Art Journey

I am very new to art. As a younger adult I dabbled occasionally with drawing and painting but lost interest or became discouraged when I failed to meet the expectations I set for myself.

How surprised I am that I have started to take painting so seriously. I think it’s because I now have something  to say. It’s not just a matter of trying to create nice pictures to hang on the wall at home (something I’d never achieved to my satisfaction). I’m now trying to convey something through my paintings.

The initial spark came from my friend Chris. He paints bible words, sometimes only a verse of two, but also whole chapters of scripture. One of his major inspirations has been the New Zealand artist Colin McCahon.

Chris encouraged me to give it a go; he made it seem so easy (as does some of McCahon’s work). How hard could it be to paint words?

Actually it’s not as easy as it seems. I had all kinds of trouble trying to get the brush to apply paint in the way I wanted – and “writing” with a brush is nowhere near as fluid and natural as writing with a pen. And as easy and natural that writing should be, I rarely use a pen to write these days so I’m long out of practice of forming words by hand.

Over several months of trial and error, I have found myself using personal symbolic references in my paintings, enhanced by the use of single words, sentences and occasional bible phrases.

The breakthrough came with the first version of my painting “Pierced”. I used a larger canvas and took a much freer approach, not fussing with smaller detail. I also blended colours on the canvas, scrubbing a second layer of paint into a still wet under-layer, breaking up the consistency of colour, removing the sameness (blandness) of large blocks of a smooth, unblemished paint surface.

I also used a lot of paint thinned down with a satin varnish; this created transparent layers of colour that helped to make the painting glow. Seeing the result (which even my wife admired) was very encouraging and I am now much more confident with my work and have started to recognise that art is more than a process to create a painted product on canvas.

I was started on this road by Chris and his paintings and also through his recommendation of McCahon’s work, but I have since found other artists whose work inspires in different ways, whether their technique or the subject of their paintings. My clear preference is for abstract art, though most of what I see leaves me wondering about its point. So much seems to revolve around some mystical and esoteric ideas of “art” that I have no time for. But despite those that almost deify art itself, there are some painters who can really move me with their work.

I discovered the most recent of these only this week:  Mazalit Chetzrony-Tabib, through her website:

Visit the site; see her work, read her story. I’ve been a frequent visitor since I found it and I gain increasing inspiration from what she does. It is the kind of result I am hoping to achieve. While abstract in execution, she also uses her own personal symbols and text (in her case Hebrew) to give meaning

Here is a shortcut to one of my favourite paintings of hers.


the photo at the beginning of my article is of my “inspiration wall” and features at the top an illustration of Colin McCahon’s Victory Over Death 2 and at the bottom Ian Fairweather’s Gethsemane