I think it can be useful, sometimes, to look back over your work. For at least 10 years, I’ve kept an image archive of my paintings, photographing them just after they’re finished. Or most of them, anyway. The failures aren’t in the archive; they usually go straight into the wastepaper bin!
I don’t own the majority of my archived paintings. I’ve sold some, given away others, maybe even lost a few.
When I look at the archive, it feels a bit like meeting people I haven’t seen for ages. Some people you’re happy to see again. Others, less so. Each painting evokes a different thought. “I enjoyed doing that one – yeah, it turned out well.” “Oh no, what was I thinking about, when I decided to tackle that subject?” “This landscape’s so-so. If I was painting it now, I’d want to make the sky more dramatic.” Etc.
The point of the exercise
I suppose the point of the exercise is to assess how far I’ve progressed as an artist.
I think I’ve improved a little as the years rolled by. Maybe not as much as I’d have hoped, but a slight improvement. There aren’t so many failed paintings as there used to be. I reckon 1 in 4 or 5 now turns out to be a failure nowadays, where it was 1 in 3 years ago. Even so, there are paintings I did 10 years back that were as good as, or better than, paintings I’ve done recently. So, there’s a definite sense that I’ve made some progress, but it hasn’t been a smooth progression. More like fits and starts, really.
Rock and Roller
The painting I’ve featured on this post is an old one I liked. I called it Rock and Roller, one of my better titles I’d say. The rock is the Bass Rock, off the coast of East Lothian, seen early on a bright but cold morning.