PAGES OF REFLECTION – what it takes to become an ARTIST (LESSON 1) 2
Dear reader, wherever you may be, whatever language you speak, whichever stage in life you are, I hope you are an admirer of art.
This is because I plan to make the next few blog articles into a reflective journal about my experience of living and creating art. And as inconsistent as I am in general, I am pretty confident that this time I can give my stories continuity and meaningfulness not just for me, but for you too.
Today's LESSON 1
How do you grow into a reputable artist without any expertise or previous experience?
This is a question that keeps on bothering me every time I find yet another successful artist on Instagram. It looks as if every great artist of our days has some sort of previous art-related education, hours and hours of guided advice, work with a purpose, and of course, the TALENT.
For instance, check on wonderful Yvette Coppersmith:
-Archibald Prize, 2018
-studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia.
-more than 21 years of experimenting with styles and subjects
-painting self-portraits since the age of 17
Painting by Australian artist Yvette Coppersmith, winner of the Archibald Prize 2018
How does MY art journey ever come close to such a glorious artist?
I bet you too keep on ruminating about the same thing as me: Maybe it’s not even worth it. Maybe it’s yet another waste of time…
But this morning I finished painting this:
"After the Dark", by Christine Onward (all rights reserved). For sale HERE
Right through the open blinds a few sun rays started coming in. I watched them dancing merrily on the colours of the painting. That whole world, right there in the paper, was coming to life right in front of me… I was witnessing a miracle.
I had created a world that was a reflection of myself. Somewhere in this world someone like me will find themselves in this story, as much as I did. Maybe more in my painting than in other people’s paintings. Maybe I get to make them smile. And that’s the best accomplishment I can achieve.
My lesson for today is this:
Every story you create has you in it, your adventures, your memories, your sadness, your heart. Someone will surely connect with it. If not today, they will surely show up tomorrow.
The more stories there are, the more people will connect with your art. Just keep on creating. Reward will come.
Loving these stories? Here is a beautiful story from my childhood : Surreal Night in Transylvania
More outstanding products from my latest surreal paintings are HERE
PAINTING WALGETT IN SUNRISE SONGS, STORY BY CHRISTINE ONWARD 0
Welcome to a new series of outback stories promised to you a long time ago but repeatedly delayed due to my obstinate perfectionism (or procrastination,equally true). After a year of struggles and too high expectations from my side, I decided to let thoughts flow by freely and memories write by themselves in the way they want. I hope they eventually make sense to a point where I will be excited to tell the next episode and you will be eager to return and read it.
The journey I wanted to write (and paint) about took place a year ago in the outback Australia, more precisely in the northern part of NSW. It lasted 7 weeks and it was a blast!
For a person coming from the green pristine Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, working in the bare fields of the far-far-away Australia was undoubtedly a challenge I was prepared to face. The huge emptiness of space, the scorching temperatures, the summer's dead bushes, and the desperation to survive of all living things had such a huge impact on who I was to become!
To honour the occasion, I decided to lay each meaningful experience of the outback in a painting. I wanted to add together the old me and my world as it was before back in Romania, the astonishing colours of Australia, its depth of landscapes, the victory of living- all in a series of paintings, celebrating me – the me I had become.
"Walgett-Sunrise Songs", painting by Christine Onward . More details Here
FIRST TIME IN WALGETT
Walgett on the map, 650 km away from Sydney, right at the gate of the Australian outback
We arrived in Walgett late in the night. The drive to the town had been slow and challenging. 100 km on dirt road, the dark night around us, kangaroos jumping back and forth ahead of us, and a GPS with personality only made the trip seem to last forever.
We made it to Walgett after midnight. Streets were dark and quiet, not a single man passing by. Shops had iron grills at windows and lights were off. Even the motel entrance had iron gates, secured with a big lock for which we had to recall a long code and still debate the numbers an hour later in the dark.
Dinner was quite frugal: cold chips from an early breakfast at the petrol station, wrapped in an oily paper and tasting like old jelly, some cheese, too sour from the heat, and the usual beer, to help us fall asleep.
Baby Caesar spending the night with us in a NO DOGS room (who can swear he is a dog though, most of the times he behaves like a human)
I slept that night in Walgett with the windows open to let the scents of the eucalyptus trees come inside. A bird kept shouting sad songs in the empty night, kept talking to me, and I let the sadness sink inside, because there was no escape, only the red road, over and over again until the end of my days...
THE SUNRISE SONGS
Photo taken close to Walgett - dirt road on the way to the property of Mungunya
Morning; 5 o’clock rise. I can still feel the taste of eucalyptus essences on the lips and bird's sad song in the ears.
Shirt on, boots on, cap on, insect repellent and a lot of sunscreen spread to whatever spot left uncovered. Bags back in the trunk, work instruments in the ute; time for one more long drive in the unknown.
I panic and I want to cry, as I always do when I think of unknown.
“It's just an adventure, I say, and who doesn’t like adventures”…
And off we are, this yet ANOTHER day...
The flowing artesian waters of Mungunya
Right outside the town of Walgett I opened eyes on a big sun rising from the bushes. Few cows grazing quietly under a tree, doves’ songs coming to life from all around the bushes… and suddenly I feel I am part of it. I do belong. And there is nothing in the world that can take this moment away from me: the place where I first belonged.
Living the life of the outback: unspoiled beauty and endless reds
On the radio a song starts. I want to imagine it as a sign for me, and for everyone else who was welcoming the day in song of birds and golden rays of sunrise: Only a fool breaks his own heart…
The start of a new day with Walgett left behind
I ripped through the bare red of the desert to let the magic of the moment come to life: the day when I BELONGED.
I added flowers in the empty trees of Walgett, and I added leaves with golden dots to shine happily in the sun.
The red dust, I turned it into lands of merry colours and joyful patterns, the way I knew them to be like back home in the Carpathian Mountains.
And all the sunrise songs and happiness of living, I gathered them together in this fantastic bird with golden feathers.
There is always a victory in us, we only need to find it.
After all… only a fool…
Stories of the Outback : Living Life in Own Sacred Ways 7
Every journey to the outback I had so far was a new discovery. I am not talking about the discovery of new (extraordinary!) places only. I am talking about discovering new lessons of life, the lessons you carry with you throughout life, think of them, use them, and, at meaningful times, share them with others.
This year’s outback discovery was meeting people who chose to live their lives on their own terms; people who chose to live as if other’s rules of living did not exist but their own. Out of all other ways people chose to live, their own was sacred.
It’s a wonderful lesson to learn: regardless of the rules of life others obey to, the one you choose for yourself is sacred and is worth standing for.
Memorable travels in outback Australia: road from Bourke to Wanaaring (right before the sunset)
TALKING ABOUT M.
Meeting M. was a moment long sought for. We had tried to call her a few times, unsuccessfully though. A couple of times we had had driven to her farm. She was not there. The gates were locked.
But every try was worth it as we discovered when we met M. the first time.
AT THE GOONERY
Entrance to the Goonery farm (under clear blue skies)
Reaching M’s house was quite an adventure, as recent rains made access to the barracks really tricky.
A hundred metres drive from the gate and we turn a sharp left. A large muddy pond spreads in front of us right from the middle of the road. At the other end of the pond a white car is bogged into the mud all the way up to the windows.
Rare occasions of flood in the area
We drive carefully on the edge of the muddy waters and continue on for a few hundred metres on bare dirt road. All around us there are old vehicles, rusty engines, metal scraps, and piles of useless wires.
I’m beginning to think of snakes hiding between all this strange gathering of disregarded stuff. Apart from snakes, rats also come to my mind. And that is terrifying.
As we get closer to the house, everything becomes even more cluttered. Old tanks, water pumps from old times, rusty trucks, 50 years old or more, make access to M.’s place even more trickier. In the distance I see animal paddocks, few horses running free, and a couple of dogs resting in the shade.
It is so quiet.
M.’s house is hidden behind a tall fence and wild vegetation.
As far as I can see, the house walls are scratched and torn; some of the windows are covered with plastic boards and rugs. It’s sad, painfully sad to watch all these.
We call M. out in lower after some careful thought. Who is this lady of the scraps and what she might look like?
She comes out quickly with a large smile on her face. She looks tall, taller than me at least, small built, with short grey hair.
Her clothes are old and torn. Grey patches cover the holes in her over sized jeans. The collar of a once yellow shirt is revealed and I can’t decide if it’s actually dirty or grey from too much use:
She had surgery. Then went to Dubbo to help a friend who was struggling with cancer.
I’m watching her talk quickly with large gestures and continuous smiles. Her happy demeanour is contagious and I begin to love her, despite previous concerns. I feel no pity for her, no sadness for this life she chose. I only love her because she is nothing but light and full-on positive energy. And she is humble and eager to help.
She is the master of what she chose to be.
THE PAINTING OF "QUEEN MAGG"
The memory of M. remained fresh in my mind for many weeks. I didn’t know what to do with what I had seen at the Goonery. I didn’t know if it was sadness, or bravery, or illness what I had seen. All these were with me, tearing me apart, until I decided to paint M., to give her a new life, a life on my own terms.
I cut through the bare scene of red empty sands and placed inside a merry garden of flowers, as M. deserves. Between such flowers I gave life to a new M., to “Queen Magg”.
I threw the torn grey clothes away and gave her a magical dress painted in joyful patterns and happy colours. As for the eyes, the tired empty eyes I met at the Goonery, I wanted to give them life too. I wanted them to shine, to share hope, and share love. I wanted her to be remembered as she deserves: as a queen.
"Queen Magg", painting by Christine Onward. Description and other details are Here
Disclaimer: none of the photos used in this article belong to the Goonery (except for the entrance at the farm). The name of the described character was hidden to protect her privacy. Apart from that, the story is real and presented through my own lenses. If you feel you need to know more, please send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short video about the painting is uploaded on: https://www.instagram.com/christine.onward/?hl=en
Surreal Night in Transylvania - how the painting was born 0
If you ever travel to Romania, you need to know that although many places across the country are beyond beautiful, there is one part that will never fail to charm you forever. And that is Transylvania.
Original painting by artist Christine Onward, products for sale Here
I spent time with this painting thinking about Transylvania: the dark blue skies of the summer nights with the orange moon above, larger than all mountains, fantastically reflecting on the forest trees. And the stars, looking straight at you, shining straight into your eyes, and the crickets endlessly singing songs of love for their dear ones…
If done with passion and from the heart, painting has the power to take you to some of the most amazing and perhaps long forgotten memories from the past.
Painting this design took me to cousin Ghita and the night when we were waiting for the wild boars.
NIGHTS IN FASCA – Transylvanian adventures with cousin Ghita
I am 11 or 12 years old. Cousin Ghita, my best mate and most honest accomplice, 11 years old too. Days are long in summer, so many soccer games to play, so many trees to climb, geese to fly to the river, cows to run to the forest…
Wild boars have been pestering everyone across the village. We have to guard the maize from them all night until the sunrise. Then we are allowed to rest.
I jump with joy, looking forward to spending the whole night under the starry skies, covered in that large sheep skin, laying in the hay smelling of summer flowers…
But uncle decides I’m not allowed to go. What has a city girl, all silly and clumsy as me, got to do with wild boars? I must stay in my room. And I’m not allowed to protest in any way. Because it's terribly rude to not obey your relatives in Transylvania. Uncle is merciless these days.
Late in the night I try to sleep but the thought of the wild boars sneaking through the trees straight into the corn field is not easy to ignore. I hear voices at the window, like whispers calling my name. I'm not scared. It's just whispers, calling my name from outside.
I jump out the window, without no shoes, just bare feet. Cousin Ghita is waiting for me with neighbour Cornel both holding the big sheep skin coat so that I don’t get cold.
We have to march quickly down the hill, to check Cornel’s maize.
I walk in Cornel’s shoes. He doesn’t need them. He hated them anyway. To me the shoes are too large and too noisy. But I mustn't say anything, or I scare the night.
Cornel carries a little light pointing at dark animal pathways, secret holes in the trees, plants leaving chaotic shadows under our steps…
Cornel likes talking about dead men. How they also took this way to go to the valley. You can never hear their steps in the grass, because they are dead. But you can feel them cold, like a breeze, sticking to the back of your neck until you get stiff and can’t move anymore.
I walk slowly behind Cornel and in front of cousin Ghita. If there were to be dead men passing by, then there will definitely not be my neck for them to stick to, because I am wisely walking in the middle of the line, not behind, like cousin Ghita.
There are no wild boars roaming through Cornelu’s maize. It’s silence. Only deep in the forest there is a chilling whisper of leaves and sometimes night birds shouting sadly at long forgotten ghosts…
We return to the little hut that uncle built for the boys at the corn field. I hide inside, hoping that cold breeze bodies don’t get stuck to the back of my neck. The ship skin coat smells revolting, but it’s warm and soft. I can close my eyes and listen to cousin Ghita and neighbour Cornel chatting away outside…
Apparently if the devil follows you in the dark, it will definitely want to call you by your name. But you should know it’s the devil. Don't ever turn your head to see who called you in the dark. Keep walking or you’ll lose your mind and voice forever...
As my eyes are slowly going down to sleep, I hear whispers of my name inside the tent. A terrifying low voice whispers my name, calling me to follow it in the dark!
I jump outside, hardly being able to breathe from fear, and start screaming: “It’s here! It’s here!” I hit the empty metal pot, making terrible noise while the boys are laughing their heads off.
The next minute, up on the mountain and all around the village hills I see fires lighting up. It was my shouting that woke them up. Everyone is banging onto metal pots to scare the wild boars. A concert of bangs, and shouts, and howling echoing from all corners of the village! It felt like it lasted forever.
At sunrise uncle finds the three of us in deep sleep around the sheep skin coat, “like newborn lambs”.
“What a happy gang, he says. The whole village is in frenzy. There's been talk that boars have been going through everyone’s corn fields. All night long the boars moved along the line of the mountains... And here you are, sleeping like angels. Bet you have no idea what happened last night”
Cousin Ghita looks in the distance, like a wise old man and sighs deeply.. in the most dramatic voice he says: “Bet nobody does”. I can hardly keep myself from laughing. Cornel keeps busy trying to recover his shoes from my feet.
Here is Fasca,the village of the wild boars, shining fantastically in strange shapes and colours under the moon light. I’d tell you more stories if you want. But we’ll have to ask cousin Ghita for permission first. Maybe he would like to tell you more Transylvanian stories, much better than mine.
Art by Christine Onward. More products for sale here
CHRISTINE ONWARD TALKING ABOUT ROCKSTREET-COLLECTIVE AND HER ROCK PAINTING JOURNEY 26
Life takes us on such extraordinary journeys that we often feel overwhelmed and unable to handle them. I felt this over the last three years more than ever before. I felt as if life was giving birth to a new, completely different me. I felt that I was given another chance and another purpose. I had to find what this was. I had to stop and listen to the beauty of this world. This is how I began painting on rocks.
Photo by Christine Onward. A memorable day in Diamond Beach
I started painting on rocks about three years ago. I had never painted before, unless you want to consider my mere attempts at art in school, just to pass the class really. But my little daughter, a young teenager at that time, was spending most of her time by herself, painting. I wanted to be part of her life so I invited her at the dinner table to paint and share the joy of it together. And we had fun, and stories, and plans… We had the mess, ruined all tablecloths, ate soup with a touch of brush paint, and made memories!
At some point Maria had to reduce the painting time because of her exams. But I kept on going. I kept on painting my little ladybugs, and flowers, and dots, thousand of dots. It felt too good to stop. Somehow, my worries, depression, fears, stress, tiredness… could be managed better. It was therapy.
I paint nearly every day. I generally start and finish a rock in the same day, or I lose the connection with my art. I love the bright colours. I use watercolours, not very expensive fancy ones, to be honest. But the varnish spray with which I seal my rocks thoroughly is of the best quality. Because I want my rocks to last long, be safe outside and well protected from the harsh Australian sun.
I love the medium sized rocks with interesting shapes and smooth surfaces. Here are some of the most beautifully shaped rocks I have painted on so far:
What’s on now?
In time I realised I had to share this amazing journey with somebody else. Someone who felt the same: that rocks, the touch of them, their strength, the silence within them, make you feel better.
I started this Facebook adventure: Christine Onward Decorative Art as my artist page, and a group for rock painters called Colour Therapy.
Colour Therapy was all about art on rocks, colour enthusiasm, and benefits of painting.
Since April 2017 (Can’t believe it’s been only a little over 1 year now!) I met so many rock painters, so many beautiful people, so many stories, and I made so many friends!
RockStreet Collective grew into this amazing media platform, with about 4600 members on Facebook at this moment, 6500 followers on Instagram and growing fast. In RockStreet Collective artists from more than 40 countries across the globe share the joy of showing their art works within the group, inspire others, provide support for the others, and, above all, connect with each other. I want to continue this extraordinary journey.
I want to tell the world that there is beauty in every form of art expression. And if it does well to you and others, then you should keep on doing it. After all, we at RockStreet Collective often say:
Photo and rocks painted by Christine Onward | Buy Here
- Christine Onward
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