Some of my paintings from around ages 17-19.
Despite art being my main passion for as long as I can remember, I often didn't receive much positive feedback from art teachers throughout my later education. My GCSE art teacher predicted me a B- (I ended up with an A*). At college, I was told by my course leader that there was no point in applying to the art schools I wanted to as I wouldn't get in (spoiler: I applied anyway and I did get in!) I was criticised for my work not being 'experimental' enough, not 'conceptual' enough, some describing it as being 'completely outdated'. I've always been captivated by the skills and techniques used by the old Masters. I was strongly discouraged from using this as inspiration. Don't get me wrong, there are many contemporary artists I admire, but I often felt skill and technique was dismissed in relation to what I was producing. I was led to feel that what I produced was wrong, not conceptual enough, not experimental enough, not this, not that.
Despite feeling disheartened and having my confidence knocked, I stayed true to myself. I found ways of being experimental in my own way, perhaps not in the way that many of my teachers wanted, but it has always been important to me to stay true to myself. I am happy with how my style has evolved and developed.
It seems to be paying off with the increasing interest and encouraging feedback I now receive for my work. This caption is longer than I intended, but I guess I wanted to share the message of how important it is to try and stay true to yourself and pursue what you want to do. I have tried to use the knocks I have had to make me stronger, more determined and more resilient.