Friday, March 25, 2011

Make your own art!

Let's talk about why and how every painter can be an 'original'.   This post includes some tips for those that are struggling with this.  You are also most welcome to share your own thoughts on what has helped you to develop your own creativity and originality.

Following on from yesterday's post about plagiarism, somebody sent me a note which reminded me that Stapeleton Kearns recently wrote (ranted?) on a related topic.

Within the context of the bigger picture about creating original art, Stapleton has a post last Sunday called Some thoughts on art and money which I very much endorse.  It contains this paragraph
"Art has no reason to exist other than that it be excellent. If you are imitating another artists style, get your own! I open the art magazines and see page after page of amateur rip-offs of Scott Christensen and Richard Schmid. That's not good enough, everyone who sees those ads knows they are seeing a Richard Schmid ripoff. People are not easily fooled."
In general I don't follow daily painters as much now as I used to - simply because I grew very tired of looking at too many artists who were copying other artists.  All that really achieved at the end of the day was to highlight more clearly those artists who were different.  By that I mean those who made sure they were clearly individuals who were not following the crowd and instead were trying to find their own individual way of creating art.

Artists who are original shine like beacons in the midst of the "same old same old".

What I have noticed is that those artists who seem to be the most successful at creating their own artistic identities (which is that thing you have to be able to talk about when the gallery asks you "what do you paint?") all too often also have the happy knack of having their own individual and unique take on the world around them.

In other words, their choice of WHAT they paint and how they look at it is as much part of their ID as HOW they paint.

Essentially that means that the way a daily painter responds to the challenge of coming up with an answer to the question of 'what to paint' each day is as much part of that artist's development as the way they paint.

Your choices about what to paint reveal who you are, what you like, where you live and how you see the world. 


If you really are a unique individual - and initiate rather than follow - your choices will create a portfolio which won't ever look like it belongs to anybody else. 

Those artists who share their work in portfolio view let us into their journey and into their life.

Views and Vistas - landscape drawings by Katherine Tyrrell
TIP:  The portfolio view of your work is absolutely brilliant for being able to see connections in your art which you might not appreciate when looking at pieces in isolation.  It helps us all to identify the unique aspects of our particular view on the world.  If you don't have a portfolio view of your archived work can I suggest you develop one - you may be surprised - here's a couple of reasons why:
  • I'll never ever forget when I first constructed my website being absolutely gobsmacked (I come from the north!) to find I obviously love the complex patterning which comes from doing huge Views and Vistas.  First - I had absolutely no idea that this was such strong theme in my work,  Second - I then had to set to and create a whole new gallery just for them!  Third - it took me forever to work out that this was hardly surprising given that my degree is in geography and I have a qualification in geology and I both love and am used to looking at landforms and thinking about what lies underneath.  See - these are connections which make my work very personal and about me!
  • Sometimes it can be very difficult to see wood for trees - or lemons from clementines.  If you develop a portfolio view it also helps other people show you the artist where your strengths and weaknesses lie as a painter and which are the paintings which really engage our eyes and jump off the screen.
Small daily paintings by Karin Jurick
Continuing the discussion about connecting to subjects which are about you.  We had much discussion yesterday of clementines and lemons.

Consider this.

Ask yourselves why Karin Jurick (A Painting Today) has never painted clementines or lemons or indeed grapes on a routine basis.
  • One answer would be because it's not required
  • Another might be because that's not what interests her
In my experience of watching what Karin has painted over the last five years, I can confidently conclude that although Karin experiments with different approaches and subjects, she essentially sticks pretty much to subjects which interest her - with the challenge of occasional workouts on other subjects to provide punctuation and stimulation.  Take a look at her small daily paintings starting in 2006 - and click through and watch the journey.  There is a theme to her still life paintings and it's certainly not lemons!  ;)

Karin is also very accomplished at demonstrating how it's possible to pack a sophisticated painting with a lot of content into a small space!

TIP: We discussed yesterday the proposition of taking the principle of an idea generated by another artist and making it your own.  I feel sure that Karen's basic principle of creating content rich paintings must make her collectors feel like they're getting added value.  This is a principle which can also transfer to other painters - without them needing to paint the people looking at art in galleries!

I could talk about a number of other daily painters and former daily painters (or other artists) in the same way. Some arrive fully formed with their own unique take on the world while others take us on a journey as they find their own ID.

TIP: Sometimes we, as viewers and commentators, can really help an artist on that journey if we are judicious in our comments and reserve our real plaudits for the truly exceptional pieces and those pieces which make a real connections with us as the audience.  Maybe keep a lid on the 'happy clappy' type comments and think about what's the best and/or most helpful thing you can say about their work? I know that feedback from peers is always hugely valued by most artists.

In my view, those artists who are unique and original have that certain something which lifts their work out of the ordinary.  Let's not call it the 'X factor' but you know what I mean.

In the past Duane Keiser has commented that there is nothing particularly unique about Vermeer's brushwork or palette - it's all about the subject and the composition.  He had the uncanny ability to find a way of looking at a subject which made ordinary things look special.  I've always felt that Vermeer is an expert at enabling me to see what he is seeing.  He makes a personal connection with my eyes and draws me into his paintings.

I guess the point I'm making here is that it is entirely possible for every artist to make their own art - there is simply no need to copy. Nobody needs to be choosing the same subject matter as anybody else, or designing paintings in the same way or trying to paint in the same way.

TIP:  When you choose to do what others are also doing, ask yourself how that contributes to creating your own identity as an individual artist.

Artists making their own art

I want to see artists making their own art.  I want to see what interests you and how you see it. 

I LOVE IT when an artist shows me a new way to paint a very familiar object or a very familiar scene.  Give me a new perspective.  Make me stop in my tracks when I'm paging through lots of blogs.  Make me want to come back to your work in a gallery and look at it again.

I LOVE IT when an artist takes a subject which many other people would not even think worth painting and then turns it into an absolute magnet for my eyes.   Take a look at the painting which won last year's Making A Mark Award for Best Picture of 2010 on an Art Blog for an example of what I mean

I LOVE IT when somebody sends me a link to a blog, announces I think you'll like this painter and I click the link and my eyes get a visual feasts and workout from a range of NEW visual images.  This is what happened last year when somebody nominated Lisa Daria (Lisa Daria), the artist who won the Painting A Day Stickability Shield as part of the Making A Mark Awards and I took a look at the paintings she'd been producing in 2010.  She's a painter with a fine sense of colour which is something I greatly enjoy.
I've had a lovely time looking through her blog at her wonderful paintings this afternoon and was very nearly distracted and started to buy a painting!  Always a good sign of a very promising painter!  Her blog has gone straight into my list of blogs that I follow.  

The bottom line - I agree with Stapleton's statement that the priority for artists when starting out is.... 
Make your own art, make it good and then market it
Featuring art on Making A Mark

I'm very pleased to be able to be able to feature both budding and established artists on this blog and to be a very small part of the marketing process for some artists.

For me it's the quid pro quo for you giving me the pleasure of looking at your art.

For the most part I go looking for new artists, but I'm not at all averse to art bloggers (ie NOT their gallery reps) sending me links to their work, showing me their creativity, showing me how they've developed into somebody with a claim on being unique or telling me about artists of note and originaility who deserve to be noticed more.
  • I love being able to encourage artists who are making significant progress on their journey and showing great promise by featuring them on this blog
  • I'm always more than happy to feature any artist who has made their own journey and found a way to represent themselves to the world as a unique artist
  • I'm ecstatic when they write to me to tell me about their shows and their successes.
This is an invitation to tell me about all the artists you feel make their own art, make it good and have achieved that very important status of not looking like anybody else!

Please also feel free to add YOUR TIPS for being an original artist - please share what has helped you.