The story matters

Among other things, my partner would argue their are entirely too many birch trees in this painting by John William Waterhouse. While you are at it check out the very cool Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

I have always been an artist.

…and as an artist I’ve always been drawn to portraiture.  Not the easiest discipline in a culture that currently values contemporary, plein air, botanical, abstract and minimalist styles. “How many paintings and photos of birch trees,” whispers my partner in my ear as we visit art shows and galleries looking at regurgitated and tired ideas, “does the world need before it becomes a cliche?!”

I don’t have that problem because I am faithful to my Vision. As such, I am driven to create in a style that evolves on an internal linear path and not on an ad-hoc cultural trend line. I paint to an internal sense of classicism and not to culture’s external faddishness.  This commitment has the additional benefit of resulting in

paintings that are uniquely mine.

I have an evolving style. A style I own. I see. I create. I embrace. I follow.

As such, trying to stay rooted in what I am moved to create often conflicts with what others think I should be doing.

For example, I had a gallery owner suggest I just paint only objects and leave the people out because objects are easier to sell. She encourages me to paint so that what I create matches a couch or a carpet or someone’s lifestyle. She wants me to paint to a formula.

My sepia painting “Working the Fields”.

In other words, paint a motorcycle. Paint a landscape. Paint a tractor. Paint a birch tree.

I was at an art show recently listening to my partner talk to the man next to us. He was bragging about driving his wife from Washington DC to San Diego to sell at an art show. She was out of new paintings so on the drive the stopped at Michael’s, bought some paints and canvases and as he drove she sat in the back of the van “painting”. She “created” fifty-five new “pieces”.

They figured she averaged nineteen minutes per painting. She had a formula and she stuck to it. She wasn’t painting for a Vision she was painting for production. A process he admitted to embracing. It is about money and not art.

The irony is when buyers asked about his wife’s work he gave them some dog-and-pony story about how she spends weeks creating colors and images.

Just talking about formula art makes me queasy.

It is the difference between music created by the Honeydogs and the New Kids on the Block. There is a market for both types of music but I know where I will spend my energy.

My Vision would never let me do formula art – or listen to the New Kids on the Block.

It would break me first. I need the stories to feed my creative side. I need the people to give what I create depth. Otherwise, it is simply a motorcycle, a landscape, a tractor or – HORRORS OF HORRORS – a birch tree.



5 thoughts on “The story matters

  1. Keep doing what your doing Chrissy. You do beautiful and interesting work. Like i said before, whenever i walk into a place that has one of your paintings i dont even have to look at the name. I know its yours. As an animal lover i would like to see you do a painting of say black bears. But thats just because i like black bears. 🙂

  2. Chrissy,

    We have a wall full of your art because it caputures the world we see around us and stimulates wonderful memories from our past. We love your explorations into the nooks and crannies of life, past and present, which are too often overlooked.

    A favorite quote:

    “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach.

    The same can be said of your art.

    Follow your vision wherever it may lead. Many of us look forward to seeing the visions you create along your journey.

    Be well and true,

    Robert Arlinghaus and Chris Kelley

    • Thank You Robert and Chris!

      Your words are just beautiful. I can really appreciate that quote.
      I remember the first artwork you purchased from me years ago and how it brought back childhood memories of the old gas stations. I have come a long way since then but really not much has changed.

      Still hoping to make it back to Cincy! If so, I hope to take you up on your generous offer to stay with you both.

      Thank you for believing in me all along

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