I spent a little time yesterday looking at old paintings from my files. It’s hard not to be critical of older paintings, and for some reason, instead of seeing the tremendous growth in my style and skill over the years, I tend to feel embarrassed or discouraged by the weaknesses I see in past paintings.
The truth is, it is very hard to see how far you’ve come unless you look back at where you’ve been. In my mind, all of my paintings are perfect, and I wouldn’t see growth at all if I relied on memory. Knowing that I’ve improved as a painter is encouraging, because I believe that art never stops. I will never achieve the limits of my creativity; as my technical skill grows, I will only be freed to be more creative, never less.
This clematis painting brings back memories, because it was one of the first paintings where I concentrated more on expression than on realism. I even titled it “Expressly Clematis.” I love the hard and soft edges, and now, as I pursue expression almost exclusively, I can learn from this piece and remind myself of the lessons I began to learn starting with this one painting.
One day I will look back on the paintings I am making now. What will I see?