In 2017 I had reached state of impasse in my art practice. I seem to have lost connection with who I was as an artist or what I wanted to paint. I'm pretty sure if you're an artist reading this, that you've been in that place at one time or another.
So it was that I decided to take on a mentor, Kristine Ballard - who became a change agent for me. Interestingly, the first thing she got me to do was to take myself back to a time in my life that I really connected to and treasured. There needed to be something special about it.
As I live in Australia and quite often still feel homesick, she asked me to think about what had created that special connection which I have to the land of Aotearoa.
Thinking on this took me back to the favourite place, and special memories of my childhood, which were to be found in a small town called Blenheim at the top of the South Island. One of the things that made this time so special, was that we very often on the weekends went out into the countryside, and stomped all over the surrounding hills and mountains.
We swam in the freezing cold lakes and rivers and panned for gold in the small streamlets.
In the summer we would travel to what was then a very off-the-beaten-track beach, called Totaranui.
Often we were the only family staying at the beach and we spent three weeks of our summer holidays there - heaven on a stick!
These moments and places became the foundation for a new series of art pieces and an exploration into whether I could possibly be an abstract artist. Most of my work up to this point had been impressionistic, semi realistic paintings.
I began this challenge with a series of drawings which explored one of the beaches we're used to visit to collect firewood before the winter came. Known as Bar Beach, it was a wild kind of scary place to a five year old kid but it had a magic to it that drew my soul.
My memory is of buffeting winds tangling my plaits and crashing surf that cast mountains of yellow sea-foam onto the beach. There were huge piles of driftwood littered along the tide line, like great mountains of bleached bones, smoothed and careworn by the tides. I would run along the sand with my brother's dog Prince, he chasing a stick and me chasing sea-foam.
I think it was the wild sense of freedom that excited me and being so immersed in the powerful elemental forces of Nature.
In the next post I will share some more drawings and paintings that came out of this exploration - the journey into finding my core as an artist. This is, I think an important journey for any artist that wants to explore more than the ability to copy something well. I will also visit this concept later on..... Why is it important?