Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Doing what comes naturally

 Saturday Morning
 Artist's Proof  6" x 9" 
Original etching handcoloured with watercolour

I've been struggling with a painting for the last week or more.  So much so that just going into the studio fills me with dread when I face this piece on the easel.  

Today I thought carefully about why it makes me feel this way and its because its not in my comfort zone.  Yes, there's some water in it,but there are buildings, lots of buildings.  I don't do landscapes and really don't do buildings, so my usual flow isn't present for this piece.  I'll get through it, but I know I'll find fault with the end result for no other reason but the grief its giving me in its creation.

Artists starting out move all over the place in terms of subject and medium, but over time a repetition of subject and medium creep in until they are a recognizable style.  It could be subject or colour palette or how a medium is used, but, like a signature, it becomes identifiable with a particular artist.

After painting in that style and having the world recognize it as yours, its difficult to move out of that comfort zone.  After I finish a large painting, I do a couple of small paintings, tiny in comparison to what I usually paint.  These allow me to explore other subjects but my technique and medium, palette knife and oil paint, are the identifiables in them.

I see other artists imitating successful artists or subjects that sell well, but haven't yet found their own style and are trying to ride on the coat tails of others, which is never successful on several levels.  As for painting what you think will sell.  Simply, it won't because you cannot gage what the public wants or sees.  There is always someone out there who will love your art (as well as hate it), they just haven't found it yet.  That 50/50 mix of art and marketing are key for visibility.  And putting many kilometres on the brush or knife ensures that you develop your own style.

Sure wander around and play, but remember where your comfort zone is and what makes your work unique to you.  So the moral of this story is that I will not take on a subject that I know I won't enjoy painting.  Like commissions sometimes, when the subject isn't one that naturally attracts you or is your own idea, you'll struggle and become frustrated.

My other struggle was this print.  This is an artist's proof from a plate that I etched awhile ago.  I etched more into the plate after the proofs then put it aside.  Now I can't find the plate!  I've hunted high and low and it still hasn't turned up.  It will eventually.  Meanwhile, I've added colour to two of the artist's proof with watercolour.

Its been one of those weeks and its only Tuesday!