Tag Archives: #art

Introducing landscape artist Sharon McGill

This week I’d like to introduce you to an old friend and an incredible artist, Sharon McGill.

At the risk of embarrassing us both, I first met Sharon in P2 in primary school (I’ll spare our blushes and not mention what year that was) and without a word of a lie, had “hair envy” that lasted for years! As a little girl, Sharon had gorgeous long dark brown wavy hair. I always wanted to grow my own fine straight blonde hair until it was longer than hers. She inadvertently made that easy for me in high school- she went to hairdresser and got hers cut short! Mine on the other hand has never been short since.

Ok, nostalgia over and done with.

Life took us both in different directions after school, but our paths have criss-crossed over the years.

I caught up with Sharon recently and was lucky enough to be able to put a few questions to her. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell me a bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have wanted to be an artist from the age of about 6! I used to draw for hours every night and couldn’t wait to get my homework done so I could get to drawing and doodling!

In secondary school, I spent all my lunch breaks and free periods in the art department. I was best friends with all the art teachers.

My mum was so committed to my goal that she posed naked for me when we could not afford life drawing lessons!

You’re quite a prolific artist. Do you have a favourite among your paintings and drawings?

Like songs, favourite paintings define a moment in your life. For me, my favourites tend to be paintings I created during particularly challenging times.

Is there one particular person who inspired you to paint/draw?

Number one would have to be my deceased art teacher, Gordon Wyllie. He himself was a successful commercial landscape artist and a huge supporter of my work!

However, I suffer from bipolar disorder and my psychologist, many years later insisted that I make time to paint (even though I was then a busy full time working mum and interior design lecturer) I was in my early thirties at the time and had not found time to paint since graduating from college due to my commitments to my husband, children and my lecturing job. He told me it was an essential part of my recovery journey and that he would not treat me if I did not bring him a recently completed painting next week. I brought him a painting of my daughter which is still my favourite painting to this day! It has also won awards in a variety of portrait competitions.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

I will only try and paint subjects that move me emotionally. My children and my environment. I am blessed to live in a most beautiful part of Scotland. Stormy seas, ominous skies, crashing waves and huge mountains remind me that I am only a tiny part of a much bigger and stronger force. This helps to ground my emotions as I walk through these landscapes every day. Anything that soothes my soul, inspires me to create and share it with others.

A cruel question, but what’s your favourite piece of art and why?

I have a favourite portrait and a favourite landscape. My favourite portrait is of my daughter. At the time she was 10 years old and just beginning to show early symptoms of mental health problems herself. She no longer lives with me and it hangs in my lounge as a testament to her courage in dealing with deep emotional problems yet remaining a strong young woman. I will never put this painting up for sale regardless of the financial offers.

My son also played a huge part in helping Molly and I through this difficult time. He was always a little bit worried and I captured his anxiety perfectly in this portrait. Another I would never sell.

My favourite landscape is my first large scale painting entitled ‘sky and sea’. I was scared to try such a big study of our elements but I found it so cathartic. It sold immediately too, proving that others found it as memorising and dramatic to view as I did to create. There is just something so soothing about the drama and force of our environment. Its why I have chosen to become a landscape artist. I really believe the world around us can heal the soul and help us conquer so many of our day to day, modern world problems!!

What’s your favourite medium to work with?

I work only in acrylic. Fast drying, easy to manipulate and can be changed as quickly as my emotions dictate!

Tell me a bit about your approach to your art. Are you a meticulous planner or do you tend towards letting yourself go with the flow?

I would never be described as a meticulous artist!!!!

I paint only when the mood takes me (fortunately that tends to be on a nightly basis!) and I paint with my hands, scrape with my nails, use my legs as palettes and have a tendency trash the room I’m working in!! The painting itself is the only thing that matters to me in that moment.

 Painting is not a meticulous task for me but is all about capturing the raw emotion of a person or place. I move around a lot as I paint, I walk around, I dance and I am completely emerged in the creative experience. Once I start, I cannot stop. This means I can be painting all day and all night! I also often go to bed on the sofa beside my painting, covered in paint!!

I love to write outdoors. Where’s your favourite place to paint?

On the floor, surrounded by photographs, listening to music, vaping and usually in my underwear!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I never listen to advice. (Ask my mum or husband if you don’t believe me!!) I do my life at my own pace under my own rules, and these tend to change on a daily basis.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creative souls out there?

Follow your own spirit. Make time to do your own thing. Don’t compare yourselves to anyone else. EVER!!! The world could be doing with some individuality for God’s sake!!

Writers can suffer from writer’s block from time to time and find themselves staring a blank page for hours. Does this happen to artists and if so, how do you overcome it?

Only fear gives me an artistic block so I say to myself, ‘If tonight’s painting is shit, put it in the bin and nobody need know!’   That way, I have total freedom to fuck it up!

 However, it might be wonderful. If you don’t do a painting tonight, you will never know!!  And I have binned quite a few!!

So, what’s next creatively? Are you working on anything else just now?

I’ve been writing a book for about 10 years now!!! Keeping memoirs of my life as a mum, my mental health journey and that of my daughter’s. It is funny, tragic and down to earth but I’ve no idea how to put it into any semblance of order!!  Its on the back burner for now as my art has taken off in a way I could never have imagined!

Then for a bit of fun I asked:

Favourite food     Scallops

Favourite drink     Lots of white wine

Favourite band     Skerryvore (HOME – SKERRYVORE)

Favourite holiday destination     My back garden or the beach down the road. Haven’t been on holiday for years!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?  To live forever, cause I don’t want to miss what happens next!

Huge thanks to Sharon for taking the time to answer my questions. She’s a busy lady so it really is appreciated.

If you want to check out more of Sharon’s art, please drop by her Facebook page

Sharon mcgill art | Facebook

Poetry or Art or a Bit of Both……

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What goes around comes around…… a proverb that you are more than likely familiar with.

Sometimes poetry also goes around. I’ve experimented with “mandala” poems on and off for a number of years.

“Mandala” is the Sanskrit word for circle. It can be defined in two ways:

Externally, it can be a visual representation of the world or universe.

Internally, it can act as a meditation guide.

Mandalas, often extremely ornate mandalas, are objects of devotion in Tantric Hindu and in Tantric Buddhism. They remain popular in countries like Nepal and Tibet.

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(ignore the ghostly hand in the photo- that mandala may be beautiful but it is  a nightmare to try to photograph!)

Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss analytical psychologist re-introduced mandalas to the West from a different perspective:

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time…only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is….. the Self, the wholeness of personality which if all goes well is harmonious.”                                Carl Jung, Memories Dreams Reflections

Jung recognised that the desire to create mandalas  occurs during moments of personal growth or reflection.

Creating mandalas is also a fun,  highly visual way to introduce poetry to both younger and older children.

Sometimes, even as an adult, you need to channel that inner poetic child.

 

 

2016 – a year in pictures- the severely edited highlights

I’m not big on reflecting back on the year about to end etc, etc. I do however capture a lot of my life in photographs and hold the memories close to my heart. I have thousands of photos from 2016 so here are the severely edited highlights (one per month)

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and then there were some of the gigs I enjoyed……

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Lots of happy memories there.

The First Annual Mother/Daughter Day of Culture

Yesterday was the last day of the school October mid-term break here and I decided to spend it with Girl Child. Mother/Daughter time and all that stuff. Depending on teenage hormone level this could mean a suicide mission!

Fortunately hormone levels were under control. As a precaution though, I fed her tea and toast with Nutella for breakfast. A hungry Girl Child, hormonal or not, is a dangerous creature!

Our destination for the day was one of my favourite places in Glasgow. No, it wasn’t Starbucks or Café Nero! We were heading to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the city’s West End.

I also discovered en route that it was Girl Child’s first trip on the Glasgow Underground. She’s still not convinced that even she couldn’t get lost on it!

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Having hopped off the “clockwork orange” at Kelvinhall, we headed off towards the art gallery.

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Currently there’s a costume exhibition on and, with Girl Child’s interest in art and design, it seemed like a good place to start. Being brutally honest here, I was a little disappointed in the exhibit. The website and promotional literature suggests it’s a more extensive display than it actually is. That said, the dresses are stunning.

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Girl Child quickly decided that the faceless mannequins would make ideal Dr Who monsters! (She has a fear of masks and things like that) The bride was particularly creepy though so I couldn’t disagree with her.

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Having had our fill of frocks, we meandered through the rest of the building.

I love the building itself. It’s stunningly beautiful inside and out.

It was built in the late 1800’s (same era as the dress exhibition covers) from the proceeds of the 1888 International Exhibition that was held in Kelvingrove Park. It first opened its doors to the public in 1901. The sprawling red sandstone building is built in a Spanish baroque style (looks Gothic to my un-educated eye) with its main entrance facing out across Kelvingrove Park. (No, it wasn’t built back to front as per the urban myth.)

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The centre piece in the central hall is a huge pipe organ. I wonder what the acoustics are like?

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Another striking feature of the main foyer is The Floating Heads modern art display by Sophie Cave. Each of the fifty or so white heads portrays a different emotion. Subtle lighting can make these faces decidedly freaky. Girl Child wasn’t a fan. Me – I love them!

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Another must visit gallery is the small room that houses Salvador Dali’s “Christ of St John on the Cross”. I fell in love with that painting the very first time my mum took me to see it when I was about twelve. It’s stunning!

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There’s something for everyone in the museum. There’s something for all ages too judging by the plethora of pre-school age children rampaging through the natural history hall. But then again, you’re never too young to be introduced to a place like this.

After another subway ride back into the city centre and lunch in the Hard Rock Café (well it was right outside the subway station. It would’ve been rude not to!) we headed off to Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) It’s not the biggest art gallery but it is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland.

I’m not generally a fan of modern art (apologies if this offends anyone). I like my art to look like something I can relate to. There’s something about most modern art that I don’t fundamentally “get”. However Girl Child enjoyed her visit and I got to see my first braille landscape painting (Girl Child thought it was a blank canvas – should’ve remembered your glasses, dear!). GOMA was deemed a hit all round.

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We’d been out for approximately six hours by this point and not a cross word had been spoken. Miracle!

After a detour into Schuh to get new laces for my leather Converse boots (HUGE thanks to the assistant who helped me find what I was looking for), we headed back to the station.

Tired and with the caffeine tank running on empty, we headed home on the train having had an almost perfect day. Perhaps we should make this an annual event?