Every day is a learning day
In these years I remember working at perhaps my most frantic and manic. Time was very short and extremely precious to me and with working two jobs I had almost no time to paint in. So what I did have was used wisely. It is, perhaps, the very existence of this dynamic that helped me break through some of my own barriers of confidence and ability.
There are a couple of pieces in here that still get remarked on to this day and have been the basis of several commissions. By 2012 I was starting to get a style and rhythm and, more importantly, growing in confidence and ability.
Show up every day
Composition, colour toning, negative spaces, textures, the chemical processes, structure, balance, shading, material procurement – it was all starting to make some sense now and with repeat practice I recall how I was beginning to understand what my hands and materials were capable of.
These paintings are all in date order – so the oldest ones are at the bottom and the newer ones at the top. If you scroll up and down you can see how my evolution has changed over this time frame. These 25 paintings represent a selection of what I was doing over a four year period.
It’s the thing I sit and ponder over the most. Every time I begin a painting session I have to learn my through the painting, even if it’s something I’ve practiced over and over again. I will always be learning. I get that now.
From humble beginnings
Whenever you learn something new you are always faced with uncertainty. Most of the time that lies with your own self doubt rather than a belief that you lack ability.
During the first few years of painting I experimented with all kinds of mediums and ideas. Inspiration came from a thousand different places and from a 38 years of life. When the canvas comes out it’s surprising how much of that gets drawn upon. Certainly in the early stages of my development as an artist it was critical.
Nowadays though the past has all but dried up and I use a new and constantly evolving stream of input to determine what may look good or bad when translated into something made out of paint. I recall using pre-made frames and pre-strecthed canvases. I painted onto hardboard, plaster, wood and metal. I tired structure gel, extenders, retarders and all kinds of powders and flakes.
I used masking tape for straight lines and bought an airbrush. I used an air compressor which didn’t work, I tried painting figurative works. I tried to do a series of penguins on a rock at one point. It wasn’t good. It was very bad. So I stuck with abstracts.
When I look at some of these paintings I feel a mixture of emotions. Some I love, some I loathe but all of them tell a story and every single one was important to help me get to the next one and so on. They all played a part in getting me to where I’m at today.
Many of the art works are painted in acrylic paint. I never really got on with this medium, I always found it restrictive and a bit dull. Mind you I did some paintings that I was very very happy with and there are a few in particular that I wish I still had, but I can remember searching for a new medium that was more organic. That’s where the story of my enamel paint begins.
Practice makes perfect
Even after a few short years I think it was clear that this wasn’t going to be anything like I had imagined.
I’d started to get some significant pieces coming through by this point (Quark Entanglement and Antares are still two of my favourite paintings) but they were few and far between and were probably more down to luck than skill.
However, I recall taking some of these moments and making notes on how I mixed a certain paint to give a certain effect or what happened when I put two colours together. It was these notes that made the difference as I finally had a reference library to go back to when I needed it.
I don’t tend to make notes these days as the techniques that I have used are now more of a reaction than a thought process. But I still have the desire to learn and try new things do being able to still use the lessons learned during this year of my life is seeing my right as we talk about it today.
I think my willingness to learn about colour is beginning to show more confidence at this time. They are getting brighter and bolder and more fluid.
It’s a slow process because, like most things, it takes time to feel comfortable with something and let it be understood properly before you can go onto the next thing and the one after that.