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Something made me pick up ‘The Storytelling Artist – The Road to Controversial Art’ this week and start reading random sections of it, looking for possible better phrases and examples to replace those that I had used when compiling each chapter.

I felt it was a little like creating a painting to the best of your ability and then checking this future masterpiece that will represent you for the rest of eternity for errors and misalignments. Yes, improvements could be made, and I could have written more or included other examples, ideas and incidents.

But of course, there is a time when you must leave a painting and call it a day before you over paint it and totally ruin the original reason for its creation.

I read through a section I wrote about watching tv as a seven-year-old and being absolutely amazed at other kids having their artwork shown on a teatime kids television programme. Everyone who had tuned in to watch it, could see their art.

“Wow, imagine that” was my very comment that summed up this huge accomplishment by these young artists, which in my small world, was pretty much impossible to achieve.

This, I guess at the time became an aim of mine, even though I didn’t know what an aim was, or what it was like to focus on something so far removed from my small Welsh terraced house and my love of art with my broken crayons and pencils.

Fast forward many years, and here I am now resetting my aims and objectives each week to achieve becoming a full-time artist and being successfully recognized in my field and financially secure beyond my dream.

Goal setting: something that has been part of my entire adult life. I don’t know if it is innate or we are conditioned to ensure that this becomes second nature to most of us, in order to be better individuals, to fit in and comply easier, or even in a microscopic way, to play a single part in advancing the human race.

And many times, I find I am readjusting these to take account of varying dynamics or sometimes reflect on the more achievable rather than the ultimate dream. But little do I go back in time and see what my original goal was last year, a decade ago or even back to my childhood. I just plough on regardless, forward facing, ignoring the past.

This inability of mine reminds me of the quote of the fictional Italian Ferrari racing driver “Franco” in the 1976 film Gumball Rally, ripping his rear-view mirror from his Ferrari Daytona tossing it aside and saying, “What’s behind me is not important!” A quote I love to use from time to time in my best but poor Italian racing driver accent.

But where we came from is in fact very important, and what is behind us is actually quite significant. We all have had that look of wonder at some stage, just like me as a seven-year-old and dreamt of the far reaching, the unbelievable, and the impossible. What we have actually achieved in that time since that moment of wonder is quite remarkable when we look back at what caught our imagination all those years ago.

For some, it was that car that dad owned and the speed it reached when you struggled to look out of the window as you were so small, and you clung to the base of the seat laughing at the top of your voice. Or the wedding dress of the bride that looked so exquisite and the attention that she attracted as she stepped out of the church into a wonderful cloud of colourful confetti. The size of the giant of a man in the sports team you supported, the kindness of the doctor as she comforted you when you sat on your parent’s lap feeling unwell.

Moments that made you think that one day you wanted to own that car, be that bride, that sports person or doctor, but had no idea how to get there and what to do. That wide eyed moment of wonder that stuck with you.

Well in reflection, with the demands of the world, our society and peer pressure to continually achieve greater things than yesterday, and aspire to the next challenging goal, it pays to step back and reflect from time to time on your very own equivalent of that seven-year-olds wow moment. And in that reflection, appreciate that you have actually achieved something significant and worthwhile in your life.

For me, I just have to acknowledge that I have now had many thousands of people viewing my art, it has been displayed in numerous galleries, and it hangs in countless locations and homes, bringing happiness and fond memories to all those who choose to possess it and ask me to capture something that is close to their heart.

So, be kind to yourself occasionally, and think back to the wonders of your childhood and the amazing world that stretched far into the distance ahead of you, as you looked with opened eyes at the fantastic things that made your ‘wow’ moment and filled your mind with awe and optimism and reassure yourself that you have actually achieved something worthwhile.

Ian Mackenzie

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Updated: Jul 13, 2021

Passion. The want, the lust, the desire. The intense feeling, the conviction and the single-minded focus that fuels the willpower to overcome even the most daunting of obstacles or fears. Its rewards are unbelievable. It is the difference between mediocracy and unbound success.

Passion exists in individual forms as an aspiration or a longing. It also exists as a collective drive of tribal proportion. As every nation knows, harnessing this extraordinary energy is so compelling and powerful, the Italians for women, the French for wine, the Welsh for rugby, just some stereotypical cliches we associate with passion. No matter what it is, passion is as strong as ever, and exists far and wide.

There is nothing more passionate than the united Welsh nation on match day when they host one of the formidable home nation teams at the Millennium Stadium. The rousing male voice choirs uplifting the hopes of the viewers, the roar of the crowd, the colour red, all feeding the passion of many willing the few who represent all, to succeed.

The individual whose passion is the drive behind them becoming a better person as they rise above others in achievement in an activity that excites them. The excitement becomes the passion, and the passion forms the drive to achieve more.

Once you have it, it is the sole reason that makes you get up in the morning and physically move towards your dream, your goal. It ensures that you put one step in front of the other, ticking off the menial activities that allow you to focus on that one aim, which may very well be somewhere in the distant future, or be so far removed from reality, that others do not believe in it or just cannot see it. But the passion deep inside you to succeed, firmly routes you to that pathway and each step you take.

Passion can lead to all kinds of success and self fulfilment for an individual or a team. It can also very easily become a curse and destroy many aspects of life. Treat it with care and respect and apply it to the skills you want to improve or the goal you wish to achieve.

Having a passion for something specific rather than carrying out an action or an activity just for the money, often results in having a more positive and greater outlook on life. The rewards are genuine and lasting with such a simple mindset.

So, who has passion? The answer lies somewhere in the notion that passion is a feeling for something deep within. It is a want, a desire, it is not something that is taught. Facts and figures are taught and create knowledge. The desire to want to know more of these in a particular area, is the very passion that will make you achieve more than the person just relying on absorbing the facts and figures alone. The passionate person will apply these facts and figures in a more fulfilling way.

Can passion make you rich? The question here is the measure of being rich. Having a passion about something adds value to what you do. You have a reason to do it and a sense of purpose. It creates depth to your activity. Passion will increase your knowledge. In applying it in circumstances with others, it brings value in your activity for those with you. If value in your chosen activity is a measure of richness, then yes, passion most definitely makes you rich.

Success very much depends on being passionate as it gives a sense of worthiness to the achievement. The passion makes you get up in the morning and walk or run down that road to wherever your dream is. Most of the time, this is a never-ending road. And so it should be, because if you achieve something very easily and in a short time, where is the challenge now which made you get up in the morning? What are you going to get up for the following morning?

Then of course, there is the passion for another person. Somebody, somewhere becoming the attention of your desire, your lust, your boundless zeal for them. Another temptation that can push you to the extreme, blinkered by your focus.

Do you need passion in life? Well, if you have not experienced it, and I imagine there are very few who have not, then perhaps if this is you, then no. But, once bitten, it is there forever. How it manifests itself, is determined by the focus and the desire in your life.

Whether aimed at a person, a team, a career goal, or a hobby, apply it in full and experience it becoming your guardian angel, guiding your efforts and commitment to help you achieve your aim like never before.

“The Land of Passion – Gwlad Llawn Angerdd” depicts a country of passionate individuals, united by their desire for victory on the pitch, in the classroom, and in love. Represented by a history of being second, downtrodden and forgotten, by aspiring beyond the status quo, this painting represents every individual passionate thought, action and achievement, and the subsequent unification of a nation.

Passion. Nurture it, control it, and it will bring endless value to your life.

Ian Mackenzie

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Updated: Jul 13, 2021

This is a sneak preview of artwork that I am releasing this week. The reason I want to share this with you before it is finished is because of the overwhelming feeling that I had when I reached a particular stage of it today, and the influence of certain music that was very prominent in this afternoon’s studio work.

I am not sure which inspired which today, the music or the art. But I reached the make-or-break point of this piece of artwork, and it crossed my mind that the next stroke of the brush could very well kill it right there in the next few seconds.

If it went well, I knew it would be special. If it went badly, the picture would not be completely lost, but the struggle I have endured in deciding on the mixture of colour and tone, would be unsurmountable. This may therefore become one of those ‘experimental’ moments of art, and I knew my idea was worth so much more than just a notional comment to myself that I could have done better as I place it in the rear of the cupboard, never to see daylight again.

I had a deadline to meet which you may understand, so there was no going back once I made the move.

I had spent some time daydreaming, trying to solve the issue between the flat sculpture tones that I had created, and the contrast that would exist with the background that I needed in some way to complement the figure. The deadline loomed and the rose-tinted glasses let through a glint of a possibility. I reached for some music and stepped up to the canvas, making my mark with the paint I had half-heartedly mixed whilst my mind wandered.

That mark that would hold me to account for years to come, I am sure of it. This was the one mark I needed to be right. All my experience, all my storytelling coming together in one exciting movement, immersed in trepidation and desire. The need to finally create modern contemporary artwork that someone would want without hesitation and want with the desire that I have for creating the image before me.

The mark was made. I turned to turn the music to something else and looking back from an angle with a wry smile, I knew the music that I would play. The three songs that yesterday I told my son Connor would be my heart beating, rhythm setting, motivational creating songs. And they came, one after the other, hitting me like the body blows of impact sport facing a formidable opponent, when the odds are against you and the terms of the fight mean far more than just that next technique, so you therefore take the blows until your moment presents itself.

"Tonight is What it Means to be Young" comes first, setting the pace. This is followed by "Teenage Wildlife", both being lesser-known songs that are not played on commercial radio. Therefore, they fill my studio with good intent and personal motivation, feeding the passion of my self-indulgence, reminding me that they are my songs and not for sharing.

The third emotionally uplifting sound complements my creativity as I take stock and listen as "Jungleland" engages a third gear, and the problem of colour and complement dissipate being quickly replaced by excitement and enthusiasm.

If you know of these songs, who sings them, and the feeling that the three combined together can create, then you'll know exactly the artwork that I had just imagined, sketched and set alight with my passion and desire.

I stand before the canvas, emotionally charged and willing my work to come alive as I apply another layer of depth, being led by the musical atmosphere of my studio. A few more layers, a couple of adjustments and this painting will be ready to be revealed, my thoughts tell me.

One more day and it will be there, just in time for a particular deadline.

And in sight of the finish line, I just had to share this with you, the emotional drive of music and art coming straight from my soul, in true pursuit of creative excellence and the journey it is taking me on. Nothing can replace that moment, that feeling, that addiction.


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