Monday, March 02, 2015


is the title of a round-robin kind of project which the multi-talented writer, artist, publisher, blogger and good friend Beth Adams has invited me to participate in. It's a growing link-up of visual artists who are each asked to answer four questions, post the replies on their blogs, then nominate another artist who takes up the baton on the following Monday. Although I would not normally join a chain, I'm flattered that Beth invited me and besides, it obliges me to try and pin down some thoughts which have lately been flickering around my head like butterflies, evading my grasp. So I'll treat this as an inner investigation.

1. What am I working on?

Ever since finishing the 40+ relief blocks for the Trans-Siberian book - more than a year of exciting, demanding, concentrated and difficult work, now happily completed and out in the world in its final form - I've been wondering: what's next? I always find it easier to begin new work when the task is tied to some outside responsibility: a deadline, an exhibition, a book, a painting, an event - that is awaited by others. This sense of fulfilling an obligation (even one deliberately chosen by me) is a powerful motivator and confers a discipline that I otherwise lack. When there is no particular destination for a project - then I waver from one possibility to another and it's much harder to get going. So: what I'm working on now is deciding what I will work on now. Uppermost among possibilities is continuing the autobiography, and returning to Augustine, my alter-ego, in some new form.

Detail from The Lesson 1992   78 x 29 x 15 cms  Mixed media construction

2. How does my work differ from others of my genre?

How does Picasso differ from Braque? Van Gogh from Gauguin? Rembrandt from van Dyck? You'd need to go through the whole of art history, examine ancient and modern concepts of art and individuality, analyse specific artists' aims and influences. Nothing is absolutely new under the sun. To find my own voice in art means to shed influences I've outgrown and assimilate others which continue to inspire and strengthen me. A perceptive critic looking at all the work I've done over the years would be a better judge of whatever may be distinctive or innovative in it. Anyhow I don't know what my 'genre' is. I work in a lot of different ways: painting, printmaking, books, 3-D media, writing, comics, etc. and I hope to add more etceteras before I depart this planet.

Augustine and Inertia - 1985 - from the series The Augustine Adventures
 (see this strip larger on the main Blaugustine blog)

3. Why do I create what I do?

Because it's what I know how to do. Because I've never wanted to do anything else. Because it allows me, at least some of the time, to remain a child in a world of adults.

Page from graphic novel-in-progress

4. How does my creating process work?

I suppose in much the same way as all creative processes do. The trigger might be a memory, an observation, a sudden spark, an encounter, a continuation, something heard, or read or seen. The trigger then becomes a desire to give shape, to give birth to the idea. Experiments with different forms, techniques, materials. Many many trials and errors. Allowing chance and intuition to have their say. Establishing discipline, a time-scale. Starting. Stopping. Starting again. Succeeding. Failing. Failing better. Starting again.

 Detail from My Life Unfolds 2012  Accordion book

 That's it.

I will now pass the Around-the-world-blog-hop baton to my friend Phil Cooper, an Englishman currently living in Berlin, whose collages and other artworks impressed me from the moment I first saw them. You're on next Monday, Phil!


Hattie said...

This is great. I'll study it more carefully and maybe have more to say. I have been seeing too much static art that does not speak to me, so this is so refreshing!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thanks Hattie - I'm looking forward to reading more and seeing pics of your trip to Cuba and Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Great post Natalie, lively, rich, very human and chock full of lovely images. Now I’ve got to follow that *gulp*
:-) Phil

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Phil, I'm looking forward to yours...gulps and all!

Tom said...

I loved this post. The second question, in particular, intrigued me being not dissimilar to the need to 'let go'. And I must say, I could not dally for too long on the third question.