Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Clue on the Path to Finding My Style

So I'm watching this documentary about Chuck Close, whom I enjoy immensely. And he says something that smacks me upside the head. When I get the exact quote off the tivo, I'll edit this. But it's something to the effect that, out of 8 or 9 photos that he takes of his subject, he knows the right photo to use for his painting when he sees it. He just "knows".

He doesn't follow a rule of composition. He doesn't have the model sit for hours on end for the painting. He doesn't elaborate over the lighting, modeling, etc of his subject. He just snaps pictures that are quite similar and he "knows".

Suddenly, a bolt of lightening hits me. I have to trust myself. I learned all the rules in art school, working in advertising design, studying the work of other artists, and learning when a piece works or why it doesn't work. And now I just "know" when the composition arrives at what I am after. I have to stop thinking and start feeling. And stop second-guessing myself.

I did two little ATC's today. Tomorrow I will revisit them, add a touch here or there to finish them. And then I will post them here. Creating them was an act of joy. They are an example of the art that comes easily from my soul. When I paint in this way, my conscious mind leaves the physical plane and dances in the realm where creation resides.

It comes so easily that I tend to reject it. I wonder what would happen if I embraced it? I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


One of my goals this year is to find something in my own artwork that I would consider my “style”. I tend to land all over the map when it comes to the area. I used to have a style. It was tight, rigid, and carefully executed. I was fascinated by circles and incorporated them into most every piece. For example, this piece titled, “Lady of the New Rising Sun”. She is from a one-person show I did based on the last works of Jimi Hendrix.

Soon after that show, however I was financially forced to give up my gallery/studio in town. Funny how transitions like that create personal changes. One thing led to another, and pretty soon I found myself on the other end of the continuum, producing loose fluid work like, “Strut”.

I became fascinated with creating figurative abstracts through arbitrary line and swatches of color. As I started applying paint in a more impasto manner, I became intrigued with texture. I played with fiber in an effort to employ light and shade as an element in my work. In, “Wild Iris”, one discovers not only the obvious figure posed in the center, but overall, the image of a flower, the Iris, emerges. I used muslin and a gesso stiffener to sculpt the texture. I experimented with burlap, paper clay, yarns, silicone; anything that would provide an interesting texture to the canvas.

In, “Mystic Journey”, I let the viewer create the image. The stark whiteness of the textured canvases allows the work to change depending on the time of day, colors reflected near the painting, direction of the sun as it moves through the sky. The open area in the center of the work allows the viewer a place to rest, reflect, meditate.
Unfortunately, my rather traditional local market wasn’t overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the concept. And since on-line art supply houses are reluctant to trade paints for artwork these days, I was faced with the practicality of having to make a sale now and then.

Now I am back at square one. I have been “playing” in the Artist Trading Card world for the last year or so. It has given me the opportunity to stretch and experiment without the expenses and storage requirements associated with paintings on canvas. I have also had the great gift of meeting and networking with wonderful artists all over the world, who share my passion and challenges.

But I feel the need to get back to painting. With the new year, I’ve become more organized and resolute about marketing myself as a fine artist. Baby steps have taken me from Etsy, to this, my first blog. I am researching web site providers. I’m even attempting to conquer accounting software as a record-keeping method.

Still, all of that has no power to generate sales for me if I lack a defining style.

It seems to me that the public needs to be able to identify, classify, categorize the body of an artist’s work in some way. It gives one comfort, maybe excitement to be able to group like objects together. And if one is drawn to the particular style, so much the better.

Pity for me. I like to play. I am the mad scientist of art. But I also love to sell my work.

Well, I’ll keep looking for my “style”. When I discover it, I’ll let you know!