I don’t mind confessing that I’m finding my painting a bit of a struggle at the moment. This isn’t something new. In fact it’s pretty much an annual occurrence at this time of year. I know that a significant factor is my work, which is almost all-consuming at the moment. I’m also craving a break as I feel like I’m running on empty at the moment.
I will be taking some time off in the second part of August which I’m really looking forward to but, in the meantime, I find myself in the position of painting because I feel I ought to more than I feel that I’m painting because I really want to.
So, with this context in mind, here are a couple of paintings that I think demonstrate a certain half-heartedness.
First up is a view along Brighton seafront and I can specifically remember the occassion! My reference photo for this was taken a few months ago, just after I’d had my the second dose of my Covid vaccination. I’d purposefully taken my camera as I’ve recently had a few enquiries about views of the seafront and thought that this might be a good opportunity to get a few reference photos.
While it’s not without the odd moment, I left walked away from this painting with an overall sense that I can only best describe as ‘meh’.
As I’d found it helpful the other week to paint something that I’d enjoyed painting before – I went throught some old photographs from our various trips to France. The funny thing is, I’m not quite sure why I settled on this particular image as, while I had painted it before, I didn’t recall enjoying the painting of this, or the finished results! Despite these early warning signs, I pressed on regardless!
The last time I’d painted this scene was back in 2018. I’ve been back through the archives so that I can show my 2018 and 2021 versions side by side:
I think the warmth of the 2021 palette works better, as does a greater emphasis on joining up the different elements of the painting better, however, this aside it still feels like scant reward for another three years of regular painting!
As I was feeling quite flat about all of this, I picked up on of my favourite books on watercolour. It’s a relatively little known book, but it’s one that I’ve referred to often. Perhaps surprisngly, its also a book that’s easy to lay your hands on and at a very reasonable price.
The book is ‘The Artists Essential Guide to Watercolour by Gerald Green’. A dislike for Amazon prevents me from putting a link to its site but I’d recommend searching on Ebay where you can probably pick up a hardback copy for less than £10 including postage.
It’s a great book, packed with a wealth of advice and information that is all focussed on developing a ‘direct approach’ to watercolour painting (ie not using layers of washes to develop a painting). When I picked this book up the other day and was casually leafing through it’s pages, the following line caught my eye:
This really struck a chord with me as it’s exactly what I feel I’m missing at the moment, ‘a positive mental attitude’!
Hopefully, my forthcoming holiday will provide an opportunity to take a break and to recharge my batteries on all fronts! In the meantime, I shall endeavour to approach my painting – and everything else! – with as postive a mental attitude as I’m able to muster!