The Benefits of Adversity
Many children spend a lot of their time with their peers. In my childhood, I changed schools five times. This meant l had to learn to start over again and again. At the time I couldn’t see the benefits of adversity. I could only see the challenges of the upheavals. Making friends and building strong relationships was a continual challenge. It felt like before I knew it, I was moving again.
As I didn’t have easy and regular access to friends, I naturally was drawn to the easy path of finding things to do on my own. I didn’t spend my time playing sports. I was shy and it took me a long time to get to know people and trust them.
Like most kids, I enjoyed watching television. For me, it was mainly the A-Team, the Fall Guy and Airwolf. My childhood dream was to become a stuntman. The scratches and scrapes on my bike, go-kart and body confirm this crazy dream. What was I thinking!
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The main activities I found myself doing were building models, drawing, playing lego and riding my bike. By spending time drawing and making things I become quite good at these activities. l remember that l stood out in my class and was noted for my drawing abilities. This made me feel good about myself and it gave me more encouragement to continue art-making.
As I got older, I started dreaming about becoming an architect. The impossible concept of becoming an artist never entered my thoughts for a moment. The idea of making a living as an artist looked like a totally impossible dream. However, I stumbled into an Illustration art degree without a plan. Then I stumbled out looking for a job. When I graduated in 2000 from my undergraduate course the thought of making a living as an artist still appeared impossible.
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As I look back to where I started I have the benefits of adversity to thank for being an artist. By completing that course I know what I didn’t want to make work to brief for money. It occurred to me that I still get a lot out of painting and drawing, and art shouldn’t be about money. I enjoy the process and that is the reason why I do it. Nothing more complicated and the act of making.
The life of an artist is filled with solitude in the studio. Those early experience mean I am happy with reclusiveness in the studio. And of course, the Internet means it is possible to find a way to have a career as an artist, as I slowly build my painting practice. No matter where I ended up, I still would have continued to draw, paint and make things but few people would see them without the Internet. Art is what I love doing, and I wouldn’t change my experiences and path for anything now.
The benefits of Adversity
In a way, I see myself as a batsman in cricket. A batsman job in cricket is to practices hitting various balls. Ultimately he’s just swinging a bat. As a painter, I realised I am ultimately just practising knocking out paintings by throwing out good strokes. However, there is a lot more to it than that in both cases. As an artist, it is my job to make sense of direct experience and of the millions of images that I see every day. All the visual experiences seep into my head, and I feel a compelling need to deal with them. As a painter, I have something that I feel is important to say. By using tools such as line, shape, colour, texture and materiality, I am practising my response to physicality. As I attempt, (occasionally, I hope) to hit a ball out of the park. Images are just stuff, but I see painting as the ordering of the stuff. Join me and subscribe to my email newsletter as I experience the world as a painter, as I try to make sense of this stuff.
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"I am delighted when I have a paintbrush in my hand, making something I have never seen before"