I find the beginning of a new year the perfect time to reassess... I don't mean make new year's resolutions - that feels like setting myself up to fail, but I like to plan where I go from here. Christmas gives a natural break to the year - chances are I'll have finished a number of pieces just prior to the holidays as commissions for presents and I'll have been away from my oil paints for a week or two whilst visiting family and friends. The January blues aren't allowed to raise their head with the excitement of getting my hands on my paints again and the sense of a fresh start.
So I generally find myself asking the question "what now..?', 'where to from here...?
Recently I've been thinking back to how it all started.
Having moved to Nottinghamshire and spent a good few months making many changes to a house that was in a bit of a state I finally found myself with a bit of time on my hands and an overwhelming desire to pick up a paint brush and paint my children. So, as well as looking for employment as a computer programmer, I enrolled on some community based art classes to give me a bit of a kick start. I'd not done a great deal of painting before - mostly drawing and pastel work at school plus a handful of watercolours over the years. Watercolour was the medium of choice in the classes I attended so that's what I started with. I now realise watercolour is one of the hardest mediums to use, having a mind of its own, so not too well suited to beginners who have a tendency to want to control the paint.
But there we go - watercolours it was. In the back of my mind I had the inkling that I'd like to give oils a go but felt that, with the kids at home and the perceived faff involved it wouldn't be practical so I experimented with pastel plus decided to give acrylics a go. These I really enjoyed - I felt I was getting the look and feel of oils without any hassle. I also found pencil a very enjoyable way of creating a portrait and something that could be done anywhere.
Here's some acrylic and pencil drawings created between 2007-2009.
Who knows how long I might have continued with acrylics - but one day I was asked if I could paint a portrait in oils and I said 'yes'! Acrylics were fun and easy to use but, for me, oils took painting to a completely different level - I won't bore you with all the reasons why I love using oils, needless to say they are my main painting medium today.
In the meantime, my children who were the inspiration for me starting on my artistic journey, grew and are now married - cue wedding portraits in oils!
I've enjoyed experimenting with illustrative styles, pop art, slightly abstracted portraits, and other bits and bobs. There's a number of artists whos work I like for the creativity and imagination in their portrayal of the human form. However, I'm finding more and more that I want my work to look real - that reality may be within an abstracted background, but the human face and body itself I want to represent as well as I can.
I've now decided that pencils and oils are the mediums that suit me best. I've lots of ideas for how to use them this year - some are ideas for pictures, others are ways for improving my skills - there's always lots to learn. I'm having to keep a note pad handy to write down all my thoughts to prevent my mind feeling like a bowl of spaghetti - the tendency is to charge of in all directions and not get anything done. I think the keyword for this year needs to be 'focus'. I'll endeavour to post regularly to keep a record of my progress and as a sort of accountability thing... it'll focus my mind if I know I need to keep my blog post updated with fresh work!
Watch this space! For now, here's a few of the pictures created last year...