Sunday, 10 October 2010

Make hay While The Sun Shines!

Still Life
watercolour on 140lb not paper
It seems to me that I have forgotten a lot of what I learnt about watercolour painting more than a decade ago when I painted this still life in art class. Studying my work here, it appears that I am re-learning techniques that I had already mastered back then, like dry brushwork (in the background here), and reflective colour (the red of the onions and brown pot in the brass kettle). The way I have captured the brassy look of the kettle and the dull shine of the pewter shaker, I'm sure that I would be hard pressed to replicate this so well now. The layering used in painting the onions is identical to the method I learned in class last week (see last blog).

I now realise that I have a lot of catching up to do and it's quite clear that the ten years or so that I put my brushes away, was one of the worst decisions of my entire life. Those years are what I now refer to as the "Dark decade" Being in the Autumn years of my life, by the time I have got back to this standard, I'm sure I will be about ready to pop off this planet! If I had continued to paint through those years, surely I would be showing and selling my work by now?

So there's a message to all you budding artists out there: never take a break, never give up and make hay while the sun shines. Now where's that sketch pad ...


  1. You are right Frank - This is FANTASTIC! I am 39 and I only started drawing and painting almost three years ago having not picked up a pencil since I was 13! I hugely regret not having found my creative side in my teens. If only... Maybe by now I would be really talented. Still, hopefully it's not too late and in five or ten years time I will have mastered my art :0)

  2. I am amazed at your painting, but I think you can do it again - with the desire there.
    A similar experience befell me with my music. After not playing the piano accordion for 20 yrs - having sold the instrument, another one came into my posession a few years ago, and with some practice, can now enjoy it a lot more than before. :)

  3. @Sandra - I was hoping you wouldn't agree with me, 'cos now my worst fears are realised - I am not as good as I was :( You have both the time and the talent to go far with your art, and at 13 I guess things like romance may have got in the way. I don't have a good excuse, other than to say that I had far more interests than I could indulge all at once.

    @Alice - the desire may be there, but the old grey matter is not what it was LOL! As for your piano playing, we could have been watching you on the telly playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto by now if you'd kept practicing.

  4. Hmm... You may have taken my comment in the wrong way. I do think this is fantastic, but I also think many of your recent paintings are too! I don't think it'll take you much time at all to remember all of those little tips and tricks - It's not at all that you aren't as good as you were! You already have it in there, it's just a metter of bringing it to the forefront again. :0)

  5. Don't worry Sandra, the phrase I used sounds a bit dramatic with hindsight - I am not about to jump under a bus! I know I am creeping back up to previous standard, it's just that looking back at a painting like this and what I am doing now, has put things back into perspective i.e. still got some catching up to do!
    So thanks for the clarification, I really like to hear from you :)

  6. I'd be hard-pressed to duplicate a painting I made last month, much less ten years ago! Maybe because I still feel like anything I do that is successful was just an accident?
    Have you framed this one yet? It is so good! Do wish I had received this advice about ten years ago myself...that's about how long I went before picking it back up again a year and half ago. (although, I just sketched...didn't paint...never got along well with color!)

    Thanks for your comment. I do have a tendency to make things fly, don't I! As for the 100 portraits project, it was peer pressure really. Everyone was picking subjects to draw 100 times, with the thought that it would force us to be more creative eventually. I like to draw people from life, but since everyone hates me staring at them, I only had myself. Have to admit that I'm regretting that decision!

  7. Raena, I can't believe anything you do is an accident as you evidently have a lot of talent. The difficulty with watercolour is that you almost have to constantly plan head to make sure that the paint is going to do what you expect it do, but often it can have a mind of its own.

    This one maybe I should frame as there are a number of good vibes coming from several sources about it.

    Fly? Oh, I guess you are talking about the elephant as well as the can! The can was just a sketch so I suppose there's no reason why it shouldn't fly if you want it too LOL!

    As for the 100 portraits, I would be quite happy to see 100 of you, but I reckon it would have the opposite effect of what you want to achieve by feeling that you have to paint to keep up the numbers rather than paint because you want to. If I am going to paint something, the subject has to either look a) beautiful, b) picturesque, c) fascinating or d) stunning whether that be a person, view or whatever.

  8. So, so, SO true Frank. Your theory about taking a break and how it affects your artwork. Not about the quality of your work now. I think your earlier work and the work you do now are both beautiful and wortwhile, just a little bit of a different style. :)

    I am convinced that the only way to improve with your art is through practice and repitition. That's what's worked for me anyway. Sometimes when I'm tempted to put my brushes away when life gets hectic, being in the middle of raising three young children, I tell myself that I can't. Because I don't want to have to climb back up to where I'm at right now! That's a lot of work I don't want to repeat!

    Great post Frank, and lovely piece of work as usual. :)

  9. Thanks for the kind words Crystal. Up to a point, I think you are right about my current work being in a somewhat different style; I seem to have come back to watercolour with a fresh outlook.

    Don't know how on earth you manage to find time to paint when you have three young children to look after. That is no easy task in itself. When we have our two small grandchildren over to stay, my wife and I get nothing done other than looking after them!

  10. I like your work very much. Past and present. After 10 years anyone would have a little catching up to do. Thankfully it never seems to take as long to learn something the second time as it does the first.

  11. Thanks Angela, I guess you remember and avoid making a lot of the same mistakes second time around.