I enjoyed art at school. There, my main interest was ceramics. I would spend a lot of my breaks and lunchtime working in the pottery room as for me, it was a haven, as I didn’t particularly enjoy school. I came back to art about 9 years ago. I had completed my training to work as a psychotherapist and wanted something to help me relax and to be creative in a different way. I began with a basic course run as part of the local authority’s adult education programme. I had made a start towards something new. The course was pretty basic; however it got me touch with art materials again.
Landscape Oil Painting
The next significant moment was an oil painting workshop with Imogen Bone while I was holiday on the Isles of Scilly. Imogen is a good teacher and a modern impressionistic landscape painter. This was a transformative experience as I realised I could paint. I came back home all fired up and eager to continue exploring landscape painting in oils.
At the same time as painting I was visiting art galleries when I could, researching different artists I wanted to work with along with experimenting and trying new materials. The next two or three years saw considerable exploration. One of the best teachers I met was Carol Baker who runs a whole series of workshops on loosening up and working with acrylics. At this stage in my journey I was definitely still learning about the materials and how to paint in a loose representational style. I was pleased with my work and began to show it in a small way in open studios and a couple of small galleries/ cafes that took a few paintings. My relatives all got paintings for Christmas and I sold a few pieces.
Mixed Media and Abstract Painting
The exploration continued. I learnt about using watercolour. I found the work of Jean Haines and Ann Blockley. Their lovely books inspired me and I began to experiment with mixing media; at this stage mostly ink, watercolour, gouache. I had a tentative play with collage.
The next big thing was finding the work of Jane Davies, an American abstract artist on YouTube. Jane was my introduction to abstract work. She has a ton of free videos on her website and also offers a series of online courses. I signed up for a few of these and found them really helpful on learning yet more about mixing media with acrylics and abstract composition, a completely new direction. As I began to paint abstractly, I really began to feel and see that my work was derivative; my version of someone else’s style. This was something I struggled with for some time. Looking back I can see that up to this point my explorations had been mostly learning about materials and techniques. The area that I had not explored, probably because I was not yet ready to do so, was artistic process. How I go about making my art. Partly the things that inspire me, that I draw on in making my art. But also the process of making my art. What do I mean by this? I’m referring to how I begin, the steps from beginning through the making of the work. The decisions and choices I make during the process. How I complete and finish a piece.
This brings me to Art2Life, Nicholas Wilton and Creative Visionary Path. This is a 12 week online development programme for artists. It was the big break though I needed. The course is a mixture of technical principles about how to make authentic work, and guidance and coaching on ways of understanding one’s own process in that making.
So I now know that my work is intuitive. I have no idea what is going to emerge when I begin to paint, it’s a process of play, exploration and response in the moment to what I am seeing and experiencing. Sometimes the work is about a memory, of landscape, a form or shape in nature or something created by people. Sometimes it is about the process of making. It’s an adventure and a journey that is continually exciting. What next? The exploration continues. I feel like I am at the beginning of a new phase. That while I’m confident I’ve found my form of artistic expression, I am now engaged in an ongoing process of change and development.
What were the big breakthroughs in your artistic journey? How did you find your voice?
I’d love to hear your stories.