I wrote this during the exhibition in August and didn’t get round to posting it as I had to rummage about looking for images to illustrate it:
Sitting here invigilating our 2 artist exhibition at St Avit Sénieur has prompted moments of reflection. The purpose for coming to live in France (for me) was to pursue my efforts in painting; with a full time job running the scene painting department at the WNO there wasn’t much time, inclination or energy left to involve myself in developing my own painting, I would often do 70-80 hour weeks (without overtime pay I might add, a dedication often required by theatre/opera in those days). Anyway I came to realise it was time to see if I had the ability to paint for myself. Graham and I decided 29 years ago “if we don’t take the plunge now we’ll still be in the uk and at the same place for the rest of our working lives” which, although the work was interesting filled our eager young hearts with dread.
We didn’t think twice about moving to another country, we had no idea what we were going to do for a living, and in retrospect it’s incredible that we felt confident enough to think it would be easy, when often just moving town in your own country can be daunting. Anyway once we’d made the move we were very lucky to find work, and indeed enjoyable work that involved our skills, when we were prepared to do anything, in fact the first few months we did cleaning, building, house-sitting, gardening just to be able to live our new life in France.
Every year for the last 29 years in between painting trompe l’œils, decor, murals and designing interiors, I’ve been exhibiting paintings maybe 4 times a year. Sometimes being invited, sometimes searching out a room or hall to hire, both of which involve having to be a one man band of painter, framer, publicist, designing and marketing posters, invitations, arranging openings, invigilating etc. (One very good reason why it’s good to belong to an artist association so these burdens can be shared.)
I look back at my early work feel surprised I ever sold anything in the first few years, but I did, and this always gave me the will to carry on. Unfortunately I have no visual record most of the ones I did sell, it didn’t even occur to me to take photos. It’s so much easier to archive now, remember the days when we were limited to 12 or 24 photos on one film, and waiting for them to be developed?
I still have a few unsold early paintings packed away in my studio. Occasionally I dig them out to compare with my current work, it helps me see if there’s any development. I’m still progressing I hope, however some of the early ones had a naive freshness, daubed with a brush greatly influenced by the impressionist style, there was a bold and chirpy other self there.
Here are a couple of pics of my early paintings, I’ve painted over most of the worst ones. Some aren’t dated so I can only guess when I did them. One thing I will say is that the varied commissioned work has been invaluable in providing me with a launchpad for ideas and techniques.
A watercolour from 1992 or thereabouts, now I can see I really hadn’t quite got the hang of playing with such a loose medium
some watercolours done in about 2013 to compare:
2 oils from from 1993:
this oil is from about about 2001, I’m getting more confident and looser I think:
and my more recent efforts:
An iPad painting I did yesterday, plus a sketch in acrylics I did today …thrown in for good measure:
Trying to capture the beautiful chromes and reds in the vineyards this autumn: