View Full Version : Spontaneous 'slapdash' painting vs highly finished painting

11-11-2014, 05:39 PM
I recently painted "View from Rocky Valley, Cornwall".


I used a reference photo but looked at it on my laptop screen which I positioned some distance away so that I couldn't obsess over details. I used one of my bigger brushes to do the whole thing, and I finished it quickly (for me) in one day. I didn't do any subtle blending or blurring edges too much. I did these things because I am not sure if my usual style is too overworked looking and doesn't have enough life and spontaneity. I am wondering if people who buy paintings like a more painterly style and want the picture to look more like a painting than a photo - I don't know whether they do or not.

Which one would YOU prefer - out of the first one, or this - more 'finished' one I did a while back "Devon Seascape"


11-11-2014, 05:46 PM
Hmm, what a difficult question. They are both great but different. I think that I would lean towards the more detailed one, if I really had to choose only one.

11-11-2014, 07:25 PM
Of the two I would take the second. But that may be the more subdued coloring than the brushwork. I think it's quite nice. :)

11-11-2014, 10:06 PM
I prefer the excitement of the painterly approach, but both paintings are very good.

11-11-2014, 11:10 PM
The first one is a stronger painting in my opinion. The composition is better and there are more value contrasts.

11-12-2014, 05:19 AM
I like them both but I would pick the more realistic one. But I prefer realism in general.

Charlie's Mum
11-12-2014, 09:07 AM
I like the rocks in the first - like the style too and good comp ..... but I like the water in the second!
I guess you'll just have to put both up for sale and see!:lol:

11-12-2014, 10:35 AM
I like the finished one more, too. Seem to enjoy the more realistic approach to painting.

Shirl Parker
11-12-2014, 10:56 AM
I don't see this as a choice between slapdash and realism. The difference to me is between the grand view and the closeup. If these were photos, it would be natural for the closeup to be more detailed.

11-12-2014, 11:53 AM
My personal taste runs more to realism, though as an artist I understand the appeal of the looser style. I have been questioning my own style for some time. I do like both paintings each in their own way.

As to what people will buy I guess depends on where you're selling. FineArtAmerica sends a newsletter each week showing the recent sales and it really is a wide variety of styles. But if I were only selling locally I have a feeling that realism would do better.

11-13-2014, 03:40 AM
Thank you for the replies. As people's personal tastes vary I am coming to a conclusion that one of the ways to help sales might be to do LOADS of different paintings and put them all up for sale.

11-13-2014, 10:36 AM
I like them both myself. The water in the second one is really exceptional IMHO. But I also do like a looser style as well.

11-13-2014, 07:28 PM
Merits to both. if I go for compliments, the detailed ones seem to get more. However, I sell more pieces that are painted using palette knife.

11-13-2014, 11:13 PM
I really can not choose, I like both of them.

11-14-2014, 12:14 PM
I like the first more, but both are good. I guess the questions come down to:

1. What did YOU like to paint more?
2. What do YOU respond to more?
3. What sells better?

The 3rd may or may not be a consideration, but if you want to sell a lot of paintings, it is useful to know what people are buying in the area you want to sell. There are pros and cons to this - a painting that is outside the norm may get more attention, or it may sit on the gallery wall. Also, there is an argument for painting for the market vs. painting what you feel you need to paint.

I struggle with these considerations all the time, but I think once you know how you really like to paint, what excites you, challenges you, makes you weep at times and gives you a big sense of satisfaction when complete, then you can find a balance between painting what interests you and what hopefully sells (again, if that is a concern.) There will always be people drawn to a particular style and subject - which is great, because there are a lot of artists out there and we all need fans.

As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come....but it may be while before they show up. :)

11-15-2014, 05:26 PM
Thank you all for your thoughts. Jennifer, I like your questions. I really enjoyed doing both of these. With the first one, I felt like I was expressing the roughness and drama of the sea with the movement of the brush and my excitement about these places in the bright colours. The painting does remind me of how I felt when I went there. With the second one, and with the detailed and obsessive style, I love focussing with intense concentration on the things I find beautiful. To me, that feels like worshipping the subject and appreciating it. I have a response to both types of painting.

At the moment I am painting a waterfall. I started off doing the expressive technique, but as I've gone along, I've gone into the obsessive mode. I feel it will suit the subject because I found the place beautiful in a more tranquil way than the high energy drama of the sea. The waterfall felt like a secluded (athough it's a well known tourist place), sacred bit of nature you are lucky to stumble upon, and it felt like it should be worshipped and its beauty dwelt upon.

So I think the two approaches can suit different subjects.

I would love to sell more paintings, and would probably be tempted to paint more of whatever style seems to sell best, but I think I would find it difficult if I was just churning them out to sell and I stopped feeling anything.

Now that I think of it, the last 2 I sold were quicker, 'blobbier' paintings than I normally do.

11-15-2014, 09:55 PM
I definitely prefer the first one, it has more of a "painterly look" (defined by me to mean that it clearly shows brushstrokes) that I like.