At the start of her career, just finishing university. She is full of hope.
Her hair is long, straight, uncoloured- beautiful in its simplicity.
To me this painting is about her saying, or any individual saying, ‘I’m here, I’m ready, I’m excited. Bring on Life!’
I wish for everyone to have this ‘Sophia moment’ in their lives and for it to stay.
A recent communication brought thoughts of Frida back into my world.
Read more here
Why do we love her? Is it just her iconic style? I think not, Frida speaks to people at a deeper level and her fans are not so shallow.
I love Frida for many reasons. She shows us how we can rise from any tragedy that hits us. She suffered physically with her health but also in her relationship with a man she adored. But note that when her husband went astray- so did she!
I love her for independence of spirit that speaks not just to women but any individual that wants to assert their own independent identity outside gender stereotyping.
Recently I realised that maybe more than all of this, Frida showed us how to be vulnerable before it became fashionable. She lays open her life to us in her paintings: she confronts her own death, graphically illustrates what it’s like to loose a child, paints herself at times of personal crisis.
How honest have other painters been in their work? Below ‘Henry Ford Hospital’ Frida Kahlo 1932
On a personal level I love Frida the artist. She spoke to me and called me to pick up the paintbrush again and follow my dream of having an exhibition of my own one day. The level of pain I saw in her life spoke to my own sense of loss- no one else had shared so openly before for me to relate to. When I paint her she teaches me- challenges me to capture her ever elusive spirit.
But todays question that occurred to me as I look at her staged photographic portraits is what does Frida ask of us? Rather than dress like her- perhaps she is asking. inviting us to ask
‘Who are we?’
How do we present ourselves to the world as she did? She took time to craft her appearance to represent all she stood for- her return to traditional Mexican dress, the colours and patterns she chose to wear, the jewellery…
How about we not wear flowers in our hair as she did. How about we consciously be who we are. If you had to one photograph or painting that was to represent you when you are gone- how would you be?
I have an idea to have my own project where I invite people to truly represent themselves. I shall be in a room with my tripod and camera waiting for anyone who would like to sit or stand for me in all their individuality. That would be my kinda Frida project!
What if she is also asking us to be honest? Like really honest about what goes on for us?
With mental health on the national agenda – this would be a timely call.
Food for thought….
Paintings has been many things for me: a release, a form of self-expression, a way of capturing moments in time, creating beauty, getting to know myself, coping with grief…but now it has also become a form of prayer.
A way of being with someone, thinking about them, focusing on their healing and sending all of that into the air waves. My Mum has been unwell these last few weeks and is currently recovering from a serious operation. At 85 she has lots of people who love her and are praying for her. In my world I am painting her back to health- this has become my form of prayer.
Thank you Art, what would I do without you?
This painting is about my gorgeous friend Lisa who recently fell in love- although it almost didn’t make it through.
Lisa is one of the most kind hearted people I know – she is an artist- ceramicist, illustrator and maker of things.
I had painted a few of my friends and it occurred to me that I wanted to paint Lisa too- so I asked her. Lisa doesn’t even like her photo being taken so a portrait was a big deal. Luckily she accepted my invitation to be painted.
We often meet for coffee on a weekend morning, so that’s where this painting is set. I’m usually just out of bed but Lisa has already done the weekly shop and few other jobs. We meet, we chat, we laugh- but this time I take photographs too. This time she’s also in love- young new love- you know the kind.
I wanted this painting to be special for lots of reasons- firstly I love her and wanted to paint her as the beautiful woman she is. Secondly, I wanted to capture this special moment in her life, as I had a sneaky feeling ‘he may be the one’- the energy of that is amazing.
Apart from capturing the person I purposely included the coffee cup and coffee shop environment. Life is so busy nowadays that real conversation, in person, away from work and other distractions is now becoming quite scared. The coffee shop, however commercial, is thus a special place.
I worked on the painting over weeks- getting the finer details of her face and laugh line- I thought it was one of my best. I let it dry and then wrapped it up and put it away.
Lisa didn’t see the painting until my recent exhibition a couple of weeks ago even though I did it in the summer. She did approve I think – although we have yet to chat about it properly.
It would be great if the story ended there- but it doesn’t. As I was preparing for the exhibition and took out the painting- their was something slightly off- the shoulders looked too small and a little awkward. I decided to work on it some more.
This is always a very risky thing to do as you can wreck a painting. But I asked myself- am I proud to hang it on the wall? With the bugs that I could see the answer was no- so it went back on the easel for another 2 days. What I thought would be a some small adjustments grew into something bigger- as you change one thing you often have to change another. I thought I had wrecked it- but I brought it back. This second painting was a little different to the first- but not enough to warrant a renaming. Also no one else had seen it.
Sometimes I wish I would just leave things. I wrote in my studio journal that evening ‘I think I try too hard. Appreciate your art more. It’s good as it is’ So in the end this painting wasn’t just about Lisa it was about me too. I have a few things to learn: being softer and kinder to myself and my art for one. This painting almost didn’t make it through- but I am so glad it did.
Today I found out that both my art works had been accepted into a prestigious open art competition. I was thrilled. This is my first ‘yes’ by a gallery.
It’s special for many reasons. They are portraits of my friends- also both black women- so there will be 3 of us on the gallery walls!
Apart from that though I feel its more about recognition. I have been painting for a while and have entered competitions twice before and didn’t make it- so today’s yes was most welcome. It was a ‘yes we think you have something’ kind a yes.
One of the paintings, Nicolette, I am particularly proud of. With this one I went over the edge- what do I mean by that? I got to a point where it was perfectly fabulous but for me there was something missing- something not quite her- so I carried on- almost wrecked it- but something came through- something that was her. She was less defined but more beautiful, more raw, more spiritual- as she is.
I didn’t realise this completely until I looked at it again a couple of weeks later. I remember unwrapping it, putting it on my studio wall and I could feel her energy in the room with me. This person is very dear to me and I don’t see her often so having her on the wall in my studio was a treat.
And now she will be part of a larger wall, with other paintings.
Painting is a solitary pursuit and takes up a lot of time- so when someone gets it- gets what you are doing- it’s amazing!
Some people feel uncomfortable at the thought of a portrait of themselves.
‘I don’t look good in profile’ ‘My nose is too big’ ‘Please make me thinner’ ….
My current subject was a bit like that. She didn’t want a painting of herself ‘Can you paint my daughter instead?’ she pleaded. ‘No, I want to paint you.’ I replied. I can be firm sometimes!
Eventually I was able to convince her to give me 2 minutes of her time for a few photos. Usually I take over 100 shots on my mobile and choose the one that speaks to me. This time round I had 6 photos, two poses: side on or front facing. This particular person also constantly smiles, so having a non-smiley picture (as required for a portrait), was also tricky. But luckily I found something to work with.
This is the beginning – it could also be the end- but I want to add some colour as the woman in question is a very colourful soul. It’s done using a watercolour pencil which I then work into with water to soften and add tone.
I happened to show this drawing to a few people who had never met the person in question.
‘What do you see in this?’ I asked?
‘Strong, focused…is she a business woman?’ came the reply.
If you know Tracey, Creator of the hugely successful Introbiz (business network) you will know how accurate that is. This image just flowed. Maybe because I started it after a few hours of painting or maybe because it needed to be drawn.
I really like it, it seems to capture something of a woman who is always busy and has little time for herself or to reflect. I’m hoping this portrait acts as a mirror for her so she can see the all the wonderfulness that she is. Daughters will have their time- as Mothers we have to celebrate ourselves too!
I shall keep you posted as this painting develops.
Portrait commissions welcome. Email me here to discuss.
In a couple of days my next exhibition will open. Today was all about fixings, name plates and tidying up edges of the paintings ready for hanging tomorrow.
I am looking forward to showing the work as for the past few months they have been wrapped up in my studio. I often think its unfair to them- they need to get out once in a while. Also a little part of me thinks- if no one sees them do they really exist? So out they are going.
The exciting part is that some of the subjects of the work, my friends, have not yet seen the finished peices- some just on social media others not at all. It’s such a great moment to watch someones reaction when they see a portrait of themselves- at first it’s surprise then they take a closer look and start seeing parts of themselves reflected in it…other than that I don’t really know what else goes through their minds. I hope they see themselves as the gorgeous people that they are, as I see them. I think in that way having a painting done can be quite empowering.
Also showing will be a new Frida portrait that has not yet been seen- ‘Spirit of Frida’ (Frida Kahlo). This is bright, bold and big. She looks back at you with wide beautiful eyes- almost granting you any wish you take to her. This is Frida in the sky, passed on, raher than a depiction of her alive.
Together I hope it is a wall full of gorgeous women talking to each other silently. I thik its going to be a pretty powerful vibe as the women are all beautiful and inspiring. Did I mention Nina Simone is in there too?!
Nina Simone I love for her music, her politics, her bravery, her conviction. She traded her career to stand up to the brutal racism in America. ‘Strange Fruit’ is a powerful track- and a reminder to this day of what went on. She was also, undiagnosed, bi-polar for much of her life.
So- lots of powerful stuff I’m hoping it’s going to harmonise beautifully. Let’s wait and see…
P.S. I had considered putting in one of my early self portraits- but they are so sad and heavy I don’t want to inflict them in the audience- another time for those.
Just looking at the website I feel it’s time for a change. The self portraits of 2014 will no longer have a page of their own but will now become a more humble blog post as will the accompanying explanation. There is too much emotion I no longer identify with or wish to see so they will be archived here. I want my website to be more about how I see the world now- full of beauty and light.
Woman at 21 (1) (2014)
Woman at 21 (2) (2014)
Woman at 21 (3) (2014)
Woman at 21 (4) (2014)
‘This series of paintings were done over 3 months at the end of 2014. The process was both healing and transformational. All the paintings were based on a single photograph of me taken by a professional photographer, Paul Brewer, for his exhibition over 20 years ago.
I bumped into Paul by chance last summer (2014) for the first time since the photograph was taken. He didn’t recognise me at first but when he did he told me that the image was held by the National Library of Wales. I had never seen the image so he agreed to try and get a hold of a copy for me- which he did.
When he first sent the image through, by email, I was shocked at its power. I found it hard to look at for any length of time. The woman looked so hurt, so lost- was this really me? Paul was a talented man to capture so much emotion in one image. (He used a pin-hole camera technique with a long exposure I seem to remember).
With his permission I used this photo to paint from and that’s when it started. A conversation with my former self and what a conversation it was. We remembered lost stories, we cried, we comforted each other and sometimes I would just paint her in more beautiful colours to adorn her- Painting 1.
By the end of painting 4 ‘I was done!’ I had explored this woman, listen to her stories intently, looked into her eyes, embraced her and let her go.
Something shifted, I felt free, now I just wanted to paint light. This when the first ‘Energy’ paintings emerged. Instead looking at an image of me I closed my eyes and felt what it was like to be me.
Through the paintings I truly learned the healing power of art/ the creative process. Something transformational happened to me over those few months of painting, the effects of which I can feel everyday.’
One of my paintings found a home a year ago at a friends house. She just posted this lovely comment on Facebook
‘Still loving it… Makes me smile every day – thank you Prith for creating it xxx’
As a painter it’s great to know that my work can still give pleasure to the viewer even after a year of living with it.
I quietly hoped that you would be able to see more and more in this piece, that it would never bore and always brighten up the day whatever the weather outside. #feelinggood
I’ve just moved in to a new studio which is much bigger and also combines a space for a ‘work’ desk.
As I moved in I knew that the space would have an impact on my work but I didn’t know how. Part of me was also slightly nervous- What if I can’t paint here? Was it just some magic of my first studio? But I can.
A shift has taken place, the work is flowing more easily and I have no idea how or why. It’s just happening- expansion, flow…This has prompted me to think about what my work is about which I thought I would record and share here. It will also serve as reference point for me as I work.
My work is about: creating a feeling on canvas, a chance to get lost, expansion, freedom, beauty, light, complexity, simplicity. I love to sit in front of the bigger pieces and take in the energy that comes from them. I would love to have an exhibition of 5-6 big works, in a room with cushions in the centre so people could sit and experience this feeling too. Soft music would playing and the room would be gently scented. The light may also be dimmed at some points.
I’m currently painting an image again and discovering new ways to paint it. Some images are so beautiful it’s easy to do this. (A few months ago I painted a scene from Carmarthen 4 times it was so captivating!)
This new space is curious. I wonder what else will happen here.
I shall keep you posted.