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Five Things I Have Learnt Over the Last Year

It is almost a year exactly since I started this blog, and so much has happened since then. I have been thinking a lot about the past year, how it has been and how to keep moving forward in the year to come. So for this post I have put together five things that I have learnt, and am still learning to embed into my practice.


Detail and precision

The biggest thing by far that I have discovered (after a friend pointing it out to me) is the important of the quality of the final finish of your work.

A year ago when I had finished a painting, or so I thought, I would generally decide whether I was happy with it or not and that was that. Little did I know that there were tiny imperfections that I couldn’t see in that moment. I don’t think that this applies to purely geometric work as I have seen it in botanical studies I have done too. When I say imperfections, I mean that there may have been a brushstroke that was not moving in the right direction, a small area that was the white of the page that I hadn’t noticed: to put it simply, something that no-one would probably ever see, that was there none the less.


When this was pointed out to me and I saw it for the first time I was honestly a mix of shocked and disheartened, left wondering how on earth I couldn’t see these minuscule details. Once I had reconciled the emotion of this, I began making a real effort to meticulously inspect my work as I made it, which did make the process much harder at first, but gradually became second nature. All that I can say about this is that it makes more than a world of difference, there is a sharpness to my work now that I didn’t have before, the cumulative effect of paying this extra attention is huge, and definitely worth it.

Experimentation

This one sounds like a cliche for sure and makes me cringe a bit to say it, but I have seen the positive impacts of experimentation constantly this year. You wouldn’t imagine that I have spent weeks over the last year working with video, photography, batik and pastels: there is a whole folder of work in the studio that is full of pieces that probably won’t ever be seen.

However, these works are where some of the best ideas that I have had and techniques that I have discovered have arisen from. Sometimes a texture that I’ve created in one medium sparks a whole new approach to painting, or a certain way of using colour creates new moods that I haven’t worked with before. The second impact of experimentation is valuable time away from my main work, It satisfies the urge to make, but also allows a rest and break from what I have been working on, which is sometimes a necessity when I feel stuck in a rut.

Periods and paintings aren’t friends

I don’t think this one needs much explanation, but when I am on my period I don't produce work I am happy with, I am not sure if it is a loss of patience or tiredness: it just doesn’t seem to work. I have tried fighting it and the results never end well. This is perhaps where experimentation comes in, I have found that this is the best time for me to play with new ways of working as it takes the pressure off to make good work and allows for a bit of a breather.

For every yes there are 10 that will say no, at least!

This one is a simple as it sounds, I have applied to more residencies, open calls, competitions and opportunities than I can remember over the last year, learning more about this process with each one. It could be a bit of a rollercoaster if you take each rejection to heart, so it has been better to keep on building a thick skin and moving forward.

I have seen how the applications that have had positive outcomes have been those that best fit my practice, generally speaking, although it is always going to be hit and miss. There are a million subjective reasons why you may or may not be chosen, and each is completely unique, so hard as it is try not to loose heart. I think the bottom line is that being an artist is about patience, not just in making work, but it waiting for the chance to share your work too.

Spend as much time as possible in the zone, when you are there

It is so much easier said than done, with all of the different obligations that we all have within out lives, whether it be part time jobs, household chores, applications that pull our attention; I have found that the hardest part of being an artist is managing all of this.


But despite this, there are times when I am very inspired, where all I want to do is paint, and it honestly feels like I could stop eating and sleeping and just carry on for days on end. ( I do still make sure I eat, sleep and have breaks) Some of my strongest work has come out of these moments and I cherish them immensely, so I have to honour them too, even if it means sacrificing other things.



That brings me to the end of this post, and the one year anniversary of the blog! Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading these and supporting my work over the last year, it means so much :) I hope that we will all have a productive and exciting year to come!


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