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SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 11:37 AM
A comment on another thread got me to musing this morning whilst I went about my chores; on the surface, the comment was about "technique", but carrying the thought further, and it seems to be about "style". Is there a difference, I wondered, between those two terms? And what significance do either play in the work?

Certainly they are interwoven, with one's technique influencing one's style and vice-versa. Pastel, like any other medium, has a gamut of "techniques", though, and it seems the same style can come from varying techniques. For instance, some folks call themselves unashamedly "blenders"- using fingers and tortillions and tools to blend hues and tones to a smooth, polished finish; but a polished finish can also be gained by continually laying colour down until the pastels themselves do the blending, (the guy Maggie interviewed comes to mind). Is one of these techniques "better" than another?

Watching Barb this weekend search for the perfect turquoise for her portrait, I realized yet again I do not see colour the same as most. Certainly I can judge a hue's value and tone (especially when compared to another), but the adage "Any hue will do if the value is right" is sacrilege to my eye: No- the *hue* is important, to me, too. An example I've been using is y'all telling me to "blue down those trees to push them back". Well, I do that, and yep- they're back now- but they're also no longer white pines- now they're blue spruce. Same with Colorado mountains from 50 miles away: Blue 'em down, and they're in the distance, for sure, but they're no longer the Rockies out West, now they're the Smokies in the East. The *hue* is wrong to my eye. Not the value or the tone, but the hue. Barb sees those colours in the human face, and when I see her finished portrait I can say "Eureka! It works!"- but I also see "turquoise" and marvel at how the "wrong" hue works for Barb even though I SEE it is wrong. I think that's because, to me, one hue is not, and never will be, another. For me, I need the proper hue, too. So, which is "right"?

We've watched DFGray splash bright, intense colours onto his supports- colours I'm telling you guys are NOT there- I live here, I know- pure passages of high-chroma hues without the usual layering of an underpainting, a toning, and marveled at the vivid play of light and energy and COLOUR that results. Yet another member says tone or underpaint with watercolour, or gouche, or felt-tips, and then build up layers lightly, always keeping your values correct; and the resulting pieces produced are gentler, and have a more placid look. The difference in technique has resulted in different styles- is one "better" than another?

Some folks feel working from life is "best", that painting only what can be seen is "right", painting only what is really in the world around them; others wish to paint the scenes in their heads- the pictures they carry around with them from dreams and imaginings. Some say never use a photograph for the complete work- use it for reference only, some always do a value sketch, some paint what you see, some paint it so it looks right to the viewer no matter what you see. Is it any wonder we get frustrated? I know for myself, the more I THINK about the "how to". the more a mess I make- because, I think, all these techniques are somewhat disparate, and, in the end, technique and style fight for dominance instead of come together smoothly.

I dunno- like I said, I was doing chores and to keep from going bonkers with such mundane tasks, my mind wandered some. Perhaps it wandered waaaaay out into left field, but I think what I want to know is: What technique and style do you *usually* use, and why? Or even how? Are there any "absolutes" in technique for you- or is each piece approached as a unique work? And, for those who seem firmly settled into one technique, one style, one "way of doing things", are you even able to do things differently anymore? Are you able to break right out and "be a wildman, Herb" and break all of your own carefully followed "rules"? Or do your rules keep you comfortable?

Kathryn Wilson
03-29-2004, 12:08 PM
Wow, Julie, I think this is going to be a fantastic Thread - :clap: . Very challenging, meaningful and "digging deep" thoughts. There is so much here that I think I won't be able to answer in just one post - will need to be thought about again and again. :clap:

To me, I always categorize "technique" into the technical aspect of painting - how you use your pastels (on the side, on the end, the type of stroke, blended or not blended). Style is a broad area that I see as photorealistic, impressionistic, abstract, conventional - I'm sure you get my drift here.

But then you brought up the blending of the two things that make one - and I think you are right here too. Without my blending of pastels with pastels, my style would not be my style - it's not photorealistic, nor is it impressionistic - but somewhere inbetween.

Good questions to ponder.

On the question of values and hues - I do get what you are saying. To be true to those mountains in the west, you almost have to break the rules - but I think you have to trick the mind's eye into seeing your vision. I've seen it done - but I sure haven't been able to duplicate it.

My biggest turning point in this regard was my Vancouver Moss tree trunk where I put the most unusual colors into that trunk (never using 'brown'), but from a distance it looks brown!

Can't wait to see what other people have to say in this thread!

Khadres
03-29-2004, 12:13 PM
First, I don't agree that ANY method, technique, style, etc. is "best". There may well be "best" for the inidividual viewpoint, but if there were just one best for all of us, art would be...no more than the mundane charade of those sofa paintings sold from hotel rooms for "rock bottom prices".

Since I'm newly returned to the art arena, my "rules" are fairly vague at this point. I'm new to pastels, also, so my handling of them is still in the "try this, try that" stage. Eventually, I'll probably settle into a sort of loose routine in which my personal "rules" come into play MOST of the time. Hopefully, I won't be too fearful to keep trying something new now and then, however.

The artist I had a class with this winter is a good case in point for "style", I think. She never painted a tree green or a sky blue. Her sidewalks are usually blood red, orange, or turquoise. Her trees are anything from purple to flat white or maybe an improbably puce. I'm much like you, however, in that a tree should at least be within an imaginary range of "true" hues, although I don't think I'm quite as insistent as you are that it has to be green green. If trees in the distance have a bluish cast, I tend to look at the shape to complete my "scan" of what kind of tree they are. But I agree about the distant mountains in the Rockies or the Himalayas or anywhere where the air is thin, for that matter. The atmospheric perspective "rule" becomes less and less true to the vision in thin air and though we often sacrifice that "truth" to aid the viewer's understanding of distance, I HAVE seen paintings that walk the fine line between what's REALLY there and what looks "far" in paint. I think a lot of that depends on what the artist's focus is and that becomes less technique and more style. There really isn't any either/or. The rules are there to help the eye, but people break them every day. They still achieve successful work while ignoring one rule or another.

As to definitions, everybody's got their own. I think of technique as being the METHOD, the way one holds their pastels, whether they use a chamois or their fingers to blend (or not), using an underpainting, etc. Whether they paint red or gray sidewalks has to do with their "style", the way they translate things within their mind and heart. But nothing in art is "best" once and for all. There IS, however, the easiest or most effective way of presenting things to the public in a way that's easy for them to relate to.

Ah, well. I'm not sure I've made any headway with the question, either! I'm gonna go do some chores. :D

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 12:22 PM
lol Sooz- see? I knew it was "one of those" questions. Makes you think- and the more you think, the farther out your thoughts go....

Yeah, Kat- I'm thinking this kind of discussion might be really helpful to folks who are starting to find their way in this- or any- medium, really. Sometimes understanding what we do and how we do it is as individual as we are ourselves, is just the breakthrough a person needs. Eureka! and all. So, I rated the thread- hopefully, if a few more do, that'll help it stick around enough for some of our (and I DESPISE this term- it sounds far too discriminatory) "professionals" to post if they would. I'm especially anxious to read whether or not they feel their current "technique/style" is what works for *them*, or just a comfort zone.

Nori
03-29-2004, 12:44 PM
I haven't read the first posts completely so I apologize if I am being redundant.

I would say STYLE was something of huge importance to me as a newbie. I remember aching to know know what my style was. But it was clear I first had to work on technique. When I had a bit of a handle on that or at least understood my challenges I tiptoed into style by discovering I favored faces and figure, not portraits, definitely not still life and sadly not landscapes by me (by others- yes). My next foray into style was to learn that I liked to blend and was unrepentant about it, I liked to get my hands dirty (and my clothes, rug and cat). I'm still pretty much at this stage, but I think style also has to do with the message you send with each piece, what subjects you choose, the palette you favor. And especially that something unique that you do that others cannot quite reproduce, whether it is a zany sense of humor in your work, or the ability to see beauty in everyday things, whatever, the possibilities are endless. To me the message or outlook of the piece is one way of defining the artist. And that is style.

skintone
03-29-2004, 01:20 PM
Personally I think it's all wrong. :)

I use technique only to get the effect that I want. There fore I have no technique. For me it's all about the illusion. You've heard the cliche "perception is reality"? Well that's what it's about for me. What I can get people to percieve. I may use several techniques in the same painting. (some of the contradictional) I don't care how I get it done, as long as it looks like how I want it in the end.

I don't care about how I get the big picture, just as long as everyone else gets the big picture. Then again, I'm still painting for fun. I paint for the excitement of painting. I love to experiment. I'm intrigued about how an artist can fool the mind into seeing what it sees.

Honestly I just like the process of getting there, and then enjoying the view when I do get there.

bnoonan
03-29-2004, 01:20 PM
This is a very interesting discussion and although I can think of a million other things I should be doing now, you've hooked me into this.

I think I agree with the others about technique -vs- style in that it's the application of the medium -vs- the delivery of the feel of the piece, the emotion, the guts of it. (compositional choices, highlighting certain colors to create a feeling, etc) All that said I think everything is in flux. The time my "style" or "technique" doesn't grow and change will be difficult to imagine. I can see it from one painting to the next.

As for choosing colors in my pieces. Perhaps I've spent to many hours at the computer in photoshop or I've just seen it in photography or real life. We are capturing jillions of pixels of color to make up what we see. If you have photoshop or some camera software that allows you to zoom and zoom and zoom closer, don't you see the individual pixels and the colors they are? Look at the thumbnail below of the eyeball of one of my models. did you ever expect to see green in the pupil? I didn't and yet it's there. Do I paint it in? not always but I know it's there.

All that said - I can totally agree with you about painting mountains a color that I truly don't see. Why would I want to paint that hill blue when I see it as green - or is it my mind telling me it's green? I've struggled with this in my landscapes over and over. Perhaps someone can answer it for us.

Wow - I'm overworking a part of my brain that hasn't had this much exercise in a long time. Off to think more on this now.

Barb

Dyin
03-29-2004, 01:23 PM
well, have pondered this many a time...am very sleep deprived! Maybe if I did more housework I'd think about it then...snork! Ok...technique is how you achieve the results you want...in other words, whatever works for you. It helps to learn the 'rules', more to understand why something hasn't worked when you tried. But there are different approaches to achieving arial perspective...softer edges in comparison to harder stronger edges in the foreground. Blue is cool, cool recedes...but it really does depend on the colors around it...as the article you pointed us to in another thread states. Style...well, to me that's when your work is recognisably yours. It can be a certain way you lay your strokes, a certain subject explored in a certain way (like DF's) or maybe a progression of experiments in certain crops, colors, etc.
I think what is good about WC is that we can network...does this work, how do I, and eureka! What sometimes comes out though is that only one way is the right way. We wouldn't be true artists if we didn't push the boundaries somewhat...we all have a vision inside and are trying to figure out how to get it on paper. Not everyone will like everything we do. In the end it comes down to are WE satisfied, or at least feel we are on the right track? We know if we're getting it and we have to be true to ourselves and to our visions. It's very easy to get sidetracked and it's easy to feel stuck in a rut. I would imagine we all look to be sucessful and a measure of that is in knowing our work is something special to those who look at it and yes, want to buy it. But even though we're a society where money is mighty it can't be our only measure. And we should never be satisfied to stick with a formula that works only to make money. I'm no purist...of course work what you got...but always strive to make it the best, to be true to what's in your heart.
Ok...soapbox is going back behind the chair :D

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 01:54 PM
Okay, the consensus seems to be "technique" is the "how"; "style" is the "result"- with an exception made to Skintone there (like the kid in the school picture sticking his tongue out- there's always one- is that technique or style, Skintone? :D ) Makes sense to me. But....

What is *your* technique- and why? What is the style *you* are trying to achieve- and how does your technique get you there?

I can do "textures", EJ said- and I s'pose that's about right- I'm pretty good at capturing the difference between china and wood and all- so what "technique" is that? Thinking about it, I have to say it is paying absolute homage to putting down EXACTLY what is there. Polished wood doesn't shine on it's own- it shines from the reflected light that hits it. If the light comes from a window, or fixture, the "shine" will be very light- a near white- just the tone of warm or cool giving it colour. If the light is reflected from an object, the shine will be the same hue (maybe a bit darker) as that object- but it will not be just a warm/cool tone. Where there is not a "shine", wood has grain- a blending of various hues which give it an overall sense of one hue: Maple is red-clover honey-colour, cherry is a near red-brown, oak has a green-gold flavor to it, mahogany goes to a near maroon- and that overall hue is a mix of other hues. I pay attention to that- and so when I paint somethng "wooden", it looks like wood. But! That very same "technique" cripples me in landscapes- because what I see is far, far too much to be put on one piece of paper. So, my technique is good for somethings, but lousy for others.

Makes me wonder about those who say "I don't paint (insert-genre-here) subjects"- is it because their technique does not translate, and they cannot find the one which works outside of their usual subject matter? Or is it simply knowing their strengths?

bnoonan
03-29-2004, 02:06 PM
Makes me wonder about those who say "I don't paint (insert-genre-here) subjects"- is it because their technique does not translate, and they cannot find the one which works outside of their usual subject matter? Or is it simply knowing their strengths?


Oh you touched a nerve here. I was just walking with a friend this morning and thinking about this very subject. I always say... I don't do landscapes and yet I think it's purely inexpereince and fear. If I stick with painting what I get recognized at being good at... why not stay there. If I branch out and put myself out there at what I fail at (or perceive myself to fail at), it hurts and is scary. Am I growing this way? Absolutely not - in fact I'm holding myself back. Is it lack of technique? Perhaps slightly but I think it's just my own hangups. How would I know I wasn't strong at it unless I tried it more and really played with it free of judgement. I keep saying that I need to keep playing and when it isn't fun any more, I can give it up. But not till I play more.

(whew - feel like I went to the therapist this morning - crawling back into the back spaces to hear what others have to say...) B

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 02:18 PM
hahaha! Sometimes it's good to give the old psyche an airing.....

Dyin
03-29-2004, 02:38 PM
last question...yep, my 'technique' that works very well for the most part on portraits will not translate into landscapes for me. I've often pondered this part of the question...are portrait artists very detail oriented and cannot see the 'tree for the forest' and then get overwhelmed? And do landscape artists enjoy the fact that they can switch things around to a more pleasing effect and still keep true to the subject and get frustrated by having to keep a likeness in portraits? There are some who do both well...how? lol! I find it odd that I love natural vistas and the beauty of nature so much it makes me want to cry sometimes and yet i cannot for the life of me capture it on paper. I've tried privately...I can see the 'rules'. I can even, for practice, get the results someone else did if I do the same piece. But I cannot make it work on my own. If I really work it, detail by detail I can get a good rock cropping, or a good tree, or even good grasses. But I can't put them all together the way I want to. Yet I can look at someone else's landscape and see what would help. If I do manage a piece that I carefully composed, carefully chose colors for perspective and tried to get a focal point...it just sits there, totally uninspired. And yet I can pour my feelings into a portrait and it comes across.
I will keep trying, but it's certainly more fun to do what you know you can get good results with rather than fighting to make something work. I think it's human nature to go with our strengths. But I'm going to try to work on my approach...sort of like the old saying, you can't acheive different results by making the same mistakes. The approach I'm using isn't working, that's for sure.
Ha...seriously, I couldn't show someone my 'technique' for portraits. Each one has a different skintone and some call for translucent effects, others are applied heavily. Sometimes an area goes through 'edits' over and over til I feel it's right. Rarely does what I start out to do end up being the way it's finally done, as far as application goes. I just 'feel' as I go and stop when something works. As to style...well, it's whichever way I'm leaning towards in a certain time period. For awhile it was tending towards abstract color application...before that it was strict realism. But to answer part of that question...lately I have been wanting to 'step outside the box'. Not to do traditional sets...posed portraits, etc., or if I do, to interpret it differently. To, as they say, make it your own. To acheive this I play around with my photos in a photo program, cropping, trying color effects, etc. Very rarely do I do what I see there, but it sets me on a course to get an effect I couldn't quite acheive in the program. I think some artists can work all that out with underpaintings, value studies etc. I use these tools sometimes, but mostly I just need to get the juices flowing. So that's the first part of my 'technique'. Then I have to make choices about paper, colors, whether strokes or blending or thick or thin...what will hopefully acheive the effect I want. And if all that works...I have the 'style' I wanted. Eventually a certain approach may give the same sort of effects in all my work...that then would be my style. But if you'll notice...style does not have to mean stagnant. Similar effects, like DF's reds, can be seen in most of an artist's certain style, but each piece should stand alone on its own. To me style is the discovery of a 'secret'...the thing that makes your work sing and you KNOW WHAT IT IS. And so can call it up whenever you need it. Until then it's a whole lot of practicing and sheer stubborness to get to that point.
Durn...how did that soapbox find its way out here again??? Just think this is a good food for thought subject and can't help but get going on it! And I did rate it!

skintone
03-29-2004, 02:41 PM
Well there in lies the problem. I don't have a style or technique. If I did, I wouldn't have any fun. I don't like restrictions. That's why I paint abstracts, surrealisms, portraits and landscapes. Sometimes I do them all at the same time. Haven't you ever noticed that I always have two completely different paintings on my easel at one time?

Usually I decide ahead of time what style I want to create. Then I apply the techniques I've learned, or I experiment to get that effect. When I'm going for photorealism, well as close as I can get to it, I do extreme close ups. I take my time working piece by piece. I don't paint everything at the same time. If I did I would lose out on the detail. If I want to paint an entire forest, then I am looser. In fact I don't even paint the trees if I don't have too. When I look at a forest, I don't see branches and leaves. I see lights and darks and different hues.

You know the only reason I share my artwork, is to get people to see what I see.

So my style I guess is perception. I only let you see what I want you to. I use small details and close ups, or loose distant spaces so that you see what I want you to.

Kathryn Wilson
03-29-2004, 02:43 PM
Julie, my next question to you then would be why do you think you have to paint everything just exactly as it is? What about artistic license; what about changing something to make it look better even though it's not exactly that way. I've taken a photograph and flipped it or taken pieces from it and thrown the rest of it away. What about taking a really grey day and turning it into a sunny day just because you know it would make a better painting.

That's what makes art interesting - are you a camera that you need to exactly duplicate a landscape? What's the fun in that? Be creative, be loose, be free to do whatever you want - it's what makes us artists!!

Barb, I agree that we need to push ourselves - but at the right times - if you are happy creating what you love to create go with that. The time will come when you'll want to explore and go further - you'll just know it. In the meantime, why make yourself do something you aren't ready for? I've said it many times - I don't do portraits - but at this time and place, I don't have the desire to. Someday I may, in the meantime I'm having a ball doing landscapes - life it too short not to enjoy what you are doing. If I wind up never doing a portrait and I'm alright with that, who cares?

Isn't this fun!! Stretching the brain a little - :clap:

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 03:02 PM
Julie, my next question to you then would be why do you think you have to paint everything just exactly as it is? What about artistic license; what about changing something to make it look better even though it's not exactly that way.

Isn't this fun!! Stretching the brain a little - :clap:

ahhh- now we're gonna get metaphysical!! Oh goodie!

If a place has a quiet serenity which moves me, it is perfect in all detail- even one out of place clump of weeds will bother me. So, if I wish to paint this serene place, all I need do is take out my artistic license and punch another hole in it- right? Take out the clump of weeds and replace it with--- what? You see- that clump of weeds BELONGS there- whether I wish it or no. If the sky is achingly blue, it looks WRONG to me to paint it a light gray-lavender-bluish hue just so everything will recede correctly. Sorry- that's the way MY eye works. Tom paints those oh-so-rich scenes full of light- but the skies are yellow. I see that- yellow sky- huh- who'da thunk it? and it works in his paintings, but I still SEE it.

I guess it's like a tempting plate of nouvelle cuisine liver: It looks scrumptious, perfectly delicious- but it still tastes like what it is- liver.

I'm not complaining, Kat- I'm really just wondering. We've so many different techniques and styles here- I cannot say any single one is "right". nor "wrong"; just wondered if anyone else wondered the same things. Like Sue said, "I can see the 'rules'. I can even, for practice, get the results someone else did if I do the same piece. But I cannot make it work on my own. If I really work it, detail by detail I can get a good rock cropping, or a good tree, or even good grasses. But I can't put them all together the way I want to. Yet I can look at someone else's landscape and see what would help. If I do manage a piece that I carefully composed, carefully chose colors for perspective and tried to get a focal point...it just sits there, totally uninspired." Does this irk me? Sure- some. But not enough to quit- just enough to wonder....

Kathryn Wilson
03-29-2004, 03:23 PM
:) - we're just having a discussion, right - I know you're not complaining. I know exactly what you are saying - let me relay to you what happened to me:

I took a pastel class with a very good teacher - she always had something good to say about a painting and then imparted her wisdom in how it could be improved. The last week of classes, she asked us to bring in our work that we had been doing at home so we could have a class critique session - so I proudly brought in my work, a nice pastel of a cacti - at least I thought so. It looked exactly like the photograph, every bit of it was true to form - BUT, she looked at me and said "where's the variation in the cacti" - "this is boring, this is not a painting." I looked at her and said - "but it's exactly like the picture and how the cacti really looks." She shook her head and went on to another student.

It was only recently that I understood fully what she wanted me to know - make a "painting," not a faithful reproduction. Make art, make a vision, make something that says something to the viewer so that they go away with something to remember.

Here's your soap box back - :D

Maggie P
03-29-2004, 03:27 PM
Well, now I see what happens when I go a whole day without logging onto WC!

I am sure I will have more to say about this subject after thinking about it and rereading the other posts. But, first, I'd like to differ with some others about the definition of style.

To me, style is what makes your work YOURS and not someone else's. It's as personal as your signature. It evolves from technique and from experience. It's what there is about a painting that shouts your personality from across the room. If you visit museums often, or study art history, you know what I mean. Walk into a museum and look across the room at a painting, and if you say, "Oh, that's a Sargent, a Monet, a Turner, a Bierstadt," it's not the subject that clues you to the identity of the artist. It's the style. The great masters of art developed personal style over a long period of time, as we are doing. If you've been painting even 5 or 10 years, I'm willing to bet your style is developed enough that anyone even casually familiar with your work could pick it out from a roomful of paintings by others.

Techniques are tools. They are something we develop through practice, but I think that once learned they should not be thought about too much. I feel the same about rules and theories of art. I think it's helpful to learn them, but then one must absorb them and develop a personal, individual style.

I have had recent experience with this concept. Over the five years of editing and writing for The Pastel Journal, I encountered a huge number of theories of art. I interviewed many artists and edited the interviews of others. After the sale of the magazine, when I finally could spend uninterrupted days at the easel, I was at first overwhelmed. Standing there, my mind was filled with "paint dark to light like artist X," no, "start with middle values like artist Y,", no, "place both light and dark notes like artist Z," and so on. There was so much information, I was having trouble reclaiming who I was. Finally, I firmly told myself that all that information, all those theories, needed to move into the background. I could know them on a more subconscious level, but when I was at the easel, I was not to think about them. After 5 or 6 really bad paintings, it began to come together. My style is still my style, but my work has improved. The knowledge I gained helped me say what I wanted to say more clearly, but still in my own voice.

An artist I interviewed a few years ago, Bill Hosner, quoted a Zen saying in this regard: "Seek not to copy the masters, but rather seek what they sought." I interpret this to mean that if I am fascinated with the way Sorolla caught the light in his paintings, I should study the effects of light and strive to create that effect on my painting--not copy the technique of Sorolla. Then, if I manage to portray a beautiful effect of light, it will be in my style.

Whew! I have to go do some housework and think about this some more.

Maggie P
03-29-2004, 03:54 PM
I knew I wasn't done with this topic. A few more points come to mind:

-- Is one technique "better" than another? Is painting from life "best"? Is there a "right way" to do things?

I believe the answer to all of these is unique to every artist. What works for you to get the effect you want is what is right for you. Especially when people are first learning a particular medium, they will encounter a lot of advice as to how things are to be done. It's nice to try new things. I've been working in this medium 12+ years and I'm still excited to try new ideas. But if they don't work for me, or I don't like them, I discard them.

When I teach workshops, I'm careful to never say "this is the way." I say, regarding a particular subject, "here's one way, and here's another, and here's another. I suggest you try them all and see what you like."

What makes art so exciting is that we all see and interpret things differently. I've gone painting with other artists, and we can stand side by side and paint the same subject, and end up with two wildly different paintings. Our personal styles make them different. Neither one is more right than the other.

-- Regarding the comment by SweetbabyJ on how she sees hues: How you see them is how you see them, and how you paint them is your unique vision. There's no right or wrong way here either, in my opinion. Yes, there are "rules" people have established regarding how to paint. I generally follow Carlson's rule about atmospheric diffusion: "Objects become bluer and grayer as they recede in the distance." But Carlson lived in the eastern US, not the desert southwest. Here, due to the lack of humidity, things don't get blue as fast, and sometimes they just go gray. Experimentation and observation has helped me understand how to vary the "rule" to fit what I see to be true. What someone else sees may be different, but that doesn't make one of us more "right" than the other.

In the end, I think we paint because it makes us happy. And if you paint from the heart, it will show in your painting, and no matter whether every technique is "right" or not, people will respond to the emotion and the soul of the painting. And that's the best reward of all.

skintone
03-29-2004, 04:02 PM
In the end, I think we paint because it makes us happy. And if you paint from the heart, it will show in your painting, and no matter whether every technique is "right" or not, people will respond to the emotion and the soul of the painting. And that's the best reward of all.
:clap: :clap: Bravo Bravo. Well said Maggie.
That must be the author in you coming out. :p

Dyin
03-29-2004, 04:05 PM
Well said, Maggie! I can do what you say with portraits...it's more instintively knowing what works according to my own personal vision. But landscapes don't work that way with me....I'm not 'feeling' it the same way, and so I figured it was because I wasn't following the rules...why do you think that people tend towards one or the other of landscape and portrait for the most part? I can tell someone who thinks they can't do portraits that they have to forget it's a face...it's values and tones that define the features. I study the value and tones and transitions constantly and by knowing them well I can translate them my way. With landscape it seems everyone is changing the values and tones and shapes even. I recently went to Arches National park...the rocks were crisp red even at great distance....it had just rained and I don't believe there was much haze in the air. To me it was spectacular like that...I even got some great photos that looked like what I saw. Yet it will not translate in a painting done that way. Sure, I could change it, but the point is I don't want to capture hazy red rocks in the distance...I want to capture strong bold shapes against the sky in the distance...and if I make the foreground stronger then attention goes there, if I lose the foreground there's too much sky and not enough rock...and kyle, I luv ya...and totally see what you are saying. I love Bob Ross and his happy places that he creates. I love to watch Dee take a doorway and make it more dramatic. But sometimes the drama that is already there is the challenge...how can I capture that so I can see it that way every day? How can I keep the integrity of it? The photo is nice, but I know the shadows aren't black and I don't have a problem moving a tree that blocks something...but THAT scene is what I want to record in paint and I want the skills to be able to paint that EXACT magic of light and value...not one where the rocks are faded for distance. hmmm....what to do, what to do??

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 04:15 PM
Well said, Maggie! I can do what you say with portraits...it's more instintively knowing what works according to my own personal vision. But landscapes don't work that way with me....I'm not 'feeling' it the same way, and so I figured it was because I wasn't following the rules...why do you think that people tend towards one or the other of landscape and portrait for the most part? I can tell someone who thinks they can't do portraits that they have to forget it's a face...it's values and tones that define the features. I study the value and tones and transitions constantly and by knowing them well I can translate them my way. With landscape it seems everyone is changing the values and tones and shapes even. I recently went to Arches National park...the rocks were crisp red even at great distance....it had just rained and I don't believe there was much haze in the air. To me it was spectacular like that...I even got some great photos that looked like what I saw. Yet it will not translate in a painting done that way. Sure, I could change it, but the point is I don't want to capture hazy red rocks in the distance...I want to capture strong bold shapes against the sky in the distance...and if I make the foreground stronger then attention goes there, if I lose the foreground there's too much sky and not enough rock...and kyle, I luv ya...and totally see what you are saying. I love Bob Ross and his happy places that he creates. I love to watch Dee take a doorway and make it more dramatic. But sometimes the drama that is already there is the challenge...how can I capture that so I can see it that way every day? How can I keep the integrity of it? The photo is nice, but I know the shadows aren't black and I don't have a problem moving a tree that blocks something...but THAT scene is what I want to record in paint and I want the skills to be able to paint that EXACT magic of light and value...not one where the rocks are faded for distance. hmmm....what to do, what to do??

Sue- I think I mighta hit something there in Nori's thread- is it possible we're afraid if we "pin the butterfly down to the corkboard, we'll capture the beauty, but not the magic? Dunno- sounded good at the time, though. But, for me, you're right with what you said there- "...the exact magic of light and value"


And Maggie- what you said about too many "techniques" spoiling the painting is all too familiar to me- when I try to pay the most attention to technique, is when I succeed the least with capturing what I wished.

I was just asked in pm what my "goal" in painting was. Here's my reply:

I hafta have a goal??? That takes ALL the fun out of it, yanno....

I want, I want- to be able to make paintings of what I see- in the world, in my head, in my dreams- that others look at and want to move closer to- "oh- look! Look at the light there, the gleam here, the way the whatever pops out- oh LOOK! That's perfect- it's beautiful!" Like that.

where IS that pesky devil when you want to make a pact...?

Kathryn Wilson
03-29-2004, 04:17 PM
I luv ya too, Sue - but here goes - I am going to attach a painting of the southwest by Robert Daughters. Now, you will fully recognize where this is - look at the painting - did he do every rock, every cacti, every cloud - no, he captured the moment and the view, yet there is no small detail in this painting, and yes, the rocks are red and purple!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Mar-2004/14941-robertdaughters-3.jpg

So, paint your rocks red!

Dyin
03-29-2004, 04:35 PM
yes, Kat.....BUT....i can tell it's an interpretation of rocks in the desert...it looks nothing like the real thing though.This is a stylistic design type painting. I could do this, no problem...seriously. But it's not what I want. I want Thomas Moran...I want what I really see. I love this painting...and sometime I might want to do something similar...it's more a painting of color relationships than it is of the desert for real. I might even want to exaggerate the redness to show the 'feeling' of redness I got where as the photo shows more pinky....I have no problem with making some changes to get the effect I want to a degree. But overall I am searching for more realism, like I said...a photo is nice, but it distorts the feeling somewhat. I want the next best thing to sitting there looking at it. I want that scene on my wall, or someone else's wall that wants to see it too. I WANT the details to catch my attention for awhile and then be able to move on to another detailed area for awhile. I will try to focus on one thing and then do the rest as background, but I'll never be satisfied with it in the end. What good is a panorama where only one thing is of interest? I don't know if it's possible to do what i want, but i think maybe I need to try and figure it out since the other ways aren't what I want.

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 04:51 PM
Yeah- Moran and some of the other Hudson River School painters- the way they handled light and distance (I think they used Michael Newberry's technique of *transparency*) and the sheer amount of detail is awesome- puts the viewer RIGHT THERE.

So that's one technique, and a style which has a whole genre named after it (much like Impressionism) and a style which was- again like Impressionism- not well received at first. I find it rather amusing those who "ruled" the artworld at the time looked down their long noses at Impressionism, and then, when it became accepted, the new cadre of Impressionists looked down their long noses at Hudson River School. I think this is a key here to my whole quandry. Techniques and styles change- or else art becomes mundane. I may struggle, but at least I know my works are not "mundane"; they may be amateurish, skewed, weird- but not mundane.

DFGray
03-29-2004, 05:46 PM
Hi
out in the woods today thinkin about this thread,
As I stand there more and more is revealed to me
and I have to find what I want to say about my subject
my technique helps me put pigment to support
(polishing boots first thing before going out in the woods today is technique)
I know my pallet is true to where I live, I see the colour I use as nessesary to say how I feel about my subject.
my style is how the fickle public come to see my work,
but I know what pastels work, subject, technique or style won't save a pastel
I have waited for success a long time and realize that painting is the sucess,
as for painting from life....... where better to paint
my pastel was quite wild today, a young mom came by and talked to me while I started, then passed by on way back says "thanks for showing me all the colours here", high schoolers came running by I hear "hey that guys not too bad" and "sweet"
they remember me and the work,
typing is difficult for me expressing myself about painting also
but I'm still thinkin
regards
Dan

Dyin
03-29-2004, 06:24 PM
Dan, i think you expressed it well. it's personal. :) I remember not too long ago coming across one of your earlier works in a magazine...a rainy street scene. I saw perhaps the beginning to this style you now have...would not have known it was yours without seeing your name though. I think truly that you have found the joy of doing what you love and being paid for it. Perhaps you don't remember, but if you do, will hope you'll share with us if there was a turning point in your work...a certain attitude, or maybe even a mistake one day...what took you to the 'next' step of using this 'technique' to say what it is you want to say?

Maggie P
03-29-2004, 06:45 PM
I was just asked in pm what my "goal" in painting was. Here's my reply:

I hafta have a goal??? That takes ALL the fun out of it, yanno....

I want, I want- to be able to make paintings of what I see- in the world, in my head, in my dreams- that others look at and want to move closer to- "oh- look! Look at the light there, the gleam here, the way the whatever pops out- oh LOOK! That's perfect- it's beautiful!" Like that.

Sounds to me like you do have a goal...you just said it. I believe when you know that clearly what you want to paint, you WILL achieve it. It just may take a little longer than you would like!

Khadres
03-29-2004, 06:47 PM
Well there in lies the problem. I don't have a style or technique. If I did, I wouldn't have any fun. I don't like restrictions. That's why I paint abstracts, surrealisms, portraits and landscapes. Sometimes I do them all at the same time.

YES! That right THERE is your "style"! You try it all and use everything you've got to achieve what you want. Which techniques you use to do that don't really matter except to you.

Pinecone Conniff
03-29-2004, 08:06 PM
Wow Julie! I wanted to post on your thread because you were the first to welcome me to the forum & you are the last post I have received as well. So I owe you & this thread is awesome!
This musing of yours must have been on your mind for awhile--you asked me to "show you how I did it" on my latest painting post. Technique to me is dictated by the limitations & uniqueness of the medium & materials. Yes there are "rules" to value & perspective & hue etc. Perhaps they are more guidelines than rules.
I think style comes with passion & I can see from this thread that this forum is exploding with passion!!
Annette

Deborah Secor
03-29-2004, 08:18 PM
I've been teaching painting since 1989 and in that time I've done a lot of critique sessions. I've had a lot of chances to think about technique and style and for me it comes down to this. Technique is something you can learn, style is something you develop over time. You bring with you some unique things, such as Julie's description of how she sees hue, and over time, as you learn technical things about handling your medium, that unique vision will begin to permeate your work. There may be times in the process when you will be subsumed by another's style--for instance, some students turn out work that looks substantially like mine for a while--but in the end their own hand and eye take over and the work becomes recognizably and uniquely theirs.

I have students come to me with a variety of strengths. Often they don't even recognize what is strong until we do a critique. It may be a great sense of color, or a wonderful way of composing. Some people can express contrasts well, some can do line work, some are value conscious without thinking, some express textures...but all of them need a certain amount of time to develop an expression of their own. I try to enhance what's there, to help them see what they've got in their hands already, and then give them techniques they might need to grow. Sometimes that means they need another factor added--you may have good color and need to strengthen your compositions, or you might be very good with value but need to add color to that (not all grays and beiges!)

As to technique, it's like learning your ABCs. You can't write poetry until you know how to make words. Then punctuation is needed for clarity. Paragraphs help organize things more. Then one day you write--poetry! You don't think about spelling, punctuation, syntax or paragraphs. You use them. Same with technique in art.

I sometimes think of it this way, though the analogy is imperfect. We paint using the creative, right side of the brain, which is the non-linear, expressive, spatial part. The left side, on the other hand (as the theory goes), is rational, linear, sequential and organized. The left brain is the place where you learn techniques. The right brain is where you use them to paint. You have to think, analyze, ask questions, criticize, and make changes using the left brain but when you paint it all flows like music. Have you ever noticed how time gets away from you when you're in the painting zone? That's right brain time. But we all have to come out of that place and decide things about the painting. Is it good? What's working and why? What needs fixing and how? That's left brain time. We need both to make a painting. Likewise we need technical expertise mixed with stylistic decisions to make paintings.

Okay, I guess I'm on my soapbox now, too... We are a passionate group, it's true.

Deborah

Kathryn Wilson
03-29-2004, 09:15 PM
Well said Dee! :clap: It takes a lot of great qualities to make a teacher like you - understanding of the learning process, experience, know-how, and a desire to show others what you know - thank you Dee :)

ElGeeko
03-29-2004, 10:21 PM
<pokes his head in for a moment, reads, reads more, reads the rest... clears throat [ahem] and steps up to the microphone>

Hello, I'm Kirk and I'm a photographer <ducks, expecting a hail of rotten fruit>

I don't have technique or style. I take pictures of what I see... and I'm told not everyone sees what I see. I do not fully understand, though, honestly, I do not care. I take the pictures for me, not for anyone else. Sure, it is nice when someone sees what I saw... sometimes, it is a seesaw, waiting for someone to see what I saw.

A teeter-totter, even.

Sometimes, I take my pictures and subject them to awful horrible deformations and digital manipulations. Sometimes, others see what I saw then, too. Sometimes not. I don't plan to sell what I see, nor do I want the world to see what I saw.. but it is nice when a few see, same as me.

I'm pretty new to WC, and absolutely brand new to pastels. I'm still struggling with paper that has 'teeth'.

What I have, is a vision of my work... and a clarity of what I like. Some art appeals to me.. paintings, pastels, sculpture... some I would not cross the street to piss on, if it were on fire. That's ok too... but I have the decency to not piss on someone elses' art. Someone may have worked years on a piece, and just because I don't see what they saw, does not mean their seeing is invalid, or wrong.

Art celebrates that greatest strength of the human species... individuality. Not everyone has to see what I share... in fact, I prefer it when only a few do see it. It is like a little tribe of self-understood folks who share the same seeing.

As you're probably aware, I also love alliteration and words. If I could describe my vision, with words, I think it would no longer be .. er, valid. Words do not suffice, which is why I take pictures. And, why ya'll work on paper with teeth, and rub sticks on paper, but not to make fire.

<steps back from the microphone, gives a goofy-ass grin, turns, and runs back out before the shower of laughs begins>

SweetBabyJ
03-29-2004, 10:24 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Dyin
03-30-2004, 12:42 AM
lol ElGeeko...welcome to the forum!

jackiesimmonds
03-30-2004, 02:24 AM
I feel it has all rather been said, having spent one day ill in bed, and anther night has gone by before getting to the computer, and wow, 33 replies to this thread!

Here is my summing-up of my position:

Technique: To make a really good painting, you need good command of techniques. Your "brush strokes" need to be beautiful. It is the craft of painting. As a pastellists, your marks MATTER. How they describe the subject, how they work with the subject, and how they "look" at the end of the day. You can use free and lively marks - but if you are scruffy and messy and do not think at all about your mark-making, you can end up with a scruffy mess rather than a painting.

Style: Something which naturally evolves - it is your "handwriting". In fact, the only thing which will stop your own style from evolving naturally, is to spend all your time faithfully copying the work of others! And then all you will be is a pale imitation of another artist.

Seeing Colour: As a student, I was advised by my mentor to paint the colours and tones I could see. She said, you will know when you are ready to break loose, and be more expressive. It was part of the learning process for me - being true to the tones and colours in nature was hard enough! And then gradually, I came to realise that it was OK to use EXPRESSIVE COLOUR when I wanted to. It isn't that Dan, for instance, sees red stones on the beach; his eyes do not work in a totally different way to yours, SweetbabyJ, it is just that his brain ALLOWS HIM, now, to translate the colour he sees, the way he chooses to, the way that permits him to realise his vision. Here is something I have written, for my next book:

"There is also value in experimenting with interpretive colour - colour that more closely echoes your thoughts and feelings, rather than the literal colours you see before you. This, in turn, may well reinforce the expressiveness of your painting, and emphasise the mood you want to evoke. "

Finally, I think it is important to remember that this business of painting TAKES TIME. Not just time to create each work of art, but time to learn and absorb and try out ideas - you will be influenced by other artists, will learn from them, will be confused by what is on offer, and it is all part of the process of learning and growing. Working in a solitary fashion, never looking at others' works, never listening to what anyone else has to say or offer, may work for some, but, for whatever it is worth, here are my thoughts about that. There are those who scorn the teachings of others, and who maintain that we should simply look to ourselves, and do what comes naturally. I, however, firmly believe that the artist who never looks closely at other artistsí works, will almost inevitably be somewhat limited in the way he, or she, works.
We are all students, whatever our level of experience, and if we want to produce work which is rich, inventive, expressive and vital, we need to acknowledge and respect the discoveries made by others, and to recognise that as our knowledge and understanding increases, the door to our own creativity and self-expression will open ever wider.
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."- Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)

It is good to have these musings, but do not let too much musing, and worrying, stifle your passion for painting. Keep working, keep learning, keep growing. Technique will gradually become second nature, your style will evolve naturally, your vision will slowly expand. And, if you are anything like me at all, you will always want more!

Jackie

SweetBabyJ
03-30-2004, 12:19 PM
"It is good to have these musings, but do not let too much musing, and worrying, stifle your passion for painting."

Actually, I'm in a deal of physical discomfort these last few days, and I know if I keep pushing it, I'll end up fairly crippled for awhile. I'm not so selfish as that- but I still have this need to connect with that part of me. And so I read, I look, I study, I ponder, I muse. To me, it's all part and parcel of art.

Khadres
03-30-2004, 12:26 PM
Be careful, SBJ...it's not worth it to rack yourself up really big time. Now that spring has arrived, my neck vertebra seem to have settled down a little, but I know better than to get crazy with the spring housecleaning, etc.

Better to take some time out to muse and consider where you're going and why while your body heals and rests a bit! You're right...at least 75% of making art takes place in the mind. All artists are "mental" which is half the fun. :D

pampe
03-30-2004, 12:33 PM
whoa


what a lotta good words ;)


I ponder all this in every medium I am learning and I find it is different in each...does that make sense?

And I have struggled for YEARS over making a painting versus a REPRODUCTION of what I see...... :crying:

and I agree...too many musing and not enough painting makes Pam a lazy bugger


Off to paint


thanks for the think break :)

jackiesimmonds
03-30-2004, 01:17 PM
"It is good to have these musings, but do not let too much musing, and worrying, stifle your passion for painting."

Actually, I'm in a deal of physical discomfort these last few days, and I know if I keep pushing it, I'll end up fairly crippled for awhile. I'm not so selfish as that- but I still have this need to connect with that part of me. And so I read, I look, I study, I ponder, I muse. To me, it's all part and parcel of art.

I am sorry you are in pain, and please note that I said "do not let TOO MUCH musing and worrying stifle your passion". I did not say you should stop musing and pondering, I think it's great to get into one's head and explore a bit, in fact, I think it is healthy.

Take care of your body in the meantime, it is precious.

Have a gentle hug ..... :) Jackie

Dyin
03-30-2004, 01:27 PM
:( Feel better soon!

Dark_Shades
03-30-2004, 03:04 PM
..... so Style .... is the End Result of your Technique
.... jeezzzz...... why'd you guyz take so long to say so lol :evil: :D

Technique is driven by your = goal, passion, vision

Rules...... there are no Rules...... just lots of guidelines and opinions

(Opinions Style & Technique) ... come from.......your view/stand point.....
from what ever Rows your Boat ........

(Whose the better painter) ..... Constable, Monet, Michaelangelo, Turner, Cassatt, Degas, Sergeant, Monet, Picasso, Hemingway, Rembrandt ........ the list is endless

Is that profound or wot!! SBJ :D .... or did I totally miss the point and plot :evil: lol

sundiver
03-30-2004, 03:21 PM
Wow, what a thread!
I don't have much to add to it, except I remember my professor, Lawren Harris Jr (Harris Sr was a member of Canada's Group of Seven) telling me we couldn't avoid putting our own style into our work even if we tried.

skintone
03-30-2004, 03:29 PM
You know I have read over this thread a few times. I've thought about what has been said. I've thought about the questions that have been asked, and the answers that have been given.

In the end I think it's really your won mind that makes these decisions. We all see things differently. Most of what we see has nothing to do with our eyes. It's our own brains giving us select information based on past experiences and visual memory. The truth is the average brain won't give you all of the information that the eyes sees.

When a viewer looks at a painting, they don't know what to look at unless the artist helps them. So how do we help them? Is that where composition comes from?

I took a look at some of Moran's work. The mountains in the background aren't blue. The edges are sharp. Those aren't the first things i saw. I saw what he wanted me to see. I was pulled into the painting through a path. This was done by either a physical path, or a path of light. I knew the mountains were far away, not because I could see the distance. It was because I couldn't see the details. The shadows had less value range, and I could see very little in them.

I only saw what the artist wanted me to see. I read something somehwere recently. This isn't quoted, but the guy said that when he was a young artist, he painted everything he could see. When he became a professoinal, he learned what to leave out. To him that was the difference.

This is my take on this whole thread. Thank you Julie for starting. My cup runneth over.

Josie

SweetBabyJ
03-30-2004, 05:25 PM
..... so Style .... is the End Result of your Technique
.... jeezzzz...... why'd you guyz take so long to say so lol :evil: :D

Technique is driven by your = goal, passion, vision

Rules...... there are no Rules...... just lots of guidelines and opinions

(Opinions Style & Technique) ... come from.......your view/stand point.....
from what ever Rows your Boat ........

(Whose the better painter) ..... Constable, Monet, Michaelangelo, Turner, Cassatt, Degas, Sergeant, Monet, Picasso, Hemingway, Rembrandt ........ the list is endless

Is that profound or wot!! SBJ :D .... or did I totally miss the point and plot :evil: lol


Dawn, that was, perhaps, the most profound thought I've ever read from you. Even with the evil icon....

I'll be okay- it's just the usual background music my body makes as it is aging deciding it needs some one-on-one attention. It's a pay now or pay later deal, and I really prefer not to owe- far better to BE owed....

Dark_Shades
03-30-2004, 05:38 PM
Dawn, that was, perhaps, the most profound thought I've ever read from you. Even with the evil icon....


Fanxs :D ..... Im pretty impressed with myself too lol :angel: .... well you know me...... can never take things tooo seriously .... have to lighten up..... gets tooooooo heavy

PS..... you owe me a bottle of Asprin ;)

SweetBabyJ
03-30-2004, 06:18 PM
Fanxs :D ..... Im pretty impressed with myself too lol :angel: .... well you know me...... can never take things tooo seriously .... have to lighten up..... gets tooooooo heavy

PS..... you owe me a bottle of Asprin ;)


You gonna paint still lifes now?