Walk away

I'm often looking to paint familiar subjects from a different perspective, a perspective that makes your brain work a bit, to translate what it's actually looking at and from where.

Mabie Baby was one of those. As we wandered around the Scottish forest the most impressive thing about these majestic beauties were their sheer height. (I'm often the tallest in a room so maybe I felt an affinity!)

Standing right up close to the base of a redwood and looking up the trunk was quite a breath-taking experience and immediately inspired me to try to recreate that feeling when you look up beyond your usual remit.

Painting teaches me new things all the time, not just about painting but those that can be applied to real life.

Creating perspective is one of them but also getting perspective, as well as preserving that perspective once you think you've found it.

When I get so lost in the detail of things I can't see the bigger picture, quite literally. I can't see what I'm looking at for what it really is because I'm too up close and involved. Time to step back and take a breather.

The painting process is teaching me to walk away and refocus, sensing when is the right time to down tools and take a break. Being disciplined enough to walk away when all you want to do is keep slogging away. Not just when things aren't going well, but when they are coasting along beautifully as well. A fresh pair of eyes can see that extra detail that I hadn't clocked the first time round or observe it in a completely new way.

Seeking advice and feedback always works wonders when I need to reset my perspective. The different ways different people have different reactions to the different things they see in the same subject is a fantastic resource. When I have the same thought processes on repeat going round my head getting me nowhere, I'm so grateful for someone else's input to breathe some honesty and fresh air on the matter. A chance encounter or comment can often provide the breakthrough needed.

That's why feedback is so crucial to the process, positive and negative. You can't argue with a genuine first reaction and it gives you the opportunity to see the situation from where someone else is standing.

Sometimes it's as simple as a good night's sleep or just switching to an alternative task for a while. When you stop thinking about the thing that's consuming you, the answer can suddenly give itself up.

So much of painting for me is about having the confidence to make bold decisions and stand by them, as well as having the courage and conviction to stop when it becomes clear you've made the wrong call. It's so easy to distort without even realising it's happening. I've done it many times and am still doing so but I'm trying to become more aware when it does occur and learn from it.

Making a decision, even if it's the wrong one, is better than no decision at all and can be amended at any time. Eliminating what doesn't work then leads you to what does from an enlightened perspective, instead of continuing to trudge along what you know is the wrong path for fear of the effort and upheaval change requires.

I'm finding that all of the above can be just as easily transferred to my personal and practical situations. Was fully expecting this art adventure to teach me about painting but was not expecting all this other insight as well. A fantastic journey on so many levels.

Art is very much a subjective experience but perspective is so fundamentally key to everything our brains compute during the course of the day. Painting is not only creating perspective but protecting your own too.


“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”

George Eliot, Middlemarch

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