I came across this saying in a glossy magazine and was suitably motivated by it. I had just started painting and I knew I had so much to learn before I could produce the paintings on paper that were buzzing around in my head. So I began my journey exploring different ways of making watercolour work with me rather than against me. This entailed a lot of effort and a lot of paintings - most of which came nowhere near turning out right. However midst the disappointments came moments of pure joy when some success was achieved and safely stored away for future use. My friend Margaret Hockney (more of whom later in this blog) was very helpful at this time and I always took heed of her advice. After all she had been surrounded by art her whole life so it seemed sensible to listen when she spoke. "If you do something once it could be just a happy accident but if you can repeat it again and again you have developed a technique.", she advised. So I used to practise my successes over and over again until they became second nature. With this in mind it was a fortuitous occurrence when I discovered a cache of early paintings hidden away on my computer gathering dust -not really of course but you know what I mean. It's easy for files to get put in folders and then folders to get put in other folders and before you know it- 'out of sight is out of mind'. But now here they are right in front of me - the successes and lots of failures. One pitfall of becoming a more technically accomplished painter is that you lose the excitement you felt at the beginning of your art journey. In effect you forget to throw yourself at the mercy of inspiration and concentrate on your technical ability to make a painting 'right' by avoiding mistakes. But ultimately it is by taking chances, trying new things and yes - learning from your mistakes - that you become a better painter. So as I look at my early paintings I realise that 'failures' were never 'failures' at all - just part of the process of learning and developing my art. So for our 'Double Vision' exhibition at Bridlington Spa I have deliberately come out of my comfort zone and tried new things. Sure they didn't all turn out well but I have got the enjoyment back into my work. I am excited and pleased with my recent paintings but you will have to wait until 'Double Vision' from 28th October until 28th November 2014 before you can see if I am right!
Let's invite Margaret back to the page. I got to know her through her friendship with Merice. They were walking together and she told Merice not to be afraid to try different things with her camera - "shoot into light", she said and see what you get. Merice did and was delighted with her photos. I was too and painted 'A Walk into the Light' from one. This was my attempt to capture that blinding moment when you look into the sun. The dazzle hurts your eyes and all surrounding detail fade into contrasting darkness. I hadn't seen this painting for nearly ten years until very recently on my lucky find but am definitely classing it as one of my early successes!