Works on paper with encaustic, oil pastels and oil paint. Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Works on paper with encaustic, oil pastels and oil paint. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

This past year I have started painting classes with a fantastic crew of visually biased folk. My attendance has been sporadic at best - in the fashion that goes with juggling three children, a freelance business, a household, a relationship and a fantastic 3 month family adventure to Vietnam. But in between somewhere I have carved out a little bit of time to paint. I have already written about how good these classes make me feel. Several months ago our teacher, Sarah Tomasetti, proposed that we all work towards a group show. She felt that it would be a worthwhile exercise to: "Go for it! Live dangerously! A little pressure can be a good thing and exhibiting is exciting."
Well I must say that I feel a little apprehensive about this first showing. I wouldn't say that exhibiting is the main drive behind my yearning to paint and I am not sure if I have given the exercise enough time and space. But as someone pointed out to me the other day it is the beginning of "a conversation" that I hope to have for many years to come. And as circumstances have it I don't have much time and space - my work reflects that. It is abstract, it is gestural and has an almost urgent quality to it.  One thing is for sure though. This painting business is getting under my skin - for me it is not really about the outcome but the process. My cohorts in the show have great talent. I blush a little hanging my work beside theirs. But at the same time it feels like I will be overcoming a great hurdle next week when the show opens. I have given myself permission to put brush to canvas and there is no stopping this urge now!
Details of the show listed below.

Em x

Common Ground at Tacit Contemporary Gallery
Group Show
Galleries 1 & 2
9 - 27 November 2016
Opening Wednesday 9 November, 6.30-8pm

FEATURING: Emma Byrnes, Jason Fitts, Alexandra Irini, Bronni Krieger, Mary Martin, Nicola Reavley, Kim Roberts & Katherine Westfold

"The common ground shared by the artists in this exhibition is the mysterious drive to interpret the intangible through making an image, whatever the obstacles.  This drive is as old as humankind and emerges in unlikely places. 
These artists have come together in two groups to work on the task of finding and teasing out the thread that once woven becomes the fabric and meaning of ones own visual language.    
There are of course, influences and precedents, but each starting point is the artists own, paradoxically found whilst groping in the dark, bringing together the play of materials and gesture until the image finds its resonance with an interior state.
Dialogue with others in the group has been important; considered, critical and supportive, exposing the work to its first audience and taking on the challenge to risk and extend ones working vision.  Bearing witness to the ebb and flow of another’s creative process illuminates the darker recesses of ones own, and therein lies the subtle catalysing effect of the group.  
It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with each and every artist in Common Ground."

- Sarah Tomasetti, 2016

feeling free

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

Ever since I was a young high school girl forced by curriculum-obsessed teachers to take physics and chemistry electives rather than art and painting I have harboured a burning desire to stand in front of a blank canvas brandishing a brush.
And late last year, after many years of procrastination, I finally took the plunge and started evening oil painting classes. To begin with I floundered about - despite having worked in the visual mediums of design, textiles and photography for many years. It felt like I had waited so long to give my right brain absolute permission to play and be completely free, that I had locked myself out from a true artistic practice. But eventually my logical thought process surrendered. An abstract, gestural style stepped up to the easel and with the help of my marvellous painting teacher, Sarah Tomasetti, I began to find flow.
I still can't quite believe how good it feels to paint. Forget yoga. This is my new medium for deep relaxation. Mixing the colours, scraping the palette knife, feeling the canvas under my brush. Losing track of time and all thoughts...being in the moment as the work takes shape. Standing back and assessing the mark-making. Seeing what translates onto the canvas when the analytical mind is cast aside and intuition takes over.
I sense that this is a new chapter for me and my creative journey. I can't see myself giving this up. Who knows where it will take me but for now I am happy just using it as a dedicated time each week to cast aside my thoughts, preconceptions and fear - to live in the moment.

And just in case you were wondering if this is a photograph of me?
No, it isn't. I haven't quite managed to get to that standard in such a short period of time :-) 
This week I've been documenting the beautiful, powerful yet delicate work of my painting teacher, Sarah, as she gears up for her exhibition at Beaver Galleries in April. A show well worth seeking out.
Em x