Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Being Strong in Who I Am as an Artist

I am reading “Painting Brilliant Skies and Water in Pastel” by Liz Haywood-Sullivan. She describes the preliminary steps: cropping, multiple thumbnail sketches, blocking in shapes, figuring out values, and choosing colors, among other comments and tips.

I also researched online (again) articles on types of paper and board for pastel artists. Most prefer surfaces with textures to hold the pastel. I prefer a smooth surface. I do not like the sanded surfaces, either.

Making progress on "Path to the River."
My mind jumped into self-doubt mode. I don’t/can’t work like that! Is this how “real” artists work and if I admit how I work, will those “real” artists look down their noses at me? How can I call myself an artist when I don’t work like that? Maybe … if I was 30 years younger … I could go back to the very basics and start all over again.

Should I force myself to paint on surfaces I don’t like? Do I have to conform? And if I admit how I work, will other artists and art viewers not like me or not see me as a serious artist?

But wait! Haven’t I been working a long time developing my own style of painting? Haven’t I always been proud of myself for not following the norm and discovering my own way of doing things? What makes me think I’m wrong just because I don’t do it like most others? I’m not wrong. I just do it MY way.

My very-good friend, Nan McCarthy, is an amazing photorealist, and her style and technique is totally different than mine. About the only thing we have in common is that we both work with photographs and we like similar subjects. But, she follows all those preliminary steps and spends a lot of time planning her painting even before she picks up her paintbrush. Part of how she works, even after all these years, is to study other artists’ techniques to try better perfect her own style.
Our techniques may be opposite, yet we have the most amazing conversations on art and style. We support each other and have even done shows together.

As for changing how I do things? Part of my painting is about the journey. Each piece offers a unique, challenging adventure (even when doing similar scenes). Every time I think I’ve mastered an aspect, the next painting throws a curve ball. It’s a backwards treasure hunt. Instead of digging through rubble to find the treasure, I build layers to find the gold in the finished painting.

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