*Old blog post from Oct 2020.
Gloria, my most recent painting, received many compliments and even had three people enquire if she was for sale within 24 hours of my Facebook post! However, the truth is, she was born from pain, frustration and despair.
“The loose ethereal colours, edge variety and likeness all come together to make this piece remarkable. @anj_the _artist is truly a talent to watch” ~ Showcasingscottishartists, Instagram.
Such kind words, but they didn’t feel right or justified because honestly, if you’d watched me create this piece, it would have been a stark reminder that what we see online is often rose tinted and as far away from the truth as you can get. As I posted on Facebook, “Its clear I’m not coping with the days I’m disabled.”
I often speak openly on social media because it not only helps me, but I’m just not one of those people who can put on a front. If you know me in person, you’ll know my face reads like a book and so I can’t play the poker face!
I thought I was coping quite well with my Functional Neurological Disorder diagnosis. When I was initially told I was having a stroke back in March, and I had to make a life changing decision within 5 minutes to potentially stay as I was (unable to speak or walk) or to take a clot buster which could either fix me or increase the risk of brain bleed and death by 30%, I responded jovially by giving the thumbs down despite the severity of my predicament! Eventually, it turned out I hadn’t had a stroke, but have a wiring issue where my brain does what it wants and I bear the brunt of it! Months of chronic illness have all caught up with me recently, and the added pressure of commissions left me feeling overwhelmed, and devoid of motivation and inspiration. Cue, Artist’s Block, something I’m well acquainted with!
I love painting people’s pets, the joy my painting brings them makes me feel like I am doing good in the world. But I do find they restrict my creativity a little because of the need to get an exact likeness. It means I work a little tighter, more detailed and with less room to mess up. It stems my expression and flow. But they’re a necessity, because as well as the stresses in painting and ill health, there’s the pressure to bring in a wage while I am unable to work for someone else. Not just so I am contributing to the running of our home, but for me, to feel like I’m as independent as I once was. It’s not a case of wanting to make being a full-time artist work, but a must. There is no romanticism in being a poor struggling artist! It is the reason why for so many of us creatives, our emotions are tightly intertwined with our artwork, and if there’s a weak link in our person, it all starts to unravel… remember Van Gogh chopping off his ear? Creative Madness they call it.. But don’t worry. I might be a bit mad but I’m not about to go chopping off my lugs any time soon!
And so, Gloria.. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to paint to try and get me out the slump I was experiencing. My mind is always filled with ideas, but none of them seemed to grab me, and for some reason I settled on a blonde highland cow. She was my “just start doing” challenge. I didn’t think I’d actually finish her, because she’d fulfilled her role half way through because I’d “started”. But I just rolled with it and it was quite liberating to paint straight from the tube, adding in any colours that took my fancy.. a freedom I feel reluctant to exercise in my commissioned work.
The realisation that I must create my own stuff to keep the ball rolling in between commissioned work is an important one. I’m not a machine, my body certainly doesn’t run like any normal person! and I must learn new ways for me to cope and make my art business work for me. Accepting my limitations is the first step…
Gloria headed off to Wales this week. I’m so glad she is going to join some of my other paintings, and that despite the frustration and despair I felt during her creation, her new owner loves her!
I did enjoy playing around with the image digitally while I was unfit to paint and recreated her in to Frida Cowlo!