What a great start to my 365 painting journey! I have not travelled anywhere without my trusty A5 sketchbook, not to risk missing an opportunity to record something that catches my eye. So far I have painted everything from cityscapes and the sea, to my prized brass saxophone.
During the first months, I took a welcome break from the cold British winter, spending a couple of weeks in Costa Rica. The tropical Costa Rican climate injected my palette with the vibrant colours of its richly diverse flora and fauna, as well as inspiring several wave paintings of the Pacific Ocean.
Moving into February, I visited Barcelona, one of my favourite European cities, where I was enlivened by the red earthy tones and variety of its architecture. These trips remind me of the importance of travelling to source inspiration for paintings, as you encounter such a wide range of fresh and unique subject matter.
I also braved the ever-changing weather back home in the UK, taking my paints out to my local coastline, which is particularly dramatic and atmospheric during the winter months. Painting outdoors is one of the most invigorating aspects of the challenge, as I can connect with nature and interpret the feeling of its force on paper.
With the need to paint every day, I have found myself more tuned into my surroundings and receptive to the beauty in the ordinary. I painted several still lifes which could be seen as random at first but in fact have a personal meaning to me, such as a cherished lamp once owned by my great grandfather. I rarely get time to stop and appreciate the objects around me, so taking a moment out of my day to do that through my daily painting has felt particularly rewarding.
Gouache has been my go-to medium so far as it can be easily dissolved with water and used to build up texture and strong colour, whilst also working well with other mediums such as pen and ink. Painting onto the brown craft paper in my sketchbook, I found that it worked well to leave some areas of the paper exposed to emphasise the natural tones in the coastline, or the warm brick of a building.
Although my small lightweight sketchbook has its practical advantages, it did take some adjustment at first as I am so accustomed to painting on large sheets of aluminium or canvas. It is tricky to achieve minute detail when working quickly on a smaller scale so I instead focussed on my use of colour, brushwork and composition to capture the essence of whatever I was painting.