Posted in studio peek

My Favorite Paintings of 2021!

Wow! I can’t believe 2021 is coming to an end…

Last year I began the tradition of designing and publishing a book of the paintings, studies, and sketches I created through the year.

I started with the idea to give the books out to family and friends as gifts, but the design process and end result have become so much more than that to me.

When I am putting each year’s book together, choosing photographs of paintings and inspirational quotes I want to include, I am able to stand back from the trees and get a good look at the forest I have been dwelling in during the previous 12 months—metaphorically speaking!

I find that when I step back to look at this retrospective, I am given the precious gift of getting to see the arc of my own personal growth as an artist.

And this year I saw BIG changes.

The first change I saw while looking over the paintings I produced this year was a focus on experimentation.

Soft pastel on paper
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

New techniques, new materials, even a new medium (water mixable oil) kept me on my toes and headed out in directions that kept my process from being stale and predictable.

Oil on stretched canvas
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

Another change I consciously focused on this year was quality over quantity.

It doesn’t bother me to set a painting aside and let it sit for days, weeks, or even months if it just isn’t “there” yet because I appreciate how it gives me fresh eyes to critique and move forward in whatever way is necessary to reach my vision.

But this year I have also made peace with the fact that I am probably never going to be a hugely prolific painter…and that’s ok.

I’ve realized that my painting process and personality do not lend themselves to popular social media challenges like “paint 30 paintings in 30 days”.

In fact, I have found that if I can’t stop and linger when I want or need to in order to produce the work my soul is crying out to create, I die inside just a little!—and that is not acceptable to me.

Top: soft pastel on paper
Bottom: oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

But this year the biggest change I actively encouraged in my heart, mind, and artistic process was to really seek out what it was I was trying to say with each painting, and then to let myself express those ideas, desires, and feelings onto the painting itself.

One of the wonderful benefits of allowing myself to work in this way is that I am becoming more aware of my artistic voice—who I am as an artist, what I value as an artist and human being, and how I want to grow in the future.

Oil on canvas panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

As a result, I can see the meager beginnings of a “style” that marks my work as mine and validates who I am becoming as an artist.

And that, my friends, is something I have been waiting to see emerge as the months and years of creating have slipped by.

Oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021
Oil on canvas
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

All of the photos in this post are included in this year’s book, and I wanted to share them with you.

If you have made it this far, thanks for sticking with me to read about my thoughts on creating and artistic growth.

Oil on panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021
Oil on canvas panel
copyright R. Sorrells 2021

You can read the inspirational quotes that I included in this year’s book here.

But I will leave you with the quote I used to close my 2021 book.

It speaks to this idea of growth and not yet being who we were created to be….

“Beyond myself, somewhere, I wait for my arrival.” — Octavio Paz, poet

Thank you creative friends for taking time out of your precious life to read this post. I pray you will stay your creative course, wherever that leads your heart, and that on the journey you find joy in the process.

Till next time…

~R