Around 3 years ago I started the journey towards being a full time artist. I was 32, I had never done any art I was truly happy with, and I had only picked up my pencils a few times in the last 5 years. So then why did I want be be a professional artist?
Well, my attitude had changed. I had always loved art, and even though I had lost touch with it over the years it remained one of my true passions; something I always knew I would go back too. I now had a renewed drive to be better, I wanted to get the most out of any talent I had, I wanted to fulfil my potential and then try and go beyond it. Basically, I wanted to start again and try a lot harder.
Now, 3 years later, where am I at with my art? Well, I have given everything I can to becoming a better artist (while also trying to be the best husband and new dad I can be). I have experimented with a wide range of mediums: water colour, graphite, carbon, markers, charcoal, colour pencils, acrylics, oils, and airbrush. Tried a few different styles: impressionism, realism, surrealism, anime, abstract. And learnt and came up with all sorts of techniques, like using 3M magic tape to lift off colour pencil to create highlights, using airbrush on top of colour pencil and vice versa, and keeping my pencil sharp with 1500 grit sandpaper to prevent having to resharpen so often.
Not to mention watched hundreds of online videos, read numerous blogs, and spent what feels like 99% of any spare minute creating art (no time for fishing sadly!)
I’ve become a full on art nerd that could talk about the strengths and limitations of different types of pencils and paper for hours. I have also sold prints, originals, and commissioned art work worldwide, exhibited my work on a recent art trail, and been lucky enough to have over 10k awesome people follow my art across my Instagram and Facebook page.
In other words, I’ve been giving everything I’ve got to try and succeed and I’m starting to see the benefits. I think the biggest help during the years has been my attitude. Knowing that it will only come with hours and hours and hours of creating, researching, experimenting and practising. The biggest learning I’ve had after all those hours is that I need to be more patient. Anyone out there who has done any realism work will understand how much patience can play a part in the final result.
I really struggle with patience when creating art, to the point where sharpening my pencil feels like it just takes too much time and energy (but seriously, I do love and enjoy art), so there is no way I could spend 50 hours doing thousands of little Jaguar fur strokes on an A3 piece of paper without the right attitude. Listening to music, docos, 6, having a comfortable workspace, and having plenty of coffee all help me to be more patient, but its driven by that attitude of trying to be the best I can.
And lastly, what is my preferred medium and style after all that? My two favourite are coloured pencils, and airbrush, which I use both separately and together. Pencils have always been my favourite way to create art, and I have now been airbrushing for about a year and I’m loving it. Ironically, my favourite style of art is highly detailed realism, even though my biggest weakness is my patience, can’t just be simple can it!
Animals and people are what I am passionate about drawing, and at the moment my work consists of roughly equal parts of originals and commissioned pieces. I also love to create art inspired by emotion, experience and imagination, so you will see surrealism pieces from me from time to time.
By no means am I trying to talk myself up, I still have a lot to learn. I am still experimenting, still improving, still making lots of mistakes (I mean creating learning opportunities) and still yet to be a fulltime artist. But I am getting there, and I am having a lot of fun along the way.
I hope you can understand the message I am trying to get across. If you want something, go for it. If you want to be better, try harder to be better. Put in the hours and hours (and hours) and hours of work and be the best artist you can be. Or if not art, whatever else you want to improve.
And importantly, challenge yourself. That is what the Parkin Drawing Prize is to me, an awesome competition and a great challenge. Not just to compete with all the amazing artists that enter (though of course that is part of it), but to complete a piece I am happy enough to enter. That’s the biggest challenge.