I don’t do much artwork any more. And I’ve been asking myself why. Mainly, I just don’t feel compelled the way I used to be, to get out my sketchbook or my painting boards and express something graphically.
When they ask why I’m not painting any more, I make the excuse to people that I can’t afford it. But I used to scrounge sheets of hardboard from skips, use the cheapest wood primer, buy acrylics from the sale bins at art shops. So money doesn’t expecially come into it. The truth is, I can’t face the competition from the landscape all around here! When we moved here, I tried to paint landscapes. But I couldn’t. I just looked at everything – the light, the colours, the clarity, the space – and realised that nothing I could slap onto a board could go anywhere near to doing it justice. Every time I tried, I ended up blobbing and scraping paint around for hours without getting anywhere.
Even when I tried to do abstracts and impressionistic stuff instead, I felt it just wasn’t good enough. Always, I would end up just sitting there, staring at what I was trying to capture and wondering why I was bothering.
So, my paints are now mouldering away in my artbox – maybe I’ll get them out again one day. But I have to really feel the impulse first. Seems like I’m not much of an artist after all – a real artist can’t stop making art.
I do some drawing still, but nowhere as much as I used to. Here, the situation is a little different from painting. I’ve always drawn, or doodled. I’ve always had to keep my hands busy, almost a compulsion. And my drawings usually end up tiny and detailed. I can draw figures OK – sitting though all those life-drawing classes really paid off! – but I prefer to go in close, concentrate on a few sqare inches of undulating torso, or some leg musculature. Or I’ll try dragging a broad soft pencil across a sheet of rough-textured paper, then use some sharper pencils to bring out the details to make all sorts of interesting shapes. I really really get into this sort of detailed, tiny work (maybe it’s my Aspergers…) and the results IMHO are pretty good – albeit rather small for hanging on gallery walls.
With my photography, I’m also getting into details and textures – natural ones of moss, stone, tree trunks. The results so far have been pretty ham-fisted, as I’m still not sure how to use the zoom and focus on my camera. But I’ll keep trying. I think I’m getting better at it.