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In a world still struggling with the pandemic, climate change and now with a terrible new war, creating art could be seen as a trivial occupation, but I believe that art is a force for good. It can convey joy, beauty, wonder and delight in this amazing world we live in. It can give us hope. It can transport us to other places and show us things we may never see for ourselves. It can show us the world in a new way. And creating art is so good for our mental health.
In my painting Prayer at Dawn, hope is expressed not only by the action of prayer but also by the lighting – the sun dawning on a new day full of possibilities- and the colours, the sense of calmness and peace.
In my dance paintings I want to evoke the drama and excitement of flamenco, or the beauty and grace of ballet:
In my wildlife paintings I celebrate the incredible power and beauty of life on Earth, hoping to stir in the viewer a desire for these species to be saved for future generations.
In my pet portraits I celebrate the beauty and character of the animal for the delight of the owners. Painting allows me to improve the background of the photo, improve the pose and enhance the colours and textures as in this example:
In my paintings of children at play I celebrate the innocence of childhood and a nostalgia for our own childhood days playing in the sun without a care in the world and with no self-awareness or self-criticism. Just a golden afternoon spent in fun and laughter.
Art can also express thedarker side of life, for example the horrors of war- just look at John Singer Sargent’s incredibly moving painting Gassed, showing the poor soldiers gassed in the First World War. But even in this painting, art is appealing to positive emotions – empathy and a desire for peace.
Mankind is capable of the very worst of behaviour and the very best. We can be cruel and we can be kind. We can be destructive and we can be caring, inventive and creative- just look at the advances in medicine.
Art is one of mankind’s higher creations, bringing beauty into our world and helping us to see life in another way, reminding us of what is beyond our four walls, as in my paintings here:
Paintings can evoke emotions by association – sunflowers have been associated with Van Gogh and the sunny south of France; now they are also associated with Ukraine as they are Ukraine’s national flower and a symbol of hope.
Art is also a force for good in that the very act of creating art is good for us in so many ways. When we are sad, suffering or anxious, creating our own art is like a meditation as we forget our troubles and lose ourselves in our art. Hours go by and we are engrossed only in the challenges posed by our painting. Whether we are expressing our anxiety or focussing on expressing beauty or joy, creativity is an incredibly positive activity.
And hopefully you will also have the satisfaction of seeing some progress in your work, especially if you draw or paint regularly. Lastly you will have something to show for your efforts, maybe something to display, print, give as a gift or sell. Something lasting, something of beauty, evoking an emotion like nostalgia, longing, admiration, tenderness…