Plus Ça Change

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance ~ Alan Watts ~

When updating my website, for ages now, I haven’t been able to shrug off an ever-increasing feeling of dissatisfaction – of being a little bored by my art.  It’s all safely predictable, moderately sugary and intrinsically pretty-prettyyyy pictures. 

Nothing wrong with pretty pictures, à chacun son goût!  But a shakeup has  been looming; I’ve felt creatively stale, frustrated and itching for something less stagnant. 

Much sobering reflection made it clear that progress would not come without risks.  A fresh, less rigid approach and a stripping away of complacency was imperative.

So I purposefully read encouraging blogs and appropriate books at length, boldly experimented, played around with a variety of mediums, enthusiastically made multiple interesting marks… ad nauseam. 

You’ll see from these tulips that I’ve been toiling away at it since the beginning of the first Lockdown in March.  

But!  It was staggeringly difficult to detach myself from the snug and familiar. I could not do it!  I was simply not up to the challenge!  My tentative toe-dip into diversity just didn’t happen.  It was intensely disheartening and my self-confidence was deeply bruised.  In my cupboard lies a substantial pile of discarded attempts, the backs of which will serve as scrap for practise.

It seems that these images below may just be as wildly radical and loose as I get.

The first, (poor photo) of freshly picked sedum, is definitely loose; it took three minutes to paint.  But I wouldn’t want to frame it to hang on my wall.       

This is the grisaille underpainting to give depth.  A dish cloth and ink were used to make the pattern at the base. Perhaps I should have stopped here.

Lastly, the finished watercolour of the same sedum, neglected until it faded to appealingly gnarly, grungy and almost deceased, it’s water appearing to have developed algae. 

It doesn’t exactly signal a seismic shift from my usual work, yet it is unquestionably less sweet and pretty, albeit even more controlled!  I’ve merely used a few different products and techniques, some of which didn’t work.  

This would definitely not be hung in my house; It is ugly, I genuinely loathe it and will NEVER paint sedum again!  Initially, this experiment left me feeling disconcertingly adrift and unsure of what to do next.

So why have I bothered posting if every image is a disaster? Well, I decided not to be embarrassed about my failures because we all have them and I realised that there’s no shame.  I tried something different and it doesn’t matter that the result isn’t as hoped.

It’s only natural for creative people to periodically reinvent their methods in order to progress. I’ll continue to aspire to further spasms of idiosyncrasy and looseness in the hopes of creating something that surprises me. 

At the very least these images may briefly divert you from the extraordinarily bizarre ongoing worldwide events, not least the brainless,  boorish, bovine buffoons who ostensibly purport to lead what remains of our countries.

Well done if you have made it to the end of this elaborate autoethnographic (word courtesy of my son) discourse. 

Luckily for you this post has no audio – you’ve been spared hearing the many long, shuddering sighs that accompanied it.

4 thoughts on “Plus Ça Change

  1. If you’re attempting a bit of a radical change on your own, it’s a real struggle. During lockdown I’ve discovered the likes of Nicholas Wilton Louise Fletcher, Tracy Verdugo, et al, who periodically offer a free taster week online to get the creative spark re ignited, and have spent the lockdown and beyond finding new directions for myself in a different medium, very mixed results, but very glad for the shift into something new and exciting. Wish you well on the onward trip!

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  2. I very much appreciate your encouragement Kate. I’ve followed and admired your art for quite a long time and have closely observed and applauded your move into the unfamiliar, which is inspirational to see. Thank you also for indicating others who may nudge me further in my tilt towards fresh approaches and techniques.


  3. Oh June – what to you is unacceptable would to me be a wondrous work of art. I can only sigh with envy at the realism of your pictures. Please don’t feel that they are unworthy – I love them. Although I agree that it’s a good idea to try different ideas now to divert ourselves from what’s going on around us!

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  4. Thank you Rose, you’re a good friend! Making changes in any form is always uncomfortable – I admit I’m very disappointed that I wasn’t able to translate what was in my mind to the paper. Will stick to the simple things for a while so as to relieve the self-induced pressure to produce a “finished” painting – I haven’t given up….yet.


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