my love for E eclipses everything around me and all I see is him.  He gives me so much joy, I can’t believe how happy he makes me feel or how frustrated and sad sometimes when he’s having one of his hissy fits.  I hope our relationship continues to flourish and grow and that I live to watch him become a young man. 

So we are going to South Africa in May – barring booking the tickets, it’s a dead cert – I have fears that the lease on this house might be ended and we may have to be moving out the weekend we’re supposed to be in SA but at least I’ve thought about it first, so it won’t be a shock if it happens!

The ‘snow’ we had was a dusting, nothing to take pictures about.  Looking outside my window, I see that the tree in the front garden has already started to bud, daffodils are growing in neighbours’ gardens, maybe winter is over then and the powdery white stuff we got last week is all we’ll see of snow this year?

Painting – what does it mean to me? What does it feel like to me when I make a painting? This is what I have to write today for my story, as it’s a fundamental aspect of my book.  I made a tentative start last week but it wasn’t good enough. So today, my project is to try and get it down accurately and with some degree of passion. 

I've just finished eating a hot cross bun (no, I didn't toast it 'cos our toaster keeps tripping out).  The cat's playing with the loose carpet at the top of the stairs.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Creative instability, lack of direction, dirth of confidence ... where does it come from?

One thing I have always tried to instil in my kids is confidence.  In themselves, in their abilities and in their achievements.  I think I have done okay with them, they all seem to have an innate belief in self and it shows in how they are going through their lives. Confidence doesn't necessarily equate to financial, emotional, physical, societal success but it gives almost ninety per cent of the push needed to get there. 

I've often been given advice to help me on the way - be it to do with my writing endeavours or with my art and I feel guilty, almost all the time.  Guilty because people seem to have this confidence in me to do well at these pursuits but I don't.  I'm my own worst enemy.  I think I'm doing well and I get a bit of a kick out of acknowledgement that someone actually thinks my work is good enough to want to buy it (a painting, for example) but that's as far as it goes.  I kill myself every day. I kill my ability, I kill off my talent, I stifle it with excuses and feelings of inadequacy.  There's no-one to blame but myself.

I wish I was one of those people who can stand there and loudly proclaim to the world that she is an artist - even though, truth be told, I am. I have the personality, some of the skill, the emotional need and the mental instability to want to paint every day.  

I didn't think that I had the desire to write every day though but when I look at it closely, that's a lie too because I wriite every day. Most of the time it's diary entries, blog posts, notes to self in my notebook about 'books' I'm writing at the time.   I'm the weird bird who sits outside school in my car, notebook on steering wheel, hastily jotting down reams of 'notes to self'' or story ideas, or research ideas ... where does all that get me? 

I still haven't finished this damn book (the new novel that I set about writing towards the end of last year).  I lose interest in my writing, I get bored of it, it doesn't thrill me - therefore, I don't believe it will stand a hope in hell's chance of thrilling anyone else and I give up or I 'shelve' it for later - which is a euphemism for eventually deleting the thing from the hard drive. 

Or else, I paint.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Beating the same drum again.

I really am fed up to the back teeth with facebook. 
I've tried.  Honestly I've tried, to get to grips with it but the entire system just does my head in.  Some people comment every five seconds on the most inane shite that's happening in their lives - 'having a coffee', 'feeling miserable', 'in bed with my kids', 'going down the shops' ... and you're supposed to do a 'like' or actually comment or 'share' ... why? 
Then there are people who set up side line cottage industries and create a 'page', so they feel automatically entitled to invite you to their 'closed group', and order you (just about) to 'like' and 'share' all their posts.  It doesn't matter if you want to be part of their cottage industry or care a shit about what they are selling, you get no choice in the matter, you are automatically included whether you like it or not.  Then.  If you DON'T like or share or comment on their cottage industry posts, you are ostracised until the end of time.  It's so moronic.
In my efforts to 'fit in' with the crowd I've descended to the same inanty and posted about my cough today. What? For fuck's sake.   

No more.
Sorry.