Looking back and going forwards – Developing a Style

Everywhere I look I see mantras about how we should live our lives. Don’t look back, have no regrets, you can’t change the past, be in the present, follow your dreams, look to the future!

Notice how the statements about looking back in time often seem to be negative, whereas those about going forward are often positive. Now I don’t argue that looking forward to things in the future is great, and being able to visualise a better future is something I wish I was better at, but I do love a good bit of nostalgia.

Looking back at my work, before I was ‘taught’ proper painting methods, I saw that I favoured bright, garish colours, big brush marks, solid edges and thick juicy paint. Perhaps this was because I started painting with acrylics, but these paintings were not popular, they were not picked for art shows or taken by galleries, and this was my measure of success at the time. So, over the following decade, I made it my mission to learn about traditional oil painting methods, fat over lean, limited palettes and a sense of subtlety in mark making. I used expensive oil paint and it became so precious I used less and less on each painting. My brushes became smaller, my marks more considered, the energy more diluted. These paintings were much more successful in terms of popularity and sales, but I began to feel that they were not really ‘me’. I was developing a style of painting that I loved.