Starting on the 'Path with Art'....

By Gillian Valladares Castellino


Art is my 'friend'. It is for fun, for self-discovery and well being. It is a way of being. I loved doing any art related 'stuff' until around the age of 10. Then life intervened. I had to achieve academically, I had to get married and raise a family. I had to.... I had to... I had to. I still 'have to' do a lot of things, but....

After a master's degree in life sciences, stints as a science journalist, a bank clerk, a mature age student and now an IT professional for several years, on-going commitments as a wife and mother (of course), I found myself pining for something I couldn't name. I would find myself habitually walking out of bookstores after having spent a small fortune on art, ceramics, textile art, art therapy and craft books. It got worse. I started frequenting art shops and emerging several hours later, with a much lighter wallet and boxes of equipment which I hadn't a clue how to use. After a couple of years of building up a sizeable stash of unused canvases, art journals and resource materials - on New Year's Eve 2001, I decided that I would either begin to use the 'stuff' or give it all away in a massive de-clutter operation the next day.

That night I did my first canvas ever. I haven't stopped since and I don't intend to for the rest of my life. For me writing this blog is about consolidating what I have learnt about art and about living and sharing it. It is also about inviting other people to take the plunge and to assure them that art-making is worth it. It is also about acknowledging and celebrating my sources of inspiration:

The first one is 'The Ten Steps of Visioning' by Lucia Capacchione which got me started on collages. Collages are not my major area of interest. They are what I return to from time to time when the 'well' dries up and I cannot produce any other artwork. When I want a bit of 'soul space'.

Here's what you do to produce one:
1. Build up a stash of:
(a) photos that speak to you in some way - the colour, the content, the shapes, the symbols, whatever appeals to you
(b) ribbons, bits of thread, sequins, beads, paper of different textures and colours
(c) paints, inks, stamp-pads, colours - pencils, pens, pots, tubes - brushes and glazes, pastels - whatever you can afford or scavenge. (I have appropriated a large collection of crayons discarded by my offspring when they finished with primary school.)
2. When the mood strikes, put on some appropriate music. Different types of music result in different images. The first picture at the top of this blog was a result of listening to Greek music, the second to 'Earth songs', the third to Cajun music, the fourth and fifth to light jazz. Sometimes I have the burners going too - I find that geranium or lavender works for me, sometimes lime and at other times some amazing Japanese joss sticks which I got at a present and am hoarding like a miser because I can't find out where to get replacements.
3. Dig out a huge tube/pot or glue, a large art journal - (A3) size works for me - a pair of paper scissors and away you go.
PS: Make sure that the family is asleep or away, else string up a large sign on the door ' Do not disturb - OR I'LL BITE).

Another major source of inspiration is the work of Kristine Kadlec and Rhoz Studio at the 'Artist's Loft' at the Soul Food Cafe - definitely a place you would want to visit if you enjoy expressing yourself through writing and art (or craft). If you are really struggling for ideas or prompts try the 'Art Journals Online' link and here is my all-time favourite Joe's Creative Journal on how to start your art life literally from scratch. Other classics that you might want to browse through to get you started are Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. If you are goal orientated and cannot see any tangible benefit in making art, Art Heals: How creativity cures the soul by Shaun McNiff is just what you need to take a peek into.

Please let me know what you think of this post and until we meet again - enjoy your journey....


  1. Jill, I remember your artwork on the Christmas greeting cards you used to send us. I often recall and talk to Mike & Mich about how as a schoolkid, you could so easily sketch faces. Truly you have been blessed with the talents from both your parents. You also have a good voice; I remember you used to sing on the children's programme of the Bombay radio station. This is a very honest, down-to-earth intro to your art blog. Such creativity is also a great relaxant and destresser. All that I have written, as always, comes straight from the heart. Love, Joan

  2. "Color is mysterious,eluding definition;
    it is a subjective experience,a cerebral
    sensation depending on three related and
    essential factors:light,an object,and an observer."

    Enid Verity,Color Observed.1980


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