Friday, October 25, 2013

Painting From The Heart

One of the hardest times for the creative person is trying to decide what to do next. This is a lot different from hitting the wall. This time you have to decide whether to stick with the tried and true, and that certainly has been successful for many artists, or to branch out, try new things and in the process change direction along the way. It is easy to follow a teacher or mentor but harder to create a style of ones own. A style of art and design that comes from the heart. Or is it really?

The Birdhouse That Launched It All
When I started this journey, craft painting was a way for me to be creative in ways other than being a graphic designer. Here, I could create what I wanted, not what a client wanted or thought they wanted. This was my own creation, my own Very own! Yet, deep inside I realized this was an interim step until I could really do my life's ambition, paint on canvas.

I had done a series of items, usually birdhouses, because they were cheap as were the paints. I did a few now and then and gave them away as gifts. In fact, one of my favorites was a Early American Federal inspired mailbox that I gave to friends one Christmas who were obviously too embarrassed to ever show it at their house. So, I learned that not all that I create will be willingly accepted.

When I started oil painting, the teacher was quite versed in the California Impression of the turn of the 20th Century. I was an avowed Impressionist and wanted to be just like her. In fact my paintings started out as poor imitations of her style. However, after classes in Las Vegas and just painting plein air, my style started to change. It was something that happened, not something that I embraced, at least at first. In fact, I fought it for awhile but finally gave in. It was at this juncture that my first teacher and I had a parting of the ways.

It was this birdhouse that caused my daughter to suggest I really should consider selling my things on Etsy. This really was a design from my heart. It was a consideration as the number of items had overrun the space inside the house and with the addition of canvases, it was all mounting up!

Good or bad though, these were things I tried to paint from my heart. Two of the artists I have never been fond of, but have been and remain hugely popular are Thomas Kincaid, the self proclaimed "Painter of Light" and Bob Ross. I have often wondered about them and other artists. Did they paint from the heart or from the money?

A Van Gogh lover since about the age of 11, I find it so strange that this artist who painted and sketched so much in so little time was relagated to the sidelines in his time while other artists thrived. This is not to say Monet or Renoir or Cezanne or Gauguin were lesser artists, but you have to wonder what did they or their collectors see in them, that was never seen in Van Gogh until after his death?

Then to see, two men who painted, would be considered by most true collectors as shlock artists who are amazingly more or as least as popular in death than life, with a style of art that is the defacto standard of bathroom or motel room art, a style for many a budding artist and yes, home collector might want, causes you to pause. They want that? Really?

Kincaid, whose early art is amazing and beautiful, created a formula he never changed mading his art both instantly recognizable and sacchrine. How many English cottages along an English creek in the countryside or forest would you paint or own? Apparently quite a few. When 60 Minutes was documenting the trials and tribulations of Kincaid before his death, they found more than a few collectors with over 100 of his copies; giclee's, that he would put a dab of paint on and sign. One of hundreds if not thousands he sold for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Ironically, he NEVER sold an original.

Ross' style is instantly recognizable as well. PBS still shows his classes and he's been dead a long time now. Note the Afro hairdo. His style is very quick and maybe even easy. I mean, with a one or two inch brush, you can cover that canvas pretty quickly. However, each one remains the same basic style with just a different scene. In fact, on any weekend in Southern California, many an empty gas station lot has $49.99 paintings of exactly this same style.

I imagine that most of the readers here are painters or crafters as well. However, while there seems to be a lot of us, we need to remember that many of our friends and relatives are not crafters or painters. They ARE the majority. We need to create for them a world of art where the art has heart and its beating!

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1 comment:

  1. You are describing what I believe to be a common adventure for most of us who embrace the fact that we are artists and crafters at some point later in life. Although I have never concerned myself with how much money my artistic crafts would make, I have decided to pursue the whole idea of it simply for the adventure itself. Art seems to have opened doors in my life that could not have been opened in any other way. It is almost like being given a golden invitation into a world I never knew existed and could not have discovered any other way. Now that I've found my way here, I don't want to go back. It seems that I've rediscovered the little girl in me who loves to play, and art allows me to do so while still maintaining the dignity that adulthood requires. Thanks for the enjoyment of reading your post.