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Old 03-04-2018, 05:00 PM
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artbymdp artbymdp is offline
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How do you get there?

There seems to be a constant discussion about artists with a signature image, a style, a consistency, a personality, a common voice, a uniqueness. Supposedly this makes the artist's work more valuable and collectible. I don't think this is something you could consciously select but is discovered by years of work and soul searching. History has given us many artists who achieved such a level. I think people take it for granted but as an artist I still wonder what it takes to focus my energy towards such a goal. If anything, thinking and discussing such a lofty achievement might elevate all our work. Do you think this is a goal worth striving for and how do you go about it?
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:40 PM
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virgil carter virgil carter is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

"...Do you think this is a goal worth striving for and how do you go about it?..."

Are you talking about a personal approach to painting and a personal expression?

Many students ask, "how can I find my 'style' ?"

My answer is, "don't worry about it!" When you have painted enough, your style will find you, you don't have to worry about finding it.

It takes a lot of mileage on the brushes.

Sling paint,
Virgil

PS: Is a personal expression worth it? In my view, the entire purpose and value of painting is to find one's own personal expression. The point of painting is not to paint like someone else...or to render a subject as if one was a camera, rather than an artist. Personal expression is what painting is all about, IMO.
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:29 PM
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Re: How do you get there?

I think personal expression leads to a personal approach towards art, be it painting, sculpture, photography, cooking, singing, acting... I also feel it is important to ask oneself as art is created, does the artwork represent my being. It is something much deeper than style. To reference one artist who epitomizes this approach is Rothko.
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:01 PM
theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: How do you get there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by artbymdp
....I don't think this is something you could consciously select but is discovered by years of work...
Quote:
virgil -When you have painted enough, your style will find you, you don't have to worry about finding it.
I once worked with a guy who constantly reminded me that he had twenty years experience. The problem was he had been doing it wrong for twenty years. He hadn't developed a style he'd got stuck in a style.

Sometimes it's better to consciously go after something, instead of hoping it will just show up after years of practice. It might. It might not. And you might not like it if it does. No guarantees either way, but I rather go down swinging than go down waiting.

I'll keep doing things the same way, let evolution take its course - AFTER I find my style.

Last edited by theBongolian : 03-04-2018 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 03-05-2018, 08:11 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

I've done some kind of art most of my life but usually not very seriously or in a very disciplined way. I've been doing art in a disciplined way--so, working on it regularly, with study/reading as well--for six years. But I still haven't found my style. I feel like I am just beginning to get an idea of what it might be. I think finding one's style is important for selling but also for personal satisfaction. If you don't have your style or direction or whatever yet, it can be very frustrating and it's hard to evaluate your own work, in my experience.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:40 AM
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Re: How do you get there?

I agree that the word "style" is not a very accurate descriptor of one's own personal direction and approach to painting...but it's a word many early painters use and understand, so in teaching it's a commonly heard and used term for discussing one's painting activities.

Every painter is different, as they should be, so "style" will certainly be discovered or arrive differently for everyone.

One thing is for sure: without out diligent practice and work, "style" won't happen. Like almost everything else in painting, it takes putting miles on the brushes in order to find one's direction.

For some, that personal direction may arrive early. For some, it may take a long time. For some, the personal direction may be a constantly evolving and refined development, with changes along the way. For some, the personal direction may arrive and never change. We're all different.

For me, I like to think that my personal expression continues to evolve and mature over time, hopefully improving in interest and quality. I like to think that I continually push at the margins of my work, shaping and reshaping how I approach painting. Your mileage may vary! :-)

Sling paint,
Virgil
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Old 03-05-2018, 11:48 AM
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Re: How do you get there?

I prefer to avoid the word "style" as an end goal because it is more of a designer's term. Style can be chosen at random and copied without any personal commitment. I did start by working in many "styles". The funny thing, I knew immediately which styles I hated and which intrigued me. I asked myself constantly why I personally accepted or rejected them. If I accepted more than one, I tried combining them and asked the same questions of acceptance or rejection. The process of morphing continued and continues to this day. Making a living as a designer can be quite lucrative and rewarding. However, what separates an artist from a designer is the search for a personal identity that is expressed within every piece of artwork for the sake of the artist and not a client . A "personal identity" for me is the feeling that my artwork is an extension of myself and not just an object. .
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Old 03-05-2018, 01:00 PM
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Re: How do you get there?

Good comments, artbymdp. In my teaching experience, I find it common for many early painters to be often unilaterally focused on technique and rendering. In their view, painting excellence is linked to mixing, application and the ability to paint subjects as close to what the eye sees as possible.

It's often only later, perhaps as an intermediate painter, that some painters begin to ask, "is there anything more to painting?"

And of course, the answer is always yes--there's much more to painting than technique. It's often when a painter puts concerns about technique behind them that they begin to focus on and explore finding a personal expression.

But, of course, it all depends on the individual painter. Every painter is different.

Sling paint,
Virgil
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Old 03-05-2018, 02:46 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by virgil carter
Good comments, artbymdp. In my teaching experience, I find it common for many early painters to be often unilaterally focused on technique and rendering. In their view, painting excellence is linked to mixing, application and the ability to paint subjects as close to what the eye sees as possible.

It's often only later, perhaps as an intermediate painter, that some painters begin to ask, "is there anything more to painting?"

And of course, the answer is always yes--there's much more to painting than technique. It's often when a painter puts concerns about technique behind them that they begin to focus on and explore finding a personal expression.
Well said. I read a comment by an art critic recently where he noted the technical accomplishment of many contemporary painters but said there was nothing behind, no art, so to speak. I have noticed that. It is as if people are searching for some kind of "truth" and settle on technique instead of venturing into the very muddy waters of personal expression.
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Old 03-05-2018, 03:46 PM
Richard Barrere Richard Barrere is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

I read once that Picasso was an expert draftsman. The story goes, as a young man he could begin at the foot of a woman and the nose of a man, one on each side of the paper, and he could draw with both hands simultaneously and complete two figures which were perfectly in proportion. In other words, he had mastered "technique" in that regard, but he went beyond all known styles into the cubist pieces we are all familiar with. All great artists in history, no matter if they are composers, musicians, writers, poets, they first master technique and then push the boundaries further into the unknown. Mozart pushed the world of music into the romantic period. Nijinsky was a master of technique but pushed the classical ballet world into the modern age. My advice to all artists is to master technique through lots and lots of hard work, and then you will be more free to push boundaries by exploring new frontiers. Not everyone will be successful, especially on a first attempt, but remember that you are doing something you love. It isn't something that will happen which you will notice, necessarily, but gradually over time it will happen. In the meantime if you are working as an artist and creating pieces that sell you are successful too, in that regard. You are creating wonderful things, even if you only do it for yourself and never sell anything. That is a different kind of success. It may sound simplistic, but if you do everything with joy and love, and if you pair that with hard work I bet you will achieve eventual success. Set your goals by practicing, study the masters, work hard and love every minute. Best of luck!
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:10 PM
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Re: How do you get there?

To side track. A friend's daughter studied art for four years at an expensive college. For one freshman year they stressed technique. She was doing very well. The other three years they explored mediums, art directions and personal expression. During one conversation, she was excited about a breakthrough student who expressed his work by urinating on the piece. (To her surprise I told her that Andy Warhol did this forty years ago.) I also told her mom that given her inherent talent she needs to focus more on technique at this point in life, especially for the tens of thousands they spent on the school. Short story long. She graduated with no real advanced art skills but she does have world changing opinions about everything. I think art schools should be held accountable and follow a model eloquently summarized by Richard Barrere .
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:25 PM
Richard Barrere Richard Barrere is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

Thanks for that story! I had similar experiences in art school, and it very clearly illustrates what I meant to say. Long ago when I was young I was very influenced by my teachers, and they always stressed the individuality and creative expression over the practice and development of technique. Many years later, after a lifetime of experience I have learned that practice and just letting go of all the stress and worrying about what makes a good artist and how to get there will open many doors for you. There are no short cuts. All great artists in the past worked very hard to achieve success. Dedication is important, and making the decision to dedicate yourself means you will do whatever it takes to improve and become a success, financial or otherwise. The great thing is that you can love it and enjoy the process along the way. Remember the feeling of looking at your creation, watching it through the process, and loving it? I think that is such a great feeling. Sometimes it is fleeting, sometimes you lose it, but that elusive goal of creating something you love is like nothing else. If someone else loves it all the better, but work for the joy of pleasing yourself and you are assured of success. I've found that if you are successful with yourself, the chance that you will connect with someone else is almost assured.

Last edited by Richard Barrere : 03-05-2018 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 03-05-2018, 07:43 PM
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virgil carter virgil carter is offline
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Re: How do you get there?

What Richard said!

Sling paint,
Virgil
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Old 03-05-2018, 10:09 PM
theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: How do you get there?

Lets say you've been painting for a number of years and have a good grasp of techniques - you know about perspective, values, edges, color harmony etc.
There's always more to learn, motor skills to refine, but let's say you can sit down at an easel and bang out a decent painting. But you're not satisfied with being a journeyman painter, you want to have your own style. I think many find themselves at that point sooner or later. So what do you do?

If you want your work to reflect a personal vision, you first have to have a personal vision. Without a STRONG concept of what finished paintings should look like, then how can you make them look like that?

If you really are a visionary rather than a technician, then use your visionary skills to imagine how a painting should look.

Once you have that idea in place the task will not be "finding" your personal style but executing it. If you need additional skills then make that a goal. It's tangible, actionable.

It's not an either/or - it's an and/also. Keep painting, experimenting. But imo put at LEAST equal time in developing the vision.

Last edited by theBongolian : 03-05-2018 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 03-05-2018, 10:39 PM
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Re: How do you get there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by theBongolian

If you want your work to reflect a personal vision, you first have to have a personal vision. Without a STRONG concept of what finished paintings should look like, then how can you make them look like that?

If you really are a visionary rather than a technician, then use your visionary skills to imagine how a painting should look.

.

That is an excellent point. For so many years I would draw or paint an image. As I progressed with the piece, the words "That is not what I was thinking" would be uttered under my breath. It is not that I didn't know what I wanted to paint. I just didn't know how to paint it. Sometimes I would lie to myself and try to convince myself that the painting is good enough. I knew it wasn't because it just wasn't what I intended. As I honed my skills I am now able to find a way to create what I am thinking. Now I decide if it looked better in my mind than it does on paper.
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