UPDATE FROM JULY 16TH, 2015: I GOT INTO THE SOOKE FINE ART SHOW which goes from July 24th to August 3rd!!! Very excited!!!
OK, feelin’ a little naked as I’m putting myself out there in this one, but here goes.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I am attempting to get into big art shows this year. It’s a little unnerving because these are shows that I’ve applied to get into before and didn’t make it. These are shows that artists from all over Vancouver Island, BC and beyond aspire to get into, hence the stiff competition. These shows are: The Sooke Fine Art Show and the Sidney Fine Art Show and the Salt Spring Island National Art Prize (top finisher wins $25.000!).
So I’ve been to these shows a number of times (except Salt Spring) and here is what I’ve noticed:
I’m hoping that this will be my year. I’ve been working on my “unique artistic voice” (not even sure that’s something you can work on!?) and have been experimenting with a new textured under-painting technique that I quite like and that seems to get attention. I have no idea whether it will be “respected” in the art world or not. So far I’ve had one piece with this style adjudicated by a jury of 3 artists with the Ladysmith Art’s Council. I received high marks (average of 86%) with one juror giving it 100% in each of the categories that included Overall Appearance; Creativity; Composition; Proficiency with Medium and Presentation! This gives me hope (also scary).
The piece I’m currently creating for the first show submission is on a 48” x 36” canvas, which is the largest canvas I’ve ever tackled. I’ve gotta say, I’m quite stiff from kneeling on the floor and bending over this giant thing in order to lay down the texture onto the canvas. As for subject matter, I’m sticking to my forte. I’m doing a tango scene set in a dance academy studio. It has lovely atmospheric lighting and drama!
Stay tuned! The first submission deadline is end of May (Salt Spring) and then early June (Sooke). Definitely got my work cut out for me!!
FINDING THAT UNIQUE SOMETHING THAT WILL SET APART YOUR STYLE OF ARTWORK FROM THAT OF OTHERS. Tricky this one. There are so many artists out there and so many different styles, how do you stand out from the crowd?
OK, so I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers yet. But, I think this is where the playing, experimenting, leaving the fear and hesitation at the door and just trying different ideas comes into play. If you’ve experienced any niggles in your brain or gut that have been whispering “what if I tried this?”, this is where you need to listen. I believe it’s your “core being” trying to give you some hints.
I have indeed had that niggle over the past few weeks and I’m finally now LISTENING! In fact, I’ve just finished a number of paintings after listening. The first is my first ever self portrait inspired by some strong sunlight streaming in a bathroom window on the ferry from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay one gorgeous sunny fall day. What is different for me is the background. I created a nice thick textured backdrop by dragging a house paint brush through a thick medium concoction, while following the contour of my subject. The subject in my portrait of course was my big head (in this 18” x 18” sized canvas)! To me this textured under-painting emphasizes the energy that life puts out to the world. I feel this energy particularly from people lost in a “moment” and animals (who are always lost in the moment!). To me it’s also a reminder that what we do and who we are, the energy we give to the world, affects everything. We are like a pebble in a pond, the ripple effect of everything we do is felt (perceptibly or imperceptibly) by all. It gives one pause really, and makes you think about what you are putting out to the world.
STEPS #1 & 2: INSPIRATION THROUGH OTHER’S ART WORK: Finding What You Like and Boiling it Down
I have chosen a painting from 6 different painters whose work I love and have attempted to boil down what it is that inspires me, including elements that they have used that have contributed to this! Soooo, here ‘tis:
This painting by Brigitte Mattei is what inspired me to paint! I love the feel: Dreamy, romantic, mysterious. I think what helps create this is the blended back-ground with soft edges creating a blurred effect contrasted with the sharpness of the subject.
– Love the unusual use of colour in the water that you wouldn’t expect. I think this helps creates some mystery and that romantic feel.
Love this Mark Heine painting. Love that dream-like quality. Again, I’d say it’s the blurred background here and the use of unexpected colours that help create this. The palette he chooses and the lighting create a real atmosphere. I love the blurring of the birds that creates motion and the sharpness of their “target”. Wonderful!
What’s not to adore in Vincent Van Gogh‘s Starry Night! Love the dramatic movement; strong brush strokes, texture and values contrasts; and the contrasting colour temperatures.
The infamous “Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson has wonderful dramatic values contrasts, obvious brush strokes and a wonderful composition and colour palette!
Lovely dramatic painting by Roseann Munger. I love the strong directional lighting, reflected light on the body, the glowing light effect on the dress, the unusual use of colour (violet skin tones that really create that glow!), the dramatic values contrast, interesting composition, and the romantic feel.
Jack Vettriano is one of my heroes. I love the golden, late afternoon lighting that creates great shadows; the geometric brush strokes; the vintage/romantic subject matter & beach scenes; the lack of detail in the people; the contrasting temperatures in the colour palette and the interesting composition! Phew!
In sum I’d say that I want my style to include much of the following:
Feel: dramatic or dream-like, capturing a “moment”, romantic or nostalgic, mystique, drama
Techniques: blurred back-grounds, unusual colour palettes with contrasting colours, strong directional lighting with golden light tones and “glowing” , blurring and/or geometric brush strokes, back lighting, texture
Subjects: people and/or animals in nature
Not sure how to combine all of this. Wow…. this should be interesting!!
I keep hearing from gurus in the art world that in order be “collectible” and therefore taken seriously as a fine art painter you need to have a distinctive and recognizable style and body of work. I want to be collectible so that’s where I want to go! I’ve diligently spoken to other successful artists about how they found their style and I heard things like: your style will find you; just keep painting and it will come. Hmmm. I have been painting for 6 years now (ok, I know that’s not a lot of time in the grand scheme) and I’m still all over the style map! So far I have really enjoyed letting the subject of my paintings dictate the style in which I paint. And, I am a self-confessed DABBLER… I like trying different stuff. Hell, it took me 50 years to finally choose a career that I’m excited to stick with, never mind finding one style and staying with it.
But, I AM RESOLUTE… THIS IS THE YEAR I FIND MY STYLE and create that cohesive body of work. In my world I need a plan! So here it is: I am going choose 5 artists whose work I love and try to pick out the elements in their paintings that inspire me. Then, I’m going to do 5 of my own paintings incorporating as many of these elements as possible (within reason!) for the next 5 months. Theoretically, I should be well on my way by April Fools’ Day!?? We’ll see. I may just find myself feeling the Fool on April 1st, no closer to my goal because it may indeed be a matter of “letting my style find me”.