My Artistic Search for…More!
In school I learned about line, form, light and shadow, I learned these skills carefully and aimed to recreate what I saw on the page. We used acrylic paint and I was good at this; able to create an accurate representation of what I was copying.
This was praised at first, then criticised. After being taught how to capture what I saw accurately I was then encouraged to be inaccurate. Students around me were being applauded for originality, intention and concept – more than skill and technique.
Overall people thought I was good, but I distinctly got the impression that ‘good’ wasn’t really enough, and I didn’t understand why. I spent some time looking at my landscapes, they were very pleasing – but they didn’t blow me away.
Life took over for a while and it wasn’t until many years later that I returned to art and I’ll be honest, a bit of a struggle began. It began with a lack of confidence; I needed to prove to myself that I was a good artist. For a while I played about with different methods of using acrylic and created what I thought were some really nice paintings. I exhibited a little, sold a few, it was going pretty well.
However I felt like there was nothing really distinctive about these paintings, they were nice, and don’t get me wrong, I was proud of them – but they didn’t jump out at me. I needed more out of my art.
In the pursuit of more I often feel like I’m stuck in a paradox between freedom of expression versus accurately capturing what I see. But my inner dialogue was wrong; I was looking at the landscape and trying to free it. The end result was usually a binned canvas. I needed to discover the landscape not free it.
I turned my attention back to the media that I was using. There are several benefits to acrylics; they are affordable, they dry quickly and you have control over the paint in order to create nice crisp edges. However as my quest to discover rather than copy a landscape developed, I started to get frustrated; the bright juicy colour that you get when the acrylic is wet, darkens and dulls when dry. I would finish some paintings in a flourish of excitement only to be a bit disappointed when I went back to look at it after it had dried.
At this point I knew I needed to expand my use of media somehow. Oils have always been on my list to try and I do also paint in oil now, but it was the decision to try out enamel, which really opened my eyes.
To start with it was exciting but chaotic. I went from total control to a complete lack of control which created patterns and textures that expanded my imagination. But now I struggled to connect the painting with a landscape – I tipped over into abstract.
You’ll often hear about artists creating happy accidents and incorporating them into their work. I’m experimenting with ways to created educated accidents in order to make unique and unusual marks on my paintings which I can mould slowly and thoughtfully into my landscape….