Monday, 31 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 12

Here we are, finally, at Painting 12 of the 12fp(s) Film-inspired painting series.

This 'final' image is considerably different from the rest of the series due to the addition of ink, and although it does look odd in comparison to the rest, I think the ink has improved the overall aesthetic appeal.

I started-off by trying to create this image entirely from watercolours (like the rest of the series), but the painting looked flat and the colouring was garishly bright, which looked really odd given the setting and mood of the original film still.
I had considered giving up on this painting because I just couldn't fix the tones and colouring to a satisfactory standard:
- I tried using several brown washes to weaken the purple and blue hues on the left hand side;
- I tried strengthening the weak hues in order to level everything out so that the garish colours are not as bold;
- I had even considered utilising an abstract painting style like Wassily Kandinsky in the hope that the abstract style would mask the problems. (Minor evidence of this abstraction remains on the girl's jumper in the bottom left corner, where the paint is a lot patchier than the rest of the painting).
But my solution came in the form of a writing pen...

The pen hasn't 'fixed' the painting, but it has certainly detracted from the garishness of the original colouring while adding a darker mood to the overall image that kind of reminds me of gothic etchings and vintage illustrations.
This may not be the best painting in the series, but I think it is an interesting change and could lead to more pictures getting made in this style...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Development of a Portrait: 1

I recently attempted to paint the portrait of a female friend, inspired by the style of Arthur Rackham whose work we both admire. But before I made a finished painting that I felt reflected the beauty of my source photo I had to make several developments and photocopy tests, and although my final painting is not at all like the work of Rackham, I've decided to share some images that reflect the working process for this project and write about what was happening...

I started off by looking at a lot of the Arthur Rackham illustrations saved on my computer [3 examples below] that I had originally sourced here from
I do this kind of initial artists/influences research for many of my projects, which I'd like to think helps me keep things fresh and prevents my artwork from looking the same time after time...

From that initial research into the visual style of Rackham (whose work I was aiming to imitate for my friend), I drew out her portrait with pencil onto card. I was surprisingly happy with how well the portrait worked as a simple pencil 'outline' drawing, but as I wasn't planning to write a blog post about it at that time I don't have a good quality image of the pencil drawing to illustrate - I did however take a low-resolution photo using my laptop's webcam so that I could quickly test a possible colour scheme within Photoshop. [Below is an image showing both the initial sketch on the left, and the Photoshop colour test on the right].

From the Photoshop colouring test, I laid down a yellowish base coat everywhere bar the main part of her hair, which I wanted to keep clear/white. And from there I just added some tonal variation as I felt necessary.
Originally it was all painted with Yellow Ochre (avoiding the use of really dark tones like in the Photoshop test), but I eventually decided to make use of some Burnt Umber too so that I could get more variation in the tonal depths.
The painting worked fine without the darker Umber tones, but it just felt a little too plain/flat, and now with the aid of a second colour, the painting does seem to have more 'pop'.
I was unsure about the darker tones at first (especially the rough texture on the jumper), which was quite messy and didn't have any sense of form, but I now think that the texture of the jumper has helped to make the texture on her face look smoother while the darker tone of the jumper has mitigated the dark washiness around her eye.
This is how I have left that painting, but I think there is still room to further heighten the tonal depth, and perhaps using darker/bolder outlines (like in the work of Rackham), would help to make it further stand out...

As I am quite happy with the painting the way it is [above right], and because I had strong reservations about what bolder outlines would do to the overall aesthetic, I decided to make a photocopy of my painting so that I could test a style more like Rackham's on my painting without potentially ruining my original.
I didn't fully commit to the relatively bold lines that are so common with Rackham; instead I just built-up the lines using a ballpoint pen, which I thought would create a more subtle effect. I wanted to keep the lines subtle because the source photograph worked wonderfully well with minimal texture and colour, and I was worried that using too many bold lines would distract from the minimalist beauty of the source photograph.
I think the ballpoint pen crosshatching works really well on her jumper by creating a texture that contrasts nicely with the rest of the image, while the outline down the profile of her face also works (although it should perhaps be made bolder?) The only area I'm not keen on the ballpoint pen is in her hair, because I think the lines are too heavy and create dark clusters, which I find really distracting.
The ballpoint pen inking above suggests that I could still develop the painting further and continue pushing the aesthetic closer towards the style of Arthur Rackham's work, but I decided that it was worth trying out something completely different with the image.

I was originally inspired to paint this particular image because it shows her beautiful side profile combined with hair in a really cool form. Despite this, I felt that my first painting(s) were not making best use of those qualities, so I decided to do a new painting in a simpler yet bolder visual style more inspired by the work of Rene Gruau [see my previous blog post] in order to achieve an aesthetic that placed a greater emphasis on the qualities that first attracted me to the source photo.

The new painting was much more illustrative: showing only the form of her cool hair along with a simple outline of the profile of her face.
The working process was just the same as the first painting, as can be seen in the image above showing my initial Photoshop test on the left, and the acrylic painting on the right.

I'm not 100% sure about the cropping - would it have been better to show the full head? But anyway, that's too late now...
The last thing I did was use Photoshop to adjust the levels of the photographed painting so that the white was purer (because the photograph made it look a dirty grey tone), and now, at long last, here is the final result:

Annoyingly however, when I was in Edinburgh last night (for the first time in over a month!) I kept seeing a Beauty & The Beast poster at the bus stops with the same visual style.
Last night is the first time I had ever seen that black and white poster (you can see a similar version of the poster here), but I'm concerned that if people now look at my black and white portrait painting above, they will think it was just a straight-up copy of the Beauty & The Beast poster...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Influences part 21: Rene Gruau

I first mentioned the work of Rene Gruau as an influence when I published Painting 1 of my 12fp(s) film-inspired painting series.

Gruau is a graphic illustrator with a minimal yet very bold visual style that I find really appealing.
I think that to a great extent the quality of his work speaks for itself, so rather than write a whole load of text, here's a few samples of his work to do the same job much quicker:

I'm posting the work of Rene Gruau as an influence just now because I'm finding the simplicity of his work really inspiring while I work on a female portrait painting based on a beautiful photograph with soft texture and colour. I originally wanted to paint the portrait in a style closely influenced by the 100 year old illustrations of Arthur Rackham, and although this is still my intention, I think Rackham's style will be too rough and may spoil the simplicity of the portrait, hence why I am also looking at the work of Gruau...

Related links:
- Rene Gruau: Capturing the look of Parisian chic. Veronica Horwell, The Guardian newspaper, 15 April 2004.
- Rene Gruau images at

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 11

A very everyday/conventional looking scene from an American film director commonly associated with Expressionism, black comedy, and very odd characters...

I chose this particular shot over any of the more typical and Expressionistic shots from the film because I felt that this image had a faint sense of Edward Hopper about it (like several of my other paintings in this series), and I also thought that if my painting depicted a more recognisable scene from the film then its story would distract from my painted image.

Monday, 24 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 10 [SOLD]

This is a painting of one of my favourite films (released in 1964), directed by one of my favourite directors.
This iconic dance scene (where the three protagonists dance The Madison in a Paris cafe for almost 4 undisturbed minutes of film), is just one of many stunning set-pieces in this classic Nouvelle Vague film - and it later inspired the Jack Rabbit Slim's dance scene in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994).

While watching this film scene, I rarely ever notice the background or cafe setting because the dance is so fun and beguiling - so my attention is always on the three characters. To reflect this I wanted my painting to subtly describe the background while the three characters grab our focus.
Some people may consider this painting unfinished as a result of the unpainted background, but I think this simplified style is very graphic and illustrative, which makes the painting effective for achieving my aims. And anyway, painting shouldn't always be about strongly recreating reality - especially when film and photography to do it much quicker and better.

Monday, 17 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 9 [SOLD]

Going right back to basics [ie: 12fp(s) - Painting 1] with this painting: French film, 1960s, 2 characters, very similar colour scheme...
And it has, to a considerable extent, worked.

There are a few little things I could complain about, but for once I'm just going to accept the painting as it is and be happy with it!

Influences part 20: Zina Saunders

The latest post over on the Lines & Colours blog highlights the new issue of Illo magazine and features a sample of work by four illustrators; but Zina Saunders was the featured artist that immediately caught my attention.

I would describe Saunders' style as having a loosely realist drawing style mixed with a controlled Expressionist colouring scheme. Although this is a contrast to my usual art preferences, Saunders makes it work to great effect, which really captivated me and inspired me to do some further research on it beyond the Lines and Colours blog post.
It states on Saunders website that she has been a writer/illustrator for over 15 years, and as well as general illustrations she also does political satire, woodcut-inspired works, and 'reportage illustration' that fuses her illustrations with her interviews and other writings.

Saying as I only just found Saunders work earlier today I don't know whether I'd call her an influence right now [note that this blog post is called Influences...], but I certainly have a great admiration for the work featured on her website, and I can also sense a vague similarity between some of her works and my current painting series (mainly the realism and my keen interest in colour) - so why not include her here?

I like the realism used on the key areas in each of her works (such as the faces), and although I'm not so keen on the loose/vibrant line work used in other parts of her works (like bits of the background - see image below), for me it is the Expressionist colouring that dominates the image and grabs attention (because I love colour!)

I can't tell yet whether the work of Zina Saunders will have any notable influence on my work in the future, but hopefully it will help me to loosen my strong grasp on realism - as is noticeable in my current painting series 12fp(s).

Sunday, 16 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 8 [SOLD]

I think it's time I change subject matter because these paintings just seem to be getting less and less appealing.

After yesterdays painting when I couldn't stick to a specific painting style to use, I made the decision with this painting to just make it quite loose from the very beginning.

The washy non-specific background works quite well, but because this style offers nothing to focus on, it puts the viewers entire attention onto the foreground characters. Although that is what I wanted to happen, the foreground characters lack detail (or any other point of interest), so the whole image is just a hazy/watery blur with nothing to maintain the viewers attention.

This painting seems to be also lacking depth. Originally the background was very pale, which reflected the source image, but it wasn't working as a painting so I put a darker wash over the background. I was unsure whether it would work, but after a few hours away from working on the painting I can now see that the darker background has improved the image - however I think it could be darker still...

Another thing that I've tried in order to compensate for the lack of depth in this painting is to again (like in Painting 3), digitally blur the background in order to decrease the depth of focus. This has successfully broken up the painting to help improve the depth, but while it is quite intriguing I don't think it is entirely convincing...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 7

I'm not happy with this one:

It was a bad drawing to begin with, and then once I was painting it I couldn't decide what to do with the brushstrokes, which has made the whole image a bit of a mess...
I should either have made the whole thing quite controlled and 'realist' so that the painting looks conventionally decent, or I should have gone with my instincts and let the brushstrokes run wild so that the image is more Impressionistic and interesting; but instead of doing either of those I've just got this monotonous painting that is kinda poor in all elements.

Friday, 14 August 2009

12fp(s) - the series so far...

I'm struggling to find more interesting film stills on the Internet for me to paint, so after doing 6 (out of the 12 planned paintings) here's a photo showing the series so far:

Did you notice that I've removed one painting?

I'm pleasantly surprised with how nicely the paintings go together, but I had to remove my second painting because it looks nothing like a film still (it is much more like a portrait painting), so it seemed completely out of place when placed amongst this series.
Although removing that painting now means that I've only done 5 paintings and need to try finding another 7 film stills to paint, I do have a couple of possible alternatives from previous years if I can't find enough to fill the series...

There's this painting of Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation, which I used to illustrate the introductory blog post that outlined my plans for this series:

And there is also this painting from March 2008, which shows Ken Stott portraying Tony Hancock in a British television programme from that time:
(OK, it's not strictly speaking a "film still", but the painting does seem to fit-in with this series).

Neither of these paintings would be ideal for this series (because again they seem more like portraits), but what's the alternative?
I seem to have spent days on Google Images looking for adequate stills, but I keep coming back to the same bunch of films.
I haven't even been able to find a good image from any of the 22 James Bond films!
What films am I forgetting to look for???

Thursday, 13 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 6 [SOLD]

If there is a film in this painting series that people have a good chance of recognising, it is almost certainly going to be this one (mainly because 4 out of the previous 5 films were either Finnish or from French New Wave cinema of the 1950s/60s)...

This is a quick painting from an American film of 1959, directed by the legendary English filmmaker who most influenced the development of my graduation film (Pigment of Imagination) last year.
My dad quickly identified the actor and several memorable scenes from the film, but he struggled to recall the name of the film. Can you do better?

I have used the tubed watercolour paints (like yesterday's painting) for my second time, and although I had to wrestle with the paint in order to get the colours and textures that I originally desired, the finished image is slowly beginning to grow on me.
I can't tell whether I am warming to this painting because I like the aesthetic, or if it's just because I see hints of Edward Hopper in it (much like the first painting, which coincidently was of another 1959 film!) But one thing is for sure: this is one of the most memorable scenes in this great film, and I now have a strong desire to do nothing but watch the full film (once again)!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 5

I decided to do something a little different for this painting...

...That's right, I've painted it all with just one colour.

The colour of paint (Phthalo blue) looked good on the tube label, but now that I've done the painting I'm not so keen on it - it just seems too bright/bold and sour.

As well as using a different colour scheme than usual, this is the first time I've ever done a painting with tubed watercolours (instead of my preferred watercolour pans). As this painting only used one colour I'm unable to make a full analysis of both types of watercolour paints, but what I did notice is that these tubed paints offered a wider range of tones and also allowed me to paint consistently strong lines.
Even though that isn't apparent in this finished painting, I'm hopeful that the ability to paint a fuller range of tones and strong lines with tubed watercolours will allow me to create more Expressionistic paintings in the future - perhaps in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

12fp(s) - outtake 1

This painting is related to Film but it isn't a film still. For this reason I've decided that the painting will get posted on the blog under the 12fp(s) name, but once the series is complete it won't be included.

I admired the original photograph that this painting is based on because it was quite stylish (reminding me of my first painting in the series), and I also saw this as a chance to experiment with the style of classic 50s Pin-up paintings like those by Gil Elvgren.

I originally drew this in pencil with more expressive lines than my usual work, and although I wanted to paint those lines back into the final image I decided against it for fear that the painted lines would distract from the rest of the image. I think I made the right decision...

The only thing I don't like about this image is what she is sitting on. The original photograph has her at the beach sitting on what looks like a cut-down tree trunk, but I chose to leave the background out of my painting so that the character is the only point of interest in the final image... I think I was right to leave out the background, however having a plain background has now made the seat much more noticeable - which in this simplified style is not good.
Apart from that though, I'm really happy with this painting.

Related websites:
A large collection of Elvgren's Pin-up paintings

Monday, 10 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 4 [SOLD]

I don't have much new to say about these paintings now. They all seem to be getting influenced by my first painting in the series, so I'm unsure whether they are nicely maintaining the original style or if I'm just over-doing it now...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 3

I'm feeling positively indifferent about this one. I like the overall image, but it doesn't really stand out or say anything exciting - so it kind of just sits there...
I suppose it's good that the painting isn't shouting for attention it doesn't deserve, and likewise it's good that the painting looks pleasant enough to appreciate if it does manage to grab the viewers attention.

After doing this painting, I decided to test what a bit of Animation post-production work does to the overall image [below], so that I can discover whether my concepts for the second painting series may work...
For this painting the post-production work simply involved adding a depth of field to the overall image by manually blurring the background in Photoshop while keeping the foreground characters in focus. The final effect hasn't made a great deal of difference to the overall aesthetic, but I think it does add that little bit more of an Filmic feel to the painting because the depth of field now more closely resembles the view one may get through a camera lens.
I had utilised this depth of field technique in several of my Animation projects during my time at college, and because this painting series is a hybrid of my work in both Painting and Animation, I think it was an acceptable thing to try. Another cultural issue that I think justifies this digitally-manipulated technique within the field of traditional painting is that many people now view the majority of traditional artworks on computers instead of gallery visits and books - therefore if digital files are the most common way of consuming traditionally-made artworks then Painting as a medium should be able to recognise the computer as another tool in this digital age. The only problem with such digital techniques is if an artist tries to sell physical versions of digitally manipulated work as originals (rather than prints), because it is only ever going to be a copy/print when the artwork was created in the digital domain.
Below is the digitally altered version of my original painting:

The digital alteration is not blatantly obvious (at least not without it being pointed out like in the text above), but comparing the right hand side of the backgrounds will make it most noticeable because that is where the alterations are strongest.

If anyone has comments or opinions regarding the digital modification of traditional paintings I'd appreciate hearing them (ie: has this technique worked/improved the original? Is the computer an acceptable artistic tool? Should such techniques be 'allowed' when the work is sold commercially in any format?)

Saturday, 8 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 2

I watched this film (by one of my favourite directors) for the first time last week, and noticed quite a few shots that would be suitable for this series. The image that I eventually chose [below] was perhaps not the best choice that I could have made, but I haven't lost anything by doing it, so I can't really complain.

This finished painting doesn't have the visual impact that I originally wanted to achieve (perhaps the watercolours look too calm, and the overall image is too patchy as well), so I am tempted to do a second painting of this film (with acrylics) to compensate or replace this one. I don't really want to have two paintings from one film in this series, but on the other hand this image doesn't look like a film still so it may need excluded once more of the series is complete...

Why then did I pick this still over all the others?
I was intrigued by this shot because it feels like the two characters are staring right into the audience and thoroughly scrutinizing us. I had imagined the finished image looking really effective painted on a large scale and hanging in an enclosed space from which the viewer cannot escape their stare. I've never done anything like that before, so it would be interesting to see if I could pull it off. Another reason for not going with one of the other film stills is that they were all much darker than this one and better suited to acrylic paints, however I'm really enjoying the watercolours, and at the present time I cannot help but do Impressionistic finger painting whenever I go near acrylics - which would not fit with my plans for those other stills.
I've said that I originally imagined this being really effective on a large scale, however I ended up painting it on A4 cropped to a widescreen format. As a result of this the finished painting has lost a lot of the potential impact that a larger version would have had, yet the painted characters do maintain a sense of that uncomfortable scrutiny that attracted me to the film still in the first place.

Friday, 7 August 2009

12fp(s) - painting 1

Before I begin:
Should I reveal the name of the film that features in the paintings, or should I let people guess??? For just now I'm going to let people guess the film source, and if someone gets it right or has a good guess I'll let them suggest a film for me to paint later in the series...

Below is my first film-influenced painting of the series:

Before starting this painting I aimed to make it quite minimalist with regards to the amount of colours and texture. This aim has been achieved to a considerable extent, but I have reservations about the car in the foreground, which I think is perhaps a little too strong within both aspects... Overall the image works fine, it is just that the actress (whom I originally wanted to jump out as the centre of attention) seems to get 'disguised' by the colours/textures of the foreground car and the lightness on the mans jacket.
I had my original aim for keeping the painting quite minimalist long before I started the painting because the source image/film is really stylish in black and white, so I didn't want to ruin its innate style by swamping my painting with colour. To help me keep things simple I took influence from Tim Sale (the graphics illustrator for hit TV show Heroes), and another illustrator, Rene Gruau, whom I recently discovered via the messageboard on Sale's website.

The Gruau image below is the piece that most influenced my film painting. (There was a second image which was equally appealing, but I'm going to save that one for another blog post soon)!
The similarities between Gruau's work and my painting at the top of this blog post may be very subtle (almost non-existent), but that doesn't really matter - is it not quite boring when an influence is straight-up copied by another artist anyway?

I posted this painting on my Facebook profile on Monday, and among the feedback it has received so far, Alison Cross described it as "a bit of Edward Hopper mixed with Luc Tuymans".
I'm really happy about the Hopper remark because he is one of my favourite painters, and has been inspiring some of my work to differing extents since 1999! I don't think our painting styles are particularly similar here, but I can certainly see a strong connection with regards to the impression of a narrative and the filmic composition.
Prior to Alison's comment I had not heard of Tuymans, but I have since checked his work out, and I can clearly see the similarities in our painting styles. Some of his work is available to view on The Saatchi Gallery website here, and a much larger selection of Tuymans work is available on his page at here.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

12fp(s) - New series of paintings

For the past week or so I've been preparing for my first painting series called "12fp(s)". This is just a fun/personal exercise influenced by my interest in Film, but I am aiming for it to lead smoothly into a second series, which will be created from a stimulating hybrid of my practices in Animation, Concept Art, and Painting.

The aim of this first series is to portray a still image from various films (hopefully 12 different films at the end of the series), using whatever artistic interpretation feels right at the time of production in order to create something new.
I don't necessarily intend to re-create the mood evoked from watching the original film, or to develop each painting within a specific direction, I just want to see what happens when I have free reign over source material and learn from the experiences.

If the reader has any suggestions for film stills that I should paint I'd be happy to hear/see them. Likewise, comments and feedback are always welcome.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Influences part 19: Berthe Morisot

My recent finger paintings (previous post) have been inspired by the Impressionist movement of the late 19th century, which challenged pre-existing ideals, "emphasized colour to express form and create mood" (Robinson, M. quoted in Pickeral, T. 2007), and celebrated modernity. Key figures from the Impressionist movement include: Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cezanne, but the Impressionist that most influences my finger paintings just now is Berthe Morisot.

Morisot's work had its first of several appearances at the prestigious Salon de Paris in 1864 when she was 23 years old. In 1868 she formed a close friendship with Edouard Manet (another artist associated with the Impressionists), and they influenced each others development equally. Their relationship remained close when Morisot married Manet's brother in 1874 - the same year that the Impressionists had their first exhibition (which Morisot was part of).
Her artworks tend to focus on daily experiences of domestic life because her gender & class were restricted from urban settings and nude figures due to the culture. As a result of this much of Morisot's work portrays the comfort of women's domestic life, much like fellow female Impressionist, Mary Cassatt.

What I admire about Morisot's work is the careful use of colours, combined with the soft brushstrokes, which gives her paintings a subtle vibrancy that enriches the whole image without distracting from the calm, feminine subject matter.
For the past few weeks I have been collecting a series of Morisot paintings from the Internet and examining her style as the primary influence for my finger paintings.
My painting style so far is a lot bolder and nowhere near as subtle/beautiful as those of Morisot, so it may be regarded as ridiculous to link her with my paintings; but then again, it never was my intention to closely copy her style - I simply use her work as an influence so that I avoid using a tighter/controlled painting style or end up with a carefully painted image that tries to imitate reality.
My reason for this is that after studying animation at Edinburgh College of Art for the last 4 years and researching/writing several essays that dismiss 'photo-realistic' art styles, I'm now reluctant to admire any style of art that tries to imitate a photo (or real life) because I feel that this style of art rarely lives up to the photo/real object that it is trying to imitate, so therefore more expressive/looser styles of art can offer a greater amount of visual interest for its audience.

- Robinson, M. quoted in Pickeral, T. Impressionism. Flame Tree Publishing, London, 2007. Pg 11.
- Olga's Gallery. Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). Available at <>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].
- Webmuseum, Paris. Berthe Morisot. Available at <>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].
- Wikipedia. Berthe Morisot. Available at <>. [Last accessed: 04 August 2009].

Monday, 3 August 2009

Professional Finger painting!

I'm including some more painting commissions that I've done recently, but unusually for me, they were made using my fingertips instead of paintbrushes.
This might seem like a silly method of painting (kinda like a 3 year old!) but it helps me to achieve a stronger Impressionist style (which I greatly admire just now), and working with my fingertips also feels much more expressive and engaging than my paintbrushes.

It is a painting technique that I first developed while doing my Paint on Glass animation experiments in 2008, which were inspired by the brilliant Paint on Glass animator Aleksandr Petrov [the video below].

Now that the little history lesson is out the way, below is my other recent finger painting.
(Inspecting this image on the computer right now, I can see several things that I don't like about it: as well as the obvious lack of depth, the colours and paint strokes are looking really bold on screen, which I think is distracting from the overall image... If anyone has any opinions then I'd love to hear them).

Although neither of these 2 paintings are particularly great, I think the style has enough potential to develop into something much more exciting as I develop my technique.
Using my fingertips is certainly a more engaging and stimulating work process than that offered by brushes, so this excitement will certainly help to maintain my enthusiasm for improving and developing the style further.