The Log Book
Tales of an Artist Afloat
Being an artist feels like a constant learning experience. Every time I chat to another artist, I pick up a tip or idea. Then there are the discoveries I make myself as I play with my materials and become more mindful of why some things work whilst others don’t.⠀
My biggest lessons learned tend to be the mental ones though. Art can require quite a bit of resilience- outer and inner critics can be vocal and sometimes I feel like I’m being a fraud- who gave me permission to be an artist anyway? It feels odd that something I love so much can leave me feeling drained and sad sometimes. The biggest thing I’ve learned to help combat art-induced negativity is to remember why I paint in the first place. To hold on to the moments when I’m in the zone, hypnotized by the way the paint flows across the paper, the gorgeous granulation of jadeite and the magical colours I can mix from phthalo blue and green. I need to remember the feeling of joy as a school of fish emerge from my blues or when I add the shadows that will make a tree pop.⠀
The more process-focused I become, the less it matters if a piece went wrong- it becomes a learning experience to help me with my next painting. If I enjoyed creating a piece of work, it doesn’t matter so much if someone else doesn’t like it- and I can concentrate on the fact that something that brings me joy can make other people happy too. I don’t think I’ve silenced my inner critic forever, but making the most of the process rather than obsessing about the product is helping to take away part of her power and makes it easier to figure out when she’s right- and when she isn’t. ⠀
I’d love to hear what your biggest creative lesson learned is, whether it’s for your head or for your medium!⠀
We had fluctuating winds from Mimiwhangata to Cape Brett. When we approached the cape, and the famous 'hole in the rock', I handed the helm to Jimmie and grabbed my sketchbook. The real name of the hole in the rock is ' Piercy's Rock'- a pun by Captain Cook. Looking at my notes on the sketch reminds me that I was going to look up the Admiral's first name (it's possibly George). The Maori name for it is Motukokako. Motu means island, and a kokako is a beautiful grey bird with purple wattles. Nomenclature aside, it's a pretty spot popular with tourists and fishermen, with the scenic rock on one side and the dramatic cliffs of Cape Brett on the other. It's also notorious for head winds, which get funnelled around the Cape, and make forward progress very difficult in a sailboat.. Guess what we got.
My attempt to fill a second page in my sketchbook was abandoned as we began a series of short tacks in confined waters, the wind decided to pipe up, the boat heeled over and pretty much everything in the kitchen decided to throw itself on the floor. Trying to guess which object was making which clunking sound kept us entertained as we zig zagged round rocks and between other sailboats. As we rounded Cape Brett, we found that the wind was still on the nose, we hadn't caught any fish (despite the water apparently frothing with the things) and one of the blocks on the traveller which helps the mainsail to move from side to side had exploded in a fountain of tiny ball bearings. We continued our zig-zagging path- the track on our GPS looks like we'd been at the rum.
After a very long afternoon, we we pleased to veer into the pretty harbour of Russell, pirate a mooring buoy and tuck in to a big plate of spaghetti. I then attacked my poor neglected journal page with Posca paint marker, brush pen and biro. It may not be pretty, but it's a fairly accurate record of a frustrating afternoon's sailing!
(No kitchen objects were permenantly damaged in the execution of this tacking war, though the saucepan lid somehow made it to the bow).
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.