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Deb Ward Art Blog

Painting Style

by debward , December 16, 2007—11:30 AM

Topics: All Posts

It__™s true - we are all our own worst critics.

There are paintings I've done that I thought were good, then I compared them to someone else's pictures and they didn't measure up (to my new standards). But, guess what - put them away for a while, pull them out and look at them with "fresh eyes" (as my friend says) and I like them again. The problem seems to be comparing my work to that of someone else. I'm finally learning that I'll never paint the way others paint, even when using their techniques. But that's OK - I paint like I paint and that's all I can do. Besides, I don__™t really want to mimic their paintings, no matter how much I admire them. I just want to see my work on display with others of similar ability and know that it holds it__™s own.

Going to workshops, learning from DVDs, books, just watching someone else paint, etc. is great - just take those techniques and incorporate them into your own style. I'm always amazed to go to an art show of high caliber, such as the AWS traveling show, and see so many pictures that look alike. Makes me think that somebody is copying a style that is currently "in vogue" just to get ahead in the shows; i.e. did that artist study with John Salminen, or did Salminen study with him? Several times recently I__™ve looked at a painting thinking that I recognized the artist only to find that it__™s by another artist, just painted in a copycat style. Sure, it's great to be in shows, but it__™s not the end of the world not to be selected. I hope that my work can stand on its own merit without mimicking the ___next best thing___.

I was once told that if artists don__™t change their style every few years they are not growing. I don__™t buy into that. However, that being said, it doesn__™t necessarily mean remaining stagnant. Try new things, but only if you really want to, not because you think you should. For instance, it was only in the past 18 months or so that, for the first time, I__™ve wanted to try some new things.

My first attempts at acrylic were not good, to put it mildly, but I purchased a few bottles of the fluid acrylics, liked them and bought a few more, and now I really love working with them. That has inspired me to re-try the tube acrylics again in the near future.

A demonstration of casein prompted me to buy a small set, which I loved from the start, and so purchased more. I was given almost a whole set as a gift, and the more I use that medium, the more I like it.

Soon I__™ll be trying to combine some of the mediums. (Just can__™t wrap myself around collage, tho!)

Basically, what I__™m trying to say is that we all have our own vision for our art, something that we are comfortable with and that makes us happy. Just because there is a new technique that__™s the trend, doesn__™t mean we have to copy it, or even utilize it at all.

Just paint what makes you happy " be it realism or abstract, watercolor or collage __" and listen to your own inner voice. Sure, listen to constructive critiques, but ultimately realize that when YOU are content with the painting it™s finished!

Maybe you will never achieve that golden moment " the painting you feel is your true masterpiece! But that doesn™t mean you shouldn__™t keep trying, and it doesn__™t mean that you can__™t be content with your current achievements. Just enjoy what you are doing and have fun!




  Millie Smith ( homepage )

01/13/2008 * 17:58:43

Hi, I just read your blog and I really liked it a lot. I agree with what you say about so many paintings look alike--I just try to do my own thing and then compare them with my own work too. I entered a competition this year and I did'nt make it. It is hard to get into this show as they only have one person critque it, I realize that it is one persons opinion, so why worry about it. I They usually have someone that is not an artist to do the jurying--that is what makes me frustrated. OH well, I just keep on trying. Love to hear from you. Milliegiftsmith


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

01/09/2008 * 13:53:23

I think this is such a valuable subject, and it's something I often find myself talking about with my students. Our society is so overrun with a competitive mentality that it's hard to turn that part of our brain off when we starting looking at and thinking about art. But comparing one artist to another in terms of better or worse is simply not a productive activity. I tell my students, if you must compare your work to something, then compare it to your previous work. That's the only way you get an authentic sense of your development. Appreciate othe artists, admire other artits, be inspired by them, just don't compare yourself to them. Art is not a race.

BTW, there are some great flow medias you can add to acrylic paint that make them more fluid without making the colors transparent. I personally use Windsor & Newton Finity acrylics with their Flow Improver. It's great, you dilute in water at a ratio of like 1:20, so one bottle lasts forever.


  Christy DeKoning ( homepage )

12/31/2007 * 22:54:55

Thank you Deb - it's always nice to hear that others struggle with their own mortality too :-)


  MI Staff ( homepage )

12/16/2007 * 20:20:07

Hi Deb,

Welcome to ArtId! I liked this blog post and thought it would be nice to feature on the blog homepage. It's up there now.

All the best,
Maria Williams-Russell

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