I don’t think I was always much of an artist. Growing up I was more interested in sports though I’ve always been fascinated with animals. I did however get an ‘A’ in art at O Level (known today as year ten) but then regressed to a ‘C’ at A Level (year 12). However, I guess I never did want to draw or paint what my teachers wanted me to paint. Wildlife wasn’t what they considered ‘art’. Ain’t that always the way!
I’ve also never been a hoarder, having thrown out most of the things that I now wish I would have kept. I was 18 in 1978 and that’s the year I must go back to to find my earliest art that I still have images for. This cheetah stippled in ink doesn’t show much promise, especially since there’s an outline of dots.
Fortunately I had found something I could do, work in ink, so I tried to develop that style and this owl is the next piece I can find, also from 1978
However, if we zoom ahead to 1994 we find that I’ve improved somewhat with this frill-necked lizard
Ok, back to the early 80s. I wanted to try something different and gave coloured pencils a go. I had no idea what surface to use so this peacock and the following kingfisher, both from about 1984, are on normal cartridge paper straight out of a sketch book
Not much sophistication in these, but I do feel like I’ve improved. Here’s a zebra done this year in coloured pencils
In the 90s I tried to find something that worked for me. I’d emigrated from England to Australia and work was seriously getting in the way of art so I hadn’t done anything for ages, but I bought some acrylics and started coming up with things like this elephant ensemble with foreground and background completely made up and elephants from all sorts of different references including black and white photos.
I also tried watercolours around this time
Again because of work, I lost my mojo and didn’t really do any art from many years until I joined the online forum “WetCanvas” in 2005 and started getting influences from artists all over the world. This was a major turning point and someone suggested I try pastels (something I’d never thought of). This hippo was my very first pastel
I related to pastels immediately and when I started using sanded surfaces, I loved them even more
Then one day I saw someone using a thing called scratchboard. I remembered this medium as my dad had done one of a leopard back in the late 60s which you can see below
My dad was one of those annoying people who could do literally anything he set his mind to, and if he set his mind to something, no one could stop him.
I started to try scratchboard and very quickly fell in love with it. It’s now my favourite medium as I love the results but more importantly, I love the process. This is my first scratchboard on a cheap board
Yet again, not very sophisticated at all, but once I started buying the excellent quality that Ampersand provides, I never looked back.
I’ve written this post to show people that where they are today is not necessarily where they will remain. Hopefully my improvement (and I’m a million miles away from where I want to end up) can inspire someone to take their art as far as they can go.
Keep well guys.
Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!
That’s neat that you kept work from 32 years ago!! Even in your earlier works you can see the potential hidden in them. It’s encouraging to see how that came to fruition. (And yes, I know it was 32 years ago because I was born in 1978!)
Thanks Emily. So how old is the earliest piece of yours that you’ve got?
I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoyed this! It is really neat to see the progression you’ve made, although the raw talent was evident from the first few pieces. That last scratchboard of the lion cub is breathtaking! It is really neat that you’ve kept these pieces all this time. Within days of finishing a piece I begin to get the urge to move it out of the way, maybe take it off my site, as I begin to see so many things I wish I had done differently! I hope I have the resolve to keep them around!
Thank you again for posting this.
You have inspired me to learn, grow, and follow my passion. Thank you.