From 25 to 75 paintings – Gaining confidence and defining my voice

This is a follow on from my last post “from 1 to 25 paintings: developing process, technique, and colour pallet“.

I found overcoming the fear of being judged a real challenge in the early stages of my painting experience. Somedays I’d be more confident, but then other days the fear would come back and I’d be hesitant and less likely to take risks with my work.

It’s a process

I stuck to it. Week in week out I’d take on the fear and force myself to produce some work. This was probably the main benefit of pushing myself to do the 100 paintings in 1 year challenge. Overcoming the fear was a process I had to go through. There was no silver bullet, I wasn’t going to overcome the fear once and then that was it. I had to repeatedly take it on. I had to take risks and I had to get comfortable with doing that on a regular basis.

Towards the end of my first 25 paintings I started to hit my stride and you can see that in my paintings. I started to loose some of the hard forms that I was previously leveraging like a crutch to hold my compositions together and I started experimenting with putting more energy into my paintings.

I began experimenting with looser forms, and how those forms, combined with stronger colours, could convey movement, energy and emotion. I subconsciously held on to the eye as a focal point, almost like a security blanket but then also began experimenting more with language and other symbolization. Holding on to this strong symbol almost enabled me to take more risks knowing that I had something to fall back upon. I was taking risks and getting reward. I liked the new direction and as this evolved I started to enjoy the process of taking risks.

Letting go

I evolved away from a single form and started exploring multiple forms and the interaction between those forms. At the same time my use of colours was getting bolder and I was choosing stronger colours and I was applying them in bolder ways.

Composition was always a consideration, but it was a less conscious process than before. I was learning to let go. I was learning to be fluid, and free within my process and letting the paintings come to me much more confidently than before. I was no longer chasing too hard for them and forcing a result.

Finding my voice

This was all taking place over a period of 9 months. As I was learning to accept the result of my paintings I was, implicitly, learning to accept myself. I’ll explore this topic more in a dedicated post around my experience of my art as therapy. But for now I can say that I was at the beginning of my journey to find my voice. For the first time, I was finding elements of my authentic self within my paintings. I was able to look at some of my paintings and honestly reflect and say that, whether they were good or bad, I could truly see much of myself in the paintings.

There were still many techniques, symbols and styles that I could see I had borrowed from other artists or painting that I had liked, but the unique application of those things interspersed with elements authentically unique combined to produce the effect of authenticity and uniqueness. This was the first time I actually felt like I may have been producing something resembling art.

I clearly had a long way to go, but I felt like I was on to something and I was motivated to continue to evolve and see where this adventure would take me.