Painting, Honestly

As a painter, my vision is always changing and evolving. The start of the new year is a fairly typical time for self-reflection and re-evaluation, but I’ve been dwelling on these for a while now. It’s only as I’m currently recovering from endometriosis surgery and banned from my studio that I’ve taken the time to sit and write this blog. I’ve been wondering more and more about why I really paint what I do. I’m a very analytical person, so I find it hard to simply feel like I’m creating something just for the joy of it. With any artist, what appears to be a simple painting of poppy fields has far more depth to it, and often tells for more about the artist than first meets the eye.

Having the time to heal means having a lot of time to think, but often thinking is and has not been my friend. I’ve struggled over the last few months, struggled to find my place among st everything and fought hard to come out of the other side, stronger.

If I have a New Year’s Resolution, I have 4 days to fulfill it – as most resolutions die by January 12th. Considering I’ll still be in recovery mode on that date, I feel very determined to carry this through.

You see, a lot of things have been out of my control lately, my own health, the health of others, even my own thoughts. But what I’ve learned is that I can control my art. I particularly noticed this with the last painting I did: the Lagoon Nebula. It’s a painting referenced from a Hubble image, and there’s no clever idea, no symbolism, no motive behind this painting other than it was something beautiful that I felt I had to paint. I painted this in between doses of painkillers and bed, when I felt that if I could only get back to the easel, things would be okay. And they were.

Space Painting

This was the first painting in almost ten years where I’ve simply painted, and thought about nothing, added nothing. It was simply but beautifully enjoying colour, using colour and getting lost in the sensation of brushstrokes. As a painting its not ground-breaking, but I can feel its honesty.

It’s honesty that I’m going to pick up when I next pick up a brush, just as it’s honesty I’m writing with right now. I understand the feelings, the colours, the sights that appeal to me most, and right now they feel far from the inspiration of wildlife. It’s more emotive, more escapist, and certainly more abstract. I’ve spent so long painting things and doing things that now it’s time to be painting.

If there’s anything that my Cosmic Nature paintings have taught me, is that I can be far less literal with my interpretation of the world. I feel like I can move away from my safety net of wildlife art, of comfortable repetitive themes. I’m done escaping into a pseudo-fantastical world of painting. Where the next paintings on my journey will take me will not be light-years away from the cosmos, but they will be raw, visceral, feminine…I feel like it’s time for a little artistic risk, a little personal and artistic risk in what I hope will be a year of renewed vibrancy, wonder and optimism.

In the honest words of the dear Freddie, whose music is always such as inspiration to me:

“no escape from reality, open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…”


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