So… I have been a bit scarce on this blog for the past couple weeks…

And I actually have SO much to share with you guys.  SO much has happened… and I have experienced (almost daily) ah-ha! moments… most of which were completely unexpected and unanticipated.

It feels as though my HAT’ness has been ramped up – to levels that I never thought possible.  Things that I always assumed I either couldn’t do – or wouldn’t be interested in doing… are things I’ve been doing (and utterly loving) and nobody is more surprised than me!

And what started all of this?

The film!!

We have just finished shooting a short film… about artists.  It’s called “Starry Night”.  Well – at least, that’s what it’s called for now.  I see on Instagram – there’s another #starrynightfilm that has nothing to do with our Starry Night film… (but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it).

Anyhoo…  the process of writing, researching and shooting said-film – has been – possibly – one of the most challenging, liberating, terrifying, exhilarating, exhausting, fulfilling experiences of my life.

Never in my life have I been as busy, creatively challenged, sponge-like (with all the new things I’m learning at once)… and… simultaneously BROKE as I am right now!

I mention the “broke” thing… not because I’m all miserable and stressed about having -R350 in my bank account – but because (oh, the irony!)… I actually find it quite funny (in a dark-humour kind of way).  Yes – I am actually laughing!  It is funny!  I’m so pathetically broke… and – at the same time – so incredibly, happily creatively fulfilled!!

And – in spite of the broke’ness (and the limitations that come with that)… I have somehow managed to create more large-scale art than I have ever created in my life… using nothing more than old, half-hardened paints… sawn-off scraps of wood… old Matrix posters block-mounted on rotting chipboard… a mouldy old door… and every other bit of scrap and tat I could get my mitts on.

I haven’t visited the fancy art store for a couple weeks now.  And I certainly haven’t been able to afford top quality paints and brushes and all the other nice-to-have (but – I now realise – not absolutely necessary) materials that art stores sell.

Sure, I would LOVE an artist’s easel… but I don’t have one.  So I used a bar stool, a wall and some prestick to keep the artwork steady.

When I took this photo - this piece was still a work in progress (it looks a bit different now). It's painted on the back of a "Matrix" poster - on blockmounted, dodgy chipboard. I used children's paint, a knife, some hardened gold and some recently discovered oil pastels on this one...

When I took this photo – this piece was still a work in progress (it looks a bit different now). It’s painted on the back of a “Matrix” poster – on blockmounted, dodgy chipboard. I used children’s paint, a knife, some hardened gold oil paint (which took forever to dry) and some recently discovered black & white oil pastels… (note the bar stool and the wall in lieu of an artist’s easel)…

I would LOVE an iPad pro with lots of memory and a nice Apple Pencil… so I can easily create digital paintings on Procreate – and e-mail them off to the printer.  But since I don’t have that – I will make-do with the gadgets I DO have (in spite of broken screens and frustrating slow’ness and limitations).

I would LOVE a light-table… but, since I don’t have that… I will make-do with the upstairs window, sunlight and cellotape.

Here’s what I learned during this process:

  • Art and creativity is limited only by the limitations we place upon ourselves – and not by the stuff / materials / supplies that we do – or don’t – have access to.  I can create art from pretty-much anything.  Although high-quality paints and art supplies are lovely to have – they are not the be-all-and-end-all of the process of creating.
  • The same is true of music.  Youtube has a bazillion examples of folk creating beautiful music out of random stuff (and lots of junk).  Music is only limited when we tell ourselves:  “I can’t make music because I don’t have a Fender Precision guitar” or “I can’t write a song because I don’t have access to a piano”.  Bullshittery of the highest order!  Music can be made under any circumstance – with anything.  Give me 3 cans of beans, a glass of water and a wooden spoon – and I will compose you a song.  WE limit OURSELVES.  After creating a film (and mass amounts of art and music) on ZERO budget… never before has this been as clear to me as it is now!

Here’s some more photos of stuff created and made for our film project (without spending money):

We made our lounge into a film-set (for one of the scenes). I painted that strange piece of wall art - using children's acrylics (dug out of their art box)... old newspaper... and black & white oil pastels I found. The wire cupboard-thingies were donated by my dad... the display easel (in the background) is on-loan from the producers... the second painting (on the easel) drawn on top of a commercial poster that used to hang in a spa... the fairy lights are from the Christmas box... and so-on...

We made our lounge into a film-set (for one of the scenes). I painted that strange piece of wall art – using children’s acrylics (dug out of their art box)… old newspaper… and black & white oil pastels I found. The wire cupboard-thingies were donated by my dad… the display easel (in the background) is on-loan from the producers… the second painting (on the easel) was painted on top of a commercial poster that used to hang in a spa… the fairy lights are from the Christmas box… and so-on…

This is our "hero prop" for the film. Nick got this old bass guitar for R500 (about $40). We messed it up some more and created artwork on it (referencing Edvard Munch, Jimmy Hendrix - and a few Hatty scribbles too). The producers reimbursed Nick the R500... the strap is from one of Nick's older guitars... and again - no money spent.

This is our “hero prop” for the film. Nick got this old bass guitar for R500 (about $40). We messed it up some more and created artwork on it (referencing Edvard Munch, Jimmy Hendrix – and a few Hatty scribbles too). The producers reimbursed Nick the R500… the strap is from one of Nick’s older guitars… and again – no money spent.

These were 2 separate paintings of James (our protagonist) - which we then screwed together. They're both done on off-cuts of wood I found lurking in our back storeroom. Again - the art materials used are left-over bits and pieces... I even had (just!) enough gold to make his halo-thingy...

These were 2 separate paintings of James (our protagonist) – which we then screwed together. They’re both done on off-cuts of wood I found lurking in our back storeroom. Again – the art materials used are left-over bits and pieces… I even had (just!) enough gold to make his halo-thingy…

Here’s a close-up of one of them (you can see the wood-grain):

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We used these images throughout the film… partly as props… partly as wall-art for some of the venues.  Again:  no money spent.

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Here’s Morgan making gold stars for our set – using cut out cardboard boxes. In the background is a mouldy old door that has been rotting in the back yard for years… that I was busy making into a ranty painting (that ties in to a song that I wrote for the film)…

To be clear…

I’m generally not a thrifty, penny-pinching person.  Trust me – if I had some money, I’d be the first at the iStore – ordering my iPad Pro.  I’d also buy myself a decent, adjustable artists easel – and I’d happily stock up on lots of quality paints and brushes from the art store.

However – what I have learned (and especially over the past couple of weeks)… is that those lovely things are wonderful tools Lovely to have!  But… not 100% vital to the process of creating art.  Art doesn’t stop because I can’t afford some wonderful goodies.  Art goes on regardless.

You find stuff… you experiment with things you’ve never tried before… you hunt for solutions… you push yourself to find a way… you become very resourceful…!

And in that process (which can be stressful, challenging, scary, exciting and everything in between)… you GROW and you LEARN and you become BETTER at what you do.

… and you don’t allow your lack of resources to ever… EVER… snuff out your art.

Next post, I’ll go into more detail about the film itself… why we wrote a film about artists, who paid for the big stuff… and what I’ve learned from this big, fat, crazy process of storytelling through film.