As one goes about their lives, they sometime forget just what is important - especially when we are in our "twilight" years, just keep on going and going - until something gives!
Stress is something that just creeps up on you and it can control your life, if you let it that is. Well it nearly did that to me - doing too much and for too long in a voluntary capacity - the only warning I got was a stroke! Hum! it was a time to re-evaluate ones life and the importance of family. In short working as a volunteer is wonderful - but learn to walk away. Perfection will never be achieved and things will not mean the same to others like it does to you - a lesson learned - my life is more important.
Stopping those voluntary responsibilities was extreme for me, but there is a limit and my family is precious (as it is to us all); and the only way was stop. My husband said we are going away for a month, and perhaps take my older sister with us - give her a break and also to help me. A reminder that how vulnerable we all are.
On top of this, a broken hand - ouch. As I am ambidextrous, both hands are vital to produce my art; as well as writing newsletters. Falling in the paddock, landed on my hand full of hay awkwardly! Entertaining for my gorgeous horses, it was rather unpleasant for the "lander"! Recovery was - two fingers dangling in a strange position - (husband was working in the workshop; he is not one to handle this), so I gently pulled them in place and then proceeded to show my husband my rather disheveled self (it was an extremely wet day as well) - mud and stuff from head to toe - and the smell was not so sweet! Few days later, saw the doctor re the hand. Had X-Ray which showed two very long breaks in my hand. We were leaving for Europe the coming Sunday! The specialist made a brilliant job on the Friday before. Eight little screws placed in my hand, and I am proud to say - it looks near normal and am getting back to nearly full use. The recovery would not have been so good if I was not travelling; as work around the farm - would have made it quite impossible to be effective - so perhaps it was meant to happen! Anything to slow me down!
An international magazine asked me to submit a 50 word summery of my art - or why I paint. Hummm, cannot do much with 50 words, so they would have to be profound, and what I am all about.
I paint without any of the "aids", I prefer to use my own judgement, which can be wrong from time to time and out a 1 mm or so, but I am a romantic person, who loves to draw with passion, and put that into my painting - by tracing or using imagery tools - the passion is lost - its just a copy.
I have studied Rembrandt for as long as I can remember, I was always intrigued how he got the "passion" into his subjects, he just got it - they are breathing, personality with passion - like no other, he had a gift of incredible talent. If I am stuck and the head is in a haze, I steel myself away and dive into his books, of which I have many! His sketches and his thoughts (doodling) are images of great teaching, I go over these,and see why he painted that way. If I am in need of enlightenment, I go to our National Gallery and sit in front of his paintings, for hours - to get back on track!.
In my meager world of art, and I have a long road to travel in learning, I studied under some renowned international professional artists for my degrees,so talented and amazing, and still to this day I am taken by their brilliance and natural ability. Yes, anyone can be taught to paint,but it needs to come from the heart!. I will never rise to perfection, I love seeing works that have imperfections - perhaps its my nature and refusal to "conform" to the norm! I refuse to use anything but my eye, to capture what I see, its my judgement, not perfect - its what I see. I believe if we strive for so much perfection - the passion is gone! Many of our greats say "remember to leave something out" - that is so correct. Let the imagination do some work, read what you want into the painting - it will talk to you.
These are the 50 words I wrote today which sums up my style....
"Within the stroke of my pencil, blade or brush, the unique form of my subject is born. My images come from my heart; feel their breath, its unique smell, its nervousness, chill in the air or heat of the sun. Drawing is the very essence of the scene, animal or human, capturing its very soul, energy, and beauty"..... Jan Lowe
Life is a gift and we should all embrace it, provide support and compassion for those around us, enjoy our journeys’ and cherish this incredible planet we all call home. One thing is for sure, life itself is so short.
Our joint families, we have between us some seven children, 13 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Over the years, with families, there is always frailties and sickness, and our family is no exception. Our youngest son has been experiencing his journey with cancer, that journey is eased by the sharing by most of our children and their families in providing moral, physical support, helping, loving and caring to ease that challenging journey.
In sharing the responsibilities and it was our turn to venture north and drive the 1600 kilometres by road, a trek we had done so many times over the last few years. The eldest brother and his family had just provided support to young brother during that weekend. Before we left, we received an urgent phone call advising that our eldest son’s wife had passed! After the shock and acceptance of the fact, it wasn’t a car accident, she just scrapped herself into her passenger car-seat and shortly afterwards, fell asleep, never to awaken again! As time passes, emotions and blame settles, the calmness absorb the family, she passed in the presence of her family, peacefully.
Perhaps it was a blessing for this warrior of the Barrier Reef and our forests; perhaps it was time, had she had done all she could and she needed move on and fight another battle somewhere else. She will be remembered by those who worked with her on her causes she so campaigned, by her two adoring sons, by those she touched as a mentor and her energetic endeavours to make this planet of ours a better place. Dear Felicity, RIP.
The promises of 2014 was not what my family had envisaged for the year; instead it was a torrid year of juggling responsibilities of looking after a terminally ill son. One is never prepared to handle the difficulties that a sick child will bring to your family; the extended family, his children and the pressure of his wife and siblings had had to bear. Working together to pull our strengths together to alleviate the pressure was what we all did, it was difficult and we all could not show any sign of weakness, that was hard and there was life learning experiences gained. Family is so important and 2014 pulled the best out of our, at times estranged family to a working unit, providing support – mentally and financially and which found a new bond, we know the final result will not change, but we have a new togetherness that had made us stronger and we are in a better position to cope with whatever is thrown at us now.
All of that did come at a cost and finding strength to carry on is tough. But that sums up 2014 for me and my family. My other responsibilities on various committees and councils did also nearly come to a stop and in hindsight I should have taken the selfish stance and resigned those responsibilities; however, I believe in continual learning and this presented some folks in a new light to me.
2015, it is important to keep giving back to the community at large and we all must play our part to our community that is why I volunteer to take on various tasks. This year, I have accepted a new challenge, the role of Vice President and Editor for the International Society of Scratchboard Artists and so looking forward to getting involved with this progressive and exciting young team.
I am progressing as a professional artist and am changing some of my style to make it more appearing to the broader audience and also we all need to change from time to time. It is new for me – it is realism but combining a little contemporary too.
If you are one of those gorgeous people that read my blog, thank you for your time and hope that you keep following my journey.
Another year draws to a close with Christmas and the coming of a new year, which offers new hopes and dreams.
We, as a rule always travel to the US and then onto Vancouver Canada for Christmas - and enjoy the cool winter air. But we had work to do this year around the house and the only time we have available is Christmas time.
Although I would have much preferred to have had an artists paint brush in my hand, I did have a brush - but house brush - painting our house and rubbing the old paint off - which is a nightmare in its self - I did note the energy is not as I can remember - is that age or lack of desire! Perhaps the reason for that is I was longing for the snow of Vancouver rather than the hot summer of Melbourne Australia! So have decided that four hours per day working on the house is ample for me, and then spending time in the studio trying to get back into art.
My dear little Mon Amie - our little Rag-doll X kitten - we rescued her in April this year, she is still building up her confidence - however her progress is wonderful and beneath that cowardly cringe is a little black cute little girl - a real treasure. I have used her as my model with scratch-board. She is all black - so the scratch-board (black) is great for her.
This time of the year, is a time for thinking of our loved ones that have parted this earth, a very sad time for many as we have lost some wonderful friends this year - it also reinforces that life is not a rehearsal - do it today and not tomorrow - as many often say (put it off for another day) - well do not - as that day may not come. I miss my little brother too - although we didn't see each other often, we talked many times on the phone - miss his naughty sense of humour and fun, one day we will be together again and enjoying our talks!
The art world in Melbourne is very quiet during mid December to end of January as most galleries are closed for the holidays - I miss the opportunities to catch up with fellow artists, however it is a time to get ready for the new year and put some finishing to outstanding paintings in the studio.
I wish all a very wonderful year in 2014 - art projects are achieved and many awards are received.
For me, 2014 will be a very positive year, hard work and achievements - art is my main aim this year and I plan to keep working hard and also see as many other artists and shows and enjoy the community.
Jan Lowe is the author and owner of this site; she is a realist and animal artist and also enjoys photography.