Diary of an Exhibition – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Painting yesterday I was thinking about the stories we tell ourselves or the things we have been told and taken on as THE TRUTH, which may be unexamined and therefore NOT TRUE.


In terms of art here are a few stories that I have had to examine or am in the process of examining


  • Story 1 – Never use black paint! I was told this at art school. About 10 years ago I had an exhibition at Phoenix 369 Gallery in Edinburgh. When Andrew Brown the gallery owner came to my studio to discuss the exhibition, the paintings he liked were the ones where (in my mind) I had cheated and had used black paint. ‘You like the ones with black paint in best.’ I exclaimed. Never use black paint was not true!


  • Story 2 – Oil paint is better than acrylic because acrylic is a modern medium and not a traditional one! Messing about with acrylic paint today I realised that acrylic paint is different to oil paint. It is not a question of better or worse. I might prefer oil but that is different. My lungs have gone off oil paint so my revelation today was ‘Oh Wow! I am enjoying myself with acrylic!’ It has some qualities that are maybe different in a better way to oil, i.e. quick drying, can build up layers more quickly, no odour, non toxic, can hang on the wall at end of day and not have to wait for weeks to bring the painting into the house. My unexamined story has been a big hurdle for me to overcome. As anyone who has suggested acrylic paint to me over the past 2 or 3 years will know. Stubborn, resistant artist in the house!


  • Story 3 – Working from photographs in the studio is cheating!  A couple of days ago  I came to the conclusion that if one of my hero’s JMW Turner was alive in the days of photography, he would have definitely have worked from photographs as reference. Instead he created snapshot mini sketches and notes as reference in his sketchbook to then build up his big canvases in the studio. Using whatever aid is necessary to develop observation, memory, feeling and ultimately the painting… is not cheating! Much as I want to drag my canvas and paints to the beach everyday, middle of winter, Scotland, it is just not feasible. Using reference is not cheating.


  • Story 4 – The work is not good enough. I am including this one as I think it is an ongoing struggle for artists or creatives and definitely is a story that needs examining. The work is not good enough …. the work is good enough. Which one is true? Here are a few things to do to work it out. …. Take a photograph of the work – seeing it as a photo is revealing, step back, come back to it another day, write about it and the feelings that are coming up, note any ideas or inspiration, do another painting, look at the work in the mirror, again revealing…. Is it good enough? Good enough for what? What story are you telling yourself?  The large painting I made in acrylic paint yesterday is, at the moment, not good enough for my exhibition but it it has certainly been good enough as an experience as I have decided that THERE IS HOPE FOR ME AND ACRLIC PAINT! Painting is a journey. Your journey with your creativity IS GOOD ENOUGH.


As we go into 2017 I am going to pay attention to the stories I tell myself and ask the simple question ‘Is it true?’.



Happy New Year

Love Kirsten x



‘Wave Goodbye’

Acrylic sketch on Canvas

23 x 30 cms



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