Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who am I?...

Hiding Behind Curls   watercolor   10.5 x 9
We artists often struggle with self-definition.  What makes our own particular brand of picture-making our own?  As we study other painters, we wish to assimilate their virtues without copying them.  We also long for self-definition.  Very often, in my experience, we find when we are on the road to SELF when we look around and realize what we are not.  I idolized one particular painter's style until I realized that he just didn't give a damn about paint quality.  Paint quality is so important to me.  So I splintered off from this idolatry toward some other admiration.  And so on and so on.  What is left at the end of the long journey, hopefully, is what we are, what makes our own work our own....SELF.  For some, vivid colors rule.  For others, spontaneous stroke-making.  Story-telling is at the top of the list for some. For others, having a finished work that is exactly like its photograph....one could hardly tell the difference.  Others enjoy softness.  Some lots of simple hard-edged forms.  Calm.  Hyperactive texture.  The list goes on and on.  The list of design elements and principles is our list of ingredients and how we put them all together makes each and every painting recipe a bit different. 

For Christmas, I was given the complete works of Van Gogh.  This book is so heavy that I have to use a pillow on my lap for support....I simply couldn't lift it in order to have a close look.  It really is like holding a child. Van Gogh paints the same subject again and again, each different yet the same.  They are all his.

Maybe we worry too much about self-definition.  Maybe all of our paintings are valid.  I wanna be like Van Gogh......excepting that ear thing.

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