Posts Tagged ‘Cayman’

Just my style, Part 3

Friday, October 1st, 2010

In Part 2 we considered the role that mastery of mechanics (or skills) and the medium itself play in style.

Cayman Clusters

This time we will look at how style reflects the artist’s personal aesthetic—sense of balance, composition, structure, and use of space and color to visually interpret the subject for a viewer.  This, too, becomes an element of her style.  Yes, it can change over time as she learns and develops as an artist, and as she faces challenging personal situations that alter her outlook, either temporarily or long-term.  Even changing health conditions can cause a style to evolve, as materials may be used differently or techniques adjusted to accommodate an artist’s physical limitations.

So it’s easy to see that “style” depends on a wide variety of factors.  Although I can learn from other artists by observing and attempting to reproduce the effects they have successfully achieved, I can never develop my unique style by imitating someone else’s style.

To successfully find my own style, I need to approach a project with integrity, trusting that my natural inclinations in how to express my feelings and understandings of the subject are as valid and acceptable as any other artist’s could be.  It may not yet be as evolved, as mature as someone else’s, but it is just as valid a “style.”  By fighting my natural inclinations regarding my approach to the subject, or by mimicking a different artist’s “look,” I risk compromising my own style. Unless I remain faithful to my own style, I can produce, at best, only inferior imitations of someone else’s work; and I forfeit the style that would be unique to me.

Next week I’ll post an example of what happened one time when I second-guessed myself, disregarding my original approach, and encountered problems as a result.

What does a new subject matter?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Cayman Cockerel

I’ve been having fun painting various animals this spring, including this colorful rooster.  His lines and blend of colors intrigued me, so I was inspired to reproduce his likeness in watercolor.  Typical of birds throughout Grand Cayman, I found this one strutting his stuff in Hell.  (Yes, that really is the name of a village there.)

When I paint the same subject repeatedly, I tend to get into a rut, using the same techniques and similar colors.  When I try a new subject like this one, however, it’s easier to break out of that rut to try new techniques, experiment with color or lighting, and give myself a chance to really grow as an artist.

In this painting I used more wet-in-wet painting technique than I have had a tendency to do in the past.  I didn’t entirely abandon my wet-on-dry technique, incorporating it for the sake of feather texture.  I also used masking fluid in some areas and found it beneficial to lift some of the color, particularly in the tail and wing feathers and to soften the edges of the masked areas.  But I also took the opportunity to play with the foreground a bit, splattering it with various colors of paint, echoing those used in the bird, to simulate gravel.  The background wash has also been lightly sprinkled with clear water to add texture and interest to the understated haze.

Like many pictures I’ve taken of animals, the photos did not come out exactly as I would have preferred, but I was able to make necessary adjustments for the sake of the painting.  The bird’s body was incorporated from one photograph; the face and wattle (resized to fit) were from another.