Sunday 28 December 2014

Year End Thoughts

This will be my last blog post of the year. I have let the blogging lapse a bit this year, so my resolution will be to get back to some regular postings in 2015. Apart from anything else, I think blogging helps me to reflect on my work, to give consideration to what is good and bad about my painting, and to develop as an artist. Here's a few pics from 2014, some finished, others maybe not...

I'm coming to believe that focus is one of the most important elements of being an artist. There are so many things that grab my attention in the world about me, and a part of me wants to try and capture them all. But that's a sort of scattergun approach and I don't think it will allow me to develop in a meaningful way. I find that when I spend time painting 'distractions' it makes me feel dissatisfied. I realise that I much more satisfied if I focus on a few themes in greater depth. But what are these?
Shed with Green Roof - currently for sale as unframed pic
Fishing huts and sheds is one theme. I keep coming back to these rickety buildings: they excite and fascinate me, their individual histories and how they stand up to the elements. I want to continue to explore them as a theme. Linked to this are old pieces of machinery like petrol pumps, and walls and piers. Machinery as a subject is more of an exercise for my drawing skills and probably a good challenge for next year.
Red Roof - now framed.
Sheds at St Abbs - not sure if it's finished yet
I continue to paint sea scenes, but sometimes my beach paintings bore me, so I think I shouldn't overdo this theme.  This (below) is one scene that excited me in Lewis. The exposure and feeling of being on the very edge of habitable space.  I wasn't surprised to learn that there's a bit of surfing done on this beach.
Stormy Beach, Lewis - now framed - one of my favourite pics!
Applecross is a bit closer to home....
View from Applecross Bay - restricted palette holds the interest (not framed)
Maybe I'd be better to focus on hills. I've definitely not done enough hillwalking in 2014 and I so want to get back up onto the high tops. 
Beinn Damph and Upper Loch Torridon - not sure if it's finished yet
 I feel that I want to explore landscapes which are more complex and seek out the abstract patterns in the world around me.  This next view is perhaps not complex enough?
High Riggs, Summer Morning - now framed
Whereas with this other pic I made a real effort to capture the essence of the moorland by focusing on the ground cover....that beautiful 'deer grass' which you find in the hills up here in late autumn.
Deer Grass Above Achintee - a WIP
However, while I want hills and landscapes to be my focus next year, I know that inevitably I will come back to the sea, its moods and patterns and the challenge of portraying the movement of the waves.
Dark Island - Charcoal and ink and conte to reflect the moody day - now framed

Loch Carron in stormy mood - a WIP
And then again, I do like to draw faces – they are all so different – and I wonder about doing some portraiture. I don't think this would ever become a main theme, but next year I'd like to draw and paint more figures and faces. One possibility is putting figures (or animals) into landscapes and urban scenes – this is always a challenge. Perhaps I should do a few more drawings of Ness the wolfhound and see where it takes me.
Ness - a drawing recently exhibited at St Margaret's House
 See what I mean.....this is already quite a diverse mix. When you add that to my thoughts about media – how much printmaking?...should I make a serious attempt at oils next year?....Or should I focus on working with graphite and pigments? So many questions to be addressed. One thing I think I've learned is that it doesn't pay to be too serious in one's approach. It's important to play with materials and concepts. Whilst I know I must be disciplined and work hard, this does not mean that I should be dull and heavy-handed. Enthusiasm, energy and exploration shall be my themes for next year!