Recreationist Theory

GrandCanyon

This post is written in response to Kozo’s monthly peace challenge at everyday gurus

When I was about 10 and living in Los Angeles, my parents took me and my brother to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. Though we came from New Zealand, a land of majestic and awesome scenery, we were aghast at the sheer size of the canyon. When I first got out of the car, for some reason I thought that in front of me was a giant billboard painting, it looked so surreal. “No, it isn’t a painting,” my mother replied. “It’s real.”

I now live in Australia, but I went back to see the Grand Canyon in 2009. You know how when you’re a child, things look enormous, and then when you revisit as an adult, they look so much smaller? This was NOT one of those moments. The big GC was every bit as magnificent as I remembered.

More recently, I saw a remarkable documentary series on America’s national parks, then I found the photos I had taken on the last trip, and I was inspired to try to paint the Grand Canyon as I’d seen it in my mind’s eye as a child.

I am a novice painter and the Grand Canyon is notoriously difficult to paint, but whether the painting is any good or not is irrelevant, really. The point is, the Grand Canyon reminds us of the great beauty in nature that we should be celebrating every day. Painting the Grand Canyon was a creative challenge that I set myself and which took concentration and effort, and trying some bits again and again.

This, I believe, is how creativity can help make a more peaceful world. When you are trying to create or recreate something beautiful, whether it be in an image or in words, whether a piece of writing, a painting, a photo, a sculpture, a garden or a hundred other things, your mind becomes peaceful and focused on the task.

Perhaps it is something to do with that idiom, “Idle hands make the devil’s work”.

The art of food

In response to a challenge from The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge to “detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual”.

When I took up painting two years ago, I didn’t think still life would interest me. However, I gave it a go and found that I loved painting food. I had  an idea to paint recipes: that is, to paint the elements of a recipe before they became a meal. This idea evolved to include place settings and pre-dinner snacks—anything to do with food preparation, utensils or consumption in the home, in fact. Strangely, I have painted a knife in all of them!

CutMeFeb2011

“Cut Me” (above): This is the very first painting I did. It was with trepidation that I took up a paintbrush and loaded it with that wonderful vibrant red. I was pleased with the result, especially the way the knife turned out. It took me about 15 tries to get that reflection right!

Lemon and Knife

“Lemon and Knife” (above): This wasn’t really meant to be a painting at all, just a trial of my new PanPastels, which are a pastel medium pressed into small dishes and applied with sponges. This took me only about 15 minutes at the breakfast table one morning. The knife is special, as it was given to me by my late father when I was about 20. I have used it almost every day in the kitchen since then. As someone on an online art group I belong to commented: “Sometimes the simplest things are the best”.

OnlyOnHisDayOff

“Only On His Day Off” (above): Until recently, my husband worked evening shift five nights a week. On his days off, he loved to indulge in some red wine and accompanying snacks. The cloth is one I bought from Bali when I visited in 2005.

MakingSangria

“Making Sangria” (above): the ingredients for this classic Spanish drink are peaches, oranges, lemons, red wine and soda water. The red wine was sourced from a shop in Melbourne that stocks the right kind, and it was expensive! There is also usually sugar in the recipe, too, but I thought I had enough elements already.

Salad Niçoise

“Making Salad Niçoise” (above): For the ingredients of this French salad I bought a Spanish onion and bottled olives, Italian canned tuna and anchovies, and Australian extra virgin olive oil. You can also add capers to this salad. I used those fantastic green plastic souvenir salad servers sent to me by a friend in Auckland, New Zealand, plus a wonderful green glass platter given to me by a friend in Melbourne, Australia. Most of my paintings contain elements that are meaningful to me.