Thursday, 14 September 2017


We all live with little voices in our heads;  or little creatures whispering in our ears;     my daughter, a corporate trainer, calls them "Stress Critters".  These annoying little critters are often in command of our brains, telling us how to think, what to expect, even how to feel - and often that thinking is distorted.  "I don't think he is going to like this" (why not?  How do you KNOW this?).  "I MUST get this right" (Must it be right?  Really?)   "I cannot stand blah blah blah....." (Well, you probably CAN stand it, for a while.........)      

There is one that I battle with, and it is called EXPECTATION.  As an artist, letting go off "expectation" is definitely tricky - well, it is for me. In particular,  I have expectations of the end result when I start a piece of work.  This is often because I do a certain amount of pre-planning;  I try out a variety of thumbnail sketches, to investigate ideas.    While doing these thumbnails, I get a strong sense of how I hope the image will finally look.,....expectation.

Recently, as regular readers of the blog will know, I have been working with glass.  Not all my pieces are bowls, vessels,  dishes etc, many now are flat, 2 dimensional wall pieces.  I really enjoy the fact that I have to let go of expectations when working with glass;  it does not behave as paint does and I simply have to be prepared for surprises.  Yes, I can work out, with thumbnail sketches, a rough idea of what I might expect to achieve.....and often, the piece, when constructed, looks pretty similar to the thumbnail.........but then it goes into a kiln.  And the kiln gods take over.  The glass melts.  Unexpected things happen.  The heat changes colours unexpectedly and because of my lack of experience I often get a shock when I open the kiln;   shapes also disappear unexpectedly and others appear.    

Opening the kiln becomes an exercise in remembering to breathe!

As a painter,  having certain expectations means I often achieve exactly what I set out to achieve, and although that can be good, it also takes away the fun of the UNexpected, which might have been even better.

I suspect I need to spend a bit of time PLAYING with paint or pastels,  which will allow for some surprises and unexpected happenings, rather than allowing pre-planning and firm ideas to kill off any chance of spontaneity.

Here is the thumbnail I produced for my most recent glass commission, a wall panel, quite large, the client wanted an abstract piece with lots of greys, silver, gold and a touch of copper and pink.

BUT here is the finished piece, after several trips to the kiln.  It is difficult to photograph, as it has raised areas, and some of the glass is iridised and only shines gold from certain angles.  But you get the general idea, I think:

Working in an abstract way is a challenge for me.....and working with glass makes it even more of a challenge.  But I am secretly rather pleased with the result....although I do have to learn how to photograph iridescent glass, some of the beautiful sheen is missing in this photo.   always something more to learn!!!!   Including letting go of expectation.

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