Last of the roses. Dealing with post-exhibition blues

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I thought that if I had a great deal of projects lined up that I could perhaps skip the post-exhibition blues, that I could simply slip neatly back into creativity, that the euphoria of the opening night would launch me into continued and sustained awesomeness.

I did not imagine that the whole process of birthing a series and then laying it and myself out naked on a public platform would feel so celebratory and yet make me feel so exposed and vulnerable. The questions, rife in my mind…’where to from here?’, ‘what is next?, ‘so you really think you can do this?’, ‘is the gallerist happy?’, ‘are the buyers happy?’ ‘what if this is the last one you ever get to do?’ … ‘what if you get run over by a taxi tomorrow and this is all that you will be remembered for in your art?’

I never really took into account that I would find myself, less than a week after the opening, feeling both empty and a little lost. Plagued by self-doubt, and no amount of hearing that it was a good show from anyone seems to ease or silence that voice in my head breathing fear… that this is all there is. That I have let them go and that they are now no longer my story but someone else’s.

A week ago, I said that I found this miraculous… this very thing.

Who am I kidding!? I miss my babies! I had them in my studio for so short a time and though I am keeping myself busy… I suspect that I will only be happy when I have direction again, when I know that the next show is confirmed, that I have a new project to dive into. And how I NEED one right now. Not just any project, but a soul project… like it was producing this last series. Intense. I want the savage… I miss the artistic savage in me, able to lock herself away, cut out the world, cut out the material. Forget about the time I have now, to go to bed before 2 in the morning, to paint my nails perhaps.

What is my point?

I don’t know!

And that is the thought that is making my heart slip down through my tummy into my limbs. Everything feels kind of off and disjointed, a little dysfunctional, a lot less defined and clear.

I have been reading articles on the internet about the condition, but they all advise to gloss over it, to move on… whereas I fell genuinely the loss… almost as if I want to mourn a little the end of a chapter.

Yes, I will get over it. I just wanted to get that off my chest.

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Dance on the easy breeze

A weekend inspired by light and gold. Wandering back into the lands I love. A walkabout into wonder. Last night I thought about colour and why it has been so necessary for me to focus on my painting without it for the last while? I am glad that I did, because working so intensely in black ink has made my sense of colour acute and intense. I feel as if I am discovering the possibilities of colour afresh.

So these are the works that have placed a skip in my spirit – studies of Muldersdrift, a family favourite spot that has held much joy for all of us.

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That is all

Journal entry 12 January 2017

I find that I am questioning my art, my vision. For I don’t think that I have either. I think that I am a painter who draws with brushes and that I paint symbols of moments that move me. If these are  seen to be illustrative, I do listen to this kind of critique… but I then ask myself whether I could do any different? Would the story of the moment be any different if I had applied any other technique at the time of creating? If I placed a focal point tree a little more to the side instead of straight slap-bang in the middle of the composition, would it have said more or less of what I needed it to say even though what most people will see is a tree in the middle of a canvas?

So I think about these things and I make decisions whether to listen or not. Generally, I do listen. Generally the opinions of artists I admire are taken very much to heart.

But this early morning, I have a skip in my brush and the stories and symbols must out. And I must paint them; the illustrative owls, the complexity of a tree, the depth of the ocean, the endlessness of a landscape.

And I must paint them as if I am new to them… like a first lover when the body is still very much a mystery and a surprise.

I am a painter of these things I love.

That is all.

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Possessed

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Possessed 150cm x 150cm ink on Fabriano

In the dream a forest grew upon an ocean bed.
And waves from where they clung to roots were flung….
unbirthed
upon that sunken wood,
unearthed
to rise against the bark of trees
to where they stood…
upon that floor…
to leaves of silver loam and silver fin…
unseated from their liquid limbs did swim….
And silk warm breath of seas upon my skin
as if Poseidon beat
the rhythm of my heart from shadows
deep within.

Awakened upon white the ink did flow…
to strange tormented grove my brushes wove…
and worldly cares and sounds made dumb by wild remembered roar…

and in the studio,
my quiet tender stream no more…
but beached,
possessed
and spent
upon that shore.

Extract from Reyn’s journal of dreams

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Genesis

This is a new chapter, a new season and it finds me in small outside room studio in the presence of the black poplar of Delta Park. It is strange to set up studio away from home and I am unfamiliar with being away from my works as they grow on their paper or canvas. But together with the separation anxiety, there is a sense that this space will become sacred and I experience a great deal of excitement at the prospect of blank pages and empty walls which is quite beautiful to me. A space for a season. Will it be a season of change? I can feel it.

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We are the dreams we keep

In the dream…Perhaps because I have had my nose in a book.. I dreamt that I was walking through a book of leaves. Each page that turned, a corridor of new and undiscovered art leading to places wild and secret. Tall walls of words that moved and gathered to form a forest of thoughts in ink and transformed to colour as I passed, much like the seasons change the aspect of a tree.

The corridors became a maze of meanings and though I hoped to pause to dwell on their wisdom, something drew me on down avenues of murmuring guardians and sentinels. In the manner of dreams… I found myself within a clearing at the centre of these bodies of profoundly beautiful and yet transient works and the colours that had followed me fused to a deep firelike orange, so wildly warm and yet not threatening. And where the colours fused 3 openings appeared and at each a vision of myself. But not quite myself for I seemed different; foreign, ancient and regal. And each ‘unself’ stood before a different path and in the dream I knew that I must choose.

Instead… I woke up.

Oil studies on paper to celebrate the wedding weekend at Verkykerskop of Y’ael and Matt

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Consumed by Sound

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Consumed  by Sound – Oil on canvas – 103cm x 130cm Available at Etchings Art Gallery – Durban North

 

 

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I hear the golden

My new studio is small and when I am in it, feel as if I am in a field of Africa. It is good to be painting and selling again. The one advantage of not having a large studio is that I am spending a great deal of time out doors… in the fields… capturing the gold.

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Cliff’s Baobab

 

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Gifted to Cliff Brunette – Oshakati Baobab – etchings ink on fabriano 70cm x 100cm

It is rare that I will paint something, especially a tree, from a photograph. Especially rare for me to paint a baobab that I have not known personally, for there is something mystical about these giants that is not captured through a lens…a presence and a power which can be felt only when you stand at its feet. So for me, this is not a portrait of a tree, but a celebration of the spirit of the man who is both mentor and friend to me.

I have no doubt that I will visit this tree one day and pay my respects. It is situated at Oshakati in Namibia and is in fact a wedding chapel. In Africa, many trees are churches and this particular tree over thousands of years has opened up its trunk to create a hollow where 10 people can be seated within the belly of the trunk. The bomas (fences) are where the guests set up their camps for the wedding party. I was not aware of these interesting facts when I drew the tree and at first was tempted to not draw the bomas…. I am rather glad I did.

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Out of the Ashes

I used to dream of old houses. I have not had that particular dream since the fire. In a way, I wonder whether my old dream of the old house was not my subconscious preparing me for the event…? One speculates in the aftermath of such an occurrence. Everything seems to take on such great import, even the chance decision to give myself the pseudonym of Ash for some of the poetry sights I used to post to seems now to have been a premonition of some kind.

I thought at first that I would write of this at length. My studio was filled with sketch books and poetry notebooks… it was there thumbing through the burnt remains of my phrases, that I knew that all is transitory and that we only have this moment. Even words can be taken in flames and consumed. I have written very little of this though I came across a list of things to do written 2 days after the fire… and somehow they moved me to go through the photos that I have not looked at in any great detail before today. Truth be told, since we left our old home, I have not driven past the place. I try not to speculate on this too much.

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from the journal of Ash

It was Freedom day here in South Africa, a public holiday, and I had put in additional leave so that I could paint. I remember that I had written a list of things to do at the kitchen table that very night. My first thought when standing in the road watching the roof soar with red orange flames was, ‘Well at least now I don’t need to do the washing.’ while desperately wishing that I had a cigarette. There are other stories… for the weeks after the event I probably told them all but I cannot find those stories anymore. Life has moved on and the woman standing barefoot in the road with smoke-stained face and hair seems to be a woman from the dream of old houses and I no longer see her.

But I do feel that she needs to be remembered. There was something I truly cherished about her. I loved that she chose not to dwell on the loss and focus on what she could take out of the experience. I loved that 2 days after the fire she could be seen painting amongst the rubble. I love that she did indeed buy some flowers and that these flowers lasted right up until the day we moved out which was 5 weeks later.

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She gathered her treasures…

Drank her fire-wine…

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and begins to live new dreams.

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