Saturday, 31 December 2011

The best of 2011

As the year draws to a close I find myself reflecting back on my art journey over the course of 2011. There have been those successes I have been very pleased with and proud of, and there have been those that I have not been pleased with but have learned a lot from. That's one of the nice things with art ... even when we mess up we learn something, so it's a win-win situation most of the time.

Reflecting on my highlights I have pulled out a few pictures I'd like to share with you again. Firstly, the one and only painting I've sold in exhibition ... "The Steelworker". I got into a real mess with this one because I cleverly decided to try candle wax to create the water on the furnace floor. It was a huge mistake so I tried to overpaint it. That's not easy with watercolour. Anyway, long story short, I wrestled with the wax and created mud on top of mud on top of mud. I became as close as I've ever come to not finishing a painting, but in the end I got there.







2011 was also the year I attempted my first ever portrait. This graphite drawing of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was a major "dip the toe in the water" exercise. I didn't have proper blenders or tortillons and didn't really appreciate how they would be used, so I managed with some tightly rolled up kitchen paper. It was a learning curve of huge proportions.










This 'discovery' of being able to do realistic drawings in graphite led me on to trying various other subjects and one of my favourites of those is this Leopard, which I stupidly thought was a Cheetah. Duh! Still, whatever it was didn't detract from the enjoyment of gradually watching him come together, spot by spot.


I have always enjoyed drawing with Pen but haven't done any for a long while and these pencil drawings led me back to pen work, but at a new level. I experimented with cross hatching which I'd never tried before and confess to having a long way to go before I'm pleased with what I'm doing, but this drawing of Robin Hoods Bay didn't disappoint me.



But I felt that all of this very tight work was having a negative effect on my watercolouring (if that's possible - lol). So I tried my hand at sketching. I find it difficult to just 'let go' and let whatever happens, happen. But the more loose, free and easy, hurried sketching I did with my pens, the more I felt at one with the paper. Pen sketching and loose watercolours all came together for me in this very simple painting of the river at Staithes. A totally alien style for me, but one which I thoroughly enjoyed.





One of my 2011 highlights was to receive a request from a young couple who are getting married in April at Edinburgh Castle. They wanted to know if they could use my pen sketch on their Wedding Invitations. It is small moments like this that make you feel your work is appreciated for what it is, and that's important for us all.


I can sum up 2011 for me by saying it has been a milestone year. I conquered personal fears by stepping out and sketching in public and I've tried several different techniques and media. I have had the disappointments that have taught me lessons and the successes that have helped my confidence. Most of all, I have enjoyed sharing my journey with all of you, just as I have enjoyed following your own journey's. You are all an inspiration to me.

My goals for 2012? To consolidate on what I've accomplished in 2011 by trying to bring my new found confidence into my watercolour painting, to improve further with my graphite and pen work, and to try some serious work with Charcoal and Pastels. Most of all I intend to get out and about with my sketch book culminating in some watercolour painting en plein air. That is an ultimate goal.

Thank you for your support during 2011 and I wish you all the very best for 2012.
Happy New Year!!!

26 comments:

  1. Your graphite sketches are superb. You must be very pleased. And your pen and watercolor is also lovely. Some great accomplishments this year. Look forward to seeing your pastel journey. All the best for 2012.
    Jean

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  2. You have certainly had a successful year of painting, nice to see them all. All the best for 2012 and a Happy New Year to you...look forward to seeing more of your art.

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  3. John you are SO talented! I love seeing the diverse range of your skills in these pieces. While I do really love your watercolors, especially the pen and wash ones, and the exhibition one, I think my favorite of this list are your Leopard and Capt. Jack Sparrow!! I can bet you would have people lined up to buy them. Really wonderful work, and you've had a great year. Here's wishing you the best for 2012. :)

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  4. Great to see this selection of 2011, they are all very good! A happy New Year to you, John! I hope to see more of your beautiful work in 2012.

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  5. Thank you Jean. I had a small go with pastels some time ago and only succeeded in making a horrible mess. We'll see what happens next time. lol

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  6. Ann, thank you. Yes, I certainly feel I have moved forward. Still got a long way to go yet though. ;-)

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  7. Crystal Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. The graphites are my favourites to but, sadly, there is no line of people. lol.

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  8. Hi John,

    You are an amazing artist. I love every one of your post. Happy New Year to you and yours and I so look forward to seeing more of your work.

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  9. Joan, what a lovely thing to say. I'm not in your league, but I'm working on it. Thank you very much. ;-)

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  10. I followed Atelier Brigitte's link to your site and enjoyed looking through your postings. I'll look forward to seeing what you do in the future.

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  11. Hi Linda. Thank you so much for visiting and your nice comment.

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  12. wishing you a happy new year full of plein air sketches john ...i've enjoyed seeing some of your super and diverse work for the first time in this post...super

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  13. Thank you very much Jane. The one thing about sticking your neck out in Blogland is it sort of forces your hand. Those plein air sketches will come ... no choice now. LOL.

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  14. Happy New Year John. I have enjoyed your blog so much! You have made me laugh so many times. I love the selection of work you have on show here too :0)

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  15. Oh Sandra, how lovely to see you. I'll wish you Happy New Year because it will be, even if it doesn't seem like it now. Your heavy heart will lighten in time. ;-)

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  16. what a impressive collection of works! your graphite work is outstanding. the watercolor and pen and ink and wonderful! so looking forward to seeing more in the new year. the very best to you in 2012!

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  17. Hi Suzanne. Thank you very much - you are kind. Glad to see you survived the dentistry. All the best for the new year.

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  18. Love the Johnny Depp drawing. Amazing first portrait! Great job.

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  19. Thank you Nora, you're very kind. ;-)

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  20. This is a great summary of your year. I'm glad I've followed along & look forward to seeing what you'll produce in 2012.

    happy New Year.

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  21. Thank you Sue and it's been great having you follow along. You have been a major inspiration to my pen work. ;-)

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  22. Hi John.
    All drawings and the odd painting are fantastic. My favourite is the portrait of Johnny Depp. I love Pencil Drawigs and sketches. Well done John and please stop saying that you are a beginner, you are well established, and par with the best.
    All the best John and a Happy new year to you and your family.
    Vic.

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  23. You are so incredibly talented, John! I've always loved your paintings. You have mastered the realistic Leopard in graphite!! And I look forward to 2012 and your paintings in pastels!!

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  24. Thank you very much Vic, I appreciate that very much. Very kind of you. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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  25. Oh, thank you Hilda, what a lovely thing to say. I'm not hopefully that my pastel efforts will amount to much, but it will be fun trying them.

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