Earlier this year I was trying (far too hard!) to paint a new picture for an exhibition that was coming up in January and not getting very good results. I was disappointed and frustrated.
My painting was ‘off’ – whilst I could visulise what I wanted to do, I seemed unable to get the watercolours to play ball. After a week of painting and a lot of chuck outs, I admitted defeat and (rather melodramatically) decided to give up painting.
I tore up all the paintings (and a good deal more from earlier in the year) and tidied up my studio and decided I was no longer a painter – I had lost my mo-jo.
Giving up painting lasted about two hours! Soon I had the idea to contact a previous tutor who had recently moved to Dorset and I knew ran 1:1 workshops. Alan Brain is an unusual painter, trained mostly in the US, he has a unique style of painting that is very expressive and emotive and one that suits the way I also want to paint.
I had been on a workshop with Alan nearly 10 years ago and my painting style had changed from tiny neat watercolours (that I hated!) to big brash abstracts within a week and for the next two years I painted avidly. Alan helps people find their painting heart.
Unfortunately life got in the way, and I didn’t paint for a few years and unbeknown to me, in the intervening time, I had forgotten almost everything that Alan had taught me! No wonder I had been so frustrated, somewhere in my mind I knew I should have been able to paint better, but I’d lost the knack.
So last week I went back to have a 1:1 workshop with Alan to recap everything and it was so rewarding to come back to the methods I love. I can’t wait to get started! I plan to spend the next year just painting, and see what develops.
The paintings below were all exercises Alan had me working on – I loved doing these! All watercolour.
The most important lesson I learnt is how disciplined the painting process is and how much thinking and planning there should be before putting brush to paper. I have held this romantic view that if I was an artist I should be able to just paint and I would intuitively do it right. Not so! Once I have an idea for a painting, there is a lot to think about how I will realise that idea – I think I have been stubbornly avoiding putting the work in up front. That’s going to change!
So I’ve ordered a more superior brush (the skipper brush from Cheap Joe’s) and ordered some more paints from Jackson Art Supplies (I like the Lukas watercolours) and had a big clear-out in my studio. I’m ready to get going! 🙂
Alan Brain Art
To find out more about Alan, his work and workshops in Dorset see his website alanbrainart.com.
I got to spend three days at Alan and Barbara’s wonderful new art studios in Highcliffe, receiving tailored tutoring and also having lots of space to experiment on my own. I stayed locally (it’s a beautiful area) and spent all day painting at the studio with Alan. The facilities and hospitality are second to none and I would highly recommend taking a course or having 1:1 tutoring with Alan if you feel that you are not doing artwork that fulfils you. His style is unique and may surprise you but it’s worth mastering as the results are rewarding.