Friday, January 15, 2010

Using my bottle

I think this is possibly the ugliest piece of work I've ever created. It's a self portrait of a seventeen year old me.

I don't need compliments, I need advice.

When I was seventeen I kept a diary. Ten years later I read it back and wanted to exterminate my seventeen year old self. Luckily I didn't have to - she was trapped. Another four and no doubt I'll laugh, if I can find the diary to read it that is. I hadn't thought about it at all until I trawled through some old pictures for inspiration.

I like getting older. From sixteen to thirty I looked nineteen, it was a blessing and a curse. Now I look my age (thanks to the NZ sun), feel it (thanks to relocating across the globe and extending my family), and all I need is for the sense to kick in (?).

What's the best piece of writing (or other) advice you've ever received, what's the worst, and do you like avocados?

Oh, and, if you see a familiar looking bottle at the beach don't uncork it! Some things are better left forgotten.


Dave King said...

Four questions: What is the blaze of white light?
Why do you think it is ugly?
Why do you suppose a work of art should not be ugly?
When did you paint it?

steven said...

i nver received writing advice but i've given it. write as if no one will read your writing then rewrite your work as if everyone will read your writing. not brilliant but it helps eleven year olds!!! steven

Jenna Wallace said...

Oh yes! I'm with you on that! I always looked young for my age and then suddenly, wrinkles popped out of nowhere. Geesh.
And when I found my diary from high school. I burned it. Seriously. I did not want it falling in the hands of my daughter.

Best piece of writing advice: It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be written. That one really helps me turn off the internal editor and just get to it.

Worst piece of writing advice: Grammar rules -- split infinitives, gerund phrasing. All that stuff I'm not supposed to do. It really messes up my flow if I think about it.

And I LOVE avocados. Lucky me -- I live in the land of cheap avocados.

Golden West said...

Avocados - a resounding YES! Guacamole with chips, chunks in tortilla soup with chicken and rice and especially with butter on sourdough toast.

Best advise ever - to be grateful and savor each day.

Kass said...

You want advice? You talkin' to me? - Imagine Robert de Niro saying this. OK, don't. My advice: don't be so hard on yourself. That's not the ugliiest piece of art I'VE ever seen. Maybe the reflection of the flash helps, but I really really like the idea of the 17-year-old version of yourself in a bottle. And the colors and shading are good.

I like avocados, but I have to eat them sparingly. If I eat more than a couple of bites., they get gaggy and pithy and slimy all at the same time.

Best piece of writing advice: Don't get it right, get it written (with the understanding that you can edit later).

Worst piece of advice: Always tell the truth (sometimes it just doesn't pay).

Mike McLaren said...

The best piece of writing I've ever read is that there is no best, worst, good, bad. There is what is, and if it comes from the heart it serves its purpose perfectly.

Personally, I saw the word bottle and immediately thought to myself, "well, yeah, look at the shimmer of light coming off the glass." I was impressed.

(And boy do I love avocados!)

Rachel Fenton said...

Hi Dave,

The white blaze is partly the light spot I painted on the "glass" of the bottle and partly a happy accident with the flash from the camera. It's watercolour, pastel and varnish.

I think it's ugly on a number of levels: because it is not something I want to look at; the seeming psychology of the piece is not a pleasant place to be; the colours are flat and grim; I think it is just plain revolting.

I know I was very into the surrealists and expressionists at the time I painted it but I just don't think it really carries anything more than teen angst.

It's not even technically a decent watercolour (and I could paint well: I was a better watercolourist at seventeen than I am a painter now)- just a bit of emotion with a layer of shine over it.

I don't dislike it for being ugly and I don't think art has to be beautiful of attractive but I do think art has to be art and not some tosh bit of adolescent ego.

I painted it when I was seventeen.

I might post some of my other work from the same time to give an insight into my teen self (or a laugh) now that I know where the work is. Some of it's really interesting but some is just dire. What do you think - would you be interested to see some of that?

Thanks for engaging with this though, Dave, I am always very interestedd in your thoughts and opinions.

Steven - I be that eleven year old! Great advice, thanks.

Dreamstate - I thought about destroying it but then I'd have to burn all of my art from the same time and all of my correspondence (which just makes for the funniest and saddest reading) and I think it might be good to show my daughter when she's older - you know, to tell her that being a teen is not an incurable disease, it passes and you get to look back on it and see there was fun in the thick of it.

Great advice - I was part of an education "experiment" where we weren't taught grammar at school. When I went to university, however, I was expected to know it so I had to get the textbooks out! I am still not up to scratch but I take comfort in the fact that a child's grammar usage is accurate and that it is only where the rules of grammar deviate from the regular that people go and dogs, cat and cats, mouse and mouses...I don't blame myself when I get it wrong - I didn't write the rule book! You are definitely right - "best not tho think about it" ! Thanks.

Golden West - your recipes sound yummy - I love avocado on toast but haven't had it on sour dough toast...mmmmm...

"Be grateful"...simple but huge. Thank you.

Hey Kass - not meaning to sound like I'm beating myself up - I'm not - I've painted some really cracking stuff - been more than happy with myself on the whole, lol!

I'm sure ai was more than pleased with myself when I painted this! I more wanted to put myself on the line as a gesture to encourage you all to open up and give some snipets of advice...I much more interested on what goes on in your minds than in my own (juvenile or other)!

Very good advice - I should really be writing now and not blogging!

No, telling the truth is not the key to human survival I'm figuring!


Hey, AM, I like that!

"Personally, I saw the word bottle and immediately thought to myself,"...?

That makes me chuckle...


catdownunder said...

No, you do not want advice! You just need to know something - you can do it. Now get on with it!
(I think it is all about well ordered cat hair placed in neat - but sometimes unexpected ways.)

Rachel Fenton said...

You are too astute for your own good, Cat! Good job you have the nine lives...sometimes I feel like I've frittered mine...I am procrastinating beyond even my standards...written four short stories this month, two of them 3000 words a piece, and yet my so much research it's smothering my hairs you say?....I'll report back...thank you, Cat :)

Donna Hosie said...

What's the best piece of writing (or other) advice you've ever received, what's the worst, and do you like avocados?

I love avocados; I worship at the altar of guacamole!

Best advice: write from the heart.
Worst advice: write from the heart!

YOU CAN DO IT, RACHEL. Now stop revisiting your former self and write that novel!

Rachel Fenton said...

Okay, Donna! I'm going to write right now! With my heart, no, I mean from my heart...with my pc...and my brain, no, my heart....Thank you! I can put it off no longer...can, I'm going..right now....

Rachel Fenton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

Old diaries are so embarrassing! I'm glad I didn't blog then :) The best writing advice I think is to write and see what happens! No, I don't like Avocados, I'm afraid.

Rachel Fenton said...

You're afraid of avocados - aaaagh! Shock horror, run, don't walk, from the ...hmn..lost the plot somewhat today....spent all day writing one paragraph!

Interesting - I have a theory developing about avocados...

That's rather good advice, Andrea, but for some reason I have been having trouble putting it into practice where I should be!

Rachel Fox said...

Well, I like a bit of emotion and I'm no art I'm really fascinated by that painting. There is a crudeness to the idea but I like crudeness sometimes too. The mouth is particularly interesting...

On writing...the Stephen King book on writing is good. Editors sending lists of how to send your poetry in is bad. Apart from that...I work along the lines of - work the way that seems right to you (whether other people respond well to it or not is another matter...sometimes it takes people a while to catch up...).


Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, Rachel, I think trial and error is the way I've tackled most things in life! Thanks for the advice and the art comments - crude is fine by me!

Jim Murdoch said...

I have to say I can’t think of any advice I’ve been given, good, bad or indifferent. That’s the problem of spending one’s life around non-writers. I’ve often been asked for advice. I even wrote a poem about it once:


      Words are the enemy.
      Please believe me when I tell you this;
      I mean you no harm.

      They won't give up their meanings
      except after a fight
      and they'll betray you without a thought.

      But the worst of it is:
      they'll shoot you down with home truths
      the kind you can't run from.

      So don't run.
      Just watch what you say
      is what you meant to say.

       (for Deb)

      Tuesday, 26 November, 1996

BRW I don’t like avocados.

Rachel Fenton said...

Jim, what a great way to get a point over. Qords really are my enemy lately. The last stanza reminds me of Joe from Gt Expectations..."As what I meantersay, Pip.." I was doubly impressed!


Thomas Taylor said...

That's a spooky painting, Rachel. And you have a rather ghostly and mysterious profile picture these days too.

I'm glad I don't keep a diary. History will be too.

The best advice/lesson I have received/learnt is to put the reader first. In the end, writing is all about reading.

Rachel Fenton said...

I thought my profile pic went well with the trees - non?

I have a cheesy grin one too, just trying out a few ideas. Not going to start writing horror!

I agree that writing's all about reading but aren't we writing what we ourselves would like to read? Are we not indeed our own preferred readers?

I always keep in mind that someone super critical will read anything I write and that if it isn't the very best I can do I may as well not waste my words - hence all day on one paragraph!

Thanks for the wise words, Thomas!

JAKI MCCARRICK said... look like a young Katherine Mansfield. It's a very evocative picture - full of mystery. You must keep it!!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Jaki - now if people would tell me I write as well as her, too, that would make my day!
I'll probably increase the darkness as I get older!

Thomas Taylor said...

Yes, definitely keep the profile picture! It's very mysterious and does indeed go well with the trees.

Lori said...

You may not need compliments but I really love that painting and I would proudly display it in my house. It has beautiful, beautiful colors. How can you call that ugly?

And I love avocados and I have no good advice because I never ever listen. I don't like others to tell me what to do and I always customize everything I get. Sometimes I think back from my death bed. I think of what matters most and what I would like to have achieved. I am sure the best advice is already inside of you.

Thanks for the encouraging words at my blog. I am in Romania now and trying to enjoy the vacation after a short hospital stay (stomach virus).

And that painting ... soo beautiful.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey Thomas, thanks!

Awe, Lori - hope your vacation goes brilliantly from now on - poor you, you have been through the wringer lately!

I love your non-advice!

If you email me a postal address, the painting's yours!

Lori said...

Are you serious? Would you send it to me? I mean, I would be delirious. I'm already jumping around here (can you tell I'm not sick anymore?). But, I am thinking, won't your children resent you for this? You have to think of them before you part with your beautiful creations. Anyway, I am going to send you my address by e-mail. Just in case you really decide you would do this. I promise I would treasure it. I am sure everyone envies me right now. I'm so lucky! Thank you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha, of course I'm serious - can't believe you like it!

I think my children will have enough with the drawings/paintings of them and other family - they won't miss one of me as a bottled teen!

Dominic Rivron said...

Favourite writing advice? I liked the Dr Johnson idea to the effect that you should cross out the sentence you're most pleased with.

Rachel Fenton said...

I remember the first "perfect" pot I threw in pottery class, Dominic, the teacher came over with a cheese wire and sliced it clean in half and said, "yep, it was perfect"'s good to be humbled.

Rachel Fox said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rachel Fenton said...

Cheers, Rachel - have sent you one now!