Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Best Is Yet To Come

If anybody asks me what my best painting is, I will always answer that I haven't painted it yet. I hope and believe that I'm being truthful when I say that, but until I stop painting for ever, I will always be trying to be a better artist. Every time I paint a picture, I have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Maybe it will be a while before I know how to correct those mistakes, but eventually I will. I am never happy with my paintings when I finish them. I always feel that I could have done a better job. However, after a while I accept them and am satisfied that they are ok.  Perhaps I'm too critical of my own work, but an artist does have to try to be self critical if they ever want to improve. I also feel that I haven't quite achieved the style I want to paint with. I am now at the point where I have painted fourteen paintings this year and if I'm not in full swing now I never will be. Looking at those paintings, I don't think they look too bad at all. It would be nice to sell one or two though. Anyway, I shall continue painting and continue trying to be better. It's really quite exciting to hold onto that thought that my best work lies in the future!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

When is a mistake not a mistake?

I've heard it said that the best paintings are the ones with the fewest mistakes. If those words are taken literally, all paintings would look like photographs. Some do and I have even painted to get as close to a photograph as I could. I don't think a painting that looks like a photograph can be better than the photograph. Ok, so it's skilful to be able to copy a photograph and the painting will look good, buts what's the point. Paintings can be full of 'mistakes' and still look good, especially with impressionist paintings. You have to give the impression of something that looks right. Colours do not need to be right, trees can be moved, added or removed, straight lines do not have to be straight and people don't need feet or necks. Anything goes as long as it gives the impression of being right. Sometimes it is possible to paint something right and give the impression of being wrong. In my latest painting, I painted a shadow on some snow. The shadow coincided with a patch of snow on the back of a tree, also in shadow. It gave the impression that the snow somehow passed through the tree. That is the sort of thing that ruins a good painting yet it is not really a mistake and these are hard to spot. It wasn't a mistake, but it looked like one until I changed it.

Another, and perhaps more dangerous, mistake to make is to put too much detail into a painting. It is hard to know when to stop putting in detail and it just takes longer to finish the painting and adds nothing. Most of the time the viewer will not even notice if something is there or not. Once the scene has been captured, it's time to stop. There is no need to paint every brick in a wall and if you try it could ruin a good painting. Once the painting feels finished, it's time to sign it off and forget it. I am really pleased with my latest painting (BTW it's two on from the one I mentioned when I started writing this), but if I compare it to the photograph I used to paint from, I start to notice differences and ask myself questions like: why didn't I paint that bit darker or that shadow straighter. It doesn't matter! It's definitely time to start preparing the next painting.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Beyond Compare

How often does an artist hear it said that you shouldn't compare your own work to that of others, yet we strive to be like our heroes. Maybe that's not true of all types of art and artists, but as an impressionist myself, it definitely applies to me. Since I started to paint in an impressionist style, I have constantly looked to the work of other impressionists and wished that my paintings turned out like theirs. I see others that have copied the style of successful artists and have become "carbon copies" of their teachers. The example which springs to mind is, one of my heroes, Ron Ranson. There are lots of videos on the Internet by people copying Ron's style. To me they have missed the point. Ron Ranson's inspiration was Edward Seago, yet Ron's style is his own. An artist's painting style should be as original as their handwriting style, but we can learn from other artists' work without copying them. The important thing to do when viewing another artist's painting, is to ask yourself what it is that you like about their work and try to incorporate those elements into your own work. It's not always easy to do, but it's a skill which once learned, goes a long way towards helping to produce more satisfying paintings yourself.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


I've had a long break from painting. Life got in the way as it sometimes does, but I don't think that was the main reason. All through my life I have painted a lot for a few months and then stopped for long periods. In 2013/14 it felt different. I really felt like I was getting somewhere with my painting, but I began to concentrate on railway paintings. Someone suggested that I should try to join The Guild Of Railway Artists. I sent in my application, but it was rejected. It was that rejection that put the final nail in the coffin. If those paintings I submitted to the GRA were ever destroyed, I would not repaint them. I think a painting is a one off and cannot be repeated, but if it could, I would not change a thing. I would want them to be exactly as they were. So my conclusion is that I am 100 percent satisfied with those paintings. I  looked to the GRA for recognition as a railway artist and perhaps to be noticed. I will not submit another application to them. I don't think I have anything more offer. I like what I paint and just occasionally I notice that somebody somewhere does appreciate my work, even if it's just finding a painting on Pinterest, pinned in amongst some incredible work by famous artists or pinned by Daler Rowney, who manufacture fine art materials. These small victories are a big vote of confidence that really make me want to paint again and I have.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

How Was It For You

I often wonder if other artists go through the same processes and emotions as I do when I paint. Before I start a painting, I have to want to paint. Sometimes the urge to paint can come a couple of days after I finish the last one. Sometimes it can be a couple of weeks. Once I've got the urge I need to get on with the painting. If I am prevented from doing so by other commitments, then I feel like I'm going to explode. I start by sketching in as much detail as I feel I need, which can vary greatly. Some of the sketching might even be left visible to be part of the painting. The next step is to put in masking fluid as required. After that the painting can begin. Depending on the subject and the amount of sketching involved, the painting might not look good from the start. I might start to worry that I've done something wrong. The better they look as I'm painting, the easier it is to paint. When I think I'm finished, I hang the painting up in my kitchen (that's where I paint). I will scrutinize it, looking for errors. There's usually something I've missed or masking fluid I haven't removed. Usually I will be pleased with my work, but one or two, I've not liked because I felt there was something wrong. I spot the errors in the end and put them right. It could be reflections that don't match properly or something that is too light and so on. Once the painting is to my pleasure, I will leave it hanging for a week to admire. I will get a feeling of satisfaction and that I've painted one of my best ever paintings. It's a wonderful time and there is no longer a need to paint, but after about a week something strange happens. The painting that I thought was so good, stops being a brilliant masterpiece and is now just ok. When I finished it I thought I could do no better and now I feel that I must paint a better painting. Not only that, but it's been a whole week since I last painted! How can I call myself an artist? The urge to paint is back with a vengeance! 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Getting Noticed

If anybody ever reads this, they might wonder where I suddenly disappeared to after my last post. I never meant to disappear like that, but one thing leads to another and before you know it lots of things have changed. I found myself spending much more time promoting my work and the work of others on Fine Art America. I started to use social media to promote my work too. However, after I had ploughed hours of my time into all that and my blogs, I was left wondering what exactly I had achieved. Apart from over stretching myself, there are several positive things which have come from all this. Firstly, I have made a whole lot of new friends on the Internet through Fine Art America. They have been a huge support and encouragement to me. Secondly, I can now search for myself on Google and find quite a few of my paintings and photographs. The most important positive to come from all this, is that I managed to keep painting last year, having had a break from painting of eight years. I think the final total for 2013 was 26 new paintings. Even more important, I'm still painting in 2014. Only 4 so far this year, but 3 of them are as good as anything I've done before. It's only the second time since my childhood that I have painted in two consecutive years.

So where do I go from here? Well, most importantly, I need to find a real job because being an artist will never pay enough to live on. I also want to keep painting regularly, finding new subjects and improving wherever I can. Finally, I want to get noticed. I would at least like my paintings, many of which are of my town, Borlänge, to come up when searching the Internet for pictures of Borlänge. At the moment they do not. Now I'm going to disappear again and try to 'make it happen'.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Mystery Solved

I don't know if you have read my profile on my website, but if you have you will know that my past painting has been sporadic to say the least. I painted several oil paintings in the early eighties, but twice as many that I never finished and I gave up painting. I didn't have the patience for oil painting. After meeting another artist who showed me some examples of impressionist watercolour paintings from some of the best artists of the time, I gave painting another go. This was much better as I could now finish paintings quicker, using watercolours. This meant lots of paintings and everyone being completed. This was in the late eighties and early 1990. By the end of 1990, I had stopped painting again. I didn't paint again until I moved to Sweden in 2005. By the end of 2005, the paintings had stopped yet again.
In May of this year, I began painting again. So far, I've painted nine paintings. I'm just warming up still, but much more confident. The only thing that's been worrying me is, how long will it go on? Each painting that I complete, I ask myself, is this the last? If I paint something really bad, will that kill off my enthusiasm? I must admit, I struggled with two or three of my latest paintings. They took far too long to complete. I felt like the end was nigh. However, I have finally realised what it was that caused me to stop painting before. It's so obvious (if I'm right). In 1990, my first child was born and another three years later. They grew up, but in 2005, another baby was born. Sounds like a pretty convincing reason why I might have been distracted from painting. Only time will tell, but there's no babies on the horizon.