Just skim through…  As  you will, and if you want…Look at the pictures!


Professional or Amateur Artist – Reflections on “The Big Painting Challenge” on BBC One


I have been watching “The Big Painting Challenge” on BBC One, and am quite enjoying it.  I had mixed feelings at the beginning but now I am thinking that if it does anything to help and encourage people to get into painting, then it is a good thing.  I personally, because of my own approach, find it problematic to judge paintings only by points which relate to representation of the external subject matter, however, for such a programme, I reckon it would be pretty impossible not to have those kinds of judgement criteria.  I don’t like the idea of a competition combined with painting, full stop.  But those who have chosen to take part are very brave, and I admire them immensely for that.  You wouldn’t catch me going on such a programme as “The Big Painting Challenge” simply because it doesn’t fit in with my own direction and I have limited time.   But the participants have bravely put themselves in front of the nation, and exposed themselves in a huge way.  For painting is something of the heart.  Good for them.  It has entertainment value.  The reality is that the majority of the country at the moment probably perceive painting as something which doesn’t belong to them…Art can be presented as belonging to a different “world”… The “Art World”… which of course, like many such “worlds” is somewhat illusory.  And in our society, has probably become more to do with money and status.   My own thoughts are, then, in this brief response to “The Big Painting Challenge” are, if it helps anyone to pick up a paintbrush and pencil and give visual expression a go, then that’s just great.

Professional or Amateur Artist – Related to “The Big Painting Challenge”

“The Big Painting Challenge” programme states that it is a competition for Amateur artists, but several of the people on the programme have received plenty of training, and have exhibited on many occasions, some even having received various awards, etc.  This isn’t a problem, and I am sure the programme producers have been very astute and careful in their considerations of the submissions, but it has brought me to a question, which is:   Is describing an artist as a professional or as an amateur making a judgement about the quality of their art?

It is not.  Indeed, I am an amateur artist, though the word “amateur” can have very negative connotations!  I think the reality may be that a lot of professional (in the sense they actually earn money from their art!) artists probably start as “amateurs”.  Because of the many various ways of learning skills in art, many “amateurs” may well have extensive training, and also a considerable amount of professionalism in their approach to their art working.  It is possible to be analytical, critical, serious, dedicated, and to see one’s art working as a vocational matter, and yet not be classified as a “professional”.   It may simply be a matter of chance, luck, who you know and who you don’t, your position in society, the circles you frequent, which determines your “success”or not, in the worldly (and/or monetary) sense of the word.  Various groups of people are automatically at an advantage, when it comes to their relationship with that illusive body “The Art World” and some people are at an disadvantage.   The main thing for me, is that it doesn’t matter at all.  Henri Rousseau tweaks my heart strings, when I think of this matter.  Here some text quoted from

“Henri Julien Felix Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naive or Primitive manner. He is also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer) after his place of employment. Ridiculed during his life, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.”

To describe any artist as “self-taught” is probably not so good… We all learn from others and things around us, no one is “self-taught” and Henri Rousseau won prizes for drawing and music, and received education in these areas.  However, I am being pedantic!

Anyway, back to the main strand.  If a professional is defined as a person engaged in a specified activity as their main paid occupation, rather than as a pastime”, then I still find myself in an odd position.   Because I do consider my painting and other art working my main occupation, in terms of vision, direction, investment of time, dedication, self-definition, etc.  But it is certainly not something I would describe as a “pastime”  !!!!!!!   That does have a certain lack of drive to it!  While professional artists are in the business of producing art to make an income,  I also would not describe my art working (painting, drawing, sculpture poetry) as something I do to make income.  I don’t give my work away.   But the reality is that the little I do depart with, covers it’s cost, and no more.  I certainly do not profit financially from my activities!  I make an investment in my work, which I expect to be reflected in what I ask in return for it.  And that is about it.  And this is, to my knowledge, the case for the majority of artists I personally know at the moment.  They may term themselves as “professional” or “amateur”.  But financially, their situation is the same.  It’s not a profit making thing, this “being an artist” stuff.  It really is a vocational matter.   In our society,  money is seen as a stamp of value.  But the reality is not the same.

For anyone buying work from artists like myself, it is worth bearing in mind that the majority of artists do not anywhere like “make a living” from their art working.  Most, like me, are not “self-employed”  (unless they also have other art related (or other types of) activities, which are more commercial than their “fine art” endeavours).   The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can give an impression which is not accurate very easily…There are loads of artists with huge amounts of work on the net, website, etc, etc, who probably don’t even get enough money from their art working to buy a loaf of bread once a week for a year.  Which brings me to the conclusion, that there are many thousands of very professional artists who would be more accurately termed “amateurs” but who don’t want that label because it has implications for lack of skill and quality!  It’s obvious really, but I hope it corrects the misconceptions some people have when they look at my own website, blog, artwork, etc or come to an Open Studio, and think that I am more successful in the monetary sense than I am.   I am successful in what I do, but it has nothing to do with cash!!!!!!

I am just simply fortunate, that after years of it not being possible to invest time into this integral passion which is part of my very being, that, finally, circumstances have permitted, for some time (I know not how long!) that I can exert my energies into this direction.  So, if an amateur is something to do with LOVE (which it is, ie French amour!)…Then I AM AN AMATEUR ARTIST.   There, I have said it now.  What a relief!!!  (But that doesn’t mean I would go on “The Big Painting Challenge” by the way!)

It does matter to me if my work doesn’t sell…because I need to buy materials…I need to carry on…  I need to continue to train.  Hence thinking that soon I might insert a donate button on this blog also, and see if that produces anything. (worth a try!)  As well as such unpromising tactics as inserting “donate” buttons, I continue to push myself to do things like “Open Studios” and enter annoying competitions where I have to pay simply in order to take part in sharing what I do.   I like “Open Studios” because I love meeting people and it is time well spent, talking, exploring, relating.   I don’t want to die under a pile of my own paintings.  I want my paintings and other artwork to be dispersed, but not in the form of ashes, as my own body no doubt will!!!  I am not in business, but I do need to wave bye bye to my work.  I don’t need to hold onto it.

In conclusion, to my ramble on “The Big Painting Challenge” and the question  of “Is an artist a professional or an amateur” which the programme has raised for me, it seems that the confusion occurs simply when the word professional is used to describe skill. To say someone has the skills appropriate to a professional indicates they work at a high standard. (Oh no,  matter not concluded, nor probably ever possible to conclude!   Even a “high standard” introduces art historical/critical issues.   Who determines “standard”..

Time to leave this one!  However, whatever the labels we choose to use or not,  the quality of what an artist produced may be judged by those who choose to invest in it, both artist themselves and those that decide it is something they want for themselves!  For an artist to take for themselves the label ‘professional’ might confer credibility with art buyers, but the main thing is that the artist themselves defines their own approach to the making and marketing of their produce.  I hope, for myself, that I come across as professional, and yet never loose the “amour” of the “amateur”.  This is my vocation.  It is as simple as that. (well, one strand of it!)

Coming Up…

Day of Reflection on Spiritual Homelessness – St Nicholas Church, Guildford

Six of my paintings will be on display as part of an art exhibition on the theme of Spiritual Homelessness.  This  art exhibition is part of a Day of Reflection at St Nicholas’ Church, Guildford and runs alongside the talking/leading which will be given on Spiritual Homelessness by Dr Tarcisius  Mukauka.  Details:   11th April 10:15am  Day of Reflection: Spiritual Homelessness Led by Dr Tarcisius
Mukuka at St Nicholas Church, Bury Street, Guildford GU2 4AW. Bring a packed lunch,
drinks provided, suggested donation £10
The Day of Reflection on Spiritual Homelessness starts at  10:15 and ends at 3:30pm.

St Nicholas’ Church sounds great, here is some of their blurb!  “We are a church community inspired by the catholic movement in the Church of England which flowered at the end of the 19th century. We are also open to the realities of the contemporary world, and to being led by the Holy Spirit into new understandings. Our worship has colour, movement and silence in a way that engages with all the senses and touches deep within. We aim to be a loving, prayerful community: centred on a regular celebration of the Eucharist, catholic and holistic, ecumenical and inclusive; helping people to be Christians at home and at work; outward looking and trusting in the goodness of God.”

I cannot make the Day of Reflection on Spiritual Homelessness, but it would be great to come along to the church at some point!

I chose a variety of paintings which I felt lent themselves to the theme.  Fortunately the search for meaning is something which is an integral part of my painting… meaning being rather an illusive word, but a sense of meaning being easier to embrace! I am disappointed not to hear the talk itself but hope that in sharing some of my own painting journey might prove helpful to someone else along the way, if they spend some time and enter into the painting, they might be able to use them somehow.  It may make something more lucid!    Here’s my blurb for the work which I will show on that day, and a couple of the paintings:

“The images are of paintings which, though they differ considerably in style and content, have all been carried out with the same process and approach.
They rely heavily on the process of intuition, both in the making and responding to. They do not start out with any pre-determined concept in mind. However, as the work progresses through responding to the materials and the mark making process, associations in my thinking begin to form. I then develop the work formally and emotionally until the work is resolved. The titles reference emergent thinking which comes through the painting process.
In recent work I have drawn on my own life experiences of faith and uncertainty, the work of artists I love, and emotion and personal memory. My current interest in working with a highly abstracted approach with painting is centred on experimenting with texture and the way that both the surface of a painting, as well as the colours, affect the play of light. Paintings with few external references rely on the viewer to navigate their way into and bring their own sense of self to the work. Give yourself time to respond without needing to “make sense” or find meaning. My titles are included near the work, but in all likelihood, they may hold little meaning for you personally. However, to respond to something visually may not be easily definable, relying on memory, emotion, spiritual experience, and other poetic matters.

Jenny Meehan is a Chessington based artist who has lived in Surrey for the majority of her life. She studied Literature and History at Kingston University and after training and working as a teacher for several years she became a full time mother and homemaker. For the last five years she has developed a visual creative practice which includes painting, printmaking and poetry. She exhibits her work throughout the UK. Original paintings and drawings are priced between £150 and £300 when purchased directly (without the commission added by galleries!) For more examples of her work and any general enquiries:  Please use the contact form. 

Here are two of the paintings I will show as part of the Day on Spiritual Homelessness:

copyright jenny meehan DACS, when earth meets sky painting by jenny meehan

P when earth meets sky painting by jenny meehan


jenny meehan copyright DACS, oncoming realisation painting by jenny meehan

oncoming realisation painting by jenny meehan

My personal sense of dislocation stems from rather a large portion of trauma in my early life, mainly, which laid a rather unstable foundation and it’s consequent fragmented pattern which kind of destroys the sense of knowing where one is going.  So I have a strong sense in my own life of my homelessness…For my real childhood home was rather a disaster area, despite the best efforts of all those concerned.  Hence a sense of searching in my own painting has a lot to do with searching for peace, and the resolution of a painting certainly does  bring a great deal of satisfaction.  You know when it has all come together.  There is a kind of consolation in the process of creating a painting.


Advance Notice:

This year you can meet me and some of my fellow artists from Kingston Artists’ Open Studios… Studio KAOS 2, at 14, Liverpool Road, Kingston Upon Thames Surrey KT2 7SZ on the following weekends: Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June and Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June from 11am until 5pm. This is within walking distance of Kingston Town Centre, and also near Richmond Park. Come along! If you have time, follow the whole Kingston Artists’ Open Studios trail.

Kingston Artists’ Open Studios is a voluntary group of artists, and there are many studios open in and around Kingston Upon Thames… A whole trail! The Open Studios event is part of the bigger Surrey Artists Open Studios network event.

I will have prints priced at only £20 each, plus original paintings in the price bracket of £60 – £300.  (£60, for something on paper, or card, unframed, and around £250 for larger paintings).  (Bear in mind what you might pay a trades person to fix something which has broken, and £250 doesn’t seem such a chunk).  Sometimes I find people are surprised regarding the cost of original paintings, though it depends on their perspectives and existing knowledge, but though I am an  amateur painting (now  I say this with pride!) my materials don’t come free, so I ask for what I see fitting.  I don’t need to explain, but I have, in case it might be helpful.  If it helps understanding in any way, then this is good.

Most of the artists I know are in a similar position, with respect to their own personal work output anyway.   They sell maybe 1 to 5 pieces of art a year maximum, and this does not cover their own investment of time and money in producing their work.  Most do not have the time or energy or money to market their work in a way which would, by todays standards, be considered effective.  They are at the mercy of chance and whim. Unless they have large pools of money at their disposal.  Some do.  Some don’t.  Yes,  we do for love.  Like mothers do for love.  But that does not mean that society should not realise and recognise the value, and translating value into money does symbolise something in a way which is helpful to all.  As well as purchasing paint!

I know that £250 is impossible for some…it is not realistic.  That’s why I do make some prints.  It is very important to me that I do both.

And thinking of money…

“Just in time for Mother’s Day, a survey has worked out what mums would earn if they actually charged for their services.

According to the survey of 1,000 mums by Interflora, they do 119 hours of unpaid work a week on average, in the role of unofficial chauffeur, personal trainer, chef and teacher.

Using the average salaries of each of these jobs, the florists worked out that the total annual earnings owed to mums would be £172,000.”     text from

  1. Housekeeper – average of four hours a day at £11.53 per hour
  2. Head Chef – average two hours a day at £16.83 per hour
  3. Teacher – average of two hours a day at £17.79 per hour
  4. Psychologist – average of one hour a day at £47 per hour
  5. Chauffeur– average of one hour a day at £12 per hour
  6. Entertainer – average of one hour a day at £30 per hour
  7. Personal shopper – average of one hour a day at £12.02 per hour
  8. Personal trainer – average of one hour a day at £20 per hour
  9. Lawyer – average of one hour a day at £48.98 per hour
  10. Nanny – average of one hour a day at £10.58 per hour



Recent Paintings

Please note: If you wish to use these images for any purpose you do need to contact me in the first instance.  My copyright licensing is managed by DACS (Designer and Artists Copyright Society) and depending on your use, I would either grant you permission to use an image personally, or arrange for a license to be put into place.  In both instances, DACS need to be informed of the use, so please ensure you contact me first.  



white dreamtime - wisdom of solomon by jenny meehan watercolour,retreat art,art spirituality,art subconscious,process led painting,christ centred artist,wisdom of solomon painting,jenny meehan painting watercolour,moon clouds watercolour,moon reflective light picture,

white dreamtime – wisdom of solomon by jenny meehan watercolour


White Dreamtime/Wisdom of Solomon by Jenny Meehan Watercolour


There will be a poem coming for this one, I am sure of it.



franciscan office quote, canticles, church of england canticle, Through your gentleness we find comfort in fear by Jenny Meehan

Through your gentleness we find comfort in fear by Jenny Meehan

“Through your Gentleness we find Comfort in Fear”  Watercolour,  and salt

This painting references “A Song of St Anselm” which resonated a lot for me.  Like all my paintings, not explicit, but the blue shelter, with its seeping sense, holding its place as a large chunk of red terror lands on it… and the slightly more gentle feeling from the left hand side coming in.   In the top right, an echo of the shelter, a little darker, and lifting…

My paintings are concerned with emotion and sense, rather than intellect, so apologies for my humble attempt at some kind of description!

A Song of St Anselm  (in bold, the parts which resonated most for me in my present place)
Gather your little ones to you, O God,
as a hen gathers her brood to protect them.
1 Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to
you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her
2 Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.
3 You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our
wounds, in sickness you nurse us, and with pure
milk you feed us.
4 Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
5 Despair turns to hope through your sweet
goodness; through your gentleness we find
comfort in fear.
6 Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.
7 Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us;
in your love and tenderness remake us.
8 In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven
may your love prepare us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.


One of the great parts of the retreat I spent was taking part in the daily worship.  The first day I attended three of the meetings, and then after that I stuck to the morning only, as this is the best time of day for me, and I found that I got such a lot from the half hour of silence before the daily office.  The office itself was not something I am used to, as I tend to be rather more informal in my own appreciation of my Creator, doing things like pretend clog dancing, painting, and singing to my tropical fish.   I found that there was so much material, so many words, that it was rather like eating a whole packet of biscuits all in one go (and yes, I have done that, so I know!).  So immediately afterwards I went to my cell (!!!) and spend time soaking some of it up and digesting the parts which seemed most relevant to my own path in life.   That was more than enough for the day.  I couldn’t possibly take on more material, so it seemed foolish for me personally to insist on attending every one, even though I had thought at the outset that that is what I would do.

Rather pleased to find this:

So I might enjoy some sung versions.  We spoke, and, because of the need to speak quite dryly and at an even pace, when saying things together, this sometimes seemed to detract a little from the poetic expressive nature of the words, which sometimes, (though not always) I found personally, not helpful.   I am very, very grateful for the chance to get a taste of such a regulated devotional practice.  I don’t think I am suited to that exact mode of operation myself.   I must say,  though, I can see how beneficial it must be to be so immersed in the goodness which can be found in the various books of the Bible and in the writings of various people. I think whatever one does or doesn’t do, the main thing is that these practices should be taken in the context of them being rooted in the revelation of a completely loving and accepting Creator  as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ,  God incarnate.  As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it!”  So maybe:

or if you fancy a different version:

Yeah,   That’s what gets results!


Leatherhead Theatre Exhibition Rapidly Approaching….  Flying Colours – Chris Birch and Jenny Meehan

Here is the flyer I have just created:



free art exhibition jenny meehan and chris birch Flying Colours Leatherhead Theatre

free art exhibition jenny meehan and chris birch Flying Colours Leatherhead Theatre

Come along if you can.  Chris Birch and Myself will be there on the Saturday 2nd May between 10am and 11am if you would like to meet us as well as enjoy the art prints on show.  There is a nice cafe in the foyer area if you want to buy refreshments.


Marlene Dumas The Image as Burden at Tate Modern. 


Went along to this as a guest of one of my fellow members of KAOS (Kingstson Artists’ Open Studios).  I didn’t think I would get much from it but I did come back with some feelings of inspiration with respect to using watercolours and inks, and/or runny oils.  Also a reminder not to shy away from my own psychological depths, though I wouldn’t want to make haunting images…I don’t paint to disturb myself… there is enough trouble as it is, swishing around inside at times without bringing it up all the time.  However, it was a good reminder of the need to allow myself to focus on what I want to, rather than straying this way and that all the time, which I do tend to do.

I jotted down a few favourites… Mindblocks 2009, Child Waving 2010, Charity 2010.  Helena 2001 No 2, the ones based on Christ’s body, After Stone 2003 and After Painting 2003.   Also liked Losing (her meaning)  and Waiting (for meaning) 1988.   Few others too.

Jung and the Christian Way by Christopher Bryant

Reading “Jung and the Christian Way by Christopher Bryant” at the moment, and finding it very good indeed.  It is on the SPIDIR reading list, and is my first pick from the library.  I have been looking for something about Jung and Christianity for ages!  It is a very debatable area, the relationship between Jung and Christianity, with many different views.  I feel very comfortable with Christopher Bryant’s perspectives and am finding the quite enlightening.  I am particularly enjoying the chapter “God’s Providence and the Self”.

In this book as a whole,  he attempted to articulate the way in which Jung’s ideas helped him to a fuller realization of the Christian faith.  He says of providence:  “The truth that Jung has especially brought home to me is that of God’s providence over human life and of my own life in particular.”  He understands that God is the creator and sustainer of all that is and feels that the doctrine of providence is central to this.   “It affirms that within and around every item of the universe from the largest of the giant stars to the tiniest sub-atomic particle there lives an infinite fountain of active benevolence and an inexhaustible fund of invention and contrivance”

He also quotes Austin Farrer:

“God makes the world make itself; or rather, since the world is not a single being, he makes the multitude of created forces make the world, in the process of making or being themselves.  It is this principle  of divine action that gives the world such endless vitality, such vital variety in every part.  The price of it is that the agents God employs in the basic levels of the structure will do what they will do whether human convenience is served by it or not.  Yet the creative persuasion has brought it about that there is a world, not a chaos, and that in this world there are men”

Christopher Bryant points out that the doctrine of divine providence, or creative persuasion,  is an essential part of the Christian idea of God, because either God must be in everything or he is in nothing.   But he also notes that awareness and experience of God varies and clearly God isn’t experienced equally strongly in everything.  He found that Jung helped him to identify the action of God in part of his experience, and so strengthened his faith in his presence everywhere.  He found that Jung’s teachings about the self in particular, provided the link between his theoretical belief in God’s providence and his recognition of it in his every day life.

I could add many quotes here which have me jumping with delight, however, though I am a very quick typist, I cannot invest quite so much time in this journal.  I am simply glad to have found some material which clarifies some of my own thinking on how my personal experiences of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy have influenced, in a very fundamental and helpful way, my Christian experience.  It is helpful to consider both similarities and differences in all things, and Christopher Bryant’s careful and thoughtful approach has brought lots of very helpful ideas into my mind.

Ah, just two…

“I came to understand that to resist God was to run counter to the law of my own being; God’s judgement worked through  a kind of in-built psychic mechanism; it was self-acting and imposed from within me”


“In a strikingly realistic way Jung has brought to light the old truth that God who is present everywhere is most accessible to us within our own souls”

On a final note, for now, regarding psychotherapy, I am finding that the process of becoming aware of what is going on below the level of my conscious thinking, and the type of self knowledge which comes from this process,  helps me in my relationship to my own Creator, and helps me both in repentance (the changing of my mind) and in the realization of my union and relationship to God, who is both within me, and well beyond me.  Christopher Bryant refers to “the deep seated emotional disorder of our nature” which is the “seed-bed of our actual sins”.  I find it helpful to recognise the disorder which is there, and don’t find it works against my faith.  Rather it helps me in the application of faith and hope.  It helps me to know where I need most the touch of Christ.

…. Cannot resist another quote from Christopher Bryant…!!!!

“Jung’s teaching about the self and individuation can help the individual to perceive God’s guiding action as a reality in the present.  For the natural process of individuation which  operates regardless of our own will, a process which we can try either to work with or to disregard, is an eloquent sign pointing to God’s rule within our lives.  Further this rule of God, which has often been felt to be restrictive and a hindrance to spontaneity, can be understood as directing us by inspiration from within and as opening up new and expanding possibilities.  Jung’s ideas can help to put a new complexion on obedience to God’s will, which can be seen as an adventure in discovering and acting upon promptings which spring out of our deepest nature.  The risks of the spiritual journey are largely just the hazards of daring to be oneself, of daring to follow the dictates of one’s own individual truth.  One of the rewards of the journey will be that of becoming more and more completely what one essentially is”   (He adds that we are guided in all kinds of other ways, from external influences, but adds that this only becomes fully real and operative “when it is checked and authenticated within our own being and in our actual experiences” ).

On the psychology interest, I have just got back from an excellent and very interesting Day Course at Mount Street Jesuit Centre, which is fast becoming one of my favourite places.  The workshop was called “Life Before Death” and was led and facilitated by Roger Dawson SJ.  Here is the blurb, quoted from the Mount Street Jesuit Centre website:

“Recent research in psychology has focussed on flourishing and what makes life worth living. Psychology of flourishing proposes that we need to do well along 5 dimensions: positive emotions; positive relationships; engagement; meaning; and accomplishment. All of this is underpinned by character.

This one-day workshop will introduce and explain this approach to flourishing in life before death with examples and practical exercises, and will make the link with our faith and Ignatian spirituality. We shall also look at applying this as a psychology for dealing with tough times.”

This was particularly useful to me with reference to some recent reading I have been doing regarding trauma and trauma recovery.  A lot of what I have read on post traumatic stress and complex post traumatic stress does focus on the damage which is experienced, and this is part of the experience, and does need to be negotiated through.  The bomb goes off.  The damage is done. The echoes ring through our very core.  We are not the same.  And things resonate differently.  It takes some getting used to.  The straight forward paths seem to have changed into crazy paving, and confidence and certainty,  seem like distant dreams we left in the past.  We are shattered.  However, I also think it is possible to have authority in and through traumatic experiences, to both accept what has happened,  and move forward, even if our awareness of how “in the dark” we are seems so much greater than it ever used to be.   While this takes some learning and some changes, it is certainly possible.  As time goes by, as well as having an awareness of what has been broken, it is also very important to have an awareness of the many positives which come from having experienced a high degree or a lot, (or both) of trauma in ones life.

I have been very inspired recently by reading some of “The Posttraumatic Self: Restoring Meaning and Wholeness to Personality edited by John P. Wilson, and this struck me with a very acute realisation of how neglected the positive aspects of surviving trauma/s is/are… or rather, how they have not been reflected in my reading so far.   My psychotherapy has always been a very balanced process….bringing awareness of positives and avenues of opportunity and growth,  as well as sticky matters etc…it has not been a matter of just dredging through a load of crud.  Yet, it is amazingly easy to loose sight of goodness, in particular when one is needing to look at the particularly problematic, difficult, or less encouraging aspects of ones self and experience.   I have always been very wary of a  psycho pathological mindset/understanding/approach, and having a faith and experience of the divine, as a believer in and follower of Christ, does tend to be rather helpful in this respect.  As I identify with Christ, not only is my suffering mine, but it is the cord which binds me, not only to death, but to resurrection.  Though victim,  victor also.    It is likely to make one feel depressed, if one dwells only in what has been broken, without also seeing the source of renewal and life which can flow from it.

I personally have found that practising the Daily Examen  (in my case, not always daily, but certainly alternate days!) has been key in my own recovery experience.  It has reinforced a kind of balancing work in my life, combining  elements of analysis, reflection, thankfulness, an awareness of the presence of God,  plus looking forwards (particularly challenging!) which has been a very beneficial structure for me.   I also found Margaret Wehrenberg’s book “Ten Best Ever Depression Management Techniques” very helpful several years ago, when I needed some techniques to help me manage emotionally. I appreciated the respect and tone of the book as much as the content I think.  (For information on the Daily Examen,  see

For more information about Mount Street Jesuit Centre, take a look here.

There is a programme of workshops which take place over the year:

Favourite Paintings

I LOVE this painting by Georges Braque… Studio with Black Vase 1938

I cannot remember where I found this image, but I did record the copyright information which is as follows:

the kreeger museum washington DC copyright 2013 artists rights society new york

I include in this blog under “fair use” as I want to discuss the painting a little and this is easier to do with the image.  See *COPYRIGHT INFORMATION FOR OTHER IMAGES

 the kreeger museum washington DC copyright 2013 artists rights society new york

the kreeger museum washington DC copyright 2013 artists rights society new york

What an excellent example of composition…there is order and disorder.. the whole painting hangs together and yet there is plenty of diversity within it.  There is both a huge amount of experimentation and also an assertive undergirding… The painting has such a supportive structure which doesn’t however bring any sense of restriction to it.  The colours are balanced tonally and I love the elements of pattern.  I really need to bring some pattern into my own painting.  I have been thinking this for a while.  Now I have my studio tent, I have the opportunity to do two studio paintings of my own, both “Studio Kitchen” and “Studio Tent”…. And this painting may provide some starting inspiration for me, I am sure.  It is one of the tasks ahead for this year.

I’m going to throw myself off a cliff with painting this year, and paint without restraint…I plan to focus in and concentrate on that passion which guides me onwards and forwards…with all disregard for how the work might be viewed from an external perspective.  I might well end up with a mess, but I am up for that…I want to grow and develop as a painter, and I need to have a kind of disregard for how my work might be received or not… It is hopeless to even aim for profit, the only profit I will gain is what I gain in my soul, and I have given up any thoughts of the painting achieving anything more than this.  Integrity is the most important purpose in painting, in my opinion.  It might also be the biggest challenge, because, it is not easy, to find what one wants to put down there in the painting.  It is not a simple matter.  But I mustn’t over think…

The following blog is a good read on Braque…

As always, this is longer than expected!  All this:   Professional or Amateur Artist? – Reflections on “The Big Painting Challenge” – Recent Paintings -Georges Braque Studio with Black Vase 1938 – More Retreat Reflections – Leatherhead Theatre Art Exhibiton Notice – Kingston Artists Open Studios, as part of Surrey Artists Open Studios – Jung and the Christian Way by Christopher Bryant – Spiritual Homelessness

Always skim!!!!!!


Notice regarding my use of images on my Jenny Meehan Artist’s Journal blog:   I always try and contact the relevant artist (if possible)  if I include images of their work on my blog, and make clear the source.  I am doing as I would be done by.   Where images are taken from other websites, I make it my practice to  cite the source and include a link if possible.  When I include images,  I do so in the belief that this will not cause commercial harm to the copyright holder. I  believe that this is fair use  and does not infringe copyright.  Images are used in order for me to comment and reference them in relation to my own creative and artistic practice.  When I include extracts of text, I also do so with the understanding that again, this is permissible under the widely accepted fair usage terms with respect to copyright.  Please do contact me if you feel I have not practised as I preach! 

Outline of my “Fair Use”  rationale, which is applicable to all images from other sources which I include on this blog:
There is no alternative, public domain or free-copyrighted replacement image available to my knowledge.
Its inclusion in my blog adds significantly to my narrative  because it shows the subject which I want to refer to and relate to my own artistic practice and is necessary in order for me to communicate accurately my observations/critical appraisal/appreciation/educate my readers, in understanding my perspectives on art and life.  Inclusion is for information, education and analysis only. The text discussing the significance of the included  art work is enhanced by inclusion of the image. The image is a low resolution copy of the original work of such low quality that it will not affect potential sales of the art work.


Some of the material I appreciated a lot over the period of my recent retreat:

85 Veni Sancte Spiritus – Come, Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit;
send down from heaven’s height
your radiant light.
Come, lamp of every heart,
come, parent of the poor;
all gifts are yours.
Comforter beyond all comforting,
sweet unexpected guest,
sweetly refresh.
Rest in hard labour,
coolness in heavy heat,
hurt souls’ relief.
Refill the secret hearts
of your faithful,
O most blessed light.
Without your holy power
nothing can bear your light,
nothing is free from sin.
Wash all that is filthy,
water all that is parched,
heal what is hurt within.
Bend all that is rigid,
warm all that has frozen hard,
lead back the lost.
Give to your faithful ones,
who come in simple trust,
your sevenfold mystery.
Give virtue its reward,
give, in the end, salvation
and joy that has no end.     after the Golden Sequence


The canticles can be found here, very usefully:

and also I found this, which is kind of useful too:


Oh, that retreat seems a long way away now, but I plan to revisit and recall often.  It was a brilliant and rich time, much needed.  I will be posting bits and pieces from it over the next few months I expect.

retreat jenny meehan 2015

retreat jenny meehan 2015

This image was taken on a very bright but chilly day!  Sitting on the roof was good both in daytime and at night time!



” we should question the conventional wisdom that would place religious art and secular art in different and opposing camps”

“There are implicit assumptions throughout Pickstone’s lecture that sacred and profane, religious and secular, need no longer be seen as antithetical in the light of contemporary crossovers: the gallery has been sacralised by the continuing presence of religious concerns and the church has been colonised by the secular. Pickstone suggests that while the sacred and secular have historically been separate, artists are amongst those who can disturb this division and encourage a greater parity of, or communion between, the two. In other words, we should question the conventional wisdom that would place religious art and secular art in different and opposing camps. This would seem to allow more latitude for diverse experiences of sacredness, beyond monolithic religious categorisations.”

The above quote from:

(Transpositions is the official blog of the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at the University of St Andrews.)

SPIDIR Training

Soon I will be starting my SPIDIR training.  Looking forward to this.

The name SPIDIR comes from the contraction of Spiritual Direction.  It’s nothing to do with spiders.

And what is spiritual direction?   A couple of years ago I had not heard of it.  The  text comes from the soul friend website:

Sacred space and spiritual direction

From early times across many religions, people have found it helpful to talk about their spiritual life with someone they trust. This creates a ‘sacred space’, confidential and comfortable, totally focused on their concerns.

Spiritual direction is not about someone telling you what to do, but about finding your own ‘direction’ in life, through the companionship of someone who listens reflectively, without judgement or prior expectations.

This may be particularly important at times of great change in your life, or when you have a difficult issue to deal with, or a feeling of inner emptiness. Or it may be about finding ways to pray, or to respond to a sense of being invited into something deeper.”

I am starting a two year training hoping to develop in this area.  As my lovely retreat companion reminded me “the Holy Spirit is the retreat giver”.   So I guess I am hoping that I will increase my own capacity to be led, to listen, and to learn, and then to put myself into being some use to others at the same time.

Painting Ramble

Well there is a lack of painting right now, mostly due to the fact that the house is full of people and the Studio Tent is freezing. Freezing.  However, it is good to look at others work, and also look back on my own.  Times and seasons.  I read a great deal about other painters approaches, thoughts and work on blogs such as “Painter’s Table”: 

It’s quite helpful, as apart from my fellow Kingston Artist’s Open Studios folk,  and a few longer term painters who I converse with, I have limited opportunity to discuss in depth ways of working, work, and motivations, thoughts, directions in painting.  I used to enjoy “Abstract Critical” quite a bit, but that no longer continues.  My Psychotherapist is a good person to discuss work with, and my Spiritual Mentor  also, so I am grateful for them.  I have had some excellent conversations with artists I have met over the last year in particular, and the consensus has been that it we invest our time into focused discussions this brings a lot of creative energy and light into our work, our perceptions, and our creativity in general.  Reading, listening and talking do serve as fuel for the fire!

One of the things I have mulled over for a while could be placed in the theme of “Order and Chaos”… This constantly interests me, and indeed, I named the exhibition in 2013  “Order and KAOS” (Kingston Artists Open Studios) because I have been thinking so much about art and creativity, and order and chaos in relation to my own art making approach.  I think when I am painting that formal considerations, (maybe “rules” or “order”  is another word for this), shouldn’t be foremost in mind, but neither should they be neglected.  When I am working I follow my feelings and inspiration instinctively, and the whole process feels very organic, but at the same time there has to be a kind of backbone.   Through habit and the accumulation of what I have learnt through past paintings, both my own and those of others, the work happens through a sieve of formal considerations, and they have to be under my command, ready to use,  a bit like subconscious tools.  I  need these tools to do the job of delivering my work in a resonant way,  visually, even if I am not always certain at all times what that “meaning”  is.  Well, on the matter of meaning… Do I always need to know? No, I don’t. Because I exist, the meaning is there in what I do with paint.  The act of painting is fundamental in that respect, and I think  it is vital for this to be a very much esteemed awareness. I paint not because I know, but because I paint in order to know.  But the knowing is still, and always will be, a mysterious kind of knowing; poetic. Meaning is a problematic word, too much attached to words.   One of the most lovely quotes I came upon recently was “The only reason to paint is that there is no reason to paint”…or something similar to that.  I just cannot get it out of my head… I releases me from this grappling with words!  Though I insist, it seems, on doing so anyway, as you see here.

But as an act of communication not just between the painter and the painting and vice versa, if something more expansive is wanted than this, then it’s not just my responses which matter, but the responses of others.   But I do not like to think of these very much, as it tends to steer me off course.  However, I do wish to strike emotional chords in paintings which can be heard by others (and  this is true for both paintings with recognisable subject matter and those without).  I also, very importantly, want my paintings to be beautiful. Physically.  Vulnerable.   So I arrive at some point in a painting where I need to demand certain things back from the work in the way of order and arrangement, even in the middle of chaos. And this is the excitement and the joy of it, the challenge and the achievement.  I think the kind of paintings I tend to enjoy the most are those that seem to have experienced periods of both chaos and order, just like us human beings do. Just as experience is.   I am rather aware when showing my abstract paintings to those who have no previous experiences of engaging with abstraction, that they may well find it pretty hard to appreciate the beauty which seems so clear to me!  Though I am often surprised.

It seems to me that I notice beauty in the relationships between chaos and order, not just in one or the other.  In order to create those relationships, I have to be aware of, and apply the rules I have learnt;   It may be that there are two kinds of rules;  There are rules formed by moments of realising what effect different elements of abstraction will have on the journey you eye takes when looking at a painting.  But there are also possibly rules which are uniquely personal, which determine if what the painter is doing rings “true” and accurately expresses that person’s individual approach/vision/  identity.   I think to have both is best.  It’s what I tend to aim for most of the time anyway. Each to their own.

In considering the “act” of painting, I tell myself that it depends on the nature of the act and the process of enactment.  An act can be brash, thoughtless and pointless, or it can be like this, but relate to something else in a  purposeful way.  Which changes it.  Or an act can be most well thought out and considered, indeed , too well thought out and considered; really needing  a wild companion to liven it up!  Or it may be quite complete in itself: both spontaneous and determined AND be able to convey both the interest which comes with uncertainty and the assurance that comes with structuring.

“Technique must be born of inner necessity” is something that seems true enough to me.  And maybe this is the contribution of a greater accordance with the whole action painting phases when we come to them.  Expressing movement;   the internal movements of emotion, thought, understanding and experience, (from whatever inspirational source thy come from, imaginative  or the physical environment)  Expressing movement in the stillness of a painting, I believe, will continue to entrance any who care to spend enough time looking.  Any painter needs to find the best way of expressing what moves them in life, and the particular techniques they choose for doing so are a secondary concern.  What matters is that they use the best way for them; the way which is most natural to them, and which enables them to function in accordance with their own personality.  In the way they feel comfortable with, but are not bored by.  In the way which enables them sufficient excitement and fear, (even if this comes with the attempt at a perfectly straight line…Not my kind of thing, but I am sure that it could be a thrill).  In a way that includes both elements of risk and elements of security.

Thoughts on painting, for now!

I am currently exploring some very different techniques to those I have been using for the last couple of years, though with no major plans to change direction.  However, I need to cast out in different directions in order to see what happens.  It might be a case of try it out and leave it where it is, but its so easy to rely on things you have been doing, and then to over use them.  So some rather random experiments for the time being.  Not sure I will post them up here though… That feels too exposed!

Lenten Flowers  by Kathleen Raine

Text here is quoted from  where you can read this delightful poem.

 “Kathleen Raine was born in London in 1908, where she grew up; taking on a number of unsatisfactory jobs. Through one of her later jobs she met the nephew of the Indian mystic Rama Coomaraswamy Tambimuttu, who invited her to contribute to his new magazine, Poetry London, she did of course, and soon developed a lifelong passion for all things Indian. Raine began to seriously write toward her late twenties, and by 1943 she had published her first collection of poetry Stone and Flower, which was illustrated by Barbara Hepworth. Three years later the collection Living in Time was released, followed by The Pythoness in 1949. – See more at:

You can also read it here:

I came across Kathleen Raine when researching a little more about Winifred Nicholson a while back.  I saw some of Winifred’s paintings at the Dulwich Picture Gallery last year, and they still delight me.   Take a look here:


Leatherhead Theatre Exhibition 2015 “With Flying Colours” Affordable Prints by Chris Birch and Jenny Meehan

This year I will be showing some affordable prints along with a fellow Kingston Artists’ Open Studios artist.  I will be sorting out the details nearer the time, but the essentials are:

Exhibition runs from Saturday 2nd May until Friday 29th May 2015.

The Leatherhead Theatre
7, Church Street

KT22 8DN

Tel: 01372 365141
Fax:     01372 365195

Accessible location – 5 mins from M25, Junction 9

5 minutes walk from Leatherhead British Rail Station.
Town centre location, close to local shops and restaurants.

Three car parks within a few minutes walk (free after 6pm)

Parking is free on Sundays at the Swan Centre

Access to the exhibition is from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive.  The theatre is not open to the general public on Sundays or Mondays.

Opening times are normally from 10am until around six, but contact the theatre to check as it depends on what else is going on.


Surrey Artists Open Studios

This year I am taking part in the Surrey Artists Open Studios.  I haven’t up until now, because it works out rather expensive… You need to join Surrey Artists Open Studios for the year,  and then pay again to take part.  But as I am pulling back for a while in other departments, ie, not spending my budget on entering competitions or anything like that, I have decided this year it would be a good experience.  I look forward to showing with some of my wonderful Kingston Artists’ Open Studio folk.  Details below, on more blurby stuff!:

Jenny Meehan

Jenny Meehan is a local artist, based in Chessington.  As well as showing her work at this year’s Surrey Artists’ Open Studios and Kingston Artists’ Open Studios she also holds regular open studios at her home in Chessington.   Contact Jenny via the contact form on her website or by emailing: and request to be put on her bi-annual mailing list if you would like to receive an invitation to further open studio events.  

This year you can meet Jenny and some of her fellow artists as part of Surrey Artists’ Open Studios (North on map SAOS 19), Studio KAOS 2, at 14 Liverpool Road, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, KT2 7SZ,  on the following  weekends:  Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June and Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June from 11am until 5pm.  This is within walking distance of Kingston Town Centre, and also near Richmond park. Come along!  If you have time, follow the whole Kingston Artists’ Open Studios trail!

Last, another image from the recent retreat.


retreat 2015 jenny meehan

retreat 2015 jenny meehan


Painting on Retreat

I did do a little bit of experimenting with watercolours on retreat…I haven’t used watercolours very much at all, so it was venturing onto new ground.  Here is one of the experiments:

franciscan office quote, canticles, church of england canticle, Through your gentleness we find comfort in fear by Jenny Meehan

Through your gentleness we find comfort in fear by Jenny Meehan


“Through Your Gentleness We Find Comfort in Fear”

Copyright Information – Jenny Meehan 

Copyright in all images by Jenny Meehan is held by the artist.
Permission must be sought in advance for the reproduction, copying or any other use of any images by Jenny Meehan. Individuals or businesses seeking licenses or permission to use, copy or reproduce any image by Jenny Meehan should, in the first instance, contact Jenny Meehan.
Copyright for all visual art by Jenny Meehan is managed by the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) in the UK. If you wish to licence a work of art by Jenny Meehan, please contact Jenny Meehan in the first instance to clarify your requirements.

Licencing an image is quick and easy for both parties and is organised through the Design and Artist Copyright Society. (Note, my images are not shown on the “Art image” selection on the Design and Artist Copyright “Art Image” page. This does NOT mean you cannot apply for a licence from DACS…They simply have a very limited sample selection of work in their “Artimage” page!) If you use their online form and attach the low resolution image of my artwork which you have found on the internet, they will know which image you seek permission for.

Also, please of course feel free to contact me if you are looking for a particular type of artwork image, as I have a large archive of images myself. I will also be able to let you know the maximum size the digital image is available at. If you then wish to licence the artwork image, you would then contact the Design and Artist Copyright Society to arrange the licencing agreement according to your requirements. Once paid and agreed, I then supply the high resolution image directly to you.

If you need any further clarification, the DACS website is clear and very helpful indeed, and they would be happy to help you.

Design and Artist Copyright Society
33 Old Bethnal Green Road
London E2 6AA
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7336 8811
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7336 8822
Offices are open 0930 – 1700 Monday through Friday.




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