The History of Elephant Art Pt 3- The Elephant in the Garrett.

As a child I had dreamed of being a bohemian artist living and creating, in a bohemian garret in Paris. Well I didn't live in Paris...but as fulfilling your dreams goes, I came pretty close :-)

The story of your favourite pachyderm artist resumes in 2007. We are in Milan, Italy and I am living alone in a 5th floor appartment (with a stonking view) and spending my days bombing around on various transportation to get to my students.

 I had become a teacher of English to Italians ranging from toddlers to businessmen/women...AND at the urging of friends I had splashed out on a set of colours...the same type of crayons I have used ever since.

At the weekend I would sit in my kitchen and stare at the view across my balcony. This was the balcony where red geraniums flourished one year, and basil plants the next. It was where an Italian serenaded me, and where a friend of mine gallantly swept a pigeon corpse out into oblivion. It you have ever seen the film 'Rear Window' you will know the delight of staring out into the postage stamp sized images of other lives. After a sweaty day of travel and teaching the past participle, I found it soothing to sit in the silence and watch the nuns opposite locking up for the night.

I had wondered if, after so long away from art, I would have anything to 'say'....but I bought the colours fully prepared, and even, expecting, to fail. As it was it was like a cork popping out of a bottle with a rush of bubbles and fizz following,. After over 15 years of visual silence, I had a lot to say!!

My first efforts ranged from the quite abstract about my emotions, to abstractions of lights or shapes I could see, details of the world of my first flat, and flora and fauna. I can never get sick of drawing leaves and 

Now I was an artist in an attic...sort of.  

I would recommend two things to anyone nervous of plunging into being creative. The first is to do as I did and buy the cheapest materials of adequate quality. This does not mean drawing on baking parchment and using toothpaste when you run out of white acrylic (both of which I have done in the past!)  The important thing is to have enough materials to waste on doing crap work...'cos being a bit rubbish goes with the territory of developing your work. Don't forget, that for every piece I post that is ok, there will  have been piles and piles of work that had absolutely no merit. 

The second is to work at the size you are most comfortable with. There is an inbuilt snobbery in art that big is best. That is fine if your work lends itself to a large size. Time is also a  factor. With wobbly health, whilst struggling to work, I was never going to cover large canvasses in my spare time. I bought myself modest sketch pads, and a wonderful little book of postcards- A6 sized watercolour paper, that you could send as cards. my next  and last appartment in Milan, I kept on drawing.... little realizing that my art equipment would soon be packed up and winging its way back to Blighty, along with its owner.


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