Some time ago, I found myself looking through some catalogues of famous artists’ paintings. The paintings were arranged chronologically and each catalogue took you through the artist’s entire body of work, from their earliest painting to their famous masterpieces and onto works made at the end of their careers. What struck me was that you couldn’t tell how an artist’s style would turn out, based on their early works. It wasn’t until about the one hundredth painting that you began to get an inkling, the merest hint, of the way their style would develop.
I thought it would be interesting, as I was learning to paint, to keep a chronological record of my first hundred paintings, out of curiosity, to see if it showed any particular artistic development or direction.
Presenting them to “the world” would have to be done honestly, so would require a courageous “warts and all” exposition, allowing the happy accidents and sublime, serendipitous moments to sit alongside the failed experiments, the disasters, the things that didn’t quite work out as intended and so on. My paintings are generally done under time pressure, as I paint from life, usually during a two hour life class. That isn’t true for all of my paintings, but it is true for most of them. The rush is sometimes apparent in the finish of the works.
What I discovered from the exercise is that, at each point in time, just enough was going right to encourage me to take the next step and make the next experiment with my technique and my colours. It also showed me how very far I still have to go and how much I still have left to explore. Both prospects excite me.
I also learned that, during the almost three years it took me to go from never having painted at all, to finishing my hundredth painting in a field in Kent, I had a ton of fun doing it. It took my mind off the cares and woes of everyday life and gave me the belief that I could learn to be good at something new, eventually. I got a lot of satisfaction from seeing how my work evolved.
My friends and family, as well as my artistic mentors and fellow students, have been very supportive and unfailingly encouraging throughout, so this catalogue of my first hundred paintings is presented with gratitude to them, for their kind words and helpful suggestions.
Anyway, without further explanation or excuse, here is the video of my first one hundred paintings. I hope you find it fascinating and entertaining. I’ve already made a start on my second hundred.