RHYMES&REASONS

Observations, Thoughts and Reflections on 21st Century Life

Tag: Painting

Conscious Incompetence

Uncomfortable, frustrating, deflating and dispiriting all rolled into one.  This is the state of conscious incompetence.  And I am right bang in the middle of it.

The pleasure of learning a new skill has been replaced by the cold reality of daylight.  The thrill of finding I could produce a painting which was ‘presentable’ has, three years on, been sharply highlighted by a gaping lack of experience.  The short-term affirmation of social media approval and modest sales has been replaced by a cringing reluctance to stick my head above the public parapet.

There is so very much to learn, so much work to do, as a musician applies herself to scales so the painter must learn and practice the techniques and technicalities of their art.  Long hours in the studio, alone with your thoughts and insecurities accompanied only by the silent (and sometimes not so!) monologue of self criticism.

But something drives me on, the glimpse of an idea captured on canvas, crossing the threshold of nebulous to form laying down a moment in time, an outward incarnation of an inner life.  There is something calling out, bigger than and beyond me, enticing and playing with my heart a I struggle and strive; it at once elates and then strips me bare.  Cleansing, simplifying, purifying and humbling perhaps one day it will enlighten also as to the core nature of this oily world in which I find myself immersed.

Top: ‘Poetry with Pomegranate and Plum’   Above: ‘Trio of Plums with Blue Jug’

Rebecca Pells Artist

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My Artfinder Gem – Jean-Humbert SAVOLDELLI

‘Le Baiser’ (The Kiss) by Jean-Humbert Savoldelli

Like so many things in life, I happened upon the work of French artist Jean-Humbert Savoldelli  by accident.  One of his works appeared in the sold section on ARTFINDER  and immediately captured my attention.

I must confess to knowing very little about abstract art and this post is not intended as a critique but rather a very personal response to these contemporary artworks. The strong vertical lines are what first drew me in, rising seemingly from a landscape reminiscent of breakwaters along the beaches of Northern France. On investigating Jean-Humbert’s gallery on ARTFINDER  I discovered many pieces to which I had the same visceral response. I was seeing thresholds – and I love thresholds, a theme to which I return time and again  in my own work – but here they are expressed in abstract form, a meeting of two worlds, the human and the natural.

‘Calypso’ by Jean-Humber SALVODELLI

For me there is both bleakness and hope in Jean-Humbert’s work –  the verticals are often dominant, like mankind  imposing itself upon the land and heavy, stormy ‘skies’ suggestive of destruction, a warning perhaps of human impact upon the fragile environment.  But there is also a lightness, delicacy of colour and expressive, swirling wave-like strokes, representative perhaps of movement and immediacy in contrast to the static, lifeless structural lines.  Small figures seemingly overwhelmed by the vastness of the scene before them, stand witnesses to history at the very threshold of doom v hope, of destruction v tenderness.

Whose Fault is It

‘A qui la Faute?’ (Whose Fault is It?)

The use of sand in some works adds texture and a connection to the very earth itself which I find very appealing. With a deft wielding of the painter’s knife – a conduit to freedom and movement – together with use of a limited palette, this artist creates a harmony which embraces you, bringing together the various elements at play within the composition.  My favourite – and it was very hard to choose just one – has to be ‘Calypso’.  The depth that Jean-Humbert has achieved just vacuums you into the heart of the painting!  It takes you on a journey into the unknown, like the road less traveled, you wonder if there will be a path back.  And the vertical composition is elegance itself. Calypso was also the name of French explorer Jacques Cousteau‘s yacht and as a pioneer environmentalist of the oceans it fits well with  his fellow Frenchman’s artistic work and with my own sentiments and priorities.

‘Vibrations’ by Jean-Humbert SAVOLDELLI

Jean-Humbert has produced a fabulous body of abstract expressionist paintings, each has a wonderful emotive effect on me – he is able to convey through his art what I fail to adequately put into words!   The subject is nebulous and yet he offers a fleeting glimpse of something deep and vital to humanity’s survival.  The landscapes are expansive yet intimate,  warning us yet offering hope.  A visual reminder that nature will endure despite the best efforts of man to dominate and destroy. With the image before me, I sense I am standing at a threshold between two possible outcomes for humanity.  I now understand the role of abstract.  I hope one day to be the proud owner of a Savoldelli but in the meantime I will make do with a gander around his online gallery.  Come join me!  Jean-Humbert SAVOLDELLI on ARTFINDER

 

‘Wet Sand’ by Jean-Humbert SAVOLDELLI

Hourglass

 

We navigate and tack to catch the crest of self-promised waves

like a piston of dreams forth and back they roll

sacrificed upon the altar of age

til one day we understand

there is no harbour

no anchor

no time.

 Brief encounters

as ships in the night

horizons glimpsed as sun rises

then fades to dusk before we have basked

lay down precious memory, til synapse eclipse

the hourglass turns and grain sifts with the tide once more.

 

‘Time Goes Away’

Details from https://www.artfinder.com/manage/rebeccapells/product/time-goes-away/

Yesterday’s Gone

I waited. Two score years then ten.

Boredom reigned as time strode past.

You flirted and waved, your sunlight cast

Till the treadmill called to shackle again.

I carried the promise, I cradled belief

That one morning I would wake

My passion before me there to take.

No longer a dream you were every relief.

And now we dance, the rhythm of life

 Intimate moments yet strangers remain

Master and slave passion’s loss and gain

 As I strive to please frustration is rife.

Just like a moth I’m drawn to the light

Of creation’s promise, each hue I fashion

 I seek the sweet moment of artist’s passion

As I step away to see that all has come right.

‘Yesterday’s Gone’ by Rebecca Pells Fine Art

Letting Go

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 Yesterday, I  set out to paint a small abstract as a loosening up exercise.  The aim was to let go of  anything representational but within minutes of starting I began to see a landscape emerge – trees, a shoreline, however vague and probably not what someone else would have seen at all.  At this point I started to follow the direction I thought the painting was leading me, believing it was supposed to be this way.  As a result, I forced the image to materialise into something vaguely resembling an alpine lake landscape and in so doing, deprived it of it’s true potential as an abstract painting.

We are surrounded by a world full of names, categories, labels, titles and tags.  We love to name – it helps us to locate, formulate and store information.  It helps us to feel in control of an increasingly complex environment.  We have become so adept at this method of ordering, that we do it unconsciously, habitually and whilst it is of great assistance in a technical world it can have the opposite effect when used in situations which need to evolve naturally.

Naming of a person or situation leads to unrealistic expectations – whole scenarios can be played out in our minds which bear little resemblance to reality.  We become disillusioned, angry and blame others for not fulfilling our dreams.  We can never know early on in our work, friendship or relationship what kind of experience we will have together.  If we name a romance too early we demand reciprocation, we force a reward – like fruit grown out of season it lacks longevity  – we deny the relationship the chance to flourish and bear fruit as a natural progression.

By naming too soon we close off possibilities of something finding it’s own level, we reject it’s true potential, it’s own representation and deny ourselves of the gift it may have to offer.  If we can be brave enough to let go of the confining boundaries of naming, then by so doing just maybe we will experiencing something beautiful.

Still Life – a Personal Heritage

 

001‘Silver Jug with Lime’ 2016

Many of us seek an identity – or perhaps seek to escape from ourselves – through the things with which we choose to clutter our lives. Most are transient, outliving their usefulness, unable to keep up with our changing desires as the years pass by.  Few linger long after we have gone, travelling in time in a way which is closed to us.

There is a comfort in the familiar, in the multilayered existence of inheritance; a stabilizing, grounding sense of belonging which comes from things with which we grew up, the landmarks by which we navigated our early years. They are the threshold between our history and the present, between what has been, what is and what is yet to come. A kind of immortality we ourselves cannot achieve.

Such objects become integrated and entwined in our personal history handed down from generation to generation.

A familial wave passing through our lives.

001‘Silver Spoon with Lime’ 2016

https://www.artfinder.com/rebeccapells

Changing of the Guard

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I woke this morn and sensed the changing of the guard

Summer’s twilight slipped into autumn’s first dawn.

Reluctant to cross this threshold once more

Au revoir summer’s promise unripened by drought.

And let go the dream sustained by hope

  Release that which can no longer be held.

Fade to autumn, the hue I must reside

And cherish sweet memory with wistful smile.

Painting ‘Antique Roses’ by Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/antique-roses-fa34/

 

21st Century Introvert

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Quiet. Introvert. Solitary.

All words which have long since borne negative connotations. In 21st century life, where sharing our every movement and every meal online has become the accepted way of behaving, social media has become the extroverts dream paradise, the introverts hell.  Underestimated as a way of being, introvertism is neither prized nor offered as a path to tread, shunned in favour of over-confidence, extrovertism and ubiquitous over-sharing.

But a world in which every one is a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson would not succeed – thankfully!  Our species needs it’s philosophers, it’s artists, scientists and geeks.  It needs it’s witnesses as well as the witnessed.  They are the ones who step back to view the bigger picture or delve deeply to see the oft missed yet crucial detail.  Introspection provides the opportunity to practice, to cultivate and examine from every angle before we hit the share button.  It is the first necessary step in the consummation of a new idea, the space in which to sow, till, nurture and reap until the young sapling is strong enough to face the limelight.

It prepares us for the conversation, tentatively invited when we finally stick our head above the parapet:  it will buffet us in the maelstrom of social media, straining against our every grain and fibre of being, our private world exposed in the harsh glare of publicity.  Carried as the wind in the trees our inner souls are transported across countries and continents, to shores so distant our physical being will never set foot upon them.  As the shock of the first tectonic impact settles, we begin to find a new way of being and to join in the conversation.  Our vulnerability becomes more robust as we emerge from our inner world and engage with the tumultuous, shifting noise of the online world.

As an artist I have reluctantly had to embrace the world of social media, the list is growing –  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Artfinder, Fine Art Seen, as well as my own website and of course WordPress.  It certainly has it’s benefits and I have come to realise that unlike the extroverts who seek constant attention, the introvert retains the ability to retreat at will, we are masters at the beautiful art of withdrawal, where once again we can resume a conversation with ourselves; where we can tend a wound, cradle our disappointment and nurture our imagination until we are inspired once more.  To seek solace, to retreat from the white noise, is to find space in which we can ask more of ourselves, raise questions that can re-shape our thinking and perspective of the world we inhabit.

It is quite simply, an exquisite place to reside.

Oil painting ‘The Bench’ Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/the-bench-47d9/

 

 

Easter 1916 – Was it Yesterday?

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‘Was it Yesterday’ by Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/was-it-yesterday/

A few moths ago I attended the launch of a book written by the father of a friend.  First published in 1928/29, ‘Was it Yesterday?’ by A M Bown recounts his experiences in France during the First World War. For many years it remained out of print until his son and daughter, themselves now into their 80’s, realised that his story would be of interest to many others and so they set about the task of re-publishing.

‘When  he volunteered in 1914, A M Bown was a twenty year old scholar at Oxford (university) studying science.  He became an artillery subaltern and remained one throughout the First World War, being wounded twice and gaining the Military Cross for bravery.  This book, although fictionalised, grew out of his personal experiences and is a vivid and authentic account.

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He tells of ordinary day-to-day incidents, some amusing, some frightening, and gives a sense of real lives – and real deaths.  He keeps throughout a respect for his fellow soldiers, saying:

“So this little team in khaki stood waiting for the starting gun . . . in the greatest game of all, and whatever share the fields of Eton (college) may have had in any winning of it, the same share must be credited to the back alleys and the cinder patches, the parks and the recreation grounds which had been the nurseries of most of those who stood together in that forward line, picked to play for England.” ‘

Inspired by Bown’s story and with his family’s permission, I painted  ‘Was it Yesterday?’  The opened book sits upon a table from around 1916.  Original wallpaper tinged with ‘forget-me-not’ blue symbolizes the fading of memories of a time long since gone but which also bears witness to the present – a jug of fresh spring daffodils and bright scarf cast aside in a hurried moment. So intense are the events of which the author writes, that they feel like they happened only yesterday.

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‘Was it Yesterday?’ by A M Bown

available from

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Yesterday-M-Bown/dp/1909644595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459161959&sr=8-1&keywords=was+it+yesterday+a+m+bown

Witness and Solitude

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To witness and to be witnessed is a form of acknowledgement of our own and others’ existence.  It is the sibling of ‘belonging’  identified by Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of basic needs as crucial to our emotional well-being.  Few are able to live entirely in the absence of either.

As I approach my mid-fifties, I suddenly find myself without parents – officially an orphan as one friend stated!  Neither uncommon or unexpected.  And yet I was unprepared for the sense of aloneness I experienced, even though I’m not from what you would describe as a close family either geographically or emotionally.  It has surprised me, since I live and work alone I’m used to and comfortable with my own company.  But parents or carers are our primary witnesses, they watch over us when we are young, validate our efforts as young adults and observe  from the sidelines as we progress through life.  And then at some point the witness becomes the observed as we in turn keep an eye on them in their advanced twilight years.

The threshold over which we take our first steps into aloneness is often experienced as abandonment.  Many will step back in fear and seek distraction, the company of an unsuitable partner or live at the edge of other people’s lives, rather than allow the space and time for a solitary life to flourish.  Alone we are faced with nothing but our own reflection, our repetitive inner voice, no-one to be impatient with but ourselves!  Tired of our own story, we eventually begin to tell it in a different way, we no longer need to filter it for the ears or expectations of others and we can live our life as a question rather than a fiercely guarded certainty.  Sooner or later a fresh complexion begins to appear, the gentle re-weaving of our inner and outer forms.

In the 21st century to seek solitude is considered odd, others feel rejected and offended by it.  But to allow ourselves – and others – to be alone, whether for hours or days or weeks, is to live something that feels like a choice again.  In this space we can experience our own truth, not to sink into despair of a mis-spent past or regret a decision made long ago, but to inhabit the space in a fresh way, to navigate the movable frontier between what has been and what we are about to become.  Self-knowledge allows us to adopt the manner of the fledgling novice once more, humble and gracious in our attention to ourselves, others and life.  It is good to remove ourselves from time to time from the chaotic flow of a world which never stands still, to find our place within it once more.

Painting ‘Field of Dreams’ Rebecca Pells Fine Art

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