Monday, 24 September 2012

Five years on.

Tempus fugit … Time flies. And it’s never been truer than with my blog. I first started blogging 5 years ago today. FIVE YEARS!!!

When I dived head-first into the world of blogging it was to add another dimension to my web site. My web site had been started some 8 years earlier in the hope of getting feedback and advice on the results of my newest hobby, painting. As I progressed (albeit very slowly), time and time again I came across people who had thought of having a go at watercolours, but never taken the plunge because they didn’t think they’d be any good at it, and others who had tried once, not produced a masterpiece, and therefore given up. I became increasingly aware of a burning desire to tell these people that they must have a go, and that they must not expect their first efforts to be great. And of course, I wanted to let both groups know that the enjoyment is in the ‘doing’ regardless of the end result.

Although it has earned me a reputation for lacking confidence in my work, my approach was to spread the word by example, and so I adopted the policy of posting ALL of my work, good and bad, and pointing out the things that hadn't worked as well as I'd hoped. I've tried to show beginners by example that it’s okay to ask silly questions, because no question is silly. I've tried to show them that you have to show your bad work if you want advice on how to improve. And I've tried to show them that the best lessons there are, come from our own mistakes. In fact, we learn more from a bad painting than we do a good one.

But what happened with my blog was not at all what I’d expected. I follow other artists because I think they are far better than me and they are skilled people I think I can learn from. Therefore I assumed that if I were fortunate enough to pick up any followers they would be beginners just starting out. I had never, in my wildest dreams (and I have some pretty wild ones) expected to be followed by extremely talented and competent artists as you all are. It makes no sense. 

What I get from following your blogs are lessons in technique, hints and tips, demonstrations (via WIP’s), insight into other mediums, inspiration by the bucketful and the opportunity to view some exceptional art. What I get from having you follow my blog is encouragement, support, advice and a massive sense of belonging. This last point is probably the greatest prize of all.

To mark my 5th blogiversay I thought I’d post a few pictures that have been milestones for me for various reasons. And for any beginners ambling by, I've explained why each of these weren't completely straightforward.






Miniature Rose

Though a simple painting, I've always felt very pleased with this one. It was my first painting of a single flower and I remember struggling with the blending as the darker tones turned to mud.





Captain Jack Sparrow

This one was my first serious portrait. I didn't know anything about graphite blending so experimented using a tightly rolled sheet of kitchen paper, and I remember struggling so much with a 8B pencil as I tried to get some dark blacks.








The Market Square, Northampton

This was my most ambitious pen drawing. It was one of the first pictures that I did a full Work-In-Progress of. There was a lot I didn't know how to do with this one, but I made it up as I went along, and it came out okay in the end.






Steelworker

This one was an experiment in trying to paint 'heat' and I was very pleased with the way it turned out. Much better than I could have ever hoped. This is the only painting I've sold in an exhibition.



Leopard

The best thing I can say about this one is to quote the final sentence from when I posted it on my blog. 

Different pencils and two serious mistakes ... am I disappointed? No ... I am three more step along this wonderful journey of discovery.

Fuchsia "Winston Churchill"

Having started out with watercolours and then discovered the wonder of pencils, I suppose it was inevitable that one day the two mediums would come together into a single picture. Drawing with pencil on a heavily textured watercolour paper was another challenge that I hadn't anticipated ... but I got there.




"We did it!"

If someone had told me at the beginning of this journey that I would draw a portrait of my daughter and son-in-law on their wedding day, I would have laughed out loud.





Frustrating, challenging, and not without it's disappointments, yet this wonderful art journey we are on never ceases to be satisfying, rewarding and so full of enjoyment. To all my followers I say a big, heart-felt thank you .... you're the best.


32 comments:

  1. Thank you for the beautiful paintings and drawings you made. Congratulations with 5 years blogging.

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  2. Congratulations on your 5th blog anniversary, John! What a wonderful selection of your work! I recognise all you say about blogging! It is great that you share your struggles, because whatever level we are, we all make bad paintings that we learn from. A sense of belonging indeed!

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    1. Thank you very much Judy. I find it hard to believe you've ever made a bad painting, but I guess you have your moments. ;)

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  3. It is so true what you say about not giving up, because in order to be a good Artist, we must first be willing to be a bad Artist! And we all start the same way - bad! Only those who are not put off by that first stage and just treat the bad paintings as new lessons eventually improve and become better and better. We have all grown so much haven't we? And it's such a fun journey, which is made all the more fun when we are making that same journey with other Artists. That is why I love the land of blog too :0)
    I really enjoyed your trip down memory lane. I remember all of them! :0)

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    1. Yes indeed Sandra, we have all grown ... and we continue to do so. I'm thrilled that you remember all of those paintings and drawings. Thank you very much for all your support and encouragement. ;)

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  4. Congratulations on your 5th year milestone John. What a lovely heartfelt post and one I take lots of inspiration from. Lots of the sentiment here is how I feel about my blog too. I've found the blogging world has quite a few genuine caring and encouraging souls like yourself and that is why everyone keeps coming back. For me blogging is not just about the art, though you know already how passionate I am about that, but also about that personal touch that makes some aspects of blogging quite special. Take care my friend. x

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    1. Laura, of all my blogging buddies, I feel that my art journey is closest to yours, certainly right now. Thank you for such a lovely comment. Take care my plein air buddy. ;)

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  5. Congratulations on five years. Your blog has brought a great deal of encouragment and inspiration to those who would not have attempted painting.
    Your own work is an example of one who has gone beyond the early futile attempts and struggles, and onto being an artist who shares so much with others.

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    1. Thank you very much Barbra Joan, not just for this nice comment but also for the help and encouragement you have given me. If I could draw as well as you I'd be ecstatic. ;)

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  6. You're a 'diamond geezer', John! I'm really pleased I made your acquaintance. This fact, plus your artwork and an interesting blog, is what draws people in to follow you. Although you share what you think is 'failure', I'm not sure you realise that some of your stuff is brilliant.

    Congratulations on 5 years Blogging!!

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    1. You're a pretty good fella yourself John. We have Sandra to thank for making our acquaintance. She looked at one of my drawings and told me about a new follower to her blog whose drawings were amazing. Thinking "yeh, yeh!" I came over for a look see. My jaw hit the floor as my gob was well and truly smacked ... and I became an instant fan.

      Thank you very much for such a wonderful comment.

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  7. Congratulations on Five years blogging John. Your work is brilliant, so don't under estimate what you achieve.

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  8. What a wonderful post, John!!! I am so happy to be following such a talented man! I thought the rose was a photo at first..and the other paintings are spectacular!! Congratulations of your 5 years...Where DOES the time go??!!

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    1. What a lovely thing to say Hilda, thank you. Yes, time certainly does seem to fly by.

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  9. What a lovely post - and congrats on five years' blogging!
    Its a honour to follow you xx

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    1. Thank you Pat. You're always such an inspiration, the honour is all mine. ;)

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  10. Dear John. This little gallery just goes to show you are a remarkable artist, you can do anything so don't belittle yourself, you certainly deserve a mass of followers !! Congrats on these five years !

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    1. Thank you very much Jane, I really appreciate that.

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  11. Happy Blogoversary.

    Great post and nice to see your milestones again.

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    1. Thank you Sue. I'd have missed this anniversary if you hadn't posted yours a few weeks ago. Make sure you post again next year or I'll miss my 6th. lol.

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  12. many happy 5th blog anniversary john ! ..i admire your art work and your idea for your forum

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    1. Thank you very much Jane. My forum remains small but it provides a non-intimidating environment for raw beginners to dig deep and show their first efforts. Forgive the 'plug'. ;)

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  13. Did I read "beginner"?.
    Fantastic work and lovely paintings. Congratulations!

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  14. I have said it before John and I say it again: You are so modest, and you do not realize how great your paintings are. I love your work! And as one of the others here said; all of us think we make terrible paintings now and then, no matter how far we have come in the artistcareer, that is also one way to develope the skills we have. To become a better artist I think that we have to try new angels in our painting, new themes. And when you do that it´s much much harder in the beginning until you know HOW TO. Even though offcourse your skills in the seeing of color and value and so on gets better and better all the time -as long as you keep on with the painting at regular basis. I hope I manage to write so that you understand what I mean, as I´m not neither brittish or an american. Maybe I write alot of mistaces without knowing, as I do not like to use "google translate". This is also an uppertunity for me to practise and get better in the english language, witch is very fun!
    Anyway John; I "fell off the track" here a bit, but what I wanted to say to you is: you do GREAT art!
    Take care my friend! See you soon!

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    1. Catharina, thank you for such a lovely comment. I understand exactly what you mean about having to try new angles and having to learn new techniques. I do far too little experimenting and that is something I intend to change over the course of the coming winter months.

      I very much respect the fact that you do not use Google to translate and want you to know that your English is very good. I applaud you for making the effort to learn English, which I've been told is a very difficult language to learn.
      Take care. :)

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  15. Hi John,
    Congratulations on your 5 years of blogging. Oh yes John, I agree with Catherine, your work is great. And yes we all strive to develop our skills, we are all on the same journey. There is no perfection in art, if there was, there would be nothing left to learn. Our trials and tribulations keeps us going. We are all so blessed to have this gift of Passion for our art.

    All the best to you,
    Joan

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    1. You are so right about our trials and tribulations Joan ... they certainly keep ME going. lol. Thank you very much for your lovely comment.
      All the best to you,
      John

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  16. It´s me again ;) I´ve been sitting here and enjoying your painting with Winston Churchill. Couldn´t help myself! It´s such a true beauty!

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    1. Catharina, how lovely of you. I'm so very pleased that you like it. Thank you very much. ;)

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