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Do artists strive for a technique called individuality?

August 29, 2009 2 comments

What kind of art do you create? What’s your technique? Are you an abstract expressionist or a realistic painter?

These are the kinds of questions I’m asked when someone finds out that I’m an artist. I must admit that having a technique or a niche of painting style has always been a problem to me. I’ve studied other artists styles and found most successful ones gravitate towards a singular technique  and style of painting and become known for it.

I suppose that’s how people recognize the artist. “Oh, that’s a Warhol”, or “looks like a Rembrandt”. The evolution of a fine artist seems to have this point of having a style and technique as well as subject matter and sticking with it for a long time until a body of work has been produced in such a quantity and has been distributed throughout the world to such a degree that the general consensus is a brand has been create for that artist.

I’ve also heard such people talk about a particular artist’s “dark period” or their “Green period”.

What really interests me the most is when a gallery or editor asks the artist to write something about their art which explains their own “message”. What if the message is “I don’t have a message other than I enjoy doing it and I hope you enjoy looking at it.” I know that flies right in the face of the idea that art must has a message and a communication and a quality of communication, but honestly sometimes that’s why I paint.

But, I do tend to enjoy creating art that has a quality of communication be it light and fun or something that has an ancient quality to it.

Years ago I wanted to develop a style with a specific technique and I always enjoyed textures and how light changes their qualities so that was the direction I took. At first I didn’t have a subject to paint and then I just went abstract and used materials that bordered on collage at times. The technique had a very ancient look to me and so I called it “Ancient”. It’s a combination of texture paste with sand thrown in and then paint rubbed into it and before it has too much time to dry I wipe off most of it so the texture has a stained look. This really makes the palette knife grooves and sand really pop out with color embedded throughout it.

Sometimes I embed a photograph in a painting and sometimes I also use colored pencil along with textured acrylic paint that has metals in it which when rubbed leaves a glistening effect. It’s cool.

So, there’s a style and technique, but what’s the message? Not sure, but it seems to communicate to some people who have purchased these paintings from me. I’ve had comments like “It makes me feel good for some reason” and “I just love the texture” or ” don’t know why I like it, but I really like it.”

I think some artists including myself strive for a technique and style for a recognition and also because that’s part of the game. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as it doesn’t keep you from creating art. Then I think it can become an excuse why you’re not being an artist, and that’s really NOT being an artist at all.

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Here’s a piece using the “ancient” technique done in 1993. Acrylic on archival paper. 18″ x 24″

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