paint

I know that the popular notion of an artist’s day is of floating around, ‘Waiting for Inspiration’ but for most artists, it just couldn’t work like that! As with most professions, you have to work pretty hard to make a living from it and that means very little hanging around!

I read recently about the ’10,000 hour rule’ which basically suggests that if you put enough time into something (and 10,000 hours is plenty!), then you’re going to be pretty much ‘world class’ by the time you’re done. Whether or not that’s true I don’t know but I do believe that carefully choosing how you use that time is equally important.

I believe that if you stick to subjects that you have a passion for, it stands to reason that you’re going to produce the most interesting and exciting results. As a by-product, the whole process becomes a lot more enjoyable, from gathering the reference to seeing the result framed and on the wall. Motivation, dedication & satisfaction all flow from following a subject that interests you.

I love the sea. To spend time alongside it and to try to communicate those places and moments that make you draw your breath and think “wow!” is a joy! Similarly, I have the perfect excuse to work with animals, another lifelong passion.

I think the way you choose to paint a subject is pretty important too. Even changing the angle you’re looking from by a few degrees can completely change the effect of the light and make the difference between a great subject and a dull one. On several occasions, when I’ve thought the best view of a cove might be from the water, I’ve taken my boots off and waded out to waist height (much to the delight of my dog who appreciates the company).

I’m always happy to get up pre-dawn to catch the first light or lie in a cow field (for what seems like an eternity) until the urge to investigate overwhelms them and I get my close-up! I’m determined to find those elusive places or moments (more commonly both) that give the painting that ‘edge’ that I can get excited about. That to me, is key. The challenge of working in this way – venturing a little further to find the right place or conditions – brings a certain satisfaction from discovery.

Suffice to say, I know I’m very lucky to do what I do under the heading of ‘work’, but apart from the hours I’ve put in (surely I must be close to that magic number by now!!), I’m convinced that carefully sticking to subjects I love has been a crucial ingredient.