Art has always been a way that I express my inner thoughts and feelings. I was always going to be an artist till parents, economics and social norms of the times prevented me from taking up my place at university. This was back in the late 60s remember. A time noted for radical thoughts and breaking down social barriers. Really? Actually, for most of us that just didn’t happen. It was a funny time – both revolutionary and reactionary. My parents were working class and didn’t see the value of a university education. They wanted me to contribute to the family purse. So out to work I went.
Art got pushed into the background behind work, marriage, having and raising a family – way behind. It surfaced occasionally when I was asked to illustrate the odd newsletter but generally my creativity disappeared into the dark shelves and corners of my mind. I was content to use that creativity in my youth work and social work, in my interior décor and dress sense.
Then I retired and suddenly I had TIME! Time to explore creative media. I learnt watercolour painting at a class where everybody followed the tutor – painting almost by numbers. That didn’t sit well with my ideas of self expression but it did teach me the techniques though I totally refused to copy. It didn’t endear me to the other students either being a kind of criticism I suppose, of them being happy to copy.
then I went to a mixed media, journal art workshop and found a medium that resonated with my inner graphic artiness. I learnt the techniques but went me own way – as you would expect – and found it addictive. Here was a way of exploring who I was, what I loved, through simple but effective techniques – not writing a journal but ‘creating’ a journal through art.
I started to illustrate words, phrases and ideas that meant something to me. My work isn’t a chronological journal but a way of working out who I am – and for the first time in my life I’m beginning to understand who that is.
The first journal page that I did completely on my own was an illustration of that wonderful song Into the West sung by Annie Lennox from the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The idea of going on a ship to Elvenholme and living forever, opting out of the material world, I find very attractive. Lord of the Rings was to be a theme I come back to regularly both in my art and in my writing (though indirectly in the latter case). The second L of the R journal page was my A Red Sun Rises page – that beautiful quote from my second hero the elf Legolas – who I’ve loved since I was 15 and first read the book, long before Orlando Bloom made the character beautifully his own. It was a difficult page to construct needing to find something flexible to make the streams of blood from.