At the beginning of the year I took a painting class, much to the amusement of friends who think I can already paint!
This class specialised in the techniques of the Old Masters. It was phenomenal to be surrounded by books filled with old heroes and new inspirations, just seven other students and a very knowledgeable teacher to guide us through the techniques that took centuries to develop.
So, that’s done then. Two months later and I can do it. Caravaggio, Ribera… here I come!
Ok, so I do realise that I might need a little bit of practice, but the main concerns niggling at the back of my mind are: This style is totally different… I’m stepping in to the unknown… what if no one buys the new work?!
This is where I need to stop completely and take stock.
For the last six years I have had the enormous surprise of selling pretty much everything I have painted. I am deeply grateful for opportunities given to me and the hard work of those who believe in my work and want to promote it and those who have given my paintings good homes. <3 <3
However, a tight schedule of making finished paintings leaves little room for experimentation, additionally, an increasing awareness of what other people like in my work has led to a certain amount of self consciousness which, if I’m not careful, outweighs any confidence I’ve also gained.
Many artists find that if their work becomes appreciated it is very hard to take the risk of making different work and risk not be appreciated. Part ego, part financial stability, I guess.
I am hugely recognisant of my lovely gallerist who will not drop my like a ton of bricks if I begin to paint martyrs and crucifixes in the limited palette instead of brightly coloured treescapes, however, we both know that less people are going to want to take them home!
I like the old saying “we cannot serve two masters” which I’ve alway interpreted as the impossibility of putting my trust in materials things whilst also claiming to trust a higher source of provision. Yet those material things are so much more tangible sometimes especially when the lack of them feels so very real. However, I don’t want the fear of not earning enough money to keep me from painting what is burning in my heart.
If there is one thing that is encouraging me to take the risk of developing a new style it’s this: I am about to explode!
The last time I felt like this was in 2011 when I took the decision to start painting in the first place. I didn’t know if I could do it, if anyone would like it enough to buy it, if I could do it full time etc etc, but I absolutely had to start. And now I feel the same way again.
Determined though I am, I’m also a little shy about the whole process so, just like an author trying out a new style, I am only going to be making the work public via a pseudonym for now. (Which I want to tell you more about in another post when I have time.)
If you want to follow me on my new adventure, have a look at this Facebook page and ask to become a friend of Beth Braun. She’s quite nice. 🙂 There I’m bravely putting some studies and experiments when I have the time. Feedback, both positive and negative – if constructive! very much appreciated.