There's beauty in imperfections.
Mixed media art - a combination of acrylic paint, netting, oil pastels, pressed leaves and beeswax.
Size: (width) 96 cm by (height) 160cm.
In life there are times when we reach a point that makes us fall to our knees, but rather than collapse in weakness, we find strength and acceptance of who we really are, knowing when to release the past to embrace the new.
Along with this comes a truth deep within us, knowing we are good enough, better than we have been pretending to be and in this moment we can go forth in truth, to reclaim our lives and all the good that is waiting for us.
It's never too late to surrender, drawing a line under things you are not happy with and change direction with a newfound strength and excitement.
For the past two years (plus an extra term because of interruptions of lockdown and postponement of the course) I’ve been studying a master’s degree in fine art. The reasons for this were to educate myself further in the art field and to take art more seriously. I was teaching full time and completing many commissions. Now I would like to continue with this as well as develop a strong ‘brand’ style. My degree wasn’t in art, but in education, so this was very much different and linked to what I wished to pursue afterwards - an art career.
It was a time of innovation, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, striving to find an area that I wished to pursue after the course and eventually I did. In the last three months, I discovered a love for abstract art, incorporating simple shapes and symbols within one piece. It was with huge joy that I discovered this, as I feel it is so closely connected to myself as a person. The style, the complexities, the simplicity and creativity are unleashed from somewhere deep within me, where comes the urge to express and escape. Like an intriguing, unknown language that borders on the mysterious, I have attempted to answer the question concerning the soul and its appearance, and it was from doing that that the images emerged.
‘Old soul’ is my favourite painting by far and developed after much sketching and practise pieces. It’s elegant, mysterious, deep and thoughtful. It’s simple, but the meaning is complex and obscured. There is also the bonus of this appealing to all abstract art lovers, for the result, although stemming from a spiritual theme, is not seemingly linked to spirituality at all.
Painting images that look representational are not exciting to me, but they are without a doubt more popular regarding the commissions I used to receive and still willing to take on. But creating something unique and innovative is exciting, for it’s like reading a book, not knowing the ending. It’s about intrigue, the ‘what if’s’ and the unknown. I wonder how far they will take me and where they will be exhibited and appreciated. I plan to create a series before exhibiting them in venues about the country.
Do we have a soul?
Having researched this particular question, it became clear, via numerous surveys, polls and questionnaires, that athough a majority of people (60-70%) believe in a soul, there are a portion who are not sure or disagree.
The purpose of this blog is not to prove or disprove the concept of the soul, but to follow my own beliefs. It's about what makes sense to me.
My interest in the spiritual aspect of life came about when I was a child, for I had severe asthma and would have died numerous times had it not been for medical intervention and the small 'magical' device called an inhaler. I was allergic to a multitude of things as a child; fur (so all animals), dust, smoke, grass, hay, oranges and milk (and all milk products). As an adult I later came to realise I was allergic to red wine as well. Being out in the cold would also bring on an attack, as well as exercise and bouts of laughter. But like everyone else who suffers from such a condition, I learnt to live with it,
However, it had me question many things about life and why I had asthma. There were times that I would see angels in my dreams who said I could go with them if I wanted to. I remember desperately wanting to fly away with them, but torn about leaving my family, only to wake up abruptly, suffocating. Throwing something against the wall, alerted my mother to my phlight and she would come to my rescue, time and time again.
Although we weren't a religious family, a ton of experiences led me to believe in angels, a higher being and the power of the imagination without having been taught anything about them. It was an inner knowing from a very young age.
One such event included visiting the Denise Lynn's workshop at London's Body, Mind and Spirit festival. It was a past life workshop and designed to take us a particular lifetime that resulted in an infliction that we suffered from in this lifetime. I had an experience of being a peasant man in Medieval France who was beheaded for stealing an apple. Pretty intense and incredibly real. The anger consumed me for days.
The doctors had told me I would suffer with asthma for my entire life, yet it is hardly worth mentioning now, for I can go days without taking my inhaler. Another noticeable factor was my allergies decreasing also. There is something very real about past life healing and being able to release a particular emotion that we may've carried through into this life that continue to haunts us and cause these mysterious inflictions.
So here I am as an artist desiring to bring something that is invisible to the naked eye to attempt to give it a 3-dimensional form.
Although I'm pleased with the sculpture, I don't believe it gives the soul much justice to be honest, but it was a rather ambitious project which I found challenging and had me questioning my ideas all the time. An extremely talented wire artist called Derek Kinzette actually inspired this piece and if you do not know him I suggest you visit his fabulous Instagram page. https://www.instagram.com/derekkinzettwiresculptures/ The moment I saw his work, it took my breath away.
I'm new to making videos so was pleased when I finally finish this aspect of the piece. Please click on the following link to see the completed video (lasts for only 54 seconds).
I would be most grateful for any input, questions, personal stories, your beliefs regarding the soul or anything else you might want to share with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!
Helen O x
The inspiration for this large scale drawing came about was when I found out I had successfully secured a place on the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) course to study a part time masters course in Fine Art.
I ordered a roll of Fabriano paper and, with my husband's help, cut it to size and secured it to the wall. It was 1.5m high and 1.8m in length. With the huge blank canvas staring at me I felt daunted by the task. Armed with just a pencil and pen, I started thinking through what I was going to do. I had no idea of the end outcome and the dragon came as an after thought, and I'm so pleased to have added it as it is one of my favourite parts.
Each time I worked on this beast, I recorded every session, including the duration. Altogether the total time taken was 152 hours. This is the longest time I have spent creating a piece of art.
I began with the stone wall, from my imagination. And I didn't want to just draw a place, but desired life in it, so (thinking of my grandad, Bob) I drew an old man sitting down on a wooden bench with his dog, who was watching two adult swans and their cygnets. Pulls Ferry (the water gate in Norwich) stands at the bottom of the picture. For this was a 12th-century historic site where items were transported by boat into Norwich, including the materials for Norwich Cathedral.
The picture below was created by taking photos of the building, but since it was covered and hidden by foliage I decided to use images off the internet to expose the beautiful building and what it would have looked like in the past. It is by no means accurate or measured to architectural standards. Much of this was created to look even, balanced, and interesting to the eye.
The next layer was a more difficult to think about. In the endI based it on the mound of the castle. A trip to the castle to photograph the grass and weeds helped me out. Of course I had to include the range of steps which are so dilapidated they were no longer used. The gate at the top of the steps reveals this fact. The perspective of the gates and driveway to the castle proved a problem and it was readjusted a few times in order to get it to look right.
Drawing the castle itself took the longest time and I went over bricks twice: it was like editing an novel and making changes and adapting it.
There were a few reasons I included dragon. For one thing I knew something was missing in the vast empty space above the building. Adding a dragon seemed logical to me, for there are many connections to them, such as Dragon Hall in Norwich, and a fearsome, local dragon was recorded in Ludham many years ago, which apparently took residence beneath St Benet's Abbey. Then there's the Snap dragon in Castle Museum itself, which was part of an annual parade in Norwich. Since dragons protect their hoards of gold, it seemed only natural for a dragon to reside over the castle with all its treasures hidden inside.
I was thrilled with the end outcome, and even more pleased to see people's reactions to this piece of work, for it warms my insides to think people receive pleasure through viewing it.
Altogether I have gone through several pens, which ranged from 0.05mm to 0.8mm. Some people will say it's the journey ... some people will say it's the end destination. But I believe it was the moment I ordered the paper with a dream and turning it into a reality, into something concrete that can always be seen.
Saxon Digital Services undertook the massive task of scanning this beauty and it was completed using cameras and photoshop.
In regards to price, I've decided to not sell it for now. Instead I am simply happy to have it displayed in places for many people to see and appreciate. If people wish to have a professionally scanned print and mount the prices range from £60. Please contact me if you are interested in one of these prints, as they would be especially printed to your requirements.
There's beauty in imperfection - love yourself for being different.
Having been absorbed in illustrating medieval Tudor buildings in and around Norwich, I decided to try something a different.
I'm fascinated by abstract work and people's reactions to it, for some people seem to react to it like marmite. They either love it or they hate it. I've overheard some people suggest that throwing paint on a canvas is all there is to it. However, further research will definitely reeducate such as idea.
I am currently working through my second module of my Masters Fine Art course, and the emphasis is on dialogue through different platforms, hence the reason I have now got myself a blog.
The intention of writing such a blog is to use it as a reflective journal for my course and keep a record of my intentions, goals, and achievements - as well as what I've learnt through making errors. Having been a primary school teacher for several years, the idea of growing your brain power through making mistakes is a big emphasis in our school and not something to shy away from or to be embarrassed about.
Wanting to explore abstract painting and working large scale, I was asked by my tutor to make some marks on a large piece of Fabiano paper, which is of excellent, sturdy, thick quality. The size is 2m by 1.5m. Since it's so large, I taped it to the wall to work on.
Initially, with no intention but to make a mark, I grabbed a stick of charcoal and began shading in different areas and making different lines, shapes and marks. Smudging it about was so much fun. However, before I knew it, a vision had emerged of a landscape and I wasn't sure weather to laugh or cry, for it was far from abstract. But I carried on.
After a few minutes of whisking the charcoal about in different directions, I stopped and observed. I had drawn vegetation in the foreground around a lake and beyond that a city. In my mind the only intentional mark was the mountain I felt which belonged in the background at the end.
I see myself as a spiritual person, and the mountain for me is a major factor in the visualisations I used to do years ago. So at this point I had a decision to make, to follow on with creating an abstract piece or to create the image that has made itself known to me. I decided on the latter.
For the next two days I carried on working, stalling (rethinking), adding, taking away all the while developing the picture. The medium I used was acrylic paints and charcoal. I've named the painting "EYE SEE" based on Mother Earth watching everything we do, having given us permission to live on her. From this I created a poem.
Eye See You
I see your love
I see your hate
I see your truth
I see your lies
I see your success
I see you mistakes
I see your freedom
I see your chains
I see your strength
I see your weakness
I see your courage
I see your fear
I see your triumphs
I see your defeats
I see your compassion
I see your indifference
I see your gratitude
I see your greed
I see your charity
I see your selfishness
Nothing that you do
Will every go unseen,
So stride upon this world
Massage your soul clean.
From me you can never hide
Don’t let your good nature slide,
Down into the pits of such despair
Deep into Satan’s lair.
For if you keep your heart true,
Good things will always come to you.
Author & Artist
I've always been interested in writing and art, however, over the years life got in the way of these beautiful pastimes. Having recently completed a Master's in Fine Art at the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) I have reconnected with a passion, which I wish to continue with, since it fulfils a missing part of me. If people can gain some enjoyment through my work, than I am truly grateful.