Monday, 29 June 2020

New Beginnings: Starting the Creative Pathways Bursary in Lockdown


I have been so delighted recently to announce that I have been awarded with a Creative Pathways Bursary a fantastic initiative from Somerset Art Works to support emerging artists, I am so excited about what this entails and not least the chance to really expand my art practice and my understanding of it.  This feels like a bit of a landmark event and so strange to be starting it under lockdown circumstances.  I have included here below text from my first post on the Somerset Art Works Artist Development blog and will aim to keep some updated going here.  If you would like to see more regular sketches ideas and discoveries then my Instagram account is like my online sketchbook and you can find me @jess.egan.art




It’s been a strange time recently hasn’t it...   understatement of the century.   And what feels like it might be the strangest year to be a Creative Pathways artist.   My first ever Zoom experience was the interview for the bursary back in the first weeks of lockdown; and potentially all the more nerve wracking for that.  Creativity in recent months has ebbed and flowed but being involved with Somerset Art Works and aiming forwards in a project has been an unexpected lifeline.   

The project that I had in mind for this year and had decided to focus on and develop with the Creative Pathways bursary is essentially about Place and Wellbeing in my art.  On the one hand a fortuitous choice, it has encouraged me to be mindful of my mental health and how my creativity helps with that and on the other hand a very reflective one as I have been thinking about the places that I would usually be visiting to explore and absorb and feel good and obviously haven’t been able to do so.

I have gone about these early stages of the project and early weeks of lockdown by planning, experimenting and writing.   I gather my sketchbooks and photographs and found objects from previous excursions around me... I’ve included an image here of some of the work gathered so far.  My sketches and notes are scattered at the moment, a bit like my thoughts on a day to day basis in lockdown, but here I am exercising a little control and pulling everything together, organising, tidying;  a coping mechanism perhaps.   I am feeling grateful this thread is here to pull at and occupy me and remind me of all the places out there in the landscape waiting for me.


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Ongoing exploration


Ongoing exploration into Places.  Theses are places that set my mind and body at ease.  I have been going over my archive of photographs and pulling out captures of views that mean something. Combining wellbeing in landscape and wellbeing in art.  I am enjoying indulging myself in the view and indulging myself in drawing.  Drawing and experimentation and play can have wonderful meditative qualities.  This practice in art has become extremely important under lockdown circumstances and there is an important layer to this as these places which I would normally visit on a whim to blow the cobwebs away and improve my mental health but have been quite unavailable for the last couple of months.  



Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Earlier in 2020...


Earlier in the year I was having a think about what ideas I wanted to explore through my art in the coming months. I have a few 'projects' running but one of the directions I wanted to go in was creating a series of work around the places I head to in the landscape to make myself feel good. Where are my wellbeing landmarks...? Where do I go when I need to breathe in and absorb the view and feel calm and peaceful? This idea came about pre-lockdown and so it has become a little ironic that I'm exploring the places that I could really do with visiting and can't. But, it has been a valuable thread to follow. This is a little lane running alongside Eggardon Hill, near Bridport, Dorset. This incredible hillfort is one of my places, this is where the land opens up wide around me and I feel I am on top of the world. 🌿 Hope you are all ok xx

Please see my Instagram page for frequent posts and pictures @jess.egan.art
#ontheland #ofthisplace #exploretocreate

Friday, 27 September 2019

Days beginning I, II & III

So no posts for ages and then two in one week!  But these are very current and I must write a little about them now, so a good excuse to get typing again.  These photos show two of a series of three paintings which I have called Days beginning.  They have been present in my mind for much of this year and have come about from watching the horizon lines around our town.  It started really at the beginning of Spring, when we are up early in the morning and the mist is still hovering over the hills and trees that we can see through the houses.  There is a glow in the mist and an undercurrent of expectation for the day ahead. There is a dynamism in the waking of the town and the waking of my mind, but still the softness and ethereal calm of the sky above, shrouded in haze or drizzle or whatever the British weather might hold for us that morning, either way atmospheric and beautiful.  The colours are important here for this, they may not be natural to the scenery but they represent the light that I see and the freshness in the air.  There is a particular part of my journey in the mornings,  just as we crest a hill in the town, drive down a dip and then rise up again the other side and we look right through lots of red brick houses to the countryside on the beyond and I feel like it reaches through the town to us.  We are seeing a framed view into the canopies of trees and woodland and it feels so close, there is an ebb and flow to this.  An ebb and flow to the physical route, the road, the routine of the day and the repetition of thought, one day flowing into the next but always with a slightly different vibe, a different nuance and different events on the horizon.  The scenery is at core the same but so many different elements to observe changing each day and so the marks I have made are rhythmic yet varied, active and flourishing but presided over with a dreaminess.   The paintings are very much a reflection of my thoughts and feelings and they had to be abstract, but for me the paintings also reflect the physicality of my days beginning and what I'm seeing in the nature of the town and countryside in transitional seasons like Spring and Autumn.  




Thursday, 26 September 2019

Summer in a snapshot

It has slightly amazed me that the last time I posted on my blog was June! But, when I really think about it, the last few months have filled with family life and work and days out and finding gaps within those times to paint or draw and so it was only inevitable that something would drop.  Still here I am... I promised myself that this year I would write more and chose my blog as the avenue for that and so keeping tabs is important to me but under the mindfulness rules of acceptance and kindness and 'no pressure!' I sort of made that last one up but it's in there in some way, you know what I mean.  

So I've picked two snapshots here (er technically 24... I know!) showing a little bit of my Instagram grid.  This is where most of my recording and writing goes on a day to day basis.  Instagram is like my online sketch book, which is what I had originally intended for this blog but that was before I had a decent phone with Instagram and knew of it's potential and immediacy and the amazing community that I was yet to meet.    It looks a little bit like the below.  I have only really been using it for a year and I enjoy the value in looking back at the changing colours and ideas that I have recorded.  It quite naturally follows the seasons which was only loosely an idea but has retrospectively been quite clear.   It's a bit of an eclectic feed, I have never been able to stick to one kind of art,  some days I like to record something as meticulously as I can in a drawing and others I like the challenge of a painting and others the only thing my soul needs is to throw paint at a canvas and express abstractly how I feel or what I see.  I also like to record gallery visits, other people's art, sketches and beautiful places, like a diary it keeps me thinking, reflecting and holding myself accountable to continuing my creativity which is pretty vital in my world.  My Instagram feed will show me that my summer has included art exhibitions - my own and others, beach trips, driving through the New Forest, selling artwork(!), blue skies and fresh produce, colour and caterpillars and boat rides and more.  And painting, definitely some painting!

So, if you come across this article and you fancy following my strange little adventures and ideas and seeing my drawings and paintings evolve then @jess.egan.art is the Instagram feed to look for, I look forward to seeing you there.

 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Painting Provence - A view to Avignon

When I was little 'Painting Provence' was pretty much a life goal.  I was (and still am) a big fan of Cezanne and was in love with the idea of artists painting in the warmth and beauty of the South of France; it was just about the most desirable and romantic thing I could think of.  I suppose I'm a little bit more realistic about the desire and romance these days but I still hold the area, and all it evokes artistically for me, high on a pedestal.  I think this is what makes me feel so much for this painting, and the fact that I am actually happy with it... that takes a lot in my book!!! 

It has captured a moment for me, sat in this very tranquil garden absorbing the view towards Avignon from the Abbaye Saint Andre.  I am happy with the palette that I developed; trying to include the layers of green countryside interspersed with the pale sandiness of small villages and buildings, with those fantastically strong green Cypress trees, marked out against the range of greens around them.  I'm happy with the forms and contrasts within the landscape leading up to the wide expanse of blue sky and whispy cloud textures; the air cleared by the previous day's mistral.  The original premise of this work was abstract, I wanted to capture a moment that had resonated with me and I wanted to keep the painting process very relaxed with no definite outcome.   I had, however, been dreaming about this view to the city of Avignon and it would seem that this is the view and the moment that was meant to appear...  This is a place I would like to return to.







Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Quick Post Holiday Post.... Avignon

Seven years ago, my partner and our Mums had a weeks holiday (sounds insane right there I know but it works) in the city of Avignon.  Home to Palais de Pape, Pont St Benezet and some amazing food and wine (region famous for Rose wines... beautiful).  When the opportunity came up this year for a return visit of course we couldn't refuse...!  This time we would have our 3 year old little boy with us and unfortunately my Mum wasn't available to come with so we knew it was going to be different, i.e. swap a couple of tourist attractions for play parks and the luxurious self catering apartment for a campsite you get the idea but of course it was still a totally wonderful week.  

So of course we visited the Palais de Pape, this vast and imposing palace and fort, the papal residence in the 14th century and we visited the bridge and danced on the end singing ''Sur le Pont d'Avignon'' and we went on the tourist train, (literally a car dressed as a train with carriages for tourists) which all of us enjoyed, not just my little boy.   But we also got to know the city in a whole new light this time; and now I not only have the major tourist attractions in my mind, but a knowledge and feel for the older parts of the city; the cobbled streets made up of stones from the bed of the River Rhone and the location of art galleries and studios that we took such delight in discovering.  We visited play parks for Max and stopped for coffees and ice creams, we ambled around with a vague idea of direction but no sense of urgency.  We found the living city that wasn't just about tourists and Popes (although I thoroughly recommend reading more about this fascinating time in European history) and I would seriously consider a return visit to find out more, although maybe next time with better French!

I've sprinkled a couple of images below that for me sum up the holiday, and glancing through my holiday photos there are already a few more standing out as inspiration for some painting ideas.  Provence, or at least this part of it that we have explored, holds some key delights for me as an artist. Verdant green trees with strong forms, huge vistas sometimes backed with the looming lines of mountain ranges, clear air and warm and wonderful stone in the architecture (terracotta rooftiles!) again with interesting forms, geometric yet soft, set into overwhelmingly large landscapes.  I have been doodling and drawing these components since I was little, majorly influenced by a couple of holidays in Spain surrounded by mountains and hilltop villas and villages.

So now my painting is a more frequent part of my life, it will be interesting to see how this informs my work, I have already started a painting... just to play... just to express... just to produce... oh my goodness it was good to get the paint out :-)