The first kind of sharing
I came to painting in a convoluted way. My parents-in-law asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I thought “Ooh, it would be nice to have some nice painting stuff, paint or brushes or paper or something,” and the message was passed on, and that Christmas I was given tons of really nice painting things – a boxed set of Winsor & Newton watercolours, a starter set of water-mixable oils, pads and blocks of paper, canvas boards, really nice brushes with lovely bristles, sketching pencils, pallette knives — I’ve never asked, but I think they might have gone to a specialist art materials shop and said “Pray sell me as much of your finest art materials as I can carry,” or something. The thing was that then I felt that it was all a bit too special for me to use, so I didn’t, really.
Then another Christmas a friend asked what I wanted, and I said I’d like some canvases, because I had all this masses of paint and felt unable to use it, but if I had canvases, I’d have to. And she went to a discount art and books shop and bought, um, a pack of every size they had, so suddenly I had twelve canvases to fill.
And then I actually started to paint.
The second kind of sharing
And then I found that I love to have other people paint, too. I bought my children little Cotman watercolour sets, because children produce glorious art when they are given good colours. And I started sort of… pushing them on my friends’ children, too. And my mother. And my friends – Léan says I get a kind of eldritch glitter in her eye when encouraging her friends.
It turns out that almost every Monday evening, one or two friends comes by and we paint together – usually all acrylics, sometimes oils, sometimes watercolour. Occasionally we’ve made huge Lego creations instead. I’ve recently started putting photos on Twitter under the hashtag mondaypaint so that friends who aren’t actually in my house can join in.
The third kind of sharing
And people asked if they could buy my paintings. I hesitated, then realised that this meant I could buy more canvas, and said yes. And of course when I realised that people valued my work enough to buy it, I started giving people not just the opportunity to paint, but sometimes finished paintings of mine, too. Between gifts and purchases, my paintings are all over the world – Chile, California, England, Sweden, Ireland, Wales, off the top of my head. And I have things other people made – lots of paintings by my friends, handmade dolls from Peru which my children play with, gorgeous blankets from Sweden, handpainted magnets with Mayans on from the USA. Some I bought, some were gifts. All of them feel to me like something shared, something where I have a connection with the creator.
I like to feel that people who have my art in their lives have a connection with me, and maybe use it to create something themselves.