art, artist, arts, brush strokes, canvas, cave painting, Christian artist, create, faint aroma, George Bernard Shaw, God, illustration, inspiration, literature, Neil Gaiman, oil painting, paint, painter, painting, Phoebe, picture, portrait, Radiant, style, Van Gogh, Van Hals
Today is a good day. The weather is disappointing for the middle of an English summer, it’s cool, overcast and windy (and no it’s not like that all the time in England), but today is a good day because I’m coming to the end of my latest painting and it’s turning out… well, I like it.
It’s also been nice for me to realise that some of my journey artistically, is becoming familiar. There are places on that journey that I now recognise and stages that no longer scare me like they once did… well, not as much anyway.
Now when I start a picture I can begin to see a clear process. Before, it was like having all the parts, but not a clear plan of how they all go together. Now however, I can see how it goes together from the start. Working practices are beginning to form. A plan, if you like, is developing.
I still don’t know how everything will turn out, which is great, but I do have a plan of attack technically. In fact, better than that, I think I’m beginning to detect the faint aroma of a ‘style’, something that is me. From where it comes I don’t exactly know, but I thank God it’s there anyway.
So where does style come from? What makes us identifiable? When someone rings up on the telephone we normally know right away who it is, their voice is instantly recognisable, but how does that happen with our work? What makes a Van Gogh stand out from a Van Hals (yes I know they’re completely different stylistically, but I was trying to make a point and their names are similar, which is nice… from a literary point of view).
I’d like to suggest that before we get our own voice artistically, we copy a lot of others first. Neil Gaiman gave a University address recently in which he said, “Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people”, and he was absolutely right! What is annoying however, is that from an early age we are dissuaded from copying. You know how it goes, copying’s wrong, unimaginative, cheating and all that other crap.
But if you were to be left in a blank room with no windows and only your clothes, a flat surface, a piece of paper and a pencil (crayons if you’re more creative) to work with, what are you going to come up with? Unless you’re a savant, a very experienced artist, or The Good Lord himself, not much!
We all need inspiration, we all need something to copy and often someone to emulate. Stylistically I’ve copied or borrowed from many people down the years. I probably still do if I see something that inspires the “that is so cool” response but slowly I’m developing my own “voice”. I may be saying something that’s been said before, but perhaps it’s not being said anymore and perhaps it needs to be said now. I don’t know. All I know is that I try to paint what interests and moves me.
Finally, George Bernard Shaw said;
Some see things as they are and ask why? Others, dream things that never were and ask why not?
Seeing things as they are and asking ‘why’ is a good point to start learning and observing the things that we want to represent (or change), but at some point we might also begin to see things as they could be and ask ‘why not’?
When we begin to see ourselves as we could be and not as we are, I believe a vital shift takes place in our thinking that impels us towards that change.
So, with “could be” in mind, here is Phoebe. Phoebe is a greek word that suggests radiance and I hope that is suggested at least in her portrait. She’s kind of in the bottom right hand corner of the canvas in landscape and not slap bang in the middle as in a ‘portrait’ style canvas. But then again, “why not”?
Here’s a slightly closer shot. I still need to add a couple of finishing touches that I can’t do while the paint’s wet and the dodgy camera phone shots never do it justice, but…. sorry, I’ll stop whining now.