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Flashback: Devil’s Kitchen and My Early Impressionist Days

I don’t have much new work to share with you lately as I have been busy finishing up the Sunsets and Sunrises Workshop (it’s nearly there). In the meantime, here’s a flashback to one of my earlier paintings: Devil’s Kitchen.

Dan Scott, Devil's Kitchen, c.2014
Dan Scott, Devil’s Kitchen, c.2014

I painted this over a decade ago when I was teaching myself how to paint again in my early 20s. I was renting an apartment with my brother, Tim, and a friend, Luke. The painting is based on one of Luke’s photos of a place called Devil’s Kitchen in Noosa, Australia. I painted in my bedroom before and after work, with an old sheet laid across the carpet and bed.

As you can tell, I was developing a keen interest in the ways of impressionism. This painting was my exploration of bold, directional strokes, striking contrast, and broken color. I was particularly fascinated by the wonderful pairing of rich blue shadows against pale orange lights.

In hindsight, I was on the right track, but my delivery was too brash and strong. That’s because I didn’t truly understand what I was doing; I was just trying to mimic Claude Monet and the other Impressionists. But it was a start!

This painting also represents something quite important in terms of my development as an artist—my willingness at the time to explore new styles and techniques to see where it might take me. I would have had much more positive feedback in those days if I had continued to paint in a careful, realistic style (people who don’t paint love art that looks photographic), but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much and it would have stifled my long-term interest. I would have been painting for the approval of other people rather than my own. Of course, I’m not naive to the idea that artists do need some approval from others to sell their work and make a living. But if you don’t enjoy what you do, you won’t be able to compete against someone who does. So you may as well paint for yourself and then see what happens. And to do that, you must be willing to explore new styles and techniques that interest you, even if it means a step back in the short term.

Anyway, if you enjoyed this flashback, let me know. I have hundreds of old paintings waiting for their time in the spotlight!

If you ever want to learn more, check out ​21 Easy Ways to Improve Your Paintings​.

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

PS. Can you spot the sneaky chalk mark on the painting left by my daughter?


Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

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