From time to time over the past 12-15 years I have attempted to paint and draw. Neither of these activities happened very much at school, so far as I can recall, and though I was vaguely curious about them in the years that followed, music was the principal hobby in those days and more than forty years passed before I did anything about art – other than to buy an oil painting kit in 1973, which was never used.
In the ’90s I attended some weekly classes in Wales conducted by a very fine painter who was also a good teacher. When those classes ceased so did my painting endeavours, mainly because work occupied me for 6-7 days per week. From time to time I would try to start again, only to lose my way halfway through a painting, or become distracted by more pressing demands on my time and give up for a few more weeks or months.
At last those attempts to restart were becoming more successful. In ’08 and ’09 I completed two small paintings, which was encouraging in itself. Even more helpful was the fact that both finished pictures looked a lot like the subjects that had been painted.
Back in January this year I joined a painting class in our locality. Shortly afterwards I was invited to join another local group, this time not so much a class as an informal group of amateur painters. Sadly, the painting class proved to be a bit too casual and lacking in direction, though I enjoyed the company. It was also at an inconvenient time which I could justify only if it had proved to be a lot more useful. So I gave up the class and am focussing on the informal group instead, which is much more convenient, takes place in a tidy, well-ordered and spacious environment and provides just the right incentive to ensure that I keep painting, week after week.
Inevitably, I suppose, painting two or three times per week has led to rapid progress, though not quite in the way that I expected. I am not improving particularly quickly in terms of painting technique but I am much more willing to take risks and repaint again and again until I get it right.
During the past few months I have completed two portraits which I regard as successful but I cannot show them here for copyright reasons. I am especially interested in painting portraits but, unfortunately, family members are not inclined to become subjects. So, I am painting (using reference photos) well-known faces from the worlds of fashion, film and (UK) broadcasting. Although my paintings will not be for sale for a long time yet (if at all) I would like to display them here and at local group exhibitions. This requires certain permissions in relation to copyright as well as suitable photographs of an appropriate technical quality and these have proved hard to find. However, recently I was reminded about the Creative Commons Licensing arrangements whereby generous photographers allow some of their photos to be used by others in certain defined ways on certain conditions. So I have found a few suitable photographs that I am allowed to copy, modify and display for non-commercial purposes in return for crediting the original photographer. Problem solved – for now.
So, patient reader, I have a target: We expect to have a local Annual Fete in July and I hope to have at least two paintings in the exhibition there. Ideally, both pictures need to be completed by the end of May and, on completion I will attempt to take decent photographs of them to post here. So I had better get moving!