Pamela Craven Davies

An artist based in North Yorkshire, England, at the moment painting in oils on canvas.

Slowly making Progress

I feel like now I am going to write about what I have done since my last post I am overwhelmed with how much I have actually done. Not just physically painting, but thinking, reading and visiting galleries. I will go backwards from most recent, and talk about yesterday, the unexpected. Visiting London this weekend, on a sunny afternoon we, myself and my two teenage children chose to look around Windsor Castle, of course there is lots of art work there from the great artists, but its not somewhere I actually thought of going beforehand to look at art. I was quite surprised and my children love museums, not so much art galleries but I’m trying to explain to them that you can see history through art. Art is not just about pretty pictures. We loved it, the painting of Henry V111 amongst them, something the children could relate to as its an image we are constantly subjected to. The art work I found of particular interest were the treasures given as gifts to welcome the Royal Family upon their tours, so such items from New Zealand, Australia, China and Africa. Having travelled myself all these items I recognised and had some relationship with, and memories of myself. A silk scarf in particular, depicting bushmen hunting inspired by Rock Art from South Africa,(Drakensberg) where Nelson Mandela was born. Given by him to the Queen on her visit in 1996 by Sarah Alexandra Mackie. This reminded me of my art work I had been working on over the past 10 years, based around imaginative primitive art. It made me feel a little more confident about my art work so far, and has given me inspiration to keep going with it alongside other projects.

The day before we went to the National Gallery to see the Gauguin Exhibition. I had promised myself I would go and see it with the children. It was a bit of a battle to get them inside, but once I had I loved listening to their comments about the paintings good and bad, and I let them express their thoughts no matter what, yet tried to explain to them what I already knew from seeing the documentary about him and the exhibition. My only regret is that I didn’t buy a book from the bookshop, which I love to do, but I was convinced by the children not to spend any more money. I had taken pictures, but I kind of wish I had. Although I think I am more interested in the relationships between painter and muse. Their struggles if they were painters themselves. I think that’s why I am so interested in Francoise Gilot who shared ten years with Picasso working closely with him, loving him and having two children with him. I bought her book Life with Picasso which I’m finding so interesting which is giving me so much inspiration. Like talking about the eyes on a portrait not being the same. I have struggled with this myself, thinking I should make them the same, and for the eyes to look like the persons I am painting. Picasso painted a lot from memory and imagination, I got the impression he didn’t like paintings that were directly from what was in front of him, “for that there was a camera”. Life with Picasso, Francoise Gilot. I can’t wait to finish the book and understand more about their relationship and how they both worked.

After looking around the Picasso Gallery and the documentary on Gauguin and reading Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot I have began three separate portraits. One of my Great Grandmother who I never knew from my fathers side, myself and my daughter. I am interested in my ancestry and thought it was a good place to start practicing, painting from memory and imagination yet trying to keep some kind of resemblance. I wanted to use colours that represented their ages, not necessarily as they are in the drawing but as I think of them now. My Great Grandmother for example I chose blues, as Picassos blue period means something to me. To me blue signifies death and I am of course connected to death through losing my 2 year old son, and am particularly drawn to that kind of thing. Paintings of death, of dead children which Gauguin had done, and were in the exhibition at the National Gallery. I thought about doing it myself. I have a photograph of my son in the chapel of rest, but thought it too hard for anyone else to see but me. Why would I paint such a thing? I dont know, but I have thought about it. Myself, I am trying to paint in Autumn colours, not just the oranges and browns but the greys of the skies, and lastly my daughter in yellow, which is associated with youth. I want them to connect to each other rather than individual portraits so I will have to work on them for much longer using my scratching technique that I find creates interest and texture and defuses my images.

Tonight I have started my proposal for a week on Wednesday. I have never spoken in front of anyone before about my art work and I think I have been avoiding it all my life. I normally leave everything to the last minute, but I’m trying really hard to get out of that habit.

One response to “Slowly making Progress”

  1. Annabel Smith avatar
    Annabel Smith

    Really enjoyed reading this. I feel that you have made the right decision doing this course. It will be cathartic but equally it will be healing.. enjoy the process


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