You must be aware by now that I am bothered about my painting. So much of what I do dissatisfies me, so much is just all right, and I feel I’m travelling backward, getting worse instead of better. I have been casting around, first to identify the source of the malaise and then to cure it. This is not a trawl through my emotions so that I can enjoy a good moan and maybe curry some sympathy. I’m hoping by sharing this state, other artists recognise it with a sigh and even some suggestions, or that new artists will not be dismayed by it if it strikes them.
OK. I know I’m not painting enough. Constraints of time and place see to that. And I’m not practising drawing enough either. Indeed, I think this is the chief stumbling block to progress. I have gone as far as I can using various drawing crutches and must use a pencil more to explore shape in detail, thereby freeing my brush to work spontaneously. It makes you look hard at what you are trying to represent, at both positive and negative spaces. A recent article by David Bellamy in “Leisure Painter” suggested a way forward. Using watercolour pencils, he created beautiful atmospheric paintings. This seems a way of encouraging the patience needed in pencil drawing while satisfying my love affair with fluid colour. A new student of mine is using just this medium with great success, so it should not be impossible for me to make some progress within my constraints.
Maybe also I am missing the focus provided by “the Bridges of Dee”. The five or so years involved in sourcing the images and painting them gave me a ready made theme for my paintings, without that I am unfocused. Well, I can’t go on safari, or chase down another river to follow, but I have the garden to hand. Right on cue, “The Artist” has an article by David Curtis on “The lure of the garden”, one by Judi Whitton on “Creepy-crawly drawing”, and another By Claire Harkess in which she exploits space in her wild life paintings. When you add to that a thought provoking discussion of the motif by Andrew Marr, you will appreciate my resolve to follow the spider and “Try Again”.