Learning and growing, stretching beyond your comfort zone, that’s how we grow as artists. It’s great to paint what you know, what you feel comfortable with, but it’s all too easy to get into a rut, to churn out the same stuff over and over again.
I made a vow when I began to paint seriously, always to learn something new, however small, each time I did a painting. It might be mixing certain colours more effectively, it might be strengthening my ability to use tonal ranges, it might be trying a new form of composition, it might be (dare I say it) learning when it’s a good time to break the rules. I’ve worked on using light more effectively, not putting detail in everything (well not so much detail-grin) I’ve worked on big washes, creating pattern or smoothness… the list goes on. I am by no means expert on any of these and will need to revisit them frequently to continue to grow but since I began I know I have improved.
Being an artist is like embarking on an exciting journey into the unknown. Every day there are some things that you know will happen and you are to an extent prepared for them, but there are many, many challenges that you need to overcome too. Being positive and not being overwhelmed by the journey is as vital as is having fun along the way and being prepared to explore new techniques and ideas.
In the last painting I began playing with a technique that I have used many, many times before in portraiture but haven’t really explored its possibilities to the fullest in other areas. I have to say I only really dabbled with it in the last painting but as I did it felt like I had found a new doorway in my journey and if I had the courage I could pass through this door to an even more exciting watercolour world.
I would say I am hovering in this open doorway just now eager to explore but also anxious to know if I can rise to this new level successfully. There is only one way to find out… so for my next painting I have decided to push myself to the limits to see how far I can take it.
I don’t often do scenes, not because I don’t like painting them but because to paint I have to feel some emotional connection to the subject, something that tells a story to me or conveys a mood. I’ve had this reference photo on my ‘to do’ list for a couple years now and this seems like the golden opportunity to paint my version of it.
So I’m breaking out of my comfort zone and stepping through the doorway into this new world. I am ready and eager to explore how far I can take this technique, what works and what doesn’t and how I can use it effectively to create the atmosphere I can see in my mind for this painting.
I’ve kept the basic background fairly true to the photo in my outline but have decluttered and added my own foreground interest that, to me, better evokes the mood I want to create. Its drawn out on a full sheet because I want to practice the techniques at this size but I am treating it as a practice piece and just seeing how it turns out. Its great to just take the pressure off now and again, explore and not worry too much about the outcome.
I hope you will enjoy following me in my journey.