Developing a Consistent Body of Work

Experimentation is all well and good…to a point. But when it interferes with consistency, the time has come to stop. I’ve found experimentation valuable to satisfy my curiosity about alternative media, such as casein, the topic of the past three blogs. Not because it’s given me more to work with but because either I can lay it aside without regret and focus on media that conform better to my style, tastes, and working methods, or I have been able to determine how it might fit into my work.

This past month I had the opportunity to help teach a large painting class. The materials the sponsor provided for the class were called “watercolor” but the medium looked and behaved much more consistently with the characteristics of casein. Having just familiarized myself with casein, I was able to use the paints successfully to teach basic artistic principles. But both of us teaching felt that passing off one medium as another was a disservice to the clients because the opaque, matte medium we had to work with prevented our demonstrating the beautiful transparent characteristics that typifies watercolor at its best. I have determined that casein has no place in either my studio or my inventory.

130726w River Point

I love the flow, transparency, and challenge of watercolor, as illustrated in “River Point” (#130726, above). With care, these characteristics can carry over into acrylics, which serve as a transition medium for me. Acrylic work led me into an appreciation of the denser texture, more easily controlled color, and essentially more tactile experience of working with oil. Yet by comparing the watercolor above with the oil painting, “Among the Reeds” (#130727) below, it’s easy to see that the styles I’ve developed in oil and water don’t mix particularly well.

130727o Among the Reeds

Although both mediums provide beautiful results, the difference between approaches that those two mediums require creates too great a shift in my painting style. Although the color palettes I tend to favor in the two mediums are similar and subject matter overlaps, the appearance of my finished works in oil and in watercolor is too disparate for them to be shown together as a consistent, “representative” body of work.

120507a San Marco Gondoli

Unless I can find a consistent way to align these two styles more closely (as I managed to do in the acrylic “San Marco Gondoli,” #120507), I’ll have to make a choice: to concentrate solely on a transparent watercolor/acrylic approach, focus instead on a more heavily textured acrylic/oil approach, or develop two entirely separate inventories to represent these disparate styles.

I would welcome your comments and feedback.

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