Two Donuts and Finding My Style

Today in the U.S. is National Donut Day.  I painted this last year.  It is an 8x10 on canvas board.  I used a much looser style of painting with this one and when it was finished, it was a little sad, kind of like coming to the end of a very good book, but stood back and said to myself, "Did I actually paint that?"  

Did a little soul searching in my art journey here in the last few weeks.  Part of me does not like the tedious details of realistic painting but another part loves the results.  (Always have loved realism and don't understand abstract art so have never tried it.)  I asked myself, which paintings am I the most proud of?  Which ones seemed to just paint themselves and fly off the easel?  Which ones were the most enjoyable to paint?  Which types of paintings have sold?  

These are the ones where I experienced a lot of fun.  The lantern and matches, a still life I sat up myself, is one painting that I followed as closely to Mark's instructions as possible.  The still life with the flowers and pie took me a while to paint but was a bit looser and not so tight.  The drawing alone took me a solid 8 hours for that one.  The two dogs are mine (and my partner's) and were fun to paint because I love the subject.  The black dog, Earl, was very loosely painted while the brown dog (Duke) has the kind of brindle coat that I didn't know how to paint any other way than with small rigger brushes.  The little bucket of apples is a still life that I sat up myself, photographed, then used the photo onscreen to paint.

These are the two paintings that sold this year.  The landscape was a little more tedious but did include looser brushwork and really enjoyed the big sky.  The horse painting was done in a much looser style and still can't believe it was sold.

So far, in "finding my customer", the sales were both purchased by women in their mid 60s, retired or semi-retired.  Both were sold to Facebook followers, the landscape to a cousin I haven't seen in years and the horse painting to the woman who owns the business where I work as an independent contractor, because it reminded her of a horse she currently owns.

In reflecting on the answers to these questions, the conclusion is that I like to incorporate looser work with details.  It is much more enjoyable to work loosely, suggesting detail, and then adding the finer details last.  The overall effect is painterly realism but not photorealism.   

I've now been painting for five years.  I started out with a year-long online subscription to Michael James Smith's school and managed to complete just five of his lessons.  I also of course follow Mark Carder, whom I found after MJS through PaulB.  These two great influences can be combined.  I am now also following David Barber on YouTube who has 20+ years as an instructor and quit that to pursue his own art.  I love his style and have gained some really good insight from listening to him and watching him paint.

There has also been a lot of inspiration here in this forum.  Everyone's paintings here are just phenomenal, and I've seen artists' work progress and develop also.  

What have your art journeys been like?  Did you start with formal education?  Did you find Mark Carder before developing any "bad habits" and stick strictly to his method?  Did your sales determine your painting style?  Are you strictly self-taught (we all learn from someone but that's probably another conversation)?  Did you experiment with abstract painting?  

Well, I guess it's time to get back to the easel.  I've "procrastinated" enough with this long post.

My current work in progress that is an 8x10 just blocked in with tons of "details" to go.



  • They all look good @A_ Time_To_Paint! My favorites are the bucket of apples and the lantern. Thanks for sharing! 
  • I like the donuts and the lantern still life.  I think if you go the route of looser brushwork you will really need to pay close attention to values.  That way it will lend itself to a realism that you often do not see in looser works.

  • You've produced some very fine work, @A_Time_To_Paint. The pears are looking good. I like all the paintings above. I love dogs so I really warm to those two, but I also really like the apples and doughnuts and, of course, the landscape.

    I guess the question of whether to paint tight or loose is one we all ask ourselves. I prefer the looser, more painterly style of realism for my landscapes. That's why I like a rough canvas. But if I were painting sharp focus still lifes, I'd paint on a smooth surface like aluminium or make my canvas smooth with repeated coats of gesso. It just depends on the look you want. 
  • You could paint in more loose broad strokes and then add the finer detail on top (or suggest it). A bit like Sargent works with simplified forms and marks that look detailed from a far.
  • Thank you @whunt, they are two of my favorites also.  Thank you @GTO I really appreciate your comment on concentrating on values.  I am trying to learn color values by turning my painting into black and white as well as the reference photo.  Thank you @tassieguy.  There is something about dogs that speaks to most everyone, a universal smile so to speak.  I forget that you use a looser style of brushwork in your landscape paintings.  They look like you took weeks to paint with all that detail.  I really admire how you can do that.  I prefer a smooth surface no matter what I'm painting and use thin layers of paint.  Thank you @Richard for the advice.  I like Sargent's work, really amazing what he can do with paint and a brush.  I admire anyone who can paint so that it looks very real across the room but when examined up close, you can see all the brushwork.
  • You are a very skilled artist, @A_Time_To_Paint

    I think it's really important to not limit ourselves.  We should feel the freedom of changin our style or aim completely every single painting if we want to... we're the artists.  

    In answer to the nice questions you posed, I was a terrible artist with basically zero knowledge of art.  (you should check out one of my first ever posts here where I put a before and after of the DMP method.)  

    DMP changed my life.  Period.  My eyes and brain were completely reborn.  
  • Thank you @allforChrist.  That's a good thought of painting the way we feel like we want to paint.  DMP has changed my life as well.  I have learned a great deal here with all of Mark's videos and the really helpful people here in the forum.  I understand about having zero knowledge about art.  It was so frustrating to not paint the way I wanted to.  Here is a photo of my first oil painting. I shudder now when I see it but keep it around as well as all my other paintings to gauge progression. 
  • First oil painting?? That's very good for your first one!!  But I know what you're saying.  It's really helpful to have definite progress measurements.
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