This is the second in a series of personal blogs written by members of The Girl Gang, a community of bloggers who open a weekly Twitter chat at #thegirlgang. They will explore what art means to them, and what key paintings have inspired them.
Art has always been a big part of my life even if I wasn't always aware of it or believed that I liked it. My grandmother was an artist, which meant time spent with her was almost always spent being taken around museums or art galleries, or just helping decide which colour of mount and frame would work the best for the painting that was being framed. Rather than famous artists hanging on our walls, almost all the art we have was by her and from various stages of her life. I love the mix of landscapes, modern art and still life images that are scattered around the house, but there are prints from famous artists in the house too and these I love even if I can't go and see the originals very often.
My grandmother is also the person that taught me about colour and the differences between shades and contrasts: that using a contrasting colour can be what brings an image to life rather than making it worse. I don't have an artistic bone in my body (I'm a dancer, not an artist) but every time I visited my grandparents house, I was given paper and paint or pencils and told to just do what felt natural to me. There were no rules, it felt so different to what were being told in school and I understand that now that I'm older. Being able to look at Waterlilies by Monet or Starry Night by Van Gogh helps me to understand that these great artists weren't following a set of rules put putting what they wanted to see on the canvas. It's an incredibly humbling feeling to know that even the greats started in the same place we all did with self-doubt and not feeling like our work is good enough.
The paintings by Degas of ballerinas are some of my favourites to go and see in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, but it's not one of the easiest places to get to by public transport, which means I can't just pop in to view the paintings I love when I feel like it. I spend so much of my time online and being able to open up a new browser tab and look up the paintings I want to look at is such a revelation for me and one that makes my down days a little easier to get through. It's also a way for me to look up works by artists that I may never get to see any other way. It's also making art accessible to those (and I include myself in this) that feel like they're being judged when they set foot in a museum or art gallery. I want to admire the way the artist has picked up on the fact the dancer's toes are pointed in their ballet shoes but I don't want to feel like I don't feel worthy to be there which I often do as I don't know anything more about art than I know what I like.
I used to think I hated art but it's not all art, it's just taken me a while to find what speaks to me and if that's you wondering what you like then keep looking, it's out there somewhere.
Fiona Abbey, blogger and freelance social media manager