Category Archives: creative stuff

Art, Music, Movies, Poetry… you know- Creative Stuff!

Looking good!

I’ve recently been featured on Jackson’s Art Supplies blog for the way I use their own brand varnishes in my work. Here’s a snap of how prominently they’ve featured me: (Click image to go to the actual article.)

Jen Dixon featured on Jackson's Art Supplies blog
Jen Dixon featured on Jackson’s Art Supplies blog

I’ve offered to also tell them about the bespoke frames I use for my canvas works, so that’s coming up in the next few weeks. It’s great exposure and I get to talk about a shop and products I use and trust. Everyone wins.

This recent feature has prompted me to add a Press Information and Links page to my art site and I’ll be adding a cut and paste friendly biography for use in web or print articles. All tremendously exciting.

2014 is a good year for my business. 🙂

Overcoming fear

Depression is a weird thing. It can take the things we know we’re good at, put them on a pedestal and strike a newcomer’s fear into your heart. I felt this about my art and my studio recently, and it’s something I have to overcome from time to time. I’m learning to keep going in those disorienting times, and recently I found myself doing one very focussed drawing to get me through the dark days. It’s a piece about coping, about the tiny things building to something greater. It is inspired by beach pebbles, but also came out as a kind of automatic writing.
(Click photo to see larger image.)
cOping - pen and ink on paper Jen Dixon
I had no strength to paint. No ideas. No will, no strength. Only fear. Depression has a way of taking that last shred of your being and making it feel irrelevant and pointless. It took my creating away from me for weeks till my painting studio felt like a bear trap with its giant teeth ready to clamp down and kill me if I entered. Yesterday was the first day of work in there in weeks. I had two stiff drinks, and headed in.

What I produced isn’t – in my own opinion – great, but it is production. Honest production. I, of course, tapped into the feelings from the past week of horrible treatment (and lack thereof) from my local surgery – specifically the doctor on call whilst mine is away on holiday. I pushed the anxiety, the hurt, the bad emotions and poison thoughts onto a couple of partly done canvases from my “shit” pile. I wasn’t brave enough to start with clean canvases, so I used the ready built paint layers and added, subtracted, manipulated them into finished works. They may or may not make it into my portfolio (there are plenty of things that shouldn’t be in there but are), but they needed to be done.
(Click photo to see larger image.)
18April2014 - two paintings by Jen Dixon
So that leads me to this morning. I’m less anxious, less afraid. I have spent the last hour repairing and priming my a-frame sidewalk sign for a new message- it’s to advertise when I’m holding an open studio. I live on one of the two roads to the beach, so I get a lot of traffic. I have insurance for people visiting my workspace, so I’m going to invite them in. Perhaps they’ll go away with some of my work, perhaps not. The important thing is that this all builds up a broken girl and gets her doing what she’s meant to do again.

Am I still needed?

Yesterday’s life drawing class gave me pause for thought: am I still needed? I have been teaching it weekly for nearly three years (about 140 classes, give or take) and in that time I’ve had students come and go, some attending the majority of that number of sessions. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and flattered that so many love my classes, but as we move forward I wonder if I am adding anything to the skillset of the artists beyond practice now.

I’ll explain. Most of those who attend my classes have done so many times over the years, if not regularly for more than a year or two. In this time I have covered numerous lesson plans, techniques, materials, and more. I’ve watched my group increase in confidence and skill. There is less need to comment on each individual’s work with constructive criticism/direction. Each is truly developing his own style. Each has heard me discuss similar topics for years now. I am beginning to wonder if I am needed…

What is needed is regular practice. The class environment – and having a teacher – is the weekly reminder for my artists to practice and to improve, but is this not something they can do on their own? Am I really adding to their development or is my class merely another reminder on a to-do list?

Perhaps I’m thinking about this too deeply and it is far simpler than my critical thinking regarding my teaching. Maybe people just enjoy coming to class, plain and simple. Maybe they enjoy the environment and my way of interacting with each of them. I can’t say. What I can tell you is that my students are far better life drawing artists than when I met them, and I know I have had something to do with that. I still enjoy what I do, and perhaps it’s enough that they enjoy it too. Might be time to poll them soon… Or push them harder. Food for thought.