Regents Parkesque

So, it’s been a while, but I finally found my way back to the Blogosphere, following a busy 6 months, tied up with some exciting new projects, including this private commission: Regents Parkesque. My largest painting and certainly my biggest challenge to date:

Painting of Regents Park scenesMeasuring 1.6 X 1.5 m this was both a beast and a joy to paint in almost equal measure, and I’ll confess I rather miss it now it’s gone!

The brief:

something in a cartoon type style, that includes our favourite parts of the park we like to visit when we’re in London…and an essence of life today

The picture was developed from the combined contents of 99 photographs and took well over 1000 hours to complete (with a short break part way through to rest a weary, damaged shoulder).

Painted in acrylics and gold leaf, every area on the canvas has a minimum of 3 layers of paint and up to 8 or 9 layers in some areas, to develop texture and depth (these layers are known as glazes in the art world).

The picture features some of the most popular landmarks of this park, one or two of which I can very vaguely remember from rare visits there as a child, en route to the park zoo, including:

  • Queen Marys rose garden
  • Triton Fountain
  • Bandstand and park deckchairs
  • Boating lake
  • Glorious gilded gates leading to the gardens

I’m certain I never imagined at the time that I would one day paint these scenes, standing on steps to reach the top of a canvas! Nor did I ever imagine that the painting would receive more visitors than me over the last few months, from friends and relatives keen to encourage, question and more importantly admire the details as they emerged…Oh, and check how I was too!

I have resolved to visit the park again one day, during the warmer months of course, when I’m down in London some time, and perhaps seek out the memories of time spent there as a little girl. In the meantime, I’m pleased to say I have another satisfied customer who was

thoroughly enjoying looking at the painting!

My challenge to him was to count the number of characters who appear in the finished picture – if you want to give it a go (including the characters in the Triton Fountain), you might just find some of the close up snapshots on my KL Art Facebook page helpful – Good Luck!

If you fancy something similar or on a much smaller scale my order book is open if you’d like to Commission me.

In my Element 3

So, “In my Element 3” suggests that we’ve already been somewhere with this in the past and of course you’re right! As you might suppose there was an In my Element part 1 and part 2 before, celebrating my realisation that the world for me turns not on the very pleasant salary I received from my corporate exploits, but the satisfaction gained from working “in my element” on things that I enjoy, with people that I like and on things that can really make a difference to other people.

They were followed by a fabulous and insightful “Firestorm” post from my first guest blogger, the inspirational Lee of Elevatedby who shared his very personal experiences of being in his element and what motivates him to do what he does as a creative.

[Those embedded links will take you back if you didn’t visit, read and digest them before or just want to refresh your memory – I’m told they were quite a good read, though my friends are too shy to comment publicly to that effect].

So with my commitment to keep up with regular blog posts…ok, so sometimes real life creeps in and gives your virtual life a sideways nudge every once in a while, a sneaky extra week has gone by almost without notice, but I’m back here…well after midnight, with my blog. The rest of the world has already gone to bed for another night and all is quiet apart from the gentle whirr of my mind as it reflects on the last few weeks and the quiet tapping of my nails on my keyboard.

It’s been a strange few weeks, taken up mainly with my efforts on a large private commission I’m working on. That’s proving to be a challenge and a delight in almost equal measure. Working on a 5ft X 5ft 2in canvas is physically very demanding (I hadn’t really thought about that) and I have been reintroduced to muscles in my neck and shoulders I had long ago forgotten! I am reminded though that some of my friends face this every day and that for me this pain is at least only temporary and likely to disappear within a couple of days of delivering the finished item ti its new owner in due course. I am also reminded of how lucky I am to be doing this and enjoying the quality of sleep that comes from physical tiredness rather than the stress-driven headaches and mental tiredness of a couple of years ago! I wouldn’t swap this for the world right now!

I say taken up mainly by those efforts because there are other things going on and developing behind the scenes. In recent weeks I have had excited exchanges with and watched some of my new friends and business contacts growing slowly but surely with a new found confidence. A couple of them are seizing exciting new opportunities that will help them to create growing businesses and brighter and better futures for themselves than they might have expected only a short time ago, and I watch with respect and admiration and a sense that I would like to find a way to do more.

And you’re point is Karen?

Well, the thing is, although I continue to feel inspired by these people (they know who they are) I am equally frustrated by a sense that somehow things shouldn’t have to be quite so hard! It strikes me that no matter how hard some people try and how willing they are to give their all in pursuit of a self-supported, happy and fulfilling life, something just isn’t quite right with way things work. You see, I’m working with and talking to people who don’t necessarily fit the stereotypes of mainstream life and employment. At the same time I’m talking about people who are supremely capable so of course they don’t easily fit the templates requirements of public/institutionalised support systems either.

I’m talking about the people who fall between the gaps because they’re not necessarily viewed as employable, despite having a degree or other qualifications, yet can successfully set and and run their own businesses, (“after all who else would employ me?”). People who have been told “your needs just aren’t quite bad enough to warrant our support…”, people left to pick their way through the ad hoc and crazy paved provision of our “Big Society”, driven by the vagaries of a myriad competitive funding options.

In a creative sense I’m talking about creatively gifted people who don’t quite meet the expectations of “high art” galleries, not having studied art to degree level. Indeed, some have not studied any subjects to what is perceived to be an “acceptable” level due to the impacts of their learning difficulties, dyslexia, attendance at “special school” because of physical disability or long-standing physical and mental health problems. All these circumstances can make it difficult to understand what mainstream support might be available and certainly create a barrier to tapping into provision that can help create your own opportunities. Raising finance for a small business start up is almost impossible in these circumstances.

With all this in mind I have been exploring a few options and opportunities in recent weeks and feel inspired to continue to do so over the coming months. In the meantime I would be really interested to hear from anyone with any constructive ideas on raising funding or sponsorship or who has already set up an inclusive creative enterprise on any partially funded basis.

Why bother?

There are some very talented people out there who overcome the most tremendous adversity to achieve their creative goals, or some days just can’t quite manage to find the extra strength to have to fight and do things the hard way. With a great deal of effort but without complaint many do the things you or I might do on a daily basis without having to give it a moments thought, (whilst moaning about aching neck and shoulders in my case) or in some cases just give up the fight… strikes me there’s something just not right about that!

Next time:

Lee of Elevatedby will be back to share another episode of his inspirational story as a creative photographer.


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Help I missed earlier stories (open in a new window): Part 1 | Part 2 | Firestorm |