Thursday, August 24, 2006

ECF and Things Once (well, almost) Forgotten




I came across "Piece of Beauty" blog, the other day. In it was mentioned the Rowan Tree, or Mountain Ash. We have a large and beautiful Mountain Ash in our garden, and though I'd admired it through the seasons for at least six years, I had no idea that it's also know as a Rowan Tree. Of course, I've heard of the Rowan Tree, I just didn't realise it's another name for the Mountain Ash. Now, I thought I knew what a Rowan Tree looked like............One of the first houses I bought was situated alongside a canal and this canal was (of course) lined with various shrubs and trees. One day (one day of many, in those times) I was extremely bored and decided to give watercolour painting a go, and, as there were plenty of willing and patient subjects lined up along the towpath, I brought a random twig into the house and began (see below).

As I didn't do "art" at school (I did pottery and batik and drama and biology and theatre arts and sociology and Eng lit and pure and applied maths, but not painting) I was very pleased with the way it turned out and rushed out to buy a set of Winsor and Newton paints, set in a delightful metal paintbox, and painted every Sunday.


I wanted to move on to Other Things, like landscapes and interiors and catching the light a certain way - that kind of thing. But I really didn't know where to begin and, more to the point, I was too scared of not being Good Enough (Sarah......that's the self-defeat I mentioned). So I stopped. And I have regretted it ever since.



I'm irritated by my failure to pursue something I might have been good at and this is one thing in a list of activities that have gone the same way. I remember dragging a 10kg bag of clay home from a local art centre. I really did drag it. I only weighed about 7st at the time, if that! But when I got it home, I lacked motivation and inspiration and I think it's because I wanted to go straight in there and be fantastic and I knew that wasn't possible, so I couldn't be bothered.



What has this got to do with the Rowan Tree? See the second painting down? Someone once looked at it and said "oh, a Rowan Tree". So I always thought it really was a Rowan Tree, after all, why would I question it? And sixteen years later I find out that it wasn't a Rowan tree at all (the leaves were a glossy, deep green and not in clusters, as a Rowan's are), and it doesn't matter .....but what is interesting is that it brought to mind these paintings and a time gone by, and also a reminder that I can do more than I think I can. And that whatever I can paint or knit or cook or whatever, it's a gift, and something to be thankful for; not something to resent, just because someone else can do it better. There will always be others who can do it better and, these days, I can look at them as inspiration, and take pleasure from their achievements. I must have grown up a bit.

And my paintbox....I left it behind in 1999, when I left my evil partner in a hurry, before he came home and stopped me. He'd put my paintbox in a beautiful hand-carved closet he kept in a corner of the room, locked (I never knew what was in there).

I was planning to show you my WIPs and some yarn I acquired as a result of selling some. I will show those next week. I'm off to Mayfair to get my hair cut tomorrow, at Sanrizz, where I always used to go. My beautiful almost-mother-in-law-and-friend has insisted on paying. I think she's horrified that I've been cutting my own hair for a year and a half. I'm quite excited as I haven't been to London in ages and it's nice to visit every now and again.

BTW. You might have noticed that my surname is Keen on some of the paintings and Plumridge on others. That's because I used to be married.

20 comments:

  1. Wow, those are fantastic. You are a very talented painter.

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  2. The paintings are wonderful and I hope you take it up again. You *are* Good Enough :)

    Have a lovely haircut. That's one of the things it'd be worth going to London for, lol. I hate crowds ;)

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  3. I must admit, I did telephone them to see if Ozzie, my usual haidresser, could do it at St Albans branch instead. I get there just in time for the appointment and come straight home again. And that is enough for me.

    Thanks for the comment on my paintings.

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  4. wow, those are your BEGINNER watercolors? girl, you are GOOD! when in London, be sure to get a replacement set of Winsor and Newton and get right back at it!

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  5. Your paintings are gorgeous. You should definitely start doing that again! You are very talented.

    I used to do pottery, too. I loved it, loved it, loved it. I still wish I never stopped. What kind of stuff did you make?

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  6. Oh your paintings are wonderful, you really must take it up again. Have a great time in London and look forward to seeing your new haircut. LOL I too have been cutting my own hair this last year since my hairdresser moved away , must find another. I hate going to a saloon though and would rather pay to have it done at home.

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  7. I've sent you a long rambling email. :) Your paintings are just wonderful!

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  8. What everyone else is saying. Alice, I work as a professional illustrator. Those pictures look *good* even as screen-res jpegs. They've got the jizz, and a delightful delicacy of line. It's difficult to know precisely how to turn them into money (If you wanted to. Remembering that this could solve your yarn problems, you know!), but if you enjoyed painting those your first task is to go out and start painting again. Go for it -- you were more than good enough then and with practice who knows how good you'll be?

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  9. What everyone else is saying. Alice, I work as a professional illustrator. Those pictures look *good* even as screen-res jpegs. They've got the jizz, and a delightful delicacy of line. It's difficult to know precisely how to turn them into money (If you wanted to. Remembering that this could solve your yarn problems, you know!), but if you enjoyed painting those your first task is to go out and start painting again. Go for it -- you were more than good enough then and with practice who knows how good you'll be?

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  10. Wow, those paintings are beautiful! The plants look like the real ones, I love them! ^^

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  11. I'm so sorry to hear that you once had an evil partner.

    Those paintings are beautiful. If I had half your obvious talent I'd be opening my own gallery by now!

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  12. I think your paintings are very good. Have you ever thought of becoming a botanical artist. It is something I've always thought would be a great thing to do. There is a society of Botanical artists. The website is:

    http://www.soc-botanical-artists.org/

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  13. What beautiful paintings, definitely check out the link Kendra posted :-)

    I do hope you take it up again, grab yourself some more paints (and sorry to hear of the evil partner, I found that quite chilling to read).

    Hope you had a fun time in London, and Happy New Haircut :-)

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  14. Thank you all so much. I will check out that link, Kendra. I need more practise first, but I could give it a go someday.

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  15. The paintings are *exquisite*. I hope you take up painting again--I'd love to see what you do.

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  16. Exquisite. I love the soft feel these paintings have to them..

    Talented my dear.. yes you are!

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  17. What lovely paintings. Sorry you had to leave your paintbox behind, but it sounds like the right decision! And what wise words about the gifts we have. (It's funny how we let children paint, and praise them for whatever they make. But at some point towards the end of primary school/ beginning of secondary school we start distinguishing the ones who are good at painting and everyone else feels they have to stop. Often forever.)
    Looking forward to seeing more paintings soon.

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  18. Those are beautiful paintings, you clearly are very talented. and a big well done for having the bravery to leave an evil partner - it's one of the hardest things to have to do, but so incredibly liberating once you finally make that break.

    Enjoy your haircut!

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  19. I think your paintings are beautiful Alice, I love botanical paintings and dabble a little myself, but yours are much better. Are you going to pursue it again? Definitely looks worth pursuing and if you enjoy it, why not? My aunt took up painting in her 40s, she began at evening classes and now teaches them herself and exhibits and sells widely. It's never too late....

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  20. I'm impressed with your paintings. When I say I can't paint I MEAN it! But not you. I hope you feel inspired to continue. Being defeatest doesn't help anyone...I'm working on the myself. Trying to let myself have the freedom to play and enjoy and not worrying if the end product IS anything. Painting is one of those things that only a few can do, and you defintely can!

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