A very warm welcome to Ruth Geldard writer extraordinaire today, a fascinating multi-talented lady who tells us how she discovered herself. She was originally from a professional art background … but I will let Ruth tell her own story. Her paintings are amazing: I strongly advise you to follow the links!
The first time it happened, I was sitting on a beach on a Greek island. I was inspired to paint and instinctively reached for my painting gear, only it wasn’t there, I had left it behind. But I did have a tiny notebook and biro and so decided to write a painting instead. It felt thrilling and deliciously naughty, as though it was something I was not supposed to be doing. It was a break-through, cross-over moment. The words below still elicit a strong visual memory, and I could mix those colours right now.
A Word Drawing
The sky is the colour of mouthwash and out of the still sea, mountains rise like the backs of dinosaurs, the shallows are oily flat and edged with turquoise.
Nearby a man sits high on terracotta rocks cleaning fish, a large bird stands at a respectful distance. The man’s hands move in an easy repeating rhythm, broken only to throw fish guts into the sea which boils in anticipation. Occasionally he tosses a small silver fish to the bird, careful not to make eye contact. The bird, grateful for this cross-species generosity, hops warily from one foot to the other and is held back by an invisible force-field.
The man’s body is the same colour as the rocks, his olive shorts sun-dried and salt-stiff. If you didn’t know he was there you wouldn’t see him as so perfectly does he assimilate into the landscape.
I come from a painting background and for many years regularly exhibited work in London. Teaching drawing and painting to adults paid the bills. Eventually I gave up teaching to concentrate on painting, but as I packed away my teaching notes, I thought it a shame to hide them in a drawer, so I took a risk and sent them to the editor of a painting magazine. This wise and generous woman phoned me and coaxed me into writing, for which I am indebted to her. For the next ten years, I worked for the top painting companies, demonstrating, road-testing and writing about it all.
During this time I carried on painting commercially and was eventually asked to apply for membership of a hallowed and prestigious watercolour institution. However the first question on the form was, “Where did you study towards your degree?” This sent me back to university where I fast-tracked a BA Hons and an MFA. Of course this changed everything, I spent a lot of time writing creatively, so that mentally and academically the two worlds of art and creative writing began to collide.
After university I began a blog about my painting progress. During this regular,
experimental writing, ideas for short stories began to surface and two have now been published along with a flash fiction. Another pivotal, piece of writing at this time, was a vignette about the father/daughter relationship, Lemon Yellow, and the nearest I have come to Concrete Poetry, a proper cross-pollination of words and image and also where I discovered the emotional memory and resonance held within the act of colour-mixing. http://dev.a-n.co.uk/blogs/artist-without-portfolio/post/5240306
And now, my WIP, a novel, set in India, about a timid artist who uses extreme colour-mixing as a weapon to confront fear, is underpinned with a lot of colour-mixing from memory, which although invisible, elicits words and imbues them with an artistic authority.
One thing that is an absolute and remained a constant in my life, is the drawing and painting of people. Always from life, these often accidental, pop-up studio sessions, on my travels, create a small window, through which I can begin to process and understand another culture. These intimate and sometimes revealing encounters also generate words.
So I still draw and paint, although words now dominate, (this is the first time I have acknowledged this) but sometimes during a long writing spell, my hands will become homesick for a paintbrush. Then I stop and make abstract, repetitive marks with ink or paint, I call these meditative daubs, comfort marks, and they do just that, when my confidence flags, they prop me up, refresh me and guide me gently back to writing.
Ruth Geldard is an unusual artist/writer hybrid, originally from a professional art background with exhibitions in London and the South East and demonstrations for and painting videos for the paint company, Daler-Rowney. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Home Truths, painting the first ever, on-air portrait of actor Timothy Spall’s mother.
She has written numerous magazine feature-articles and book contributions for publishers that include; Dorling Kindersly, Collins, Medici Fine Art Publishing and Watson and Guptil.
Study towards an MFA, saw a move towards creative writing and she has since kept a blog on Artist’s Newsletter, an international online artist’s forum, hits in excess of 60,000.
Her first short story, An Uncertain State, was shortlisted for the Fish International Short Story Prize 2014. Her first published story, The Parrot Dress, was included in an anthology by Labello Press, 2014. The Parrot Dress, has also received the Sapphire Award for, Excellence in Contemporary Narrative and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The Ghost Cow was published in the Momaya 2014 Review, and The Saving of the Shrew, was shortlisted for the Gem Street Awards 2015 also by Labello Press. Her flash fiction Here It Comes was recently published online by Spelk Fiction.
Ruth lives on the coast with her partner and Woolfie the dog, where she writes and paints looking at the sea.
You can see her artwork on her website: www.ruthgeldard.com
Follow her blog: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/all-kinds-of-everything-2 or here: https://ruthgeldard.wordpress.com/ .