Thoughts & Sketches

‘Hope’ – image drawn at Shantivanam, India

Hope - Mel Cross

This image was sketched whilst sitting on the step of Father Bede Griffiths’s hut at Saccinananda Ashram – Shantivanam, India, in February.  The light and colours you see on the image are the light and colours created from the sun shining through the trees there.  The original image is in black and white charcoal and was photographed where I drew it, capturing the essence of that special and precious place…

(Also see the image in the post:  ‘Article – Reflections on the Gift that is The Sangha – The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter Summer 2020′

‘Myself and I’

Myself and I - Mel Cross

A quick sketch done at St Laurence’s Church, Stroud, using the charcoal, pencils and pastels I found there on the art table.  I couldn’t resist ‘tuning in’ and having a little play!  I’m always deeply happy when covered in charcoal… whenever..wherever…

Working at The Convent – ‘The Perfect Storm’

As I begin to articulate my thoughts and ideas about creating work from the amazing space that is The Convent I’m finding I have a problem. The same problem I’m finding with my artwork.  It isn’t writer’s, or artist’s block.  It isn’t lack of ideas or inspiration.  It is the question, ‘Where the hell to begin?’!

To be given the opportunity to work within, and be inspired by, such an incredible space and place, brings me to a halt.  It is overwhelming, there is so much there to work with!  To begin with there is the history, the memories and the energy held within such a beautiful space and building – it oozes out of every tiny pore of the place.  The people who lived there, who prayed there, who died there.  The energy of endless prayer and intent and connection to God.  And now comes the music.  The people who visit the place, live there, create there, play there.  The endless energy of creativity.  And now art.  My art.  Waiting to and beginning to be created from connecting to all that was, and all that is, The Convent.  It has created the perfect storm for me.  Spirituality, music and art combined together in the same space.  This is what makes me tick…  All three coming from the same creative space of Infinite Potential.  The space of the Creative Spark.

For music, art and spirituality do not come from the mind, they come from the heart.  From the connection to all that is.  We can read all of the books, we can learn all of the skills, we can practice all we like.  But until what is held within the mind travels down to the heart and combines with creative potential it will not be truly creative.  It will be a projection of what the mind believes to be creative.  It will be a reconstituted repetition of that which has been experienced or produced before.  Until the heart and the empty space of creative potential has been brought into the mix it will lack something.  The vibration of authenticity.  You can’t quantify what this is.  It can’t be vocalised, rationalised, explained or documented.  There is no formula.  The vibration of authenticity comes from the heart, and can only be felt in the heart.  We may be able to describe in part what makes a piece of music or art authentic; but not fully.  We can sense it, we can hear or see it, and we know when it is there.  We also can sense when it is not.

For me the fascination is where this creativity takes place.  The empty space of Creative Potential.  The space in which I believe we also connect to the Divine.  Creative Potential – the place of infinite possibility…..

So this is where I am, pondering some hefty questions about life itself ….  As when you place a perfect storm into the mind of a creative for whom it suits, you can hear the explosion of thought for miles!  But once the dust settles and these thoughts travel to my heart and find the space which holds my creative potential, I know clarity of direction will emerge.  You see, it’s not lack of ideas – it’s too many!!  So until one idea triumphs I shall wrestle with them all!

The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross      The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross

‘Behind the line’ Exhibition 2015

Exhibition 2  Behind the Line Exhibition - Mel Cross  Behind the line exhibition  

My ‘Behind the Line’ exhibition was one which brought me many things to think about…  When is a work really finished?  Is it okay to exhibit experiments? Is it okay to exhibit extracts of sketchbooks?  Is it okay to exhibit written pieces alongside visual works?  What are the rules?….  I decided all of this was okay and created an exhibition showing processes, sketches, automatic writing and finished works all mixed with each other.  And to my delight it was really well received.  The ‘behind the scenes’ and  ‘inside the mind’ of an artist approach caused a great deal of discussion and debate, and really helped the not so confident or proficient explorers of art.  Everyone seemed to feel so much less intimidated and much more able to engage with and discuss all of the pieces of work… And this made me really happy.  To engage people who would not usually engage with art was a joy and an honour. Surely this is what we should all aim to do?  To encourage ordinary folk to explore and interact with art, rather than keep it as an exclusive ‘members only’ club.  Surely its better to expand ones audience and ones audience’s minds than it is to intimidate and alienate, which is so often the case with so many galleries.  As an artist it can often be intimidating, let alone if you are taking your first tentative steps into the world of Art…. So I say ‘balls’ to the rules, do it your own way and engage, engage, engage!!!


I spend a lot of time going over and over the same canvas, the same image, trying to make it work.  Experimenting with media, technique, style.  Sometimes things suddenly work, you capture something and you just know that’s it. Sometimes you go on and on and on with the same canvas in total frustration.  Somehow it just doesn’t want to work. This canvas has been frustrating the hell out of me for weeks, but to no avail.  These images have been pulled around digitally post photographing; I’m please with how they’ve come out.  The original, on the other hand, I still battle on with!…

2015-05-14 09.54.15    2015-05-18 20.54.30 

2am Sketching

2am sketch    2am sketching    2am Sketch

2am – Woke up, couldn’t sleep; restless with a voice inside that couldn’t be pacified… Light on, grabbed bag next to bed. Found a sketchbook, pen and charcoal stick.  Sat on the bedroom floor, in the dark, in the peace; gave audience to the voice.  (Sketches above) Got back into bed. Peace. Sleep…….

Sometimes the urge to create, to draw, to speak is so overwhelming it swells through me like a tsunami; unstoppable, overwhelming, to the point of drowning if it isn’t heard….  I am ‘between studios’ at the moment (new one ready in a couple of weeks) and I am pacing around like a caged wild animal…. I wander into the space all my kit is being kept in and end up coming out, hands plastered in paint….Just have to touch it….

Paint, charcoal, pencils are as essential as oxygen – even the smell of them makes me happy…..


How I created ‘Resonance – Series 1′

The ‘Resonance – Series I’ Collection evolved from a series of charcoal drawings created at St Mary’s Church, Painswick.
My aim was to tune in to and capture the memories, stories, and experiences of the people who had passed that way. The very vibration held within the church and the land.

Without intent or idea I began each piece by drawing with white pastel on white paper, without being able to see what was being drawn. Then I added and removed layer after layer of charcoal, always without trying to influence what was beginning to emerge. Eventually images would begin to appear which I then teased out.
Once I was happy with the image I photographed it within the church, capturing the energy, vibration, light and atmosphere of the moment.
At home I painstakingly built the image layer by layer on the computer. There was no technique or format, each piece was moulded individually and uniquely.
The whole process felt very much like delicately capturing a memory and rebuilding it, piece by piece, back into physical form.

The ‘Being Human’ Collection – How I work…

When I begin each painting I have no idea what they will become. I empty my mind and without intent, I allow the piece to emerge. Often I am pestered by a colour until I begin to work with it. I then paint freely.*
Sometimes words come into my head which are then added. This can really change the feeling of a piece, even when the words are subsequently painted over.**
Colour plays a huge role in this work; it affects how we relate to or connect to things. We are drawn to colours for a variety of reasons and they can sometimes affect our mood, our health and our well-being.*** I am often fascinated how strongly people are attracted to or repelled by a painting simply because of the colour, sometimes even before they have considered the subject matter. The colour and vibration speak to them first.
My paintings are often built up layer upon layer, in a subconscious way, until the final image appears. What is fascinating to me is that the emotion or vibration caught in each layer often depicts the same feeling, in different ways, time after time; like the repetition of a certain behaviour cements that behaviour into our very being.
Sometimes the work has paint added, washed off, dripped on, scrapped or sandpapered. I use brushes, sticks, pencils, cotton wool, sponges – whatever is to hand, whatever I feel is required. And, on occasion, my hands; it can get massively messy!

But finally the finished image is caught – a suspended moment – strokes of paint capturing a measure of time, space and emotion. It is often raw in appearance but needs to be left to be what it is; perfect imperfection.

*I usually dowse which colour combinations to use – sometimes I am surprised by the choices, but I trust they will be the ones which are required. Hasty judgements with the mind can shackle new ways of working.
**I am fascinated by the work of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author, who claims that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. He claims that the written, spoken and thought word can cause these changes. Pseudoscience or yet unproven fact? Food for thought…
***Colour therapists and healers work with colour to heal and rebalance our energetic systems – also fascinating.