Total Pageviews

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Letters to a friend part 6

'Thanks my friend,
Meant to respond to your image for Oct earlier, but here I am.

                                                                        photo Holly Woodward

A comforting photo because it says what all gardens should say. That we are welcome and secure and and that they exist because we exist and that our eyes and hearts give them their purpose, their raison d'etre.
When Steve and I put 'Trees and Sky' together we decided (in fact we didn't decide it just happened synchronistically)...... that we would make images from  a max distance from our homes (for me it was 250 metres)...and that limitation was in fact liberating.
Lovely image'...................

I just wrote the above to a friend and this brought in mind, triggered off, a need to put it into some sort of context. Here I go. 

We are a group who got together at the Bristol workshop in July which was entitled 'Photography and Awareness' and we decided to keep our contact alive by sending each other photos every month. This, incidentally, is mine for October

And this is the idea.
No judgement, no criticism, no competition.
Just observation.
No hunting for images. Instead letting the images come to us as if carried on the wind

And so,'Photography and Awareness', although the other way around would make more sense because with a developed and acute awareness, photography just follows like a happy and obedient puppy.
Then again, I would prefer the word 'Absorption' to 'Awareness' but it would sound silly as a title, so we'll let it stand.
You see, when we are in a state of absorption, the awarer is not there as a separate entity and there is no duality. And we all experience this state when deeply into a book or film, or fishing or playing chess whatever. And of course children spend most of their waking hours in this wondrous state until adults begin to interfere. And the deepest state of absorption is when we are in the act of creating, whether a painting, a poem, a garden etc. In short, simply doing the things we love, if we haven't forgotten what these are.
Which takes me back to Holly's image. It is not simply another photo of a garden. It is a state of being where the experiencer and the experience and the subject of the experience have become one.
And this is what I mean by absorption.

Michael, October 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Painting and Photography

This article in the Guardian makes me faintly smile; that desperate yearning that photography has had for a century now to be recognised as an art form.
At Art College my chosen discipline was painting. I was a term into the three year course when I realised that being stuck in a corner of a studio with introverts was going to bore me. And I began to strike out sideways, looking for a more adventurous outlet for my energy. Tried ceramics but found it too slow, etching ditto. Then photography! Took to it like a squirrel to acorns.
It wasn't just that it was an instant experience, taking photos, developing film, making contact prints, printing images, not just that. What appealed to me were the people, the students. They communicated with one another, showed each other their images, smoked and drank too much and weren't so damn serious like those painting types.
So this is where my life divided and I found myself equally fascinated by painting, which slowed me down and Photography which sped me up.
Then I become equally bored by the Art Institution itself and started an art adventure club which did daft things to keep minds alive. I would hire a plane for a day and fill it with a hundred students and lecturers and fly off to Amsterdam to see an exhibition. Such stuff. It was performance art of a sort.
So even then I couldn't stay still enough to be considered as one thing or another in terms of a definition.
And after all those years I still think the same way. Which is what?
It is this. I tell young people to just get on and do stuff. That creativity is all that matters, and when you get on that train, it could take you anywhere and you don't have to stop at any station.
And I like to create art communities, to mix things up to turn folks upside down. Just because art can never be static, creativity is a wild river which cuts its own  direction.
And my photography and painting live happily side by side and have a relationship, one with the other. I paint images which drift into my head from the Gap. Then (and it could be any time later), I see that very same image out there somewhere in photographic reality. Oh, not the exact image graphically but they are the same to me in the zing effect they have on my imagination, that wondrous clearing house in my mind.
Here are two images which I offer as an example

Don't ask me for an explanation, it would spoil things.

I have opened a community 'The Creative Village' on Arthur Fox's site Innovation Global Network which you might like to join and find out about workshops planned in Italy next year.
Costs nothing to join and is full of interesting people

At Starstone
Next retreat in Assisi, Italy  'Wellness, Mindfulness: Painting your Life, 12 to 17 October

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Awareness in the People's Republic of Bristol

Bristol: Photography and Awareness

I'd written off my car in Italy the day before I had to fly to the UK for our workshop at Hamilton House and arrived in a nervous state knowing full well I should have cancelled the trip (bruises, wounds and all). Glad I didn't though because the experience proved to be a fascinating one both for us photographer/leaders and for the participants I'm sure. This was our first workshop together, Steve, Colin and I, although we knew each other from our collective past and had a show in Turkey last year together with the same title 'Photography and Awareness'
So that was exactly a month ago and during this time we all us had pledged just one photo each by the end of July; the theme 'A heartfelt image'

'The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable'....Robert Henri

This is my fall-back message to self whenever I am working on a retreat or workshop (in fact I must get the T shirts printed) and in Bristol this popped up and swam around my head from start to finish.
Let me explain more clearly by going back and forth in time, starting from yesterday on the beach at Porto Potenza.
The image below; Man the photographer/hunter (may he forgive me, whoever he was)

When Tony Maestri and I started to work together at the then School of Photography and the now Arts University Bournemouth, we'd been out in Mexico and California and were fired up on all that stuff out there, stories about all those West Coast Boys (and girls), those photographers who had elevated photography into an art form, Weston and Adams, and then  Imogen Cunningham and the f64 group. I'd met Ansel Adams a few times and remember someone asking him the technicalities of his famous 'Moon over the Sierras photo' He answered 'Heck I don't remember. We were rambling down to New Mexico, all drunk as hell in a dodgy station wagon and happy and laughing. Saw this huge moon and we stopped to breath it in. And I stuck my tripod on the car's roof and just opened the shutter for I've no idea how long...and that's what I got. Luck? No of course not! The photo wanted to be taken and that's all there was to it'
Love that memory.

So, you are getting the drift of this, huh?
In my mind there are two types of photographers, The hunter (image above) who searches outside of the lens and then the poet, dreamer, who operates this (the mind) side of the lens. For the former, the camera is a metaphor for a rifle, stalk your prey, make a killing. For the latter, a mystical machine which interprets his unique inner vision. And there are those, of course, who float in between, searching for that space (gap) where the light gets in.

So, these were the  conceptual seeds we sowed during our great weekend in Bristol. 
And the heartfelt image task?
Looks easy eh?
Not at all! It was our cheeky ruse to throw our kind participants into a quagmire of turmoil, one where they would find themselves lost and drifting between those two worlds.

And why would we be so unkind?
Well, to prepare the theme for the next onslaught of course in Assisi this coming October.

For all details of our Autumn programme click here


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Creative Mind: The Power of Consciousness


We are not awake
We are mere passengers watching life flash by on a fast train.
Is this what you really want?
To be fully conscious is to live creatively, but how to achieve this? How can we wake up, be fully aware of the preciousness of each day and the opportunity it provides to create beyond ourselves?

Michael Eldridge and Anthony Rogers take you through the labrynths and unchartered waters of the creative mind and land you safely on the shores of the realm of creativity, where past and future dissolve in the timelessness of presence.
Here we paint, write Haiku, tell stories; make the whole arena a living sculpture, an expression of our energy and witness the wonderful flowering of our imagination

Painting by Duncan Campbell who writes this about his experience of The Creative Mind Retreat...

                                      The pines of Casa Faustina

Our venue in the beautiful mountains of Saint Francis is the perfect place for our adventures. It provides us with the calm and energy we need to dive head first into that parallel world which has always been there waiting for us: one of clarity, wellbeing and purpose. And to wake up in the morning on this cool, pined covered hillside at Casa Faustina is like waking to a new day dawning in your life.

                                     Delicious food by Chef Sara

Painting, Poetry, Tai Chi, Longevity and many other things yet to discover about ourselves. And of course exquisite Italian food in the friendly and tranquil atmosphere of Casa Faustina, Assisi, July 29 to Aug 2. 

Michael at Starstone

To write to Michael, click here

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I love this photo

I love this photo, because....


It was taken at a moment which was not a moment. We had spoken about time and how to freeze it; drive a wedge in it..of timelessness
We are learning so much now about the human mind and body and are overwhelmed with information about what to eat, how to exercise, how to behave.
But you know, when we are brought together in a beautiful space and create words and images together, then the cares of the world dissolve and we taste again what it means to be alive and it is as if we are children once more.
Here's a haiku from retreat

If I wake up to 
Your sun-drenched smile tomorrow
I will be complete

And a collaborative painting by Nicki and Michael

Our next retreat is July 29 at Casa Faustina, click here for info

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letters to a friend part 5

Hi Michael
Yes, I would say more than just a 'subliminal presence' in the painting video; seemed well orchestrated (and not just the music... boom boom!)
Your 80s dream school sounds similar to those based on Steiner principles?
Love the unschooling & Lehla's blog. What a wonderful way to teach & learn about The World. Learning is doing & all the more meaningful & relevant because of it.
Thanks for the thoughts.

Michael's reply
Hi Melanie,
Similar yes in a practical way, but our dream was that the Education System would replicate our model and make it a universal learning concept. How naive we were.
And now, as a result of sheer power of the information flow, it seems that the old ways can only crumble in the medium to long term. Parents and their children will just vote with their ipads.
And unschooling will be the driving concept, because their will be a need for centralised organisation.
It is happening slowly through the sheer energy and commitment of a minority.
I have witnessed unschooling projects where children share research topics with kids of other nations;
and sometimes in real time too. It is not linear or chronological and I know that some teachers find it frightening to behold. Kids love it and develop a love for learning.
Which is what it's all about, don't you think? The fostering of a love and passion for learning, for life.


Check out Michael's Starstone retreats in Italy at the beautiful Casa Faustina in Assisi
Next retreat 'The Creative Mind'

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm not sure what you'll make of this

Stephen Bray, with whom I shared an exhibition in Turkey last year recently shared his five top tips for creative photographers. In fact he addressed the piece to their spouses, but that's another story.

Not everyone will agree with what he writes. Even I am unsure about some of it, but he does provide food for thought, so I thought I would share the document with you.

Let me know what you think.

Best wishes,

The fee for our Bristol workshop is £160, with a reduction for early booking. Contact Colin Tracy UK 01305 889476 or, mobile 07874 910877 for full details.
    or email:

News Flash... Still places available on our Creative Mind retreat in June in Italy
Call Michael +39 3283535358

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

pitfalls and creativity pt 4

 Melanie Newstead from Adelaide replies to pt 3 blog

'Very true Michael. However, as a teacher of young children, I have to say that television, ipads & computer games have a lot to answer for!
I often struggle to elicit creativity from my students and much of their play, making, art, construction etc is based on ideas or characters from television or computer games. If I see one more picture of whatshername from Disney's 'Frozen', I'm likely to scream!
There's a lot to be said for my childhood (all those aeons ago...;) when we were told to simply 'go play'. What joy in creating, inventing... games, dances, radio plays etc.
Our modern lives are highly structured and organised, both in family & school settings. Where are the opportunities for precious free and unstructured play time? This is when the creative and inventive minds are nurtured and grow.
Thanks for the post :)

Michael replies...

Hi Melanie,
In the late eighties, there were a bunch of us in London, professors, artists and media folk who, sensing change in the education arena, applied for European funding to launch a project on the creation of a more balanced form of learning. It included the creation of a new type of school; half farm really, where children researched subject matter guided by enablers and organisers. The plan was that children spent half their time inside the lab/classroom and half outside getting involved in practical stuff; mud up to their eyebrows sort of thing. Needless to say, it didn't get funding and The Education Dept just snorted at it. And now of course we have Cloud Learning and Unschooling which have been created thanks to the internet, and schooling seems to be unraveling by its own momentum. But still, even here, there are problems of containment and constraint.
I really do like what you say about 'precious free and unstructured play time, that this is when the creative and inventive minds are nurtured and grow'
Maybe you have seen this video and I know what you are going to say. 'Twenty five kids in my class doing this?' And what about the dry cleaning bills and the materials?
But even here there is a feeling of a subliminal adult presence and direction, don't you think?
Nonetheless, creative play is natural to a child and the skilled teacher knows when to infuse rational learning into unstructured play.
(BTW I can't help but notice that the subject of Education was decidedly absent from this election campaign (UK). This astounds me)
My final thought is that things are stirring and changing almost by default and it is well worth a look at the two areas I mentioned above. Cloud Learning , Unschooling 
Also check out Minecraft, wonderful for kids, a way to connect with others aroud the planet
I would love to hear your thoughts,


Michael runs retreats on Creativity in Assisi, Italy

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pitfalls and creativity pt 3

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pitfalls part 2

DonP wrote this reply to my blog (see his full comment on my last blog) and I'd like to reply.
He writes;' I know of no answer to the problem of insecurity, even after having talked it over with both clinical and occupational psychologists. Having read your post, I wondered if you think that using creativity in the way you suggest could help. I note that the RSA now has "The Power to Create", almost as a strapline, so you are aligned with that direction of travel. Do you agree with my point, and if so, what role could creativity have in helping to eradicate this destroyer of values?
Dear DonP, In reply I would venture this...
That I view art as therapy, and living creatively, as two different spheres. Allow me to explain.
Art therapy can help in wonderful ways to take sufferers way from their pain for a while and through a guided therapy, much progress can be made in soothing troubled minds. Some indeed make it through to a state of release from their troubles and learn to live creative lives. Most however default and need constant encouragement and help. 
You mention your childhood in your comment and of course for all of us, this is where the damage has taken place. I say damage but it is more correct to say that chidrens' creativity is usurped, at school and at home, by the tyranny of rational subject matter which is tested and re-tested until the creative instinct is weakened and then simply ignored into non existence. But if a balance were kept alive between rational learning and poetic creativity (which should not be tested but simply encouraged and observed) I would venture that life in adulthood would be without many of the problems that adults are struggling with in our society.
So what do I mean by living creatively? (and you are correct in mentiioning the RSA and industry in general in this context); that they are all barking on about creativity as if the mere mention of the word were enough. Fact it, is has to be re-awakened. And I contend that this God-given instinct is never really destroyed, that it remains within us all, simply waiting for us to wake up to its power.
If you talk to artists, you will think that they are strange creatures and half mad, but dig deeper and you will find that, usually by sheer luck, that they have escaped the tyranny of rational overload and although they can be as miserable and as petty as any other souls, that they carry with them a sense of freedom. And that with this freedom they create beyond themselves; that they continually create and evolve, as if they are always in search of their true selves. That great adventure.
So, art therapy is more of a pastiche (and it has its uses and values of course). But to learn to live creatively (and I'm not just talking about painting, poetry or any expressive art form); to live creatively is to embrace every single day of our lives in wonder. In the things we do, make, create in our kitchen, in our gardens, in our friendships.
And those of us who teach (re-awaken) creativity in others, know that there is no other instinct more powerful than that of creating beyond ourselves. And that once this is realised, it is like watching a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. 
Here's an image to remind you of how beautiful that miracle is ;O)

Michael runs retreats in Assisi, Italy on the re-awakening of creativity
He is a guest speaker at the FRC conference at the RSA in London September 29 and 30
If you'd like to contact him click here


Saturday, March 28, 2015

the pitfalls of passivity, psychologists and pills

At lunch with a writer friend yesterday. The day was already clouded with news coming through about the air crash. That and the results of the Amanda Knox retrial, events which for a day at least pushed aside the horror stories from the Middle East. And all this in a week where I'd watched the first episode of Louis Theroux's series 'By reason  of Insanity (BBC 2)
I told my friend about when I used to teach art at a Maximum Security Prison and how feelings from that time, questions if you will, about normality and what it is, and isn't, were coming to the surface on watching the programme. In my class were murderers and violent criminals but apart from a few odd events, these guys were like lambs with me. And I soon came to realise how fundamental these classes were to their grip on sanity; their holding on to some vestige of normality in a very abnormal environment
And I read in a Guardian article yesterday morning that a huge percentage of professional people suffer acutely from stress and depression, but that with pills and psychological support, how they manage to get by on a working day.
We talked about his writing and my painting and how lucky we were to have this poetic world to sink into, one which in turn colours our lives and makes them richer. And he asked 'What about the rest of humanity?' Big Question.
I replied that this is the reason why I teach, to get the word out there. And then the conversation drifted in another direction but it has hung in my mind ever since, because there is a better, fuller, answer.
It is that I believe that we are all creative beings but that the precious gift of creativity has been taken from us (most of us) during childhood and that we yearn for it for the rest of our lives. It is like a hole in our soul. And the wound from this deprivation is harsh and deep. And that now we have to remember; yes simply remember, what it was to be a child, to play and float in a world of fantasy and creativity without judgement or restraint.
Yes I know I'm banging an old drum here but maybe not loud enough. Because we live in perilous times and we are suffering the pitfalls of passivity, psychologists and pills. We are looking for easy fixes and they abound. But these fixes are ephemeral and do nothing to satisfy our (sometimes unconcious) yearning to be creative.
Now, I am not going to pretend that creativity is the only answer to the world's problems but I am truly wary of quick fix tricks and this obsession with change that currently abounds. That if you keep on searching, that you'll eventually hit on the right one, the right trick.
You see, my experience tells me that all the finer aspects of humanity, courage, compassion, adventure, love for our fellow man, and of course creativity, that all these values are still within us. They have not disappeared. Suppressed in childhood yes, and ignored, of course, in the adult world of stress and striving. But that these values are still there waiting for us to return to them whatever age we are and in whatever sort of life we lead. We just need to wake up, to return once more to our innate God-given creativity

Michael runs Retreats in Creativity in Assisi, Italy, throughout the summer
Please click HERE for details

Monday, March 16, 2015

Assisi summer retreats

         Retreats at the Casa Faustina in Italy this summer

If you are looking to supercharge or recharge your creativity and wellbeing then you will love our retreats.
Set in magical Italy near the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi we will immerse you in every aspect of good living and creativity. Our approach unlocks potential and provides a well needed respite from the pressures of daily life, allowing you to reflect, unwind, relax and refocus.

Our retreats are held at Casa Faustina a beautiful calm venue in the foothills of Assisi.
You can have accommodation to suit yourself and you will be delighted by the cuisine, the kind attention and the sheer beauty of this wonderful part of Italy
Spaces are limited so please book early.

For details of all our summer retreats, click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Letter to a friend, part 4

My dear friend,
Yes, I know, I do rabbit on a bit about parallel worlds and poetic universes. It is my vain attempt to get across the feeling of what it is like to be absorbed in the flow of creativity.
Have you ever lived in Africa?
Don't think so. If you have you would know that there is something of our African origins embedded deep down in our DNA which clicks alive when we are in a desert or jungle and which washes clean our senses, enlivens and electrifies our souls and dissolves rationality and mundane concerns.
I can think of no other way better to describe this than to quote Elspeth Huxley from her book 'The Mottled Lizard'. She writes...

'To depart on a safari is not only a physical act, it is also a gesture. You leave behind the worries, the strains, the irritations of life among people under pressure, and enter the world of creatures who are pressed into no moulds, but have only to be themselves, bonds loosen, anxiety fades, the mind closes against the world you left behind like a folding sea anemone. Enjoyment of the moment, the true delight in living, in life as it is and not as others in the past have made it, all this returns. Each breath you draw gives pleasure, you wake with a new sense of wonder at the pure light shining on golden grasses and the web on the thorn, and at the cooing of a dove. And the reason for praising the Lord all the days of your life, a reason certainly withheld from men in cities, comes to you: or, at least, you understand that this is not a matter of reason, which destroys all need for praise, but a buried instinct that you are one with all creation and that creation is positive, delightful and good. Only when the chains of civilisation were loosened, when you escaped for an instant from the mould, could you understand the meaning of spontaneous happiness. To live this life forever seemed the only desirable form of existence.'

I do hope that this in some way answers your question.
Now, I don't exactly expect you to rush out and but a safari hat and a ticket to Nairobi (although that seems like a good idea now I've written it)
It is enough to leave the world behind in a spiritual fashion and allow your studio to be your metaphorical desert and jungle and to be aware of its sounds and sensations which are the first murmurings of that creative wind which blows around us everywhere, were we but to know it.

                                        A jungly painting to inspire you

Michael at Starstone

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Letter to a friend pt.3 (with a message from Van Gogh)

                        a painting for you

My dear friend,
You ask
Why did I demand no ideas?
Let me explain before you launch yourself into the unknown.
You see, creativity requires what they call 'no mind'
Oh streuth, what do I mean? Like being dumb?
In a way, yes.
This can be explained in so many ways, but essentially it's this.
Creativity is a sort of never ending flow were we but to realise it; a golden warm river of information to draw upon if you will, something which in fact flows past most people simply because they are hooked on mind chatter. Not their fault, just the way life, culture and upbringing conditions folks.
And to prise open a space within this chatter can be tough for some; like trying to prise open tube doors on the Northern Line to get inside the train.
Those who have become what we might call 'enlightened', whether in that spiritual sense of the word or its more secular meaning as having experienced an awakening, say that they have either by chance or through meditative practices, or illness or suffering of some sort, have lost a large percentage of this mind chatter, it just dissolves (the glue which keeps those tube doors stuck). And for them it is easier to sink into this creative flow.
But this sounds tough going and the good news is that you don't have to go through such privations; through any harsh or difficult practices when you can merely slip into the creative flow with ease.
And what we show at Starstone is that the very act of doing and making; writing, painting (in your case), sculpting, creating a wonderful meal or a beautiful garden; in other words, living creatively; that the very act of open minded engagement, listening, watching and reacting to what is happening before you, takes you into a different world, which we might call a parallel universe. And one which is timeless.
So let's get going.
I like this, written by Van Gogh
'Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralysing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, “You can’t do a thing".'
Open each tin of paint each with its own brush and go from canvas to canvas just making marks and continue until you feel exhilarated then stand back and observe what has been produced.
The trick is to listen to what the painting has to softly say and react to what it asks and to leave off when the whispering stops. 
Then leave your studio and take the dogs for a walk in the rain.
And don't go back in again until the day after.
Then write to me and tell me your impressions of your opere d'arte. Your feelings and reflections too.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letter to a friend part 2 (contd)

My dear friend. Good to hear from you and that you are keeping up to speed.
Plastic is covering your terracotta floor and the six canvases are spaced out perfectly; nice photos you sent me, thanks.
You tell me that the two days in which you were forbidden to enter your studio sparked off imaginings of actually being in it; of making it beautiful and inspirational. That is good, becauseyou have primed yourself to be positive and loving and it takes us to the next, and very important stage..
So, let's go!
Grab a cushion from the kitchen and in you go. Sit in a favoured corner and just absorb the space, every single inch of it until you feel that your eyes and mind have acquainted themselves fully.
Then get up slowly and begin to walk around and between the prepared canvases, almost as if you are walking though a maze.
And this will happen. All sorts of thoughts and plans and ideas will begin to spark off in your mind but as they do so, you must release them. Just keep on walking around and letting these thoughts drift away as at the moment they serve no purpose.
There are no time factors here because you are entering timelessness and need only to continue drifting around the canvases and into every part of your studio.
There will come a time, within this no time, when you will suddenly realise that you are absolutely present. Well, we have talked about this before, so you know what I mean. It is a sort of nowness, if you will, where separateness dissolves and thoughts and schemes and ideas let go of their grip and where we become conscious (in the true meaning of the word).
It is a feeling of belonging. (as opposed to non-belonging...more of this next time).Your new studio belongs to you and you belong to it, but it is more than that, it is as if the two elements have become one, it is that sort of feeling.
So, when this happens, even if it is just for a short period (you see in timelessness this does not matter), just simply return to you cushion in the corner, close you eyes and breath this feeling until it seems enough for now.
That's it!
Go and make yourself a coffee (or, knowing you, a herbal tea). No biscuits though.
Email me when you have got this far and we will continue on this creative journey.
BUT, in the meantime no ideas or images for your six canvases must enter your mind. OK?
And don't ask me why not because you know I won't tell you.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Creativity; letter to a friend. Part 2

My dear friend,
So now you have your new house and a studio space, and you ask 'What's next?'
Well, the practical part is easy, so let's talk about that. Then you're grounded, so to speak.
Buy a sheet of thick clear plastic and cover the whole of your studio floor, taping around the edges so it doesn't kick up or allow any damage to flooring underneath.
Then when you are in town, buy some canvas at you Art Suppliers. This usually comes in widths of 1.5 cm, so buy 4.5cm in length.
Have them cut this into squares of 75cm (so six in all) and drive back home, wishing you'd bought some paint too. But be patient, that comes later.
So, when you are in your studio, tape the six squares to the plastic covering, spaced 1.5 metres apart.
Then leave your studio, close the door and do not return for two whole days.

To be contd... (in two days time) ;O)

at Starstone

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Creativity; a letter to friends.

Emerging from the Festive Fog with a chest infection, I am reckoning the one is caused by the other i.e. the chest infection caused by the Festive Fiasco, not the other way round which would be rather implausible. Unless Father Christmas himself had suddenly recovered from an infection of the right lung and was able to get Rudolph onto his feet and get on out there
The above doesn't make any sense I know but it is just to paint a picture of my current state of being; grim!
All this coincides with correspondence from two dear friends who are asking me about creativity; specifically how to slip into it and start producing work.
Of course I know the answer and have endeavoured all my life to adhere to the maxim 'If you don't do it, you can't teach it' So I shake off the mental sloth which is currently haunting me after these ten days of inactivity and lock myself in my studio and start work on four paintings, coughing and spluttering all the while. And then the same old magic kicks in. The everyday takes a step back (and then disappears from my head) and I re-enter that parallel world which works by itself with me as a sort of co-conspirator.
I fuel up too with quotes from favourite artists. Here's one from Sean Scully..
An artists may have a vivid memory of his completed works, but there's little clarity in advance “I’m not in control of it: I don’t know how a painting is going to come out. For decades, I never used green in a picture, and suddenly I’m using it all the time. But I’m really not conscious of making those decisions.
Hmm, that hits it right on the nose. So of course we make the first mark. Read this gorgeous advice from Van Gogh..
 “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, “You can’t do a thing.” The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of ‘you can’t’ once and for all by getting to work and painting.”
There you are then, my friends, you have learned the magic secret 'Stop coughing and spluttering about all the things you can't do and just get on with it, because the painting will tell you what it wants just as soon as you let go of you' Got it?
It's a good idea to keep a sacred book where you can keep all such little treasures (and it must be a beautiful book by the way).
I would add to this, if I might be so bold, that it is a good habit to make marks every day; finger splodges, scratches. Anything which links hand an eye to the creative flow which is hovering nearby on standby
I'll finish this compendium of quotes by one from the artist Teresita Fernandez whom you can learn more about by clicking on her name.
' For some inexplicable reason, we seem to believe most strongly not in the actual formal lessons, but rather in those details that get into our heads without our knowing exactly how they got there. Those pivotal lessons in our lives continue to work on us in subtle, subterranean ways.'

And I'll leave you with a this photograph of a hill above Assisi, in the mountains of St Francis where we run, as of course you know dear friends, our workshops over the summer months.