Archive for December 22nd, 2017

I’ve been under the weather for most of this week, which is never grounds for throwing a party. But maybe there’s an upside here in that it keeps me from spending too much time dwelling on the work of the past year and in which direction next year’s work will head. That is something I tend to do a lot at this point on the calendar as we get ready to turn the corner into the new year.

It’s a constant evaluation of how I see my work and it run s the spectrum depending on my mood and confidence level. I fear that if I did it now, I wouldn’t fare too well against my own judgement.

Thinking about this reminded me of a post from about 5 years ago after I had sat down for a radio interview. You can hear that interview here. The advice I talked about then is as applicable now as it was twenty years ago. I sometimes forget these important things…

Another thing from the Out of Bounds interview that I wanted to expand on was my answer to Tish Pearlman‘s question as to what advice I  might give to aspiring artists. I said that I thought that they should paint the paintings that they wanted to see. I think there needs to be a little more depth to that answer.

Earlier in the interview I had said that I was influenced by a wide variety of imagery from many great painters and illustrators to advertising and film and television. Any visual input had some influence. I spoke of deeply saturated colors that I had seen maybe 25 years ago in a Coca Cola ad on TV, colors that still dwell in my mind. There are hundreds of little nudges that push you towards that perfect, idealized  image that you maintain in your mind but is never quite fully captured. I know that’s how it was for me.

I would go into museums and look at great works of art and absolutely love so many of them yet still felt that none was exactly an expression of what I was feeling or who I was. There was always a lingering feeling that there was work that was closer to the hazy criteria my mind presented, work that I still wasn’t seeing. It was this feeling that led me to the conclusion that I would never find what I was looking for by trying to paint in the style of other painters. If their work was what I was looking for to begin with, why even paint? It seemed to me that too many artists are satisfied by simply doing work that resembles other work, safe in the accepted pack, rather that taking the gamble on stepping away from it.

But I wanted to step away and to do so I would have to assess what I was as well as what I wasn’t. By that, I mean I would play to what I felt were my strengths and not waste too much energy on my weaknesses. I knew that anything that would be close to what I wanted to see had to come from a total belief from within and that trying to do things that were not who I was, which would be a weak area in my abilities, would diminish the whole thing. No, it needed a total commitment from myself.

I guess what I am saying it that aspiring artists need to focus on what they believe they want to see and use their strengths to try to achieve that end. By concentrating their efforts on their strengths, a natural style or voice will evolve. If they accept this voice with a real belief in its validity, it will soon be as natural as signing their name. They will soon be able to celebrate the things that make them different than others, rather than striving to be like them.

I don’t know if any of this is making sense this morning. I’m sure some of the above will ring true to some and ruffle the feathers of others. That’s art  for you. It’s more mystery than science. I might be right or wrong or both. Depends on who’s looking…

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