Updated: Aug 2, 2021
I came to a familiar crossroads recently when I contemplated a complete change of style in my painting. As I looked at my collection I wondered if what I´m doing is good enough, whether I should continue as I am or do something entirely different. Questions from an ongoing conversation ran through my mind: Will people like this? Is this really what I want to do? Perhaps because of the severe weather warning and technology chaos with my router not working, passcodes suddenly required - nothing seemed right and I felt quite agitated. That conversation with myself only ever brings discontentment.
One of the most challenging things about being an artist is being authentic, true to the inner well of creativity, the source of inspiration which is uniquely mine. It´s so tempting to compare myself with others, to see something trending successfully and not want to chase it. If I wear the same clothes as you, will I be you? We each have our own path in life and my journey as an artist has been long and rewarding, with many twists and turns. While it´s always good to experiment, learn and practise new techniques, I love the freedom of the landscapes I paint. I am truly present, absorbed in the shapes, the colours and the semi-abstract forms.
The severe weather turned out to be a brief summer shower and I know that the technical frustrations will pass. The questions evolved into easier ones:
Do you want to paint the minute, intricate details with a tiny brush in animal or people portraits as you see other successful artists doing? NO!
Do you enjoy what you´re doing? YES!
When I first started painting, I experimented with many different styles and still use many of them today. I truly enjoy my style. In the beginning, I painted with watercolours on paper.
It didn´t feel right. Somehow it seemed back to front, taking away rather than adding to the painting. The colours seemed fragile and delicate. I discovered that acrylics produce bright, positive, vibrant paintings which are more my style. I can add texture and depth. Today I am as comfortable with my brushes and palette knife as I am in my bright yellow boots.
I wanted to try everything! On Sunday mornings, my routine involved watching other artists on Youtube. I would try different techniques to see if they worked for me, slowly discovering my own style in the process. I spent a year doing a life drawing class and came home every time with a splitting headache. I rebelled against the bowls of fruit and the random shoes we were asked to paint. I lost myself in the intricate detail of buildings, specially church windows and brickwork. Frustrating hours passed until I decided it wasn´t for me.
I want the passion, the pure joy I experience with sweeping brush strokes in wonderful, colourful skies. I want to be surprised and enlightened by abstracts. When I paint buildings, I prefer the impressionistic approach. My sense of when a painting is complete is not intellectual. When I´m in the middle of a painting, the point of chaos always moves forward to a place where an inner voice that tells me it´s finished.
I love painting with oils, but they take ages to dry and the paint is added slowly in layers. I´m too impatient. Even using quick drying oil paint, I can´t help touching it, leaning in it, dripping it and getting in such a mess. There was often more paint on me than on the canvas. I will go back to it one day.
Through trial and error, I have arrived at a place where I am comfortable and happy painting my beloved poppies, my sea, sky and landscapes with acrylics on canvas. My mind is open to new directions but I´m not going to listen to the critical voice that tells me I´m not good enough. I´ll keep doing what I do until my brush leads me elsewhere.
Sunny is experimenting with life too. He´s been playing by the sea, going for tentative walkies in the countryside and discovering how to get the snacks out of his toys. Big, noisy lorries passing are definitely not for him. He´s also been to his first puppy training class.
Fortunately perhaps, it´s only his proud mum who can see that he´s obviously more intelligent and advanced than all the other puppies. Sunny doesn´t care about that.
Original paintings and prints available framed, or unframed, from my website. Commissions undertaken with joy.
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