Archive for September, 2010

Just my style, Part 2

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In Part 1, two weeks ago, we recognized that one aspect of artistic style depends on the artist’s personality and way of viewing the world, selecting subject matter, and applying an intellectual and emotional approach suited to his or her nature.

Pink Hibiscus with Bud

Another aspect of style depends on mechanics of the craft—the way an artist typically uses both skill and available materials.  Each artist will resolve certain issues inherent in the painting process in a unique way by applying his or her understanding of the mechanics involved and the materials at hand.  For a painter, mastery of materials includes knowing what can be expected of the various types, sizes, and shapes of brushes; pigment characteristics and typical interactions; characteristics of various painting surfaces; supplemental materials such as frisket, screens, sponges, drawing implements and mediums, and so much more).

An artist’s style will reflect her level of mastery of technique and her understanding of the medium.  Understanding and control of those mechanics and the characteristics of the materials being used will influence her decisions when it comes to problem solving.  If she typically wields her brush a certain way, or uses a characteristic selection of colors, or consistently applies certain techniques to her work, these elements will eventually become a trademark of her style.

In Part 3 we will look at the importance of the artist’s personal aesthetic.

Wishing my babies farewell

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I’ve been asked if it’s hard to give up my paintings when I sell them. Like anything in which I’ve invested time, energy, and focus, yes, I have to admit that sometimes it is hard to let go. But much as a cook takes pride and pleasure in sharing a meal that has been carefully prepared, I take pride and pleasure in other people’s enjoyment of what I have produced in my studio.

When someone tells me how a piece they bought is being used, or shows me how it has been framed and where it is displayed, it reinforces my satisfaction in the sale. It’s like seeing a gift put to good use, an affirmation that my work is appreciated and enjoyed.

Particularly with pet portraits like those in the Animal Gallery, because I’ve been able to capture the animal’s personality, the buyer’s friends may comes to me to have portraits done of their own pets. That’s exciting to me because, once again, it’s an affirmation that my work has provided something satisfying and unique that pet owners appreciate.

I keep photographs of most of my pieces for my own records so I can look back through them to remember what I’ve done, evaluate how my style has developed over time, and recognize how my work has matured. As in most houses, the wall space in our house is too limited to even attempt to hang all my paintings. Rather than stacking finished pieces away forever in some dark closet, I would much rather see them into the appreciative hands (and onto the walls) of an admirer.

The paintings that are most difficult to give up are those I like the best, those I’m most satisfied with. Unless I have painted them with a specific site in mind to display in my own home, I’ve decided that those are the ones that most have to go. That is my best work. Those are the pieces I most want to go out into the world. Like a proud parent, I’m both sad and happy when my babies leave the nest. Sometimes it’s hard to let go, but, as in parenting, the whole idea in creating paintings is ultimately to send them off into the real world outside the studio.

Any income from sales, at this point, goes right back into supplies, lessons, and materials to help me continue to progress, produce, and sell even more.

Visit again on the 15th for “Just my style, Part 2.”

Just my style, Part 1

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Artistic “style” can be hard to pin down.  Artists are often recognized by the unique style of their work.  But what does that mean?  Can we consciously create our own style?  Can we copy someone else’s?  We will look at various components of artistic style in a three-part series.

Rosy Gerbera

Style develops partly through the artist’s unique way of approaching the subject matter.  It lies partly in the artist’s personality, point of view, and approach to problem solving.  The artist’s nature and approach to life itself, whether patient, peaceful, retiring, confident, dynamic, or spontaneous, for instance, is likely to make itself apparent throughout the entire body of work.  Yes, it can change over time as the artist learns and develops in the craft.  A wide variety of personal circumstances may also serve to alter that outlook, either temporarily or long-term.

If Artist A is inspired, by the play of light and reflections across a series of surfaces, to paint a certain subject, her depiction of the subject will reflect her fascination with the light, her observation of its effect on various surfaces, what she sees as enhancing or interfering with the phenomenon.  Artist B, looking at the same subject, might be intrigued instead by the juxtaposition of a subject’s physical solidity and emotional vulnerability and will depict that as an important element in his work.  Artist C might be intrigued by the variety of textures represented and will find satisfaction in featuring those textures within her composition.  Artist D, on the other hand, may use blocks and swaths of saturated color to express his excitement about the subject.

Each artist’s combined intellectual and emotional approach to the subject matter, therefore, becomes an integral element of his or her artistic style at any given time.

In Part 2, we’ll consider how mechanics plays a role in style.