Haiako Harria/Peñas de Haya/Les Trois Couronnes in Spring

Haiako Haria  in the spring

April 2013 Acrylic on canvas 50 x 70cm

This painting is inspired  by a view not far inland from the coast & looking towards the mountains. At this time of the year the Asphodels are all flowering abundantly at lower altitudes, whereas it’ll probably still be a few weeks till they look their most spectacular at higher altitudes.

If you look  back far enough through this blog, you can see that I  made a painting from this same perspective in July of 2009!


Early Spring near Gorramakil

2013 April - Early Spring near Gorramakil

April 2013  Acrylic on canvas 50 x 70cm

After finishing the previous painting I’ve revisited the same place a couple of times when there’s been the  opportunity. Since then  I’ve been revisiting it more often in my imagination when I’ve been transported back via the proccess of my painting !

On a totally different subject – I managed to “like” my own painting the other day! I was simply trying to click on one of the “likes” as far as I remember, to see what they were. How embarressing! Has anyone else had this problem?  I think I then got rid of a load of other peoples’ “likes” along with mine when I tried to delete it!! Sorry if it was yours!

In the presence of trees

2013 March - In the presence of trees

March 2013 – Acrylic on canvas 80 x 60cm

Finally  I’ve been painting again & it feels a bit like emerging out of a long tunnel!

Over the last few years I’ve spent many hours painting  when I’m not teaching. I really needed to in order to get myself immersed in it again. Also I think it’s essential  for me as an emotional outlet, as well as for my thought processes & in fact to feed back into the teaching of art.

Creativity is something I believe needs to be encouraged more than ever. Art is an ideal medium through which to explore & develope one’s approach to life.   In a rapidly changing world, people need the skills to be able to come up with  solutions in order to adapt to new situations & solve problems & so on.  Every child finds their own solution within the boundaries of the framework the teacher sets.  Which is why each individual child demands  the teacher’s personal attention  because their work is different & therefore it  requires different advice. What they are trying to acheive is not the same as someone else, & this is the aim,  even though the initial guidelines were the same. When you are a teacher it can be frustrating trying to be in 28 places at the same time & when you’re only 10 years old you’re not always aware that you are not the only one.  Your problem needs dealing with and right now!

Recently I’ve been feeling  exhausted – as though my energy has been sapped by children (I teach around 220 of them every week!) & I’ve had little left over for my own work. I’m sure this must sound familiar to anyone that teaches.

Are you an artist (or a writer, musician …) & also a teacher ? What are your experiences in this regard?

I know that by painting it also gives me a certain energy that helps me deal with other areas in my life,  in the same way as when you take exercise it actually makes you feel more energetic eventually . But if you are so tired you can’t summon up the energy to start  then it becomes a negative spiral! Life is a constant juggling act to try to keep everything balanced & the scales are  forever moving. Which is another reason I suppose that I still haven’t got round to setting  up a proper website for example. I have decided that I have got enough commitments & I have to chose carefully how to spend my free time; That’s to say I have to put some things on hold for the sake of my sanity! It is still  a little bit frustrating though!

After the last collective exhibition I participated in I realised how most of the other artists were full time artists. In order to participate you had to be of professional status. (In France  everyone must have a “status”. So this means you have a number & your  social security payments are collected by specific organisations depending on your status or statuses in my case). On the one hand, if you are a full time artist, I suppose you have more time to dedicate to promotion & other  bureaucracy, but on the other hand you could end up creating for a market & being more limited. Because at the end of the day we all have to make a living. So at least I can paint what I want without feeling too much pressure from a commercial point of view (just  a sense of lack of time!)

If you are an artist/creator, full-time or part- time, what is your experience & how do you feel about this issue?

If you have to  produce results all the time then perhaps you feel  less able to experiment? One of my recent activities has involved cutting up one of my paintings in order to recreate it as a collage ! ( See below “Lines of life” which no longer exists in that form! )  Something fell into it, creating a big hole in the canvas, so  my idea was to try to make something positive come of it! At present though it is in a state of waiting, as I haven’t come up with a satisfactory recombination & maybe I won’t, I don’t mind too much really.

It’s important to engage fully in the process & that’s what I also really enjoyed with this painting – doing it gave me a feeling of liberty a bit similar to that which I felt from being in the place that inspired it in the first place. (Being on holiday helps too!)

Maybe some of you will be thinking I should cut this one up too 🙂 … but for me  the painting itself was the experiment !

Which road taken?

2013 Jan Which road taken

January 2013 –  Acylic on canvas 60 x 80cm

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as  I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Natural heritage or waiting for the neighbours?

August 2012 Acrylic on canvas 90 x 125cm

 The recent Preliminary Draft Law reviewed  in July of la Ley de Costas/ Spanish Coastal Law, makes me wonder how this law will be applied from now on. The law was originally brought in by the Spanish government  in 1988 supposedly to help preserve the coasts from the rapidly growing  urban developement in certain zones. Now the general idea of the reform seems to be that property owners & developers will be given more rights than they had when  the 1988 law first came into effect.

?El patrimonio natural o esperando a los vecinos? (agosto 2012 – acrilico en lienzo 90 x 125cm)

El estudio del Anteproyecto de la Ley de Costas por el Consejo de Ministros en el  mes de julio me hace preguntar como se aplicarà la ley desde ahora. La ley se inicio en 1988 supuestamente para preservar las costas contra la ya rapidemente creciendo urbanizacion de ciertas zonas. Con la nueva reforma parece que los proprietarios y los promotores tendràn mas derechos que los que tenian con la ley de 1988.

Le patrimoine naturel ou en attendant les voisins? (août  2012 – acrylique sur toile 90 x 125cm)

La révision, au mois de juillet, de la Loi des Côtes Espagnoles, m’amène à me demander comment la loi sera appliquée désormais. La loi a été lancée en 1988 par le gouvernement espagnol, soi-disant pour protéger les côtes contre une  urbanisation déjà en croissance rapide en  certaines zones.  La réforme donne aux propriétaires et aux promoteurs immobiliers plus de droits qu’ils n’avaient avec la loi de 1988.

Summertime in Cantabria

July 2012 – Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80cm

El verano en la costa de Cantabria

L’été sur la côte de Cantabrie

The exuberance of the wild flowers growing alongside  the cliffs & that uplifting feeling you can get from the timelessness of certain places is what inspired me to paint this. When painting is going well I can even get those same trancelike moments that are similar to those of the initial experience despite no longer actually being there. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I want to paint – it’s a bit like being in another place that I’m revisiting in my imagination.

When I was painting this it also even  made me remember some of those scenes in the wildflowers books of the “Ladybird” series – millions of British children between maybe the 1940s & the 1970s must have been influenced by them – they seem to have been in just about all schools & libraries as far as I remember. Even by the time I was looking at them though, the pictures seemed to be speaking of a past that no longer quite existed. Which is why I suppose it still amazes me when I experience what feels to be an almost nostalgic  scene.  Yet the stretch of coast that this is inspired by is NOT  just something of the past – it exists in the here & now & like many places, needs to be valued,  especially given that it’s not far from others  where everything has become obliterated by a  sprawl of concrete  urban developement.

Natural spaces need to be seen by more people in the light of being a contemporary issue.  When they are not totally disregarded in the sense of not even being noticed or else seen as empty space that is being wasted for not being “developed”, they are at best  often regarded as simply  something that really belongs to the past, where perhaps certain priveleged places are allowed a certain protection. If we only see nature in a box & as some sort of nostalgia trip then we’ve given up on our future ( we humans are also “nature” after all!)- which is why I think “nature” also needs to be more present in contemporary art. Urban art  is not  necessarily any more real or valid  than non urban, it just so happens that more of us lead urban lives & that’s what we experience or relate to more readily.  In the meantime, there is a whole world of biodiversity out there  that we can’t live without even if we don’t get to see it too often (or never in some peoples’ cases.)