You know that feeling when you find an artist whose work you love, and then they start changing direction, and you’re not so enthralled by the new work? You wish they’d just carry on creating the work you loved. But if an artist never changes, then they have either stopped learning and experimenting, or they’ve stopped caring – and either way their art will eventually stagnate.
I’ve been painting African subject matter for almost 20 years now, and here are some of the changes I’ve made during that time.
- I began, as many artists do, by creating realistic studio art, including both animals and landscapes in watercolor.
- In the studio, landscapes gradually disappeared from my work and instead my animal subjects became immersed in watercolor washes.
- I became bolder with my color choices (I went a bit over-board with color on occasions if I’m honest).
- My experiments with color turned me towards pastel, and I spent a couple of years working in both pastel and watercolor. Eventually I decided to focus on just one medium, and of course I chose watercolor.
- I started drawing animals from life in pencil, adding watercolor washes afterwards.
- I made a conscious effort to loosen up as I began to understand animal anatomy.
- In the studio I started using my sketches as the ideas behind my paintings.
- I began limiting my color palette to 3 or 4 colors in each painting.
- I started a series of conservation-themed paintings.
- I started sketching and painting people – a scary prospect but one I now thoroughly enjoy.
- I investigated new painting surfaces and mediums. For a couple of years I painted only on watercolor canvas in fluid acrylics.
- I spent more time sketching & painting from life in Africa and started using pen for my drawings, with watercolor washes on top.
- Back in the studio I tried to replicate the life drawing I loved by creating daily sketches, lasting 10 minutes each. These were often a mix of pen and watercolor on yupo paper.
- I found a stack of heavier watercolor paper and realized I’d forgotten how much fun it was to paint on a heavier paper, so I threw myself back into stretching watercolor paper and using watercolor paints.
- I started painting watercolor landscapes again, sometimes including wildlife and sometimes pure landscape.
Until I wrote this, I had no idea I had made so many changes over the years. I feel like I learn something, forget it and rediscover it again a few years later. I’ve come full circle. When in doubt, definitely choose change!
Let me know how your art has changed or, if you are not an artist, how your taste for art has changed.
“When in doubt, choose change” is a quote by Hong Kong actress Lily Leung.