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Looking Back on 2017

Less than four hours and a new year will have rolled around – indeed, the onward tide of time around the globe means that billions of people are already in 2018. Time to take stock for a moment and think about what my 2017 has been.

If there has been one key development for me this year, it has been a return to visual art-making using traditional media. Discounting digital photography and graphics manipulation, I’ve done more painting and drawing in the past six months than I probably did in the preceding twenty years. A particular catalyst was this year’s Oxford Summer School, when I spent a week learning about approaches to contemporary and abstract watercolour. That is the fulcrum of the change. It was at the end of of July so I’m effectively comparing the last four months with the previous two decades.

I wonder why though? It wasn’t my first annual visit to the event and the previous two courses – Japanese woodblock printing and the mixed media ‘Out of India’ – were both stimulating. Perhaps it was a cumulative effect or simply just time for me to pick up pencils and paintbrushes again? I do think part of it was simply being reminded of the blind contour approach to drawing – trace the outline of something with your eyes, echo the movement with pencil on paper but without looking and finish after a set period of time. It was liberating to rediscover how to enjoy the process rather than struggling to create a satisfactory end result.

Time will tell whether this is a temporary blip in my journey or a significant return to earlier roots but I’ve certainly got a few things planned in 2018 that ought to keep me seeing and drawing and developing those skills.

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