A few years ago I had never painted with oil paints. I used paints (watercolour or acrylics) to splash some colour onto my mainly charcoal sketched pieces. The image below shows the work I had for sale at a stall in an art fair in 2012. After a closer look I saw so many familiarities with the work I used to create and what I paint now. There are abstract birds in flight, loose portraits, proud stags, elephants and dripping florals. I realised that your work doesn’t change over time, it only evolves as you progress.
My decision to move to oil paints was based largely on the opportunities that they hold with colour. Being such a malleable material with so much depth to play around with, you can create any style or look that you want to achieve with the right techniques. Back before I taught myself to use oil paints I loved incredibly loose work that oozed energy and movement above all else. I wanted to show the construction marks and leave them raw and exposed, whilst building up certain areas into more detail. I began as just a draftsman, drawing only to improve, but not to create something. However the need to make something of my own followed quickly as I shifted from drafting straight into abstract wildlife/portraiture art. Teaching myself was the most important thing I could have done for the development of my work. Not only does it give you a better understanding of the science behind the materials you are using and how they work best, but you are testing and failing as a way of developing. Leaving your ego at the door and working on something you are unhappy with, only to relentlessly turn it into something you adore, I have found it my best style of learning.
– ‘Talent is s pursued interest. Anything you are willing to practice, you can do.’ – Bob Ross (#LEGEND)
In a way I have continued this process into the work I create currently. I look back over my work from the previous few years and see so many stages of growth and new skills leant, but also it shows that although your skill set my change and adapt, your own style is hard wearing, withstanding the changes you naturally make as you develop your work. Your style is what makes your art your own.
I have sifted back through my images from the past two years to find the best comparisons for how my work has evolved over time. (My favourite comparison being the bird pieces..)
There are so many more comparisons I could have made. My favourite thing about looking back at old work and being as critical as I currently am, is remembering how happy I was with it at the time. Even when now I see so many flaws. If you are creating content based on your own personal preference of when you deem it to be finished, it means you work only to be critical of yourself. It is a great reminder to look back and remember how much work I put into developing my style, learning the techniques along the way to portray what I felt I need my work to say, and finding my footing everytime I sit at the easel. I don’t believe anyone can fully become accomplished in their field, there is not race to be the best. I believe it is only about evolving.