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As a painter, what am I doing? Where am I going? What am I looking for?

Some of us are just putting our toes in the water on DMP.  Some of us are hobbyists.  Others are already professional.  I found this article that I believe might be useful to a few on DMP who think that they would like to become professional some day.  I've re-arranged the words for purposes of asking myself key questions, but also included a link to the original article for those who want to read it in its entirety.  Summer

  • Does my art have unique characteristics like style, medium, or subject matter? Do I have a unique signature? Is my work popular? Easily recognized? Established? Does my work identify with a particular school of art or historical period? Or, like most, do my paintings follow a personal path exploring without signature artwork or belonging to a professional organization.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signature_artwork


Comments

  • Are these questions about style and subject matter only relevant if you want to make money from selling your work?
  • As someone new to painting I asked these same questions. I have learned that your "signature style" emerges naturally. The more you paint, the faster it will emerge. When I display my work in a show with other artists from our VAC, they will walk the show, see one of my paintings, and say some thing like, "Oh, Tom painted that!" without even looking at the name card. This kind of freaked me out the first few times it happened. I thought; wow is my work that bad? I finally realized what they were seeing and identifying was my signature style. I am not really sure you can consciously adopt a signature style. It seems to happen unconsciously as a result of the string of decisions the artist must make as they navigate their way through the process. Even when I tried to copy a Sargent painting, it still came out looking like something I painted. Happy Painting )
    SummeranweshaBOB73Wishiwaspainting
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    Richard_P said:
    Are these questions about style and subject matter only relevant if you want to make money from selling your work?
    Yes.  Especially big money.  Fame would be another goal where style and subject matter would be relevant.  Without style and subject matter, like my work, we fall into one of the other categories mentioned earlier.  I'm concerned that some painters are not asking themselves these questions early enough in their lifetimes if that's what they want.  With the help of the Internet, maybe more of them will have a clear road map of their future.  Summer    
    Renoir
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    @tgarney ; Tom, Good for you that you have a signature style already.  I agree, you do have style.  I'm living proof that consciously wishing for it doesn't bring it about.  Still, it would be nice to have a distinctive style someday--even without the money and fame.   :)   Summer 
  • I know you've not posted your paintings here (apart from the dog), but you have painted other works too? The more you paint the more chance that you will develop your own style.
  • Richard_P said:
    I know you've not posted your paintings here (apart from the dog), but you have painted other works too? The more you paint the more chance that you will develop your own style.
    I hope you are right.  I'm going to give it more time and begin painting what I want instead of commissions and more commissions.  While searching for a distinctive style, I've uncovered a hidden fear that I didn't know I had.  Has anyone of you who has discovered a distinctive style also felt like being in a rut painting the same way over and over again???  Maybe some questions should never be asked so I'll be surprised if I get an answer to this question--haha.  I'll think that you are very brave if you do!  Summer 
  • signature style (in realism) isn't always a deliberate attempt is it, especially if you aren't from any particular art school (where everyone gets the same training)? In this forum , I can easily say which is @Kaustav 's painting, as I have seen so many of them at regular intervals... similarly, I am a fan of Peder Mork Monstead's paintings.... when I went through more than 200 of his paintings, i feel I can (more or less) recognise a painting if its by him.... There's power in number of paintings, i guess...
    BarbaraSummerjswartzart
  • Summer said:
    Richard_P said:
    I know you've not posted your paintings here (apart from the dog), but you have painted other works too? The more you paint the more chance that you will develop your own style.
    I hope you are right.  I'm going to give it more time and begin painting what I want instead of commissions and more commissions.  While searching for a distinctive style, I've uncovered a hidden fear that I didn't know I had.  Has anyone of you who has discovered a distinctive style also felt like being in a rut painting the same way over and over again???  Maybe some questions should never be asked so I'll be surprised if I get an answer to this question--haha.  I'll think that you are very brave if you do!  Summer 
    Not in a rut at the moment! But I like to experiment and my style has already changed from more of a watercolour look to an oils one.

    I don't like commissions either btw.. 
    Summer
  • I've always felt that what kills excitement and motivation is when an activity changes from a "get to" to a "have to."  Perhaps that is the problem with commissions.  It moves painting from a creative exercise into the world of work.
    Summer
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.  I can honestly say that they are very helpful and that there are no more demons lurking about my subconscious or in my studio on this topic.  I have an idea that I want to pursue from all of this.  It will involve narrowing my interests and keeping a sketch book but I can see that it could result in getting a body of work together with a consistent style, medium, and subject matter, while still use the Mark Carder painting method.  From life @Martin_J_Crane and @tassieguy, Rob.  A sketchbook @Barbara.  Not a commission @Bancroft414.  Adding on to the original painting of the dog @Richard_P@anwesha and @tgarney, Tom,  a style that will evolve.  Thanks everyone.  Less is more.   :)   Summer
    Renoir
  • I think that one's signature style is more likely to emerge when one paints from life rather than from photographs, whether it's in the studio or plein air, especially when one is just starting out.  This is because there's no mechanical intermediary between the artist and the subject.  The painting is purely the artist's interpretation of the subject, rather than the artist's interpretation of the camera's interpretation of the subject.  Therefore, the painting is much more likely to bear the hallmarks of the artist's signature style, i.e., the "personal path" referred to in the quote. 
    I agree and here is another interesting quotation that I found recently:

    "Eyesight Realism Not Camera Realism

    Don't take a single photo and turn it into a painting. Not because it's "cheating" but because your eye doesn't see the same as a camera. Your eye sees more detailed color, your eye doesn't frame the scene in standard proportions, your eye doesn't have a depth of field that's dependent on a setting. A realistic landscape will be "in focus" all the way to the horizon, not blur out of focus as a photo with a narrow depth of field will."  There is a lot to be said for plein air painting.  Summer


    KaustavJuliannaRenoir
  • edited August 2017
     I agree that for most people a signature style emerges naturally as you paint more and more.  This is just my opinion, but I think that one's signature style is more likely to emerge when one paints from life rather than from photographs, whether it's in the studio or plein air, especially when one is just starting out.  This is because there's no mechanical intermediary between the artist and the subject.  The painting is purely the artist's interpretation of the subject, rather than the artist's interpretation of the camera's interpretation of the subject.  Therefore, the painting is much more likely to bear the hallmarks of the artist's signature style, i.e., the "personal path" referred to in the quote. 

    I think that's right, @Martin_J_Crane. The more I paint from photos the more I realise the limitations they impose. I try to work around the limitations by painting only from my own photographs and, while I'm on site taking the photo, comparing what my camera has caught with what I'm seeing with my own eyes. And I make notes of differences. I use the photo as an aid in remembering what was there in terms of form and basic colour but I always have to make adjustments for compositional reasons and to get depth of colour.

    As mentioned above, I don't think using photos is cheating. The old masters would have used photos had they been available. But they are only an aid.
    SummerBOB73Renoiredavison
  • edited August 2017
    Agreed @tassieguy. I prefer to paint from life whenever I can, but I have many photos that I keep on hand for reference as well. Some scenes just don't last long enough to paintvfrom life.  I also use photoshop to play around with ideas for compositions, etc., so I'm no purist. But to the extent that I'm acquiring a style, I'd have to say that comes mostly from drawing and painting from life.  
  • I have sometimes wondered when I would tell the story, or if I even should.  It is surreal and terrible. But it is why I paint, and before that, the reason I made furniture.  Maybe someday I will paint something excellent and it will be remembered.  I don't need to sell a painting.  The good ones I have are priced ridiculously high so they won't sell.  
    Eight years ago Nov 22, my son was killed in a shooting accident.  He was blameless and died instantly.  The police pounded on the door at 5 in the morning on Sunday.  We got out of bed to that news.  I have had a blank space ever since.  I wanted his portrait painted.  I asked around.  All the photos were not good enough.  The artist relative basically did not want to play in that emotional minefield, and who can blame her.  I started learning to paint.  To this day I cannot stare at his picture long enough to get it done.
    So now you know all the reasons.  I paint from photos.  I paint portraits.  I practice painting.  Maybe someday I can do it.  That is what I am doing, that is where I am going, that is what I am looking for.
    edavison
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2017
    @MikeDerby ; I know something of where you are coming from.  I'm so sorry for your loss.  I have a painting that is continually trying to be painted but can never be lest it cause a lot of turmoil for generations in my family.  I know that mine will never see the light of day but I sincerely hope that yours will in time.  Summer
  • Dear @MikeDerby
    My brother died tragically as a young man. His parents got that same early morning knock on the door, I hear you.
  • @MikeDerby ; this made me tear up for your loss.  I just cannot imagine.  God bless you.  Wouldn't that just be incredible if you could find a way to try?  Just in private and between you and your canvas if that is all it is.  What a beautiful story that could be.  Hugs to you.  xoxoxo
  • Sorry to hear about that, @MikeDerby. How hard that must have been!
  • @MikeDerby I am sorry to learn that you had to face this in life! But it is good to know that you are strong enough.
  • Dear @MikeDerby, Thank you for sharing this with us... I am very sorry for your loss. And I truly admire how you have channeled your energy towards painting... I earnestly wish that you achieve what you have set out for..
    SummerBancroft414
  • @MikeDerby I'm so very sorry to learn about this tradgic event and the unimaginable pain you have had to endure since. Thank you for trusting us enough to share this. 
  • @MikeDerby - As a mother, my heart aches for you. There is no pain greater, no matter how young or old your child. I did not know this until college when we studied a Robert Frost poem, "Home Burial". The ramifications of grief for both parents and their relationship and the relationships to others is staggering and shattering. What deep well of sorrow does not sap us of any strength? In time, I have seen my baby cousin die from a virus, another cousin die at 13 from drowning, my 25 year old cousin (a police officer) murdered, and my 100 year old aunt lose her 80 year old son to cancer. All of these were sudden deaths. I watched in wonder and awe that any of these parents were able to breathe through each moment in their grief. My deepest sympathy for your incredible loss.
  • What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. A cliché but true but what is more is that they make us better.
  • I whisper to them every day as though they can hear me.  It works for me. 
    BOB73
  • Thank you for sharing your story, @MikeDerby. I can't even imagine what that would have been like. Earth shattering, I'm sure.

    A couple of years ago I created a project called 'The Passing Diaries'. I sat with a person in palliative care and sketched and wrote about the process of dying. I believe there are incredible opportunities for healing through creating art - either portraiture or otherwise -  in honour of one who has passed. Not to say it is easy, but that it may be a worthy endeavour.  <3

    And.. yes! Let's paint!
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