‘We shall not cease from exploration/ and the end of all our exploring/ will be to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time.'
T.S. Eliott Four Quartets
'Seeing the Light' - oil on canvas 90 x 90 (cms) combination of the two styles
So, as you know if you read the last blog, I spent January and February shut away in the studio determined to change the way I paint. Persuaded by my bossy internal critic that a ‘looser style’ of painting would somehow make my work more ‘valid’, I set out to produce a series of paintings looking at how light affects the mountains. At the same time I challenged myself to work purely from memory of what I see around me here in the mountains.
The work took a long time and went through numerous changes in pursuit of these goals. I really was not enjoying myself: “so much the better,” said the critic, “art should be a struggle!”.
After 8 weeks, I had completed two paintings. I stood back and looked at them. I felt absolutely nothing. No sense of completion, satisfaction, mission accomplished, simply the reverse. I did not like this work. It simply wasn’t ‘me’.
I was very bad tempered for several days! What a failure, what a hopeless, mediocre painter I was! Then, trawling the internet, I came across the work of Polly Townsend, mountain explorer and artist. Here was somebody’s work that spoke to me straight away. Wonderful paintings, full of energy, form, strength, individuality – this was work that I related to, that really inspired me. Polly’s work has elements of what really fascinates me – the patterns and contours in a landscape.
And so here I am back where I started. I have left one of my ‘misty mountain’ paintings to remind me not to travel too far away from my own style again, but to stay true to the journey I am on, to keep on working at it and see what materializes as time goes by. The change was too extreme, it was stressful and far too un-familiar. Whilst the creative journey is often scary and difficult, I am convinced that it should at least give you a sense of excitement, and hopefully, from time to time a sense of achievement.