Comfort Zone – one toe out?

I am not really sure I should always share my concerns about my process, because it may undermine my professionalism…but I do anyway!  I really appreciate the feedback from everyone on social media and my family, it is so valuable. I am holding it all in my mind whilst I evaluate where I am taking this new body of work, the vast majority of people seem to prefer the old painting, but see what I am trying to say with the new…so I have a dilemma!!!

Speaking more broadly however, I think whenever we are breaking new ground for ourselves, whenever we step out of our own very small comfort zone we feel a little apprehension mixed with excitement.  I can comfortable stay exactly where I was 5 years ago and just make the paintings that I know are well received, but for me it is about a continuous dialogue, and they did not articulate my concerns or particular perspective.  I am trying to understand the world and communicate my particular view or concerns about it using painting, drawing and printmaking. This is kind of amusing in itself ha ha why would anyone try this method of communication? Speaking or writing is so much easier…unless you are me.

Old Owl on the left new on the right…


With this (new owl) particular body of work I want to create a dialogue around the human/animal relationship, considering on the one hand those magical momentary glimpses of a Barn Owl, the barely heard hoot of a Tawny Owl or the distant flock of lapwings whilst passing an estuary, whilst on the other,  watching pristine wading birds picking through plastic on the strandline or standing under a cloud of 200,000 starlings and trying to ignore the roar of the busy rush hour road close by, that white noise, busy landscape, wind turbines, power cables, plastic, roads,  cars…etc. that our wildlife navigate on a daily basis.

Here is another example this time with Swallows

I feel excited about where my paintings are going, many people do wildlife painting very well but only I can make my new paintings because they are about a very personal perspective and engagement with the world.  When I look at a well painting picture of an Owl I see an Owl, pause for a few moments, then move on with my Owl image in my head, however, when I look at (some) abstract paintings, the more I look the more I see, it holds my attention, it often has a filmic quality and I can explore its layers, mark making, textures, shapes and space for a long time…I find this hard to explain but I kind of escape into them, like when you can sit and look at the sea, a stream, wind blowing the leaves on a tree or the stars, nothing much is happening but your mind is wandering, its kind of meditative. So basically I want to make paintings to escape to!

My particular perspective is about the way in which I and presumably other people view wildlife,  environmental mini rant coming up if you want to leave now…! The environment is very high on everyone’s agenda and has been up there on mine for as long as I can remember, it now seems to be reaching fever pitch which in many ways is fantastic and we may start to see change, but as is always the case we humans never really understand what we are doing and in trying to rectify the problem we often create a new one. So I am a little skeptical, there are just too many of us consuming too much when my Nana was born there were less than 2 billion people on the Earth and now there is over 7 billion which I actually find terrifying.  I have no solutions, I try to walk lightly on the earth but I could do more, on the small patch of land that I care for I try to let it do its thing, I feed the birds, never use pesticides, value the wildlife benefits of (most) weeds,  cut the grass only when it gets to the mowers limit and instead of cutting hay on the fields I let it grow then graze it off in the winter.  If we all did a little to reduce our impact, ie do less of everything, strim, mow, drive, eat, consume etc. and more to support and encourage wildlife with a considered well informed approach, whilst also shouting loudly at shops, supermarkets and manufacturers to do better, voting with our purses and signing lots of petitions, this is all I know how to do. If we all do what we can do we may get somewhere. My Nan used to say if everyone swept outside their own door the whole world would be clean and tidy…so that is what I try to do, only I don’t sweep because it may disturb the spiders!

Sermon over…back to that conversation with paint.

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