If you’ve been following me on instagram over the summer, you’ll know that I shared some small paintings I did during my travels around Vietnam. I wanted to chat a little bit more about this postcard series of artwork and my motivations behind it.
If you know me, or if you’ve followed online me a while, you’ll know that I like to create artwork. I’m not especially confident in my creations, but I like to do it. If you scroll back through my instagram page long enough, you’ll see I used to design & sell greetings cards a few years ago. I loved doing that – hopefully one day I’ll do it again. When I moved abroad, I continued doing some digital illustrations but always struggled with establishing my ‘style’. I feel inspired by many illustrators, designers & artists that I follow and admire, but their styles are so different that when I was (typically) comparing my own work to theirs, I ended up unsure of its quality. So, I spent a long time not doing any art at all.
I realised I missed it, and so I decided to take my paints away with me. My trip started in Mai Chau and, as I mentioned before, I struggled with the lack of routine that suddenly hits at the start of a teacher’s summer holidays. Restless – and frustrated at myself for being restless – I decided to paint the first of what became 8 paintings of my summer destinations.
I painted it for me. I sat down and began, with no real vision of what I was creating, no intention to share it online (a pressure I’d put on myself previously, for no particular reason). I just wanted to enjoy the act of painting, and do you know what? I realised I was happy with what I painted.
I did end up sharing the painting on my instagram page, because I was pleased with the piece and pleased with myself for giving myself the time to do it. And a few days later, sitting on a 3 hour train from Hue to Danang and travelling along the famous Hai Van Pass, I decided to get my paints out again. Yes, on a train. Yes, it rocked around a bit so the lines weren’t as precise as they could have been. Yes, I got a few strange looks. But the time passed quickly and again, I liked the painting I’d created.
As the days went by, I made time to sit and paint the scenery around me. I went to some beautiful spots this summer and am pleased I allowed myself to take it all in and put paintbrush to paper. I painted on a train, in cafes, on the beach, by the pool… why not?!
The simplicity in my paintings meant I didn’t worry about fine detail. It was more about the colours and the shapes, forming 2D versions of the beauty surrounding me that I could bring home and keep. Real, hard copies that weren’t just stored on my phone or iPad but were something I could pick up and look at, put up on the fridge or glue into a scrapbook.
I think this helped me to develop my style further. I love the complexity of nature, but I also love how artists and illustrators like Miles Tewson, Maus Haus and Graphics and Grain show nature’s beauty in such a simple, stylised way.
I’m going to continue painting my surroundings with no pressure, just as and when I feel like it. But there are some other ideas bubbling under the surface so perhaps there will be a few things to share soon!
Medium – Acrylic
If you’re in Hanoi, I recommend these art supply shops:
Have you found art a form of relaxation or a therapeutic activity? Which is your favourite of my paintings? Let me know in the comments below!