From 0 to 1 painting – Courage to find your authentic Mark

Over the last 6 months I’ve been on a challenge to explore my creative side by painting 50 paintings – the goal is 100 sellable sized paintings in 1 year.

6 months in and not only have I now created over 50 paintings I’ve got a whole lot of learning under my belt ready for the next 6 months and the next 50 paintings.

It’s a good time to pause and take a look back at what i’ve learned.

Making a Mark

Step 1 was getting started. I’d never really done any official art, but I had doodled and so I knew the key to getting started was to just start by making some marks on paper, and committing to creating something. I picked up a few coloured pens and got started, “doodling”. I didn’t place any constraints on myself and gave myself to permission to draw whatever came to mind.

The results, above, were fun. It was a meditative process and was a good start, or at least it was good to make a start, and I had now learned something.

I learned that I was tight, I learned that it was important to me that the painting went well, and so, I was very conservative with the marks I was making being sure to only use symbols and marks that I knew worked in some way or another – or that i thought had worked, or that i had seen work.

The marks I were making were what i thought I should be making. They were contrived. They were not my own authentic marks, they were more a collection of marks from my consciousness, from my past. It was a therapeutic process, and the result was interesting, but it wasn’t what I would call “art”. It has a lot of my past in it, but not a lot of me, they weren’t authentic.

And so this became my next goal, to try to produce something authentic, I didn’t understand how big an ask this was.

Courage to be shit (Kia Kaha)

After this initial foray into exploring my creative side, I bounced around with different media, and different approaches with the goal of trying to find something authentically myself while at the same time picking up technical skills.

I explored water colours, india ink, acylics, oils paints, spray paint. I experimented with landscapes, abstract, symbolism, and more doodling. I explored other artists work and studied (read copied) their work and process and I generally tried to learn as much as I could.

With each new step I grew in confidence but I was still producing things that were contrived. I was still too concerned about how the result would turn out and not enough focused on the process. A selection of some of my work can be found below.

Eventually I came across the work of Jesse Reno, which I was immediately drawn to for its authenticity and what appeared to be fluidity. I learned about his process through this video, amoung others and suddenly realized that I needed to get bolder, and that in fact, if I produced something that I didn’t like I could always just paint over it.

I had to give myself permission to paint something shit. I had to let go. If I wanted to truly find something authentic I realised that I would have to have the courage to risk being crap, I would have to put it out there, commit to a process and work at it and perhaps eventually, I might find glimpses of something authentic and real. But the key would be have the courage to not worry about the outcome, and to do that as often as possible.

And so I launched my 100 paintings in 1 year challenge. The idea being to commit myself to the process of working on letting go and producing something authentic. I kind of hoped that if I produced 100 peices, that at least a couple of them might be actual art!!

It’s been a journey just getting started, and I’ve learned so much. I can’t wait to see where I get to at the end of 12 months.