Friday, December 27, 2013

Developing A Style Of Your Own

One of the most difficult things for me as an artist has been developing my own personal style. It is relatively easy to copy or mimic an artist though in my case, never very well. What happens along the way is a kind of transformation going from what I see another artist doing and then in the process of painting or crafting myself, transforming it into something quite different. I guess there is really nothing wrong with that because many believe that all art has been derived from what came before.

I used to get that sidetracked in school. I'd go to the library with a topic in hand and hours later find that I had moved into another realm entirely. Then when test time came I found that it wasn't that I didn't know the topic, it was usually that I had learned too much and could argue either way. I find that I am often that way with my art as well.

 Erin Hanson of redrockfineart
The other day I was looking at what other people I follow on Etsy were favoring and in the process found a few artists that I favored as well. One was an artist, Erin Hanson, of redrockfineart.etsy, that had a style that I really, really liked. In fact she painted in a style that I, at one point, had wanted to paint myself.

Hanson has a style of what became known as the Southwestern School of art style, a kind of Impressionism that developed in California and the Southwest during the early 20th Century. It had a strong color sense of the Southwest fueled by colors from nature and Mexico. Whereas in France colors were light and bright, the colors in the Southwest were strong, vivid with earth tone reds, turquoise skies, purples and pinks that were shown at sunrise and sunset. Gauguin would have been right at home.

I'll never forget the first time I saw one of those spectacular sunsets in Albuquerque, NM. My mother had moved there from dreary Portland, OR during my sophomore year in college. Talk about a change! Days of rain exchanged for nearly endless days of sun. Anyway, the mountains behind the city are the Sandia's, a tall majestic range that runs north and south.  I puzzled at their meaning, watermelon, until one night there was a spectacular sunset and the mountains turned watermelon red and the shadows were clearly purple. It was spectacular. In an instant I realized the source for a style that gets big bucks still today.

For me the hardest part is putting colors that are not seen for colors that are.  I greatly admire Gauguin for doing exactly that. As discordant as his colors are, the scene, beautiful as it is, somehow makes sense. Hanson's red skies with a splash of blue, lavender trunks of trees in shadow, vivid underlying reds and orange backgrounds capture the vibrancy I have yet to achieve.

Oddly I can let colors run wild in my crafts, and often do, but am more hesitant in my painting. I find that I do better with smaller themes than larger. My landscapes tend to be bland but simpler scenes are vivid because I have narrowed my focus concentrating on form and color.  I think my WHITE FENCE works because the simple white fence acts as a foil for the riot of colors surrounding it.

Painting is a process. We are swayed by what we see. To not try to change and evolve can be, for the artist at least, a kind of death. So, while still trying to find what my style is, I have managed to understand what I am good at.

Please visit I have a variety of art and crafts across a broad price range.

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