Although I am essentially a loner, I also sometimes feel good about belonging to a tribe. Artists are encouraged to associate with other artists, to share, discuss, encourage, promote, and I tend to find this idea at least a little bit repugnant. I’ve always preferred to work alone, not been keen on sharing, not enjoyed hobnobbing and yet I do recognise that I sometimes enjoy the feeling of belonging as well as the pleasure of being able to discuss things with like-minded individuals. It’s possible that one reason I don’t feel inclined to join groups is that I have a limited amount of energy and I would rather put it towards my actual creative work, though it’s also possible that is just an excuse I make to myself.
Still, for the benefit of others living with chronic illness I do want to make it clear that while I tend to write about what I am ‘doing’ I spend more time resting and sleeping than anything else. While resting in bed I can read and write but I certainly don’t paint there. I am too fond of my white duvet to introduce it to acrylic paints. I am not attempting to make myself appear busy and dislike the culture of busyness in general. It is my misfortune to be unable to work for a living but my fortune to have enough of an income and enough energy that I can dabble in my hobbies. I work in spurts. Often I am longing to paint but cannot manage it. It is rare that I can paint for a full day and my maximum is probably about six hours, which I cannot do more than once in awhile.
Here is a phrase I say and write often, 'recently I read...' and it’s always true that recently I did read something about which I intend to bend your ear (or your eyeballs in this case)
During some resting time when I was particularly obsessed with painting but could not paint, I discovered a painter’s blog and began to binge read all that she had to say about painting. Aside from serious blog envy, and the general feeling that if I were any good as a blogger I’d actually have a theme and stick to it, reading her blog posts and the comments left by other painters was quite enlightening and vindicating. I may be a loner and a self-taught painter but much of what I do is similar to what other painters do. No self-taught artist is entirely without outside influence. We all absorb ideas we are only partly aware of, and live in roughly the same world and are thus subject to roughly similar inspiration. There are techniques I’ve learned, processes I have established for myself, ways of thinking about my art, which are also being used by other artists out there. Sometimes it’s a bit disappointing to imagine you have invented something only to discover tons of others doing it too and some of them even earning money doing it. It’s frustrating to think that my style may look similar to someone else who I had not heard of before and that it might look as though I copied it.
Copying others has good value as practice and in some ways our own style will still come through. Still, I would rather be unique and no doubt everyone would. The more I look, the more I find artists who make me think ‘Damn I wish I’d painted that’ or ‘Gee Whiz I wish that were my natural style.’ (Okay, I confess I never actually say gee whiz.) We are all influenced by the art of others as well as the things we observe in our world, and with the internet taking us to places we cannot physically go, showing us paintings and photos and offering websites that teach or describe techniques, nobody, even a self-taught artist like myself, is entirely unique and self-created.
I have learned that I am certainly not alone in the feeling of being pleased with some of my work and the cringing certainty that my art is total crap. I can swing back and forth between these thoughts from day to day, not to mention within one single day. Self doubt is known to have plagued certain long dead and now famous artists who sold little or nothing in their lifetimes and who pioneered new techniques and styles in art. I imagine supreme confidence only in those who create very realistic, photographic-like work and yet, perhaps I am wrong. Many artists report at least periodically feeling like a fraud.
One of the reasons I share my unfinished and rough work and pieces I don’t love is because although I don’t enjoy it, I believe there is value in being vulnerable. I’m not a big physical risk taker. I won’t be bungee jumping anytime soon or ever. But taking a risk, being vulnerable is what helps us to grow and helps others too. If I share imperfect work maybe someone can learn something from it. Maybe I can learn that I will not die ( by spontaneous combustion I suppose ) if I embarrass myself by putting something that’s not very good out in public.
And I am not always the best judge of what is or isn’t any good when it comes to my own work. As with most things in life, it will please some and not others. Someone will like it and someone else will not. I don’t love every piece created by the artists I admire and I don’t love everything I create myself. It’s difficult to get outside of my own work and see it objectively and this is difficult for all artists. I used to think it was some sort of defect in my ability when I left nearly finished pieces to be viewed for awhile before putting in the final touches. I thought that it meant I was unskilled. I’ve since learned that most artists do this. If I leave my paintings where I can regularly see them it often comes to me suddenly that a shadow is missing, a highlight or that it would look better if some part were different colour. Maybe a shape needs adjusting. Just as I discovered that I can better see how clothing looks on my body when I view a photo rather than my reflection, I find photos of my art are helpful too. There must be some sort of sciency reason for it but I don’t know what it is.
So, after all of that rambling, yes I have some photos of the latest stuff and yes I am critical of it. I know what I like about it and what I don't but I'll leave it for others to decide if it speaks to them.
Spring Garden, acrylic on canvas
Poppies, Acrylic on canvas board
Art Journal : exploration of techniques and styles.
Acrylic and Charcoal on paper
Autumnal Flowers, acrylic on paper
Summer Flowers, acrylic on paper