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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.