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A Jolly Exploration

Updated: May 29, 2020

As a therapist and artist, I fully recognise that painting is a lovely voyage of exploration and discovery, and I don’t mind not knowing what the eventual outcome will be. However, I didn’t start out that way! I like a frame work and organisation, not in an OCD way, but just in the knowing of what’s happening and who’s doing what etc. Just so I can manage my own expectations and that of others, as I don’t like letting people down. Bearing that in mid, it drove me nuts when I thought I’d paint or draw something and it was almost always a disappointing result, because I hadn’t reached my own expectations. So I stopped trying before I’d even truly begun, just carrying the vague notion of wanting to be an artist around in my head.

Then some considerable time later, I’m talking decades here, my interest was sparked again. My daughter gave me a print of a painting, ‘Lovers’ by Patrick Ciranna, I loved and admired it feeling envious of the talent that had created it. But again I left it and let the idea percolate around in my head. Then several years ago I stumbled across a UTube video of someone instructing the basics. So I went out and purchased a bunch of acrylics for the first time, and began following along with the tutorials. I didn’t necessarily always like the subject matter of the paintings, but I did some credible copies of work, which taught me some of the fundamentals, giving me a little confidence to continue. However, I still struggled with making my own original work for quite some time becoming a glorified copyist, trying to emulate the work and style of others, with little or no voice of my own. Later I came to understand and accept that this is quite a normal part of the learning process. And Idid learn things along the way, what I liked and equally importantly what I didn’t. I embarked on several structured learning courses and fully realise that you never stop learning and evolving, the more you know the more you want to know. In the search for style or artistic voice, I do know that I don’t want to be a realist or portrait painter, that’s not to say I don’t like and admire some of the incredible work of other artists, but it’s just not for me. For example I really enjoy Landscape and Portrait Painter of the Year on Sky Arts, such talent on show. But I prefer to look at a piece of art and decide for myself what I see in it, or what feeling it evokes, which is why abstract is my preferred style. Later on it occurred to me that if I was to achieve my goal of being able to call myself and artist and sell my work, I needed to work on developing my own individual artistic voice, and bring that into my work. It felt scary leaving behind the copyists safety net, with no real idea of how proceed, only knowing that I wanted to. So I began trawling the World Wide Web, and found someone mentioning Cold Wax! Not having a clue what this was set me off on a research mission, I quickly felt it was a medium worth exploring further. It was, and I loved it, there are several pieces cold wax and oil painting for sale on my website. I did a course with two of the most influential and leading exponents of the oil and cold wax medium Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin, and I enjoyed their clear teaching style free from perceived norms and restrictions. I love the medium itself to, the smell of the oil paint mixed with the cold wax and the textures it can create… mmm. Once you get started on learning and looking, you discover even more people and ways of doing things. Around this time I happened on Louise Fletchers web site, a Yorkshire based artist, and began reading and enjoying her blog posts. She mentioned and American artist called Nicolas Wilton, who had been one of her inspirations, so I began following him and indeed he soon became one of mine too. I love his relaxed, encouraging style. Louise and her podcast partner Alice Sheridan, a London based artist, both spoke highly of what they had gained from following him. Inspiration is all around and you don’t know when it will strike, all you need to do is to remain open to possibilities and then act on them. My emerging style won’t be to everyones taste, but that’s okay, I’m totally fine with that, because I’m on my own individual voyage of exploration and discovery. What’s inspired you?

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