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.
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.
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.