Do the work

I was reading the book of Michael Atavar “How to be an artist” (, while travelling in the train to London. Likewise the wonderful book Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon ( both books acknowledge the “fear” of the empty page… and the many ways we find to procrastinate, avoid and delay the moment of truth. Indeed, during the last few weeks I’ve been engaged in what I call “cleaning fury” in preparation for the art studio that will go in the garden. But the reality is that it is all about doing something… whatever! It can be just drawing in your sketchbook or engaging in that development that you have been thinking about or perhaps playing with your creative buddy (oh yes, I love having creative buddies with whom you can play, share, and simply getting to do something). So, today, finally after a bit of pottering I faced the empty page…

Most of my materials are kept in boxes for the new studio, but last month my dear husband bought me a box of gouache ( as I’ve been wanting to study and experiment with this material. Normally I work with watercolours and acrylics. I love the fluidity and transparency of watercolours and gouache is another kind of fish! it is more opaque a bit creamy. Many artists have favoured this medium as I saw in the recent exhibitions of Saloua Raouda Choucair (Tate Modern) and Marc Chagall (Tate Liverpool).

I started with a drawing from my sketchbook on “friendship”, a scene of a picnic. I started to play with yellow light colours and try to water it down. It created some sort of layers and textures. The gouache paint mixes very well so it is nice to obtain certain colours like nude or a nice rich purple.Image

I moved on to a picture from the latest Tate, etc. and I drew the sculpture of a giant octopus in orange. It gave me great pleasure to work with orange, it is so lively and creamy too. It was more difficult though to create an even surface, maybe it was the very fine sketch paper, but it turned to be OK. Perhaps it is a bit lonely there… but it looks menacing and giant embracing the ‘fisherman’s wife’ like an aquatic king kong.


Finally, I tried just to bridge some of my normal work on ink (simple work with one of those nice black pens) and to play with the idea of reinassaince, a topic that it’s close to my heart, in the sense of myself feeling that after some months in the blue I am turning into a renovated person… (perhaps the coming out of the art closet and being the artist i’ve always been).


What I enjoyed of this exercise was the fact of facing the page and stop procrastinating, and indeed find myself enjoying enormously painting, experimenting, doing. This is what is all about, the joy produced by the work, something that often one forgets in the delusion of the ‘great work’ that will happen or not… but it needs to start somewhere.


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