Kelp Portrait by Claire Cansick

‘Intuition gives outlook and insight; it revels in the garden of magical possibilities as if they were real.’ (Carl Jung)

Tv’s Paint along with Nancy and Tony Hart are to blame for me being an artist. So compelled was I by the competition of getting a drawing onto the gallery wall- remember the music?- that I sent in many drawings. Sadly I never made it onto the telly but maybe that is why I was driven to keep making art. It could be still, who knows.

My desire to go to art college began aged 10 when my brother went to university. I asked him ‘Can you take art at university? ‘ And to my delight the answer was yes. That’s it I was all set. My brother was the first person I knew who went to uni and it was inspirational to me. He also used to draw with me, comedic cartoons mostly, which was instrumental in making me love drawing; it is funny to me how such a small act of encouragement to me as a child has lasted this long. Everything matters doesn’t it?

My family has no artists, or art to speak of, some carpenters that’s as close as it gets. So  I was an anomaly and they took this piss a bit when I went to art school. But my determination was such that it didn’t affect me negatively, it just added to my drive.

At art college in Gt Yarmouth I lacked confidence outwardly, inwardly I felt deeply about my work yet I was afraid to go to a London uni and this was because of money. I couldn’t afford to live there. Coming from a working class background with little funds weighed heavy, money scared the life out of me and so I went to Birmingham and ended up finishing my degree back home in Norwich.  Despite numerous personal challenges I finished my degree which still brings me a sense of pride. My determined self worked hard for the insecure, beaten down part of me. I’m still taking care of that person and she is coming into my work recently like never before. She thrives on instinct.

Instinct is something I have learned to listen to through dabbling with meditation, and I know what you’re thinking, how everyone and their dog bangs on about it these days, but I take a pragmatic view. I loathe the word spiritual to start with, don’t believe in chakras, Buddha, nor doctrines but like the primal feeling of a group chant and the philosophy of Zen which calms my mind. I won’t worship a god nor follow a religious construct and refuse to ‘believe’ yet meditation has made me more aware of instinctual sensations in my body when I align with nature.

Which is where I go back to painting. That instinct which is in us all, whether you are aware of it or not, is what I am attempting to paint. Some work merely reaches towards  its edge and I’m not sure I have yet made a painting which goes further than that, and that is the very nature of painting for me, the pursuit.

Painting is about time; time spent with an idea, an idea borne from a response to instinct. Instinct followed by thought followed by idea followed by time imbued with intuition. Some might argue that painting comes from their complicated thought but they’re just missing out their initial gut wrenching burst of instinctual feeling, and it may be because we’re taught to override it so much in our culture.

Look at the tories’ blind hounding of thought over feeling, left brain over right brain, science over art and their pure ignorance to believe one is more  worthy than the other. Oh yeah let’s just cancel out one side of the brain for another shall we? Maybe they ought to give up their trips to the opera, art on their walls, design in their homes, music in their life, theatre and film and see where that lands them before blanketing the entire art world as pointless by defunding the subjects in schools. I emotively digress.

We know spending time in nature does us good but are fuzzy about why. We know water makes us relax, looking at the stars soothes our mind, listening to rain helps us sleep. My theory is experiencing the natural world is a need we have and it reminds us of our place, reassures us of our place in relation to survival.

This I try to paint. No wonder I fail. But on with the pursuit.