Monday, 19 August 2013


"Luxor Supermarket"  Pastel 11"x11"

I had a bit of an epiphany recently, and thought I would share it with you today.  It was not something I did not know before, but knowing, and acting on the knowledge, are often two quite different things.  I am hoping that there will be an obvious moral to my story which may prove useful to others.

I have been procrastinating for weeks about what to paint for my upcoming Open Studio. I have always worked to a theme for a gallery show, which in itself is helpful, because I find that I begin to build a body of work which gets stronger as I become more and more familiar with the theme - immersing yourself in a subject is always better than hopping from one idea to another.

And I do have a butterfly nature;  I like to try new themes and ideas, flitting around, so although I work quite well when being disciplined by being given a project - for example, painting Venice, or The Ballet, for a gallery show - finding the discipline to work to a given subject when there is no outside control being exerted, goes against my butterfly nature.

It has been particularly tricky this year, as I have been dabbling in all sorts of different creative disciplines - ceramics, glass, enamelling my head has been all over the place!  Time began to work against me, and I knew, this past week, that I simply HAD to get some painting done or would have nothing new to show.

And finally a lightbulb moment.  I suddenly knew that I had to paint what I love, rather than paint for potential buyers.  I feel that when I paint what I love, it shows in the work.  It is as simple as that.  There is no guarantee I will sell what I paint, even if I DO try to paint for a market - I did not sell all of my little bird paintings on my Garden Open Studio day, despite having painted them quite deliberately for that market..people who love gardens often love birds, I reasoned...and they certainly enjoyed the paintings....but most bought the greetings cards!  Well, they were almost the same size, so I cannot blame them for that.  I sold sufficient to make the effort worthwhile- but little birds are not my favourite subject matter and although I did rather enjoy them,  I ran out of steam more quickly than usual.  And I have no strong desire to revisit the subject.

So - I looked again at my sketchbooks of Egypt and Sri Lanka, my most recent painting trips,  together with the marvellous photographs I took at the time - not marvellous because of any skill on my part, I hasten to add - just marvellous because of the subject matter, which I found so visually thrilling.  As I paint, I can still feel the buzz of excitement I felt at the time......I was OVER THE MOON to be there, seeing and sketching these sights, many of which simply took my breath away.    So the paintings are under way at last.    I daresay I may not sell any of them because the subject matter will be unfamiliar to most of my audience.......but I feel excited to be doing them, and will enjoy showing them.    Without deciding to paint what I love, I think I would probably have remained in that horrible frozen state of being unable to decide what on earth to paint because of worrying about what potential buyers might like.    I feel happier inside, and challenged by the prospect of each new painting I create.  Hopefully my enjoyment shows in these pieces.

"Roadside Fruit Seller, Sri Lanka" (I may yet remove the patch of light to the lady's left as we look at her.  I am thinking about it...)

"Galle Fishermen Sri Lanka"

"Galle Evening Light"


  1. Jackie, I think this might be your best post ever! I so have been caught up in trying to do things that would sell .... I must make some money. I will follow your path, and thank you every day for making me see the error of my ways. And I think you are right, we know it, but doing it is another whole process.

  2. Jackie, I so needed to read this article. I am going to do this today. I do have a couple of commissions, but I am ready to paint what I like. Thanks.

  3. Thanks so much for the reminder! You are right that we all know we should paint what we love, but many times fell like we "don't have time" because of a commission or request from a gallery. I have just given myself permission to paint what I love, and tomorrow morning will start an entirely different piece that what is "on the schedule". Thanks!


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