I want to start this post by sending a lot of gratitude to everyone working on the front lines of the Covid-19 epidemic. All the healthcare, death-care, and even the food workers that are putting themselves at risk every day. All these people don’t have the luxury to complain about going stir crazy and deserve all our respect.
The timing of the isolation worked out particularly well for me because I have been painting quite a bit. That’s what this blog post is about, my journey into painting.
I really love photography but because my work is very seasonal here in France I always wanted to add another skill to my repertoire. So I started by drawing and playing with paint. At first I did some illustration on my ipad but I was having a problem recreating that same success with pen, paper and paint.
I would paint one thing well, and then I would fail, then I would do something else well, then the next try would be a fail. My results weren’t consistent enough to become “professional”. My approach wasn’t really methodic enough. Like so many beginning artist I thought I could just pick up a pen or a pencil and talent would magically flow through my finger tips. Although I have a bit of inane ability, unfortunately becoming a real professional artist just doesn’t work that way. Also, when we rely on this “magic” method we become really unmotivated when something doesn’t work well.
I bought a book about watercolor painting and in the first chapter the author said that drawing was the foundation of all painting skills. My drawing skills were OK but weren’t amazing so I put that book down and decided to “master” drawing.
I bought Betty Edward’s famous book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and this is really where my learning journey became much more organized, methodical and productive. If you are interested in painting or drawing this book is a MUST READ. Although I had Pinterest boards brimming with bright art that I wanted to emulate I swallowed the bitter pill and decided to draw, draw, draw, and draw some more. I explored various methods and techniques and finally started to see some real progress in my drawing. I started to understand the fundamentals and build a strong base, instead of just relying on luck. It wasn’t a perfect linear curve, there were times where life threw curve balls at me and I had to stop drawing for long periods, but overall it took me two years of on and off again drawing to get really comfortable. I think if I would have been more consistent I could have done this in one year, but then again life happens and the important thing is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the bike.
Then this year, 2020, my New Year’s resolution was to finally add the color that I had been long craving. I read Betty Edwards second book called ”Color”. After two years in black and white I was actually really intimidated. What if after all this time and effort I just couldn’t do it? Indeed my very first painting strokes were a total fail and I felt like I had invested so much time and effort for nothing. In truth I was being an overly dramatic perfectionist. After a couple tries I realized that painting was indeed a natural progression from drawing and painting “realistic” is 90 percent reliant on your drawing skills. Whew.
And so I posted my first painting on instagram and got a mega crazy response. My DM’s were filled with “what, you painting that?” and “omg did you really do that”. To be honest, I know we shouldn’t care about the reaction of people on instagram but after two years of life in black and white graphite you can imagine it felt SOOOOO GOOOD to hear people respond positively. In a way, wanting to paint was a secret that I had kept to myself for years. It felt amazing to finally share this dream with the world.
I spent 6 weeks in Palermo this winter by myself to escape the cold depressing winter months of Paris. I was painting, painting, painting. Some of my first tiny paintings took me an entire day to draw one tiny thing but I was so enthralled with the process the hours were flying by and I was like a mad man with a paintbrush watching in amazement as the object I was painting started to take form. Literally no one was in more disbelief than me. Was I really painting this? Did I really do that? I was blown away by myself. haha, I know that doesn’t sound modest at all, but I really thought I was possessed by some art demon that would leave my body at any moment and I would no longer be able to paint. I would literally go to bed after midnight and wake up at 7 am (very unlike me) and rush to my paints to see if the art demon left my body in the night.
Luckily, I’m still a possessed art pscyho. My very first paintings sold and drew enough attention to get me my first commissions. SAY WHAT!? When I got back to Paris the main anxiety I had was, “is this going to be consistent or am I going to flub this up”. Unlike all the times before however, this time I really had a solid base that I was working on. That’s not to say that I don’t have disappointing days, but overall I’ve got my shit together it’s not like I’m praying for a miracle to happen when I pick up a brush.
*side note* One tip that I will say for those of you out there that are beginning to paint: give yourself time. It’s hard to schedule in a few hours to learn how to paint. I blocked off entire days and when you give yourself that time, you get to have “ah ha” moments where things really click.
Then the Corona Virus swept the world. My heart goes out to anyone that has been affected and I hope you are all safe at home. While a lot of my friends were moaning and groaning about the new lockdown orders I definitely had a little glimmer in my eye. In the back of my mind I was thinking, this is the time that I need to really focus and concentrate on my art. Since lockdown, I have been in a frenzy, ordering paint to be delivered to me in Paris I have painted almost every day of lockdown. I have been totally immersed in another world. A beautiful place of paint under my nails, in my hair, on my clothes… I have been loving every moment of it and making the most of my time. Every day I’m living a kind of surreal moment knowing that this is a dream come true for me, those years of drawing are paying off and I’m able to communicate in another language that before sounded so beautiful, but when I opened my mouth (or put my paintbrush to paper) only gibberish came out.
I’m actually a little emotional writing this (sorry it’s the red wine). I’m so happy to present my new online store filled with my art (linked below). For the moment, confinement has me a little space constrained so I’m working on works on paper, not larger canvas works. However, those will come in time! I hope this post inspires you a little bit to hold onto your own dreams. The hardest part is being consistent and discipled over a long period of time. But image if every night instead of watching Netflix you spent an hour at the piano? Or writing that novel. Also, don’t beat yourself up when you fall down. So many people that start a work out routine blast themselves when they fall off the routine and then they never get back. Plan for failure so when you confront it, it doesn’t take over.
Check out the new store here.