No one knows for sure if Ocean Dragons exist. In times of uncertainty, seafaring folk will often tell of huge graceful shapes surging just below the waterline, occasionally breaking the surface. But were those dragon scales they saw, or simply the sun glittering off the water?
Because no one has ever seen one of these giant beasts in full, it’s hard to draw them, yet draw them we must, for fear that if their stories go untold, they may simply disappear over time.
I believe they can grow and shrink at will. This enables them to hide unseen beneath even the smallest vessel, and when no one is around, they can grow and grow, and throw their wings around vast swathes of water.
Here is what I think an Ocean Dragon may look like. If you would like to own this unique interpretation of the mighty dragon, all you need do is leave a comment here on the blog. In a few days time – a winner will be drawn from the hat, and the Ocean Dragon will have found a new home. This free art drop is also being offered on my Facebook page – I’ll update this post with the winner’s name after the draw (assuming they agree to that, of course). Thanks in advance for playing.
I recently found out about March Meet The Maker – a month long creative practice diary hosted primarily on Instagram, started by Joanne Hawker. I am enjoying rising to the challenges of the daily creative prompts, and I’ve decided to record these creative snippets in batches here on the blog, so I have a longer term record of them. Are you sitting comfortably?
Day One : Story
‘Just Create’. Beginning my #MarchMeetTheMaker, telling part of my story. This is a piece of art, made and given away four years ago, as part of LeapDay 2016. It symbolises letting go and it encapsulates the creative essence of Leap Day and the free art project I started, shortly after this art was made and hidden. Letting go is a life’s work, and it’s partly why I became an artist. After my Dad died in 2012 I struggled to deal with my grief. In subsequent years I experienced anxiety and depression and worthlessness in ways I didn’t know were possible, even though I’m fortunate to be part of a loving family. Through this time, my art has helped me see things differently, given me some purpose and enabled me to connect with the wider community. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that art helped to save my life, along with Carole, Keira, and some fantastic counselling too. Note: I didn’t make this piece, I wish I could recall who did, as it contains much joy and wisdom for me. Thank you.
Day Two : Hands at Work
Hand drawn hand. Oh come on, it’s been a long day!! ? I work with all kinds of materials- on any other day this photo could show clay, spray paint, watercolour, acrylic – pretty much anything!
Day Three : Time
Today’s #MarchMeetTheMaker is all about time. A good friend recently told me ‘Life is short, live it well’. I wish I’d started arting sooner but hey, I’ll make what I can while I can. In the words of the late great Neil Peart : ‘The arrow flies while you breathe, The hours tick away the cells tick away, The watchmaker has time up his sleeve, The hours tick away, they tick away.
Day Four : Branding
I don’t currently have a logo for my creative work, but my artistic identity is strongly associated with stencil art, spray paint, and frequently features sheet music. When people spot my work I want them to see a contemporary artist working with a mix of new materials and ideas, on older, repurposed surfaces. Something like that anyway. What do you think my ‘brand’ says? I received some very interesting, useful replies to this question on LinkedIn.
Day Five : Close Up
This is work in progress on a carefully crafted guardian – a 00 sized brush drags acrylic paint across rough watercolour paper. Maybe not the best tool for the job but I love the texture on the wing of the finished piece. An exercise in patience.
Day Six : Reducing Waste
Lots of my work is new art on old surfaces. Sheet music, maps, and money all feature in my work, and my Vinyl Junkie project uses old LP records. All these surfaces were unwanted, destined for the bin. Transforming them from junk into new works of art is one small way of reducing waste, which is what today’s #MarchMeetTheMaker is all about.
Day Seven : You
I’m not often in front of the camera, I prefer to let my work do the talking ?. Here I am working on some stencil art at a conference in Berlin. This was part of a three day visual exploration of creativity and innovation with a client. When I’m not doing this, I paint from home, I rent shop space in a lovely pop up shop in Reigate, I run community art workshops, and I make and hide art in my neighbourhood. My free art project will be four years old soon – watch this space and help me celebrate this anniversary.
Back in 2012, a few days after my Dad died, I decided to take advantage of the extra day we had that year, and something called Leap Day happened. The two things are not closely related, but it is interesting for me to look back and be reminded that even in the immediate aftermath of dealing with a bereavement, wonderful creative things can happen. And Leap Day 2012 was indeed wonderful, both in ways we might have expected, and in ways we couldn’t possibly have foretold.
Leap Day #2
2016 eventually arrived, and with it, another Leap Day. It was once again wonderful, albeit a completely different experience. Leap Day 2016 was inspired by Alice In Wonderland, by thinking about legacy, and most of all, by the people who came along and made it happen. It also contained one of the seeds of what was to become my free art project, and for that I am grateful beyond measure.
Leap Day #3
February 29th is once again looming – and we are going to mark it with the third Leap Day. There was a time, not so very long ago – when I thought Leap Day 2020 would slide by unnoticed. I too was sliding, into depression, after experiencing fraud and a series of work projects unraveling in quick succession. I felt foolish and worthless and developed an unhealthy fear of rejection. I withdrew into loneliness – and while this felt like a good idea at the time, trust me, it sucks. It’s funny how often, the things that hurt the most, also offer the best opportunities to learn. Thanks to excellent friends and an outstanding local counselling service, I am fortunate to be able to look back and reflect on these experiences. Leap Day 2020, let’s go.
This year I plan to encourage playfulness as much as creativity and uncertainty. Everything we do or do not do will be offered in a spirit of generosity and curiosity. I am deliberately choosing not to practice some of the ideas I’ve had for the day, preferring instead to approach the experience with as close to the same sense of not knowing, as everyone else.
People tell me good things about Leap Day. ‘It’s a wonderful day’ ‘A fab catalyst’ ‘Leap Day inspires me’. I’d love you to take part in this one, to inspire others, and be inspired. If you can get to the National Theatre in London on Saturday February 29th for 10.30am, please join us. And if you can’t make it – well there might just be another one in four years time.