I want to share something with you that I feel is wonderful! I was recently invited by my friend Fabienne of the Paxton Green Time Bank in the UK to be part of an art class called Stuck@homeArt.
What is Stuck@homeArt?
The idea is that every Wednesday at 14.00 to 16.00 a group of students meet in a WhatsApp group to draw, sketch and paint from photographs sent in the chat by Fabienne. After two hours, we all send our own photographs of our artwork to the chat and Fabienne constructively critiques the artwork, giving guidance and making observations.
Here are the photos we were sent:
Here is what I made in just under two hours.
My particular style is to draw a pencil outline to guide my future self of what I want to make sure I include in my painting. Often I end up ignoring some of the lines as the painting evolves, as was the case with the trumpets of the daffodils in this piece. However I choose to keep the pencil marks as a reminder that plans need to change and adapt depending on what happens.
Some might consider these lines as mistakes, however I see them as guides for where to move next, and as in life, you can’t erase the past so why bother? Just move on and notice what happened and plan what happens next. Nothing is perfect and if it wasn’t for those original marks, I wouldn’t be where I am today, or painting what I am now.
I love my lemons! I tried to work with layers of yellow and ochre to build the shape of the lemon. Lemons aren’t just round like oranges, as they have a cone shape on either side which I have tried my best to illustrate with circular shadows. You can see a bit more clearly in the close up photo. I think the bowl looks more like a hat, I will have a try for more realistic bowls in the future. Here’s hoping that in the context of this still life it’s clear it’s a bowl.
The glove was a bit tricky for me as I rarely paint fabrics of any kind as I spend lots of time drawing or painting life art. It was however a great introduction for me to start drawing hands as I often leave them off my artworks because they are so tricky to get right! The glove was great to try and convey all the lines and folds a hand has. The seam of the thumb also allowed me to structure the articulation of a thumb. In real life, it’s a ball and socket joint like a shoulder, so has an amazing amount of mobility! The glove is not my favourite part of the painting and the feedback I got was I could have added some yellow or orange to unify the picture, something I will keep in mind for the next time! What I do like are the panels of brown wash to build up layers of shadow and they way I hope the wrinkles in the suede have come out.
The daffodils are my fave as they are so cheerful and bright. You can see from the photo that there are many of them so I felt it was going to be impossible for me to record every detail in the time I had in the class. Giving an impression of the flowers would be more manageable in my mind. It also turned out to be the most fun part for me to paint as I felt very liberated once I had decided to give myself the full freedom of artistic licence.
I started of a with a light yellow wash to mark out the bulk of where the flowers were, then built out petals to make, in my minds plan, different individual flowers, not placed exactly as in the photo, and in this case, not even where I had marked the central trumpets of each flower. I picked a few flowers to create the central star, then building up petals and layers of colour, moving from outside of the star to the edge of the yellow wash, adding more petal shapes. It was fun moving between building up sections of the edges of the flowers whilst also defining the central parts of the petals closest to where the trumpet would be. I finally added the darkest central section to each flower a cluster of five circles or ovals, depending on how the brush let me! If you want to know more about the way the brush and I work together, have a look at this post: https://amazingartsociety.com/sumi-e-at-taller-la-griega-with-teofanu-calzada/
After that I added the green stalks, building up layers of colour give a light side and a dark side to each stem. The photo we were sent was a great reference to see how many different angles the stems of the flowers had. After the stems I wanted to paint were all in place and dry (I worked on the green table cloth whilst waiting), I painted the blue edge of the vase and carefully added a wash of water to blend a panel of colour which I hoped would give the impression that the stalks were behind the glass. The most important thing I learnt in this section of the painting was to let each layer dry fully before adding another layer on top. The left hand side of the vase bled into the green table cloth a little because I didn’t wait long enough for the green of the cloth to dry. Patience is important and I guess I was conscious of the two hours time limit I had. I waited a little and when the green of the cloth and the blue of the glass was dry, I added another layer of the blue to give a crisp edge.
Whilst different sections of the watercolour dried, I would work on a different section. So in the video you can see (when my head is not in the way – apologies!) I move around the painting, adding layer after layer of colour and wash.
I’m very happy with the result I got. I got to take part in a great class, got some important and unique feedback and I discovered a new way to paint daffodils.
I tried my best to video the process and I have added these to the YouTube channel.
The channel is open to all artists that want to have a presence online with us at The Amazing Art Society. It’s free, so if you would like to be featured just get in contact.
What is Paxton Green Time Bank?
I came across the time bank when I was living in London. The time bank is an awesome service that allows volunteers to ‘bank time’ spent helping others in return for access to trips, events and socials. It’s a cashless swap of skills and fun.
I joined the time bank as a volunteer to help those who would appreciate what I could help them with. I wanted to spend my free time helping others and I wanted to give back to my local community.
It’s my understanding that the time bank started off as social prescribing. Vulnerable members of local communities in South East London would be referred by their GP to the Time Bank in order to get help for household chores, have access to a group of friends and to get a bit more social (I’m a firm believe that you have to outsource your own sanity as it’s not possible to generate it alone).
I would help with office administration, CV writing and help organise some social events in exchange for free entry into exclusive events like exhibitions at The Dulwich Picture Gallery, tickets to concerts at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, mindfulness classes, cake bakes, picnics, and lots of other fun social activities.
As the case often was, some members would be on benefits and unable to pay for help around the house or tickets to museums and shows. However they might love gardening! So the Time Bank allows people to do what they can, in exchange for things that they might not be able to afford or may not normally have access to. Some Time Bankers would help someone with their shopping, do some gardening or keep someone company by reading to them and in exchange would be be able to claim back time for things that could enjoy. Often some time swaps would be enjoyable for both parties involved!
What ended up happening was, instead of feeling like I was helping people, I felt like I was helped more by the people that I met at the time bank! For example, the picnics were always so much fun with lots of laughter, so much more than I had in my social circle at the time! I learnt new recipes for beautiful meals, I learnt how to get the most out of a garden and I learnt that everybody can help someone if they want to. It doesn’t matter about their level of education, their mental health, or their pay grade.
Caring, helpful people are everywhere in the world and they are wonderful to spend your time with. Often when people have very little in their lives, they tend to be the most generous with their time, the most helpful and supportive in a tricky situation and the most soul rewarding connections you could ever wish for. I am so grateful for the time I spent with The Paxton Green Time Bank.
One day all the volunteers were invited to a half day mindfulness class, organised by a lady called Mel. Natural health with Mel advertises a one day meditation retreat in 2020 starting from £325. You can imagine I jumped on the chance to have access to something so amazing. As a qualified yoga teacher I really appreciated topping up my mindfulness knowledge, a top up on my walking meditation techniques and having a great laugh with my fellow Time Bankers.
The class took place at The Dulwich Picture Gallery, we were surrounded by beautiful gardens and had access to a private viewing of Tove Jansson‘s artwork, probably most known for her creation of The Moomins. You can watch an interview with the niece of Tove, Sophia Jansson here. How the mindfulness class was blended with the artwork by Tove was very special.
It’s said that Tove put part of herself into every one of her Moomin characters, a concept many artists would agree with. I’m working on a post about energy transfer and the benefits of Therapeutic Art, when it’s ready I will post it!
We were encouraged to recognise each character of the Moomins in our own selves. What this meant was that we were invited to see that we have very many different characters that live within ourselves, depending on the day, the season, or even who may be around us.
A mindful approach to our actions means we can be our true selves, a self which we have chosen is the best for that situation, without having other influences take over. I feel that art is one of the ways we can be most mindful of our actions.
Creating art is nothing but mindful action taking place in the present moment.
I am very much looking forward to the next class Stuck@homeArt on Wednesday and I hope to meet some of you dear readers there too. Lets be mindful of how we pass the time and lets enjoy what we can. Art is for everyone and I invite you to be free.
Sending you lots of love and creative vibes! Aliya xx