Friday 8 April 2011

Arriving back where I started

‘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.  

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