Monday, August 03, 2009

Saving My Self

Five years ago, after a well-received but poorly attended show in a Melbourne gallery, I retreated far from art and stopped painting completely. Instead, I worked in a shoe shop. I still called myself an artist but there was a part of me that had come to terms with the idea that maybe I wasn't.
A box of English watercolour paints changed that. At the end of each day, after I returned from work (to the small room in my father's house where I was living), I would sit on my bed, open the box, and lose myself in experiments with unlikely textures, colours and ideas. I would also make one tiny painting that I would send the next morning to a new friend. He received hundreds over the next few months, each completely different.
These paintings saved my life. I ignored pressure from the galleries then representing my work to return to the large enamels they identified as 'typically Dooney'. But eventually I gave up my job at the shoe shop and committed once again to the idea of myself as an artist. My 'come-back' exhibition, my first in two years, was titled Venus In Hell and comprised fifteen torrid watercolours inspired by Voodoo rituals and beliefs.
I still do the small watercolours every day for the same friend and for this blog. I have sold some to first-time collectors for whom my larger works are out of reach – the works on scraps of Italian cold-pressed paper range in price from $US400 to $900 – but they're unlikely ever to be exhibited. Of all my art, they are the most intimate and telling. The white walls of a gallery are entirely the wrong way to share them.

11 comments:

kathryn said...

Thank you. I'm encouraged by your honesty, as usual.

andrea said...

After working in a shoe shop all day I'd probably be too wrung out to do anything more than crash in front of the TV (...and I just finished writing a blog post about incompatible roles and inertia!) so I am very, very impressed.

alenafresquet said...

I just want to say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You as I pull my brushes out of the garbage dumpster. Reading your posts (in no particular order,I might add)has been very enlightening.
I have found answers to questions that have baffled my mind for years..

Namaste,
alena

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,

Your watercolours are beautiful.

"Divan Diva" makes me happy
everytime I'm in the same room.
Abolutely magnificent!

Thank you SO much.

:-)

Paul Martin said...

I'm not typically into watercolours but for some reason, yours touch me. And certainly more than your enamels.

Art is Moving said...

I have to say you touched on something we over at Art is Moving think about quite a bit. It seems as though there are several sides to one artist and there needs to be a place for all of them. Congrats to you for find that space. Keep up the thought provoking and honest work and words.

Lauren

Amanda Jayne said...

I really love your blog. Thank you for the inspiration and honesty. Sydney girl in London, you give me hope.

lohang said...

That is awesome :) And truly inspiring.

Jennie Rosenbaum said...

Thankyou for inspiring me once again, i've been in a slump for the past week, failing at each new artwork and facing a time when I may have to produce less work and exhibit less for a while, it's terrifying me. I take solace in the fact that a break won't necessarily kill my career, it may even strengthen it.
it's also good to be reminded of the joy of creating for it's own sake. for the love of making art with no agenda.

Natalie said...

Hi Hazel. Gosh! I haven't visited here in a while and there's so much catching up to do. This post really gives me hope. I never knew that you had a McJob (love that expression, I will be stealing it and maybe pretending it's mine). I've just given up my McJob to persue my creative aspirations full-time.

Emma Brooks said...

Thanks Hazel for your blog and this post especially. I'm inspired by you, your drive, your focus, your art and your honesty. Best wishes.