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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Choose your Preference: Experienced, Mature, or Seasoned Professional?

"Release" 24 x 30 mixed media on canvas. (Currently adding two smaller side panels)

The “Old Masters” offered artists the fundamentals of drawing, painting, and envisioning. Today we shun the label “old” preferring “mature” or “seasoned” to describe our depth of Professionalism, whether as an athlete, a writer, a musician or an artist; it’s all in how you look at it.

In reading the “Life of Pi” this statement caught my eye: “Life can either be a dry, yeastless factuality, or the better story.”

I don’t know about you, but I want my life to be the “better story!” I want everything I do to reflect what I am and who I am. I want my voice to resound with truth and clarity. I want my paintings to sing, my words to dance, and my vision to connect with others. I want to live my life with passion and enthusiasm.

Still, in comparison to the Masters, I’m a novice. I’m still a student learning from my mistakes, and struggling to become better.

"Cafe Costa Rica" acrylic on 20 x 20 canvas in floating frame
In an article written by J. Thomas Soltesz called: “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” posted in the April 2007 issue of “the artists magazine,” this truth hit me square in the face. “To me,” Soltesz said, “the most important aspects of painting are to be able to see, remember what you see, and have the skills to reinterpret what you see in unique and beautiful ways.”

I try to do this, but sometimes my efforts are met with frustration and the risk of being misunderstood. Many of my landscapes have an abstract quality that veers from realism. Some traditional artists are taken aback and offended; others see the vision or the feeling I’m trying to convey. In taking risks, we all face the dilemma of exploring new ground on the cutting edge, or of caving in to safety by producing what everyone else is doing.

"Sunset on the Nile" 24 x 30 acrylic on canvas in silver frame
I acknowledge that I sometimes go out on a limb. I try something different and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But we have to try! Like many self-taught artists, I fell into a few traps in the beginning.

Soltesz goes on to say “Simplicity is key: It’s the simple color changes and blending of edges that ultimately determine whether the painting works or not. For example, the experienced painter tries to see what he can leave out of a painting to make it successful, while the beginner puts everything in.”

Does this sound familiar? He continues: “Know where you’re going. See the painting already complete on the canvas before you start. Richard Schmid is the master of what I call ‘realism out of abstraction,’ which he describes the way the retina actually sees images, focusing on one area of contrast and making the rest an abstraction.”

"Kelly's Rose" mixed media on wood panel
When I read this article, it was like Thomas was speaking right at me. Another concern I have is that my portfolio is too diverse going from serious portraits to contemporary paintings to illustrations and cartooning. I was so pleased to read his closing comments:

“Always challenge yourself to explore new avenues to avoid falling into a rut.” Amen!

Ace Hardware has a new sales slogan: “Find Your Soul Paint.”  I’m making it my own in reverse: “Paint Your Soul.”