Friday, July 29, 2011

Van who?

On showing people my work I often get the response "very Van Gogh" or "you can see the Van Gogh influence", I find this is interesting because I have never attempted to paint in a particular style or studied the work of other artists with a view to finding my 'voice'. To be fair if I look at my work objectively it is in a similar style to the way Van Gogh used to paint but as far as I can tell this is a coincidence.

So what is it that defines the way we paint? the most straightforward possibility is that we do consciously mould our painting style into something we admire and wish to emulate, that we choose the direction our art develops. In my first few months of painting I believed this to be I know, in my case at least, that it is bollocks, I aspired to photorealistic landscape and architecture painting and I've ended up going in a totally different direction. I now believe that if we are honest with ourselves we have no choice at all when it comes to the style we paint in, one can force ourselves to a certain discipline but for as long as one does that the results will never reflect ones own voice.

Another possibility is that we are subconsciously influenced by the work of other artists, something fundamental appeals about their work or the artist themselves and we unconsciously emulate their style. Of course there's no way of knowing if this is the case, although I've never made a particular study of the post-impressionists I can't say I'm unfamiliar with their work or the ideas behind it so there is the possibility that such an influence is there.

So what do we do about this? do we strive to bend our creativity into something that, as far as we know, is entirely original, sternly denying any impulse to do something in a way that has been 'done' before? I don't believe this is healthy, ones artistic voice is what it is, if it's similar to the way one of the great artists what? at least it's honest, it's not like we're copying the work is it?

I won't deny that my work does look like it's painted in the style of Van Gogh but I would argue that this is merely a coincidence, it's just that we happen to paint the same way. I would like to think that if I had demonstrably never heard of or seen any of the work of ol' mad Vincent I would still paint exactly as I do, of course there is no way of knowing....

The spare bedroom is dead...long live the studio!

Actually our spare bedroom is not dead, I've settled quite comfortably into it, one of the beds is stowed under the other (which in turn is used for storing large format card and pastelmat well as being a dumping ground for drawing pads, rolls of paper, jumpers, finsished paintings, empty beer bottles etc). Most of the space this creates is taken up by an enormous worksurface (cut out of a sheet of plywood and stood on a pair of trestles) and an easel made out of a modular stepladder.

All this stuff is easily dismantled and the room can be returned to being a nice twin bedroom in the blink of an eye, 4 or 5 hours of lumping things around, untangling cables and scrubbing pastel dust out of the floorboards and it's as if I've never been there. Seriously though, it's great having my own studio space, I'm so pleased with it I treated myself to a nice chair.

My worktop:

My easel:

 My view:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finished experiment.

It was interesting doing this. I think it's finished...anyway it was just an experiment. Lessons learnt?...possibly not to do everything with directional strokes, some of the fine detail was hard to achieve, particularly with the hair...maybe I should shave my head...

Definitely going to explore this idea further, possibly using more complex shapes that compliment the primary image more...or contrast it more, could be very interesting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Experimental self portrait.

Self portrait on 30 X 40 yellow pastelmat. Decided to try out an idea I've been toying with to use the direction of pastel strokes to suggest other shapes than depicted by colour tone and value, as this is the first time I've kept it simple, just concentric circles centred on my right eye.

I ususlly use the pastel strokes as quite a strong element in painting so it's interesting to have that elememt shifed to another dimension...and difficult. We'll see where this goes. Still a lot to do on this.


Sketch and start of detail in face:

 Colour filled in:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Exhibition time

I've finally plucked up the courage to have an exhibition, I've got a venue, I've got our rather good local company Sealed PR on the case to do all the hard work...and I've got 10 weeks to get my act together (and my art together) for it....ulp.

Actually I am really looking forward to this, nervous of course but not too bad. Also gives me the chance to do that element of my gainful employment that I love doing...messing around in Draw designing posters, catalogue, cards, invites etc. Got a business cards done and the first draft of a catalogue:

I'm planning to exhibit about 50 paintings of which perhaps half will be for sale, should be happening at the start of October....quite a lot to do before then  as nearly half of the paintings I'd like to exhibit aren't even painted yet, still just ideas, I'd better knuckle down.

Double Portrait

Finished my double portrait today. As is so often the case these didn't come out as I expected, I'm reasonably pleased with them though. ( A couple more paintings to show in my exhibition that's coming up in 10 weeks....gulp).

Stormy sky & sand dunes.

The North Arm of Fox Bay, Mt Sulivan in the background, this is a photo that I've been meaning to use as a painting reference for ages. Finally got round to it, soft pastels on 14" by 19" grey pastelmat, took two half days to paint and sold it the day after it was finished.


Day 1, roughed in.

 Day 2, finished.