A life full of color


Some lifetimes ago, a sixteen year old version of me failed to get the place in art school that she’d pinned all her early hopes to.

Dismissed by the grown ups who’d repeatedly explained: ‘being an artist isn’t realistic’ led to years floating adrift from my calling.

(They were wrong. And this isn’t what I do, I’ve come to realise, it’s what I am)

A few years ago, rattled by some mid-life reminders of mortality, I finally fulfilled my life long ambition. But being an art student was as far as I’d thought this plan through. After spinning around in a self made feedback loop of regret for two decades, while I loved my time at college, I’d completely lost sight of the purpose.

My confusion was confounded when my course was cancelled after the foundation year. Before I’d time to consider my options my personal life fell apart, as a few weeks later my mum died.

Now I was free falling and had to find something to grasp onto, something simple I could rely on to slow the descent.  

I needed a project to latch my focus to. I needed a subject I could immerse myself in. It had to be something creative, it had to be something colourful.

It just had to be color.

 

 

I hadn’t the bandwidth for anything more complex. I needed colors, but one at a time. No other rules. Just me, a book, and whatever paints and pens and things I had to hand. In just one color. I began with the color I felt most drawn to at the time, which was red-violet, magenta. It was soothing. It was all I had space for.

I took that year, one color at a time, one month at a time.

 

 

After another family bereavement a couple of months into my year long color project, I knew I needed some accountability, some way to keep this project afloat. That’s when I started this blog.

By the end of the year I’d created a this whole book full of color.

 

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It’s still with me in my studio as a resource for inspiration – (that’s something I didn’t foresee when I began this project.)

(You can see it page by page here)

12 in 12 from mixy gecko on Vimeo.

 

 

As I showed my book of 12 colors to more of my artist friends, the idea of revisiting a year full of color began to develop. And they wanted in on it too.

So in 2017 I invented TWELVTY,  a way of sharing the adventure around the color wheel with other creatives as an online program.

It’s been an astonishing journey, (which isn’t over yet) and I’ve learned so much (more on that in another post).

I didn’t expect to run Twelvty as a program with others again after this year – it’s been all consuming and I had other plans for 2018 – but Twelvty has plans for me too, it would appear. 

So here we are, in preparation for:

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We begin the journey in the new year, but registration is open from November.

I think it speaks for itself that some of this year’s Twelveteers have already joined up for a second trip around the color wheel in 2018!

There are a limited number of discounted places available to folks on my mailing list. If you aren’t signed up already – what the hey?!! – scoot down to the end of this post to add your email before they’re all swooped up!

hello/goodbye


Yesterday I went to the funeral of the mother of an old friend. I don’t see him much these days, our lives distanced in different directions, but as a teenager I spent some time hanging out at his house and with his family, so I went along to say hello/goodbye.

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The last time we saw each other, a few years ago, was the funeral of another of the group who used to hang out. The brother of our lost friend was there as well. The previous grief rolled back in. As I walked home after my mind was flooded.

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The sanctuary of this book was waiting for me, glad of the space between it’s pages to drift and soothe and hush the thoughts. There are no rules in here. Nothing appropriate or other. Just release.

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Revisiting the crematorium, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there, from my cousin when I was 15 through generations of friends and relations. With every attendance, every ceremony, each the same and each achingly unique, another layer of mourning.

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The logical mind tries to interpret grief intellectually as profound sadness associated with an inexplicable ending, but it isn’t, it’s much more confusing than that.

It’s all of the emotions, all of the feelings in accelerating succession, then as that rhythm starts to normalise, another avalanche. And repeating, and repeating. Inexplicable, inappropriate, quite strange. I remember  feeling indestructible after mum died.  In conversation yesterday someone was saying how he floated in an unexplained elation for months after a close loss. Troubling and comforting in balanced measure.

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I often think of how different our lives have become in just a few generations, since the media driven onslaught of communication. By partaking in modern society our circle of acquaintance is inflated to absurd proportions in unrestricted encounters.

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These encounters zip back and forth in time, meaning for the first time in humanity we can spend time in the company of someone – albeit a one-way version of them – at any point in their lives. Years aren’t played out in consecutive order and the resultant discombobulation unsettles us, I believe, more than we understand.

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Perhaps this is the shake up we need, rattling us out of the old paradigms.

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Today is April 8th. Today I remember. 


Today is April 8th.

Today is marks the point, exactly three quarters of of my life ago. The day my dad died.

I was sitting on the rocking chair, the chair I still have today. It used to face the front door. I was sat there when my mum walked in and told me the news. 

He’d been in and out of hospital for almost a year. This was one of those few times I’d waited at home when she went to see him. Usually I’d be farmed out to someone else’s house, a friends or neighbour. Maybe this time there wasn’t time to make arrangements, I don’t remember. I know she got there too late. I guess the hospital had called and she’d had to rush out. 

I was sat facing the front door waiting for her to get back. 

I knew from her face. Hot tears ran instinctually. Incessantly. 

I kept thinking over, I don’t understand. How can a person stop being? I don’t understand. 

She told me not to be sad. He had been so ill. To want him to carry on living was to want him to go on suffering. It was a release. A great release. He was in a better place now. 

Such an overwhelm. Yes, he wasn’t ill now. And he wasn’t here. And he wasn’t angry and shouting and so full of fury. He wasn’t drunk and dangerous. He wasn’t threatening, he wasn’t all the excuses why. All the reasons. He wasn’t my dad. He just wasn’t. 

He wasn’t here. And he wasn’t coming back. 

And I didn’t understand how someone could just stop being. Stop being at all, forever. How does this happen?

I still don’t know.