Saturday, February 24, 2007

Communication, or "It's not everyday that a hip panda speaks to you."

Telepathy has always been up there as one of my favourite forms of communication. Sadly, it is a lost art in our modern society overly taken up with texting in dismembered and misspelt words. So you can imagine my joy when I was wandering round the ruins of Monte Alban and heard this little fella speak to me!

Now, it's about time that I let you in on a little known fact - something that Paul and I discovered on our trip to Mexico. After we'd done a lot of walking and were weary and aching, we simultaneously said to each other that our hips were hurting (stay with me...). That was when we found out about hip pandas.

Apparently, by our simultaneous utterance of those words in a place endowed with magical powers, we had inadvertently invoked the ancient gift bestowed upon weary travellers by a band of mostly secret hip pandas.

These are baby pandas who have been rescued from a life of orphan hardship who wish for the opportunity to travel combined with warm human companionship. When you invoke the spell, the hip pandas appear and magically hold your hips to prevent you from feeling the ache of many hours on your feet. In return, they ask only that they be treated with kindness and be taken along on exciting adventures around the world. For many of them, this beats a one-way trip to the zoo.

We were told that hip pandas don't appear to just anybody, but were given no further explanation, so we realised just how lucky we were that they appeared for us. Happily, they were keen to come back to London with us and rest till our next adventures (North Wales in April), and one of their merry band kindly agreed to pose for me for this week's Illustration Friday. So here he is!

Next time you're hiking somewhere really magical, just try invoking the spell. You never know what might happen...

Mandalas, inspired by Teri & the Tibetan Buddhists

A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by Teri's Mandalas to draw a mandala a day. I'd never tried it before but had always been intrigued by this ancient art form. I believe it was the Tibetan Buddhist monks who started it all, creating huge and intricate sand mandalas which are then swept away, as a kind of meditation on the impermanence of life.

I don't do anything fancy like that. I just draw them in my lined moleskine diary with no specific aim in mind, not even the aim for them to come out looking like "art" or to make a good drawing. I do find it very soothing and absorbing to draw them and, like Teri mentions on her mandala blog, I really enjoy the spontaneity of not knowing what's going to happen when I start. It's very freeing and therefore it really doesn't matter if I end up not liking how it turns out.

I did a bit of reading about mandalas and discovered that Jung used them in his work, believing that they are the ultimate expression of the self (he wrote about this in his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections). This idea intrigues me though I don't draw them with that intention or aim in mind. What I did want was a different way of "documenting" or capturing my day to day life in my diary other than in words, and the idea of drawing mandalas really captured my imagination. It may be that when I look back on these one day, I will learn something or see something about myself that I'm not able to see now. Who knows. In any case, I just really enjoy doing them.

Here are a few of my favourites from the last ten days or so.

Monday, February 19, 2007

still life at zero gravity

You know when you have an idea in your head for a picture but it doesn't even come out half as well as you intended? Well, this is one of those times. Instead of the objects looking like they are floating in space, they just look like they've been piled on top of one another on a flat surface. The zero gravity chamber wasn't working, so having the floating still life to work from was mostly in my imagination. Neither was my brain or else I would have realised that a background to set it against might have helped with the illusion of weightlessness. My sincere apologies. I kinda like the way the panda turned out grumpy though. That wasn't intended either.

Still life with panda and drum at zero gravity, pastels on watercolour paper.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Burning heart with peas ('tis better to have crashed than to have stayed in the garage)

This is for my pea lover...who likes to try and sneak stray peas into places where peas don't belong (like custard, shoes, belly buttons, soft furnishings, stir fries, sandwiches, tea, water bottles, Hank Williams' nostrils, Johnny Cash songs and the bath tub). Mind you, that's the worst thing I can say about my lovely Paul. I'll put up with that thank you very much. He didn't want a card for Valentine's Day, and neither did I. We don't need a "Special Day" or a commercially made greeting card or chocolates to say I love you and all that shrubbery. We have chocolate and shrubbery every day. But I did want to draw something. So here it is.

I crashed into a burning heart with peas, I went down, down, down, but the peas they outdid me and they burned burned burned, those big green peas, those big green peas...

For my lovely Paul, pastels on black card.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Back from Mexico!

I'm back from Mexico, where we had a fantastically colourful and possibly the best holiday I've had for some time. We saw tons of art, including numerous Diego Rivera murals, and visited Frida's Blue House, amongst other things. I don't think I've ever been to so many galleries and museums in my life. We also spent some time in Oaxaca City and managed a few days on the beach as well!

This is an ink and watercolour drawing I made of a portrait by Jose Luis Cuevas, one of my favourite Mexican artists.

Also liked the work of the Spanish painter Remedios Varo, who later lived and worked in Mexico. Some of her paintings reminded me a little of Ros Foster's work.

I didn't do as much drawing as I would have liked in Mexico, but I have come back with a few ideas for drawings inspired by the trip which I hope to complete in the next few weeks. Plus, I took loads of photos which I'll be posting to my photo blog soon.