Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Art: Sargy Mann

I often get stuck in one of those never-ending vortexes of watching videos online (mainly when I'm procrastinating - like now). My "vice" is generally either crochet and knitting tutorials (oh yes - I can watch hours of them) or discovering various different people's painting processes; this video is one of the most interesting of the latter that I have ever come across.

Sargy Mann has been a painter all of his life, painting impressionist-realist paintings in vivid colours and bold shapes as well as tutoring art to those who wanted to learn about how to see and apply light and colour. His most recent exhibition, entitled "New Paintings" was in 2010, which might surprise you if I were to tell you that Sargy Mann actually went completely blind in 2005 after having been diagnosed with cataracts over thirty years previously. Since then, Sargy has had to develop a whole range of new techniques for ensuring that he is painting, well, what he envisions painting. He has had to learn to see and use colour differently and often enlists the help of his family for posing and placing paint on the canvas.

I can't really comment on his art in great detail (mainly because I only studied Fine Art until A-Level so I'm rusty and I can't remember how), but I think what I appreciate the most is his actual process. I generally find watching other people make, draw or paint things fascinating anyway, I could watch them all day, but this is absolute gold for me because Sargy's process begins before he even starts painting. He literally has to feel his way around the scene that he wants to paint and retain it in his memory to then reproduce it as accurately as possible on canvas. I enjoy the way he seems to build his paintings up in layers, changing them as he goes, and how he is never quite sure if they're finished are not (a trait that I am very familiar with from when I used to paint. Nothing was ever finished). I also enjoy the fact that he has to be very tactile with his work and workspace due to his blindness, as it gives the sense that he is really getting to know his paintings inside and out.

This video, made by his own son Peter, shows the process of his first fully-blind painting that he created in 2006 and I would highly recommend it if you're looking for some quiet, relaxing art viewing whilst you crochet in bed (no? just me then...). It's only 38 minutes long and Sargy himself has the most relaxing voice I've ever heard which manages to lull you into this sort of sleepy trance: that is until he says something along the lines of "oh fucking/bloody/buggering hell." He seems like a really wonderful man and his family seem to be nothing short of supportive of his recent blindly-produced work, as are many others.

If you would like to read more about Sargy Mann, click here.



Friday, 21 March 2014

The Spring Equinox

Every year, around this time in March, I always begin to feel better about everything. I feel stress slip away as if it were nothing, think myself stupid for having my annual January meltdown, and my mood improves tenfold. I also think that I feel more balanced as a person, in both mood and life commitments, because the Spring Equinox itself signifies the balance of day and night: I feel like it brings everything into order. I don't know if all of this is because I start to realise that the majority of my university assignments are out of the way, after a long winter of being cooped up and glued to the faux-warm glow of my laptop screen, but I put a lot of it down to the changing of the seasons and the physical warmth of the sun on my skin. I know that the sun influences us in many ways from our health to our decision-making as a species, but I think I feel a particular affinity with it because I was a summer baby: I was born in the almost-middle of July (the 12th) and so I feel myself becoming happier again as the sun, who warmed me from birth, begins to reappear after leaving me cold and miserable for five long months (because up here in the Northernmost corner of England, that's the standard length of winter, I can assure you. Over a third of the entire year).

Images taken from Pinterest.
I generally find that the Spring Equinox is a much better time for making those "new year" resolution-type changes, too, because who really wants to bother doing anything new on the 1st of January when there is still a bite in the air and frost on the ground? Who really even wants to do anything without the sun at all? A lot of people probably do, and manage to do so quite well, but I find it difficult because the lack of sun affects my mood so much. It just seems more sensible to make changes now, because it's when the plants and animals come back out to play and make changes in their own little existence. So for me, even though the Spring Equinox was yesterday, for the rest of this year I would like to:
  • be more creative by making more things and painting at least one new painting
  • visit more of the UK
  • start saving money in preparation for buying a house next year (which, incidentally, we have planned to be around this time, too!)
  • definitely read more books for leisure, not just for university
  • join a knitting or a language club
  • be less shy & more sure of myself because sometimes I think people mistake my shyness for rudeness. I mean, I can be rude, as all people can, but 90% of the time I'm just shy.
  • bake and cook more (as well as look for new, interesting and healthier recipes)
  • grow something. Anything. I miss the allotment and even looking after the onions (the patch designated to me by my boyfriend) was so enriching and fulfilling.
  • start a cactus collection
  • set up a bee hotel for solitary bees. 
  • spend more time with nature.
This last one I am particularly looking forward to, especially when the weather becomes warm enough to take my shoes off wherever I go. When it gets to around May/June, I am rarely found with shoes on (my friends seem to like to point out how dirty my feet get) and even something as simple as feeling the grass under my feet when I go for a walk in the park or the feeling of warm tarmac whilst I'm hula-hooping in the back lane can make me feel better about things because, as new-age hippy as it sounds, these things bring your body back into contact with the ground beneath you, which can be highly beneficial to health and mood. Plus, I just like knowing that I'm interacting directly with nature because you don't get that feeling when you wear shoes.

Overall, even though the submission deadline for my dissertation is looming, I have a million and one pieces of other university-related work to do, five portfolios to organise and barely have any money to last me for the next month, I feel strangely content with everything and, as I said above, I really do think it's down to the sun making a reappearance and the emergence of spring that makes all of these different things so bearable.