Brushing Up

After far too long a gap, I have recently begun to draw and paint again.

Although music has long been, and will probably always remain, my primary creative outlet, I have also had a lifelong fascination for, and leaning towards, the more visual arts such as painting and drawing. This is probably not altogether surprising since my dad was both an artist (primarily a sculptor, though in later life he concentrated almost exclusively on the arts of brush and pen) and an art teacher, giving me a tremendous amount of support, encouragement, instruction and inspiration over many years.

Like so many of my other interests, my active engagement with creating art tends to wax and wane. In fact, looking back through the dates jotted down in my old sketchbooks it appears that, apart from a few sporadic bursts of drawing, my last real creative period in visual art (as opposed to music, which is more or less constant, or poetry, which is also fairly sporadic but has seen some more recent activity) was around 2009. In particular, when I last moved house, in 2011, I packed most of my art materials away into various boxes and cupboards and have barely touched them since.

Until now.

I have been thinking for several years that I ought to get round to doing some more painting, and looking at the various pieces of my own artwork adorning my walls (the latest of which, until this week, was painted nearly 10 years ago) reinforced that feeling, but never quite enough to actually doing anything about it.

The first step back to painting came after Dad died last February. When I was down for the funeral I did a painting using some of his art materials, which was probably more successful on a therapeutic level than a strictly artistic one. I planned to dig out my own paints when I got home, but somehow that didn’t quite happen.

Fast forward to early December and I found myself putting together some slides for a carol service. I needed a background picture of a nativity scene, which had to be simple enough not to distract from the foreground text but still recognisable, and I needed it quickly (as in, within about half an hour). Searching online failed to turn up any particularly suitable images, let alone any which were public domain or released under a sufficiently non-restrictive license such as Creative Commons. In a fit of madness that turned out to be serendipity, I decided that the best solution was to make one of my own. I was going to try drawing one but on my way to dig out the felt pens, I came across a few scraps of black paper so it occurred to me to try making a collage instead. I found a nice sturdy bit of deep blue card, and some white for the star (which I could keep off to one side and out of the way of the text in my slides). Here is the result:
Stable Collage

That collage worked pretty well as the backdrop for my slides and also turned out to be just the catalyst I needed to dig out my art materials and get to work on some more drawings and paintings, despite December being pretty much the most hectic month of the year. I haven’t produced anything earth-shatteringly wonderful yet and I am unlikely to do so anytime soon (or, in fact, any time), but I am rediscovering both the joy of creating visual art and the satisfaction of seeing some new stuff on my walls and in my sketchbooks.

Hopefully now I’ve restarted I’ll be able to keep the creative juices flowing well into 2019 and beyond. In a way, I regret not having started painting again in time to show Dad some of my latest pictures and get his feedback on them, but I know that he would be delighted to know that my brushes are now back in action.

Here are a few more of my recent pictures. You can see bigger copies of these, and quite a lot more of my artwork (including some older stuff) on Flickr.

Red Shift (acrylic on paper)

Incense (line & wash)

Last year's advent candle (oil on paper)

Braid Theory triptych (various media)

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