When I got them out to show Tony there was a barely disguised sigh and a suggestion that I put them away as they weren't leading anywhere. He's probably right although I was not wholly unhappy with what they indicated. The middle more abstract painting included a sculpted piece of polymer clay which was another idea for a possible direction.
What did catch his eye were a series of very loose water colour studies that I had done the week before and which did, I agree, seem more promising:
These caused us to talk about what I was trying to do. His main critique was that most of what I did was too governed by outcome. I was 'end gaming': trying to achieve something that I thought other people would
think looked good, rather than genuinely exploring. "The trouble with spending a lot of time trying to draw a bone is that all you can really say about it is: yes it looks like a bone (or not)." What we should be looking for are images that are more malleable: they suggest bone, but they suggest more and as a viewer you can take the image for a walk, it offers some alternative journeys. I found this very helpful. I certainly need to to find ways to let myself go and to eliminate, at this stage at least, a concern for what will look good in the sketch book or for achieving a satisfying effect that is actually nothing much more than just that. Helpful but not easy!
In subsequent conversations with my partner and son both suggested that a way forward was to find ways to put myself into the process. To find ways to connect my own lived experience with the art I am producing. There is a danger that it becomes a cliche: the lurch for the autobiographical. However, one direction this advice did suggest was to find ways to look at my own bones and as luck(!) would have it I recently dislocated my finger and had my hand X rayed. It is not a pretty sight, but it might give me a new avenue to explore: it not only connects with some lived experience but it also opens up another possibility (suggested by Ben) of exploring 'layers' of perception.