I’m really excited to be collaborating with my good chum and fellow colour lover Becky Blair this Spring. We’ve decided to lock paintbrushes and devise a Colour workshop together to impart our passion for colour. Everyone who reads this blog knows I am mad for it. I love to wear it and have it all around me, which is why my house is a riot of colourful hues and patterns. I thought it would be great idea to unlock the secrets of why some people are more confident than others and how colour can really improve your life and I think it all comes down to confidence and a little know how. But too much theorising can stifle the creativity and true expression. I’ve never been one for what I call ‘painting by numbers’ design- where everything matches or ‘goes’. A little fluidity and knocking something a little ‘off’ is a great way to create an interesting and individual interior. So it’s kind of about knowing the rules and then breaking them anyway! There’s no better person to talk to about how colour can effects you than someone who works with it everyday and has based their whole career on getting colours to work together. It can literally feed your soul and in Becky’s case, it helped to rehabilitate her from a very painful and frightening disease.
Becky has a lively and eclectic style. I’ve always loved her vivid use of colour and her depictions of dreamlike reflections have made her work highly collectible and sought after. Her compositions are formed from pools of overlapping colour and she works by adding and taking away elements to create a painting that has a sense of its own history. She has always drawn interest in the everyday as well as her travels through India, Australia and Europe. However 2 years ago Becky fell ill with Lupus which is an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body. In Lupus, the immune system produces far too many antibodies which, circulating through the bloodstream, cause reactions leading to inflammatory processes anywhere in the body.
“It was July 20th 2014 when I knew that something in my body wasn’t right. My hands and feet were painful. Walking barefoot hurt and I couldn’t pick up the kettle one handed; just little things, but they gave me a sense of foreboding. My good health slipped away very quickly, I was undiagnosed for 6 months, and in December 2014 I was admitted into hospital and diagnosed with Lupus.”
“By that autumn I had stopped painting along with dancing, walking, eating, making love, and all the other things that make life worth living. The auto immune disorder can attack almost every area of your body, in my case it concentrated in my joints so in a short period of time I had become house bound, I was terrified. Even sleep was painful, waking myself up, and my husband, as I screamed out in agony. I lost hope of regaining my life as it was. Thankfully since my stay in hospital modern medicine and holistic wisdom is dealing with the symptoms so I am able to live life more fully.”
“I started doing the watercolours when I was still in the early stages of recovery, just as a nice free form playful expression. I had no expectation that it would lead me to anywhere meaningful. I think it reactivated my creative brain. I had been craving a change in expression for quite a few years but with deadlines and expectations of galleries I just kept plugging away, unable to let myself off the hook and have a break. Although getting sick was not my ideal way of making that space, it is an unexpected outcome.”
“The very first paintings I did were solely made up of triangles, I started simply using them to play with colour and composition, but with time I have connected so much symbolism to this shape and see it as a building block from which my symbolic vocabulary has grown. A triangle can refer to everything from the molecular to the vast. I began to create a language through which I could explore and communicate my experience. I also introduced the bird, and put the bird inside the triangle as a symbol for entrapment, the feeling of restriction brought on by this disease. I have since added trees and foliage, again describing the feeling of containment. These pared back images speak to me of great joy, and I feel like I am creating work that presents a combination of vulnerability and bravery.”
“I’ve never been an artist who believes in suffering for my art, my past work had focused on the light and joy of living. In hindsight I now see that life as ‘blessed’ in its rosy glow that knew no misfortune.”
An internationally acclaimed artist, Becky has exhibited work across the globe, with shows in London, France, Holland and Australia. However she is holding her first solo show in her hometown of Brighton since 2009.
“These new paintings are about a very private and personal experience where suffering defined my every moment. It was beyond any imagined hell and I was utterly terrified. This work pursues the joy and gratitude to be alive and well. Humbled by the insight of my experience, I feel so fortunate to be in better health. I now know how precious and fragile the balance of our lives actually is.”
“My personal mantra these days is to slow down, look up, pause to soak it all in, and in turn let it all go.”
I’ve suffered, by no means to the same degree, with Adrenal fatigue, and have to really watch how much I take on or my energy reserves just cannot keep up. I think in today’s busy world and with our ‘got to do and be everything’ attitudes this is the perfect mantra for us all to try and live by. So I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than hang out with you guys and potter around with Colours. To sign up for a Colour workshop with us you can book here.
Becky’s solo exhibition will take place from 12 to 24 April at Gallery 40, 40 Gloucester Road, Brighton. If you book on our Brighton workshop you can see the exhibition at the same time.