Practicing : Part Two

Where do good ideas come from?

An evolution. Good work often reveals itself slowly.

On the 2nd January 2018 I painted this ghostly winged figure. I had recently finished reading Skellig, by David Almond. Keira recommended the book to me, and one of the characters is a mysterious winged creature, so I think that’s partly where the inspiration for this art came from. The book and its sequel, My Name Is Mina, are both excellent reads.

This painting quickly sold and was shortly followed by another in a similar vein. The second piece, much larger than the first, didn’t work, or at least that is what I initially thought. I played with it a little more, and liked it a little less, but it led me to produce this:

Which in turn, led me to produce more…

The greeny blue one on the left and the red spattered one on the right were both hidden as part of the free art project, and I made the orange piece in the centre during an LnDcowork at Herman Miller’s showroom, where it was subsequently bought by a lovely friend. The two gold pieces are available to purchase, so if either or both takes your fancy, please let me know.

A small but important modification then occurred, after Carole suggested to me the figures would look better without feet. I followed her advice and another free art drop piece came into being. Unusually – I was in the vicinity when this piece was found. Someone pulled up in their car and dashed to grab the art. They were in such a hurry to find it, they’d not put any shoes on before leaving the house. A shoeless person found the footless angel.

I liked this modification, and returned to the larger purple and blue canvas, overpainted it, and began to work again. A new figure emerged…

Halo Effect

I love this piece of work, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve painted to date. It has just returned from the framers and is ready, as one of three pieces which will be shown in March 2019 at an exhibition in Minden Germany.

All of this work emerged in a period of a few weeks. It was feeling good to make, and I still wasn’t really sure why I was enjoying the work so much, or why I felt so strongly compelled to keep going.

In March 2018 I attended Workplace Trends, both to live paint at the event, and give a talk on why creative practice at work matters. As I put together my pop up art studio at the back of the room, I listened to Nicola Gillen speak about psychological safety at work. I wrote about how Nicola’s talk inspired me here, and I started to paint the design you see below as a result of what I was hearing. The winged creature indicates a guardian within – open arms encouraging that sense of being sufficiently confident to speak truth to power, to be ‘myself’ at work.

Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again

I painted a lot that day, and the piece inspired by Nicola subsequently went on loan to the London offices of AECOM, where it spent a few months in reception, before being sold.

I am continuing to work with these winged creatures, which are evolving to represent aspects of mental health, taking responsibility, and wellbeing. The circular centre piece below is titled ‘Waiting To Hold You’ and is also heading to Germany soon. In addition, I’ve made several smaller sketches, and will continue to develop the project, titled ‘I Guardian’ for as long as it interests me.

Some of the many things I am learning from this project include:

  • Inspiration can come from anywhere
  • Keep going
  • Listen
  • Feel
  • Trust your instinct…Back yourself

At a time when people seem to crave things, faster, now, even sooner than now, I wonder: How often do you give yourself time to start, dip in and out, and keep returning to an exploration like this when at work? Good work often reveals itself slowly.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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