History of (Elephant ) Art - Pt 1 The Art of Growing Up

I am feeling somewhat red in the face...and it's not a hot flush ( for a change). This blog is subtitled as being about 'Art, Life and ME'  and you have heard me wittering about my medical ailments, I have introduced ME as the Diva in my life, chucking plates because the M&M's are not the colour she ordered. I have talked about life with disability: it's limitations...my adaptions to this 'new normal'...and the things that help me to find peace and joy.

I am embarrassed to say that I have neglected to write much about the nuts and bolts of  me as an artist...so here goes...a whistle-stop tour to give you a flavour of the history and evolution of my art from pint-sized pachyderm to ...the (slightly) more wrinkled and definitely happier heffalump of today.  

So let's start with the tiny me, chubby crayon in chubby fist tongue slipping out in concentration. I cannot remember a time when I didn't draw. There was always a huge pile of scrap paper I would speed through. I remember the excitement of first lusting after, then receiving my own, my very own set of 40 glorious felt tips. The black was always the first to wear out, as I would use it to outline my drawings before filing them with colour. 

 At school we were made to sit in front of a series of ( frankly very dull) still lives ( I have never wanted to draw a cheese plant since), and I was constantly told off for my drawings not being 'life-like' enough. At age 18 I applied for a Foundation Course. I turned up with a folder of really interesting and original work I had created in my own time, which put all my A level work in the shade.

Life Drawing Class

Life Drawing Class

I went on to be incredibly lucky to have  a wonderful year with about 100 other students at Wimbledon College. At last- I got to spend all day doing what I loved: drawing! We did a tonne of life drawing and once I'd got over the shock of getting up close and personal with a completely nude stranger, I shone.
Life Drawing Class

Life Drawing Class

In the first term we were put through a rigorous and exhausting regime of drawing, textile design, theatre design, pottery ( when I created the first in a college career of elphant turds), fashion design, graphics, and product design ( in which I got the lowest mark of the whole year!) We did art history and it was an incredibly nurturing and creative environment.

 I also saw Paris for the first time, tried on theatre costumes for a fashion show ( the fairy must have been size zero, as I couldn't get the tutu up over my tiny bottom), and at the end of two terms, my folder full of illustration and drawings  and I was offered a place at Harrow College ( Westminster University). I was attracted by the Illustration Course with it's fine art and drawing bias...and an animation department, as I wanted to be a stop frame, animator.

 We were taken out to draw on the streets of London, then on a trip to Paris, to sit in Parisian markets and cemetaries,with huge drawing boards. In my spare time I filled numerous sketchbooks drawing around the clock. The hours were long...and I made yet another elephant turd ( this time decorated with inspiration taken from the British Museum), but I learnt so much. I made a couple of drawn animations- one set in nightclub with a Bee Gees track, and one quite abstract piece to a Sting song. Happy Days!!! 

Unfortunately, I had come from being a big fish in a small pond on Foundation, and now everyone on the Illustration course was really, really good! Add to this being away from home for the first time, realizing I was not destined for the world of animation, and being quite shy, my college years were not without difficulties. I found the criticism quite brutalizing and was quite lost creatively until year 3. 

College Project: Illustration for 'James and the Giant Peach' -the children's book by Roald Dahl

College Project: Illustration for 'James and the Giant Peach' -the children's book by Roald Dahl

A Book Cover Design as part of my final project for my Degree Show

I had already decided to work as a freelance illustrator, and after graduation began touting for work. Finding out the name of an art director, cold calling them to make an appointment and pitching up with a folder of artwork was the part of my new job I really didn't love. I got  some work, but life was about to throw me a curve-ball... and eventually lead me back to those felt tips!