I Can Never Be All The People I Want To Be


Inspiration strikes – how could I not paint it? (above)

You know how it is as a painter; the picture in one’s mind is always far more compelling, more creative, more varied – more alive than the one which makes it to the canvas.

So it was with ‘I Can Never Be All The People I want To Be’ (oil 72×60, 2015), which is an accretion of paintings, each worked over the last ‘failure’, until I came pretty close to the one in my head.

Inspired by the beauty and variety of a large wisteria which covers the facade of Shammer House ‘I Can Never Be All The People I Want To Be’ is a painting about accepting that one really can’t have it all, appreciate it all, or keep it all, and in fact by trying to do just that you just end up with nothing but a feeling that you missed getting some of it by reaching for everything.

The picture came about when I tried to paint the wisteria which covers the house, and take it from me it is fabulous.

So attempt A was to try to paint all of it from the side of the house,in every detail, and of course all I  ended up with was a mass of disjointed details which were very much less than the sum of their parts.

Plan B was to paint just a bit of it – the picture worked better, but it wasn’t the full thing, in all its glory, and certainly nothing inspiring enough to warrant a 6 ft canvas.


What was I doing? The picture at an interim stage (above), and far less than the sum of its parts

Bear in mind I’m a couple of months into this project now, and both plans A and B have hung balefully on my wall where I can’t escape the results of my failure.

The breakthrough?

Realising I had nothing to loose but failure, and being bold enough to work over the entire thing as rapidly, iteratively and subconsciously as possible. version C – which I love – took about an hour to paint but months to be able to paint. Sometimes giving yourself permission to dare to fail is all you need to succeed.


I Can Never Be All The People I Want To Be (above)  might just have been my favourite picture of the show, and certainly the hardest won. is it any coincidence it sold within ten minutes of opening on the first day? I like to think, and dare to hope not.

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