June 9, 2010

Couple of poppies and some musings on style et al

There are so many motivational articles, marketing related blog posts etc shared on twitter that some of them trigger blog posts in themselves. I just read Lori's blog on Fineartviews, about finding your own style and left a lengthy comment there. Then I felt I might as well have blogged it, as my individual style is something I am still in the process of discovering, in this life long journey.

Poppies Poppies, Work in progress
Acrylics on gallery wrapped canvas, 20 by 28 inches
© Nithya Swaminathan

The first ever time that I even thought of something called a "style" was upon reading some blog posts in author Maggie Stiefvater's old art blog. She used to write a lot about style and that was when I gave some serious thought to the idea that my work should be identifiable as mine. If this was about 4 years back, my work has evolved considerably since then. There was a time when I used to aim to do only realistic painting. Most of the art that I was used to seeing was realism, and that's what fascinated me the most. But, my work was not mature enough as most of the outstanding realists, and I was always demotivated. I don't need a reason at all to get demotivated, but that's a different issue altogether.

The first ever forum that I used to hang out in WetCanvas was the colored pencils forum. It was due to sheer curiosity of using colored pencils as a medium for serious artwork. I had not seen it before and was stunned by the work there. I even tried my hand at colored pencils and loved it. Most of the artists were working in a realistic style with colored pencils, as the medium is awesome for rendering details. I thought that's what I wanted to do too! Due to unavailability of a lot of brands of colored pencils in India, and suitable supports, it took a backseat and I began to focus just on Acrylics. Acrylics over oils because of the versatility and the fast drying properties.

The Acrylics forum in WetCanvas then became my second home of sorts. It has some of the most talented artists, most of whom have been painting for longer than I have lived :D And, they're all awesome to interact with and ever helping. With a medium as supremely versatile as Acrylics, I was seeing all kinds of art everyday - extremely detailed photo realism, realism, textured abstract pieces, fauvism, painterly pieces done en plein air, and so on. The list is endless. I was exposed to a much wider variety of styles and that's when something very important struck me - that Art to me fell into a few broad categories.

The first category was work that fascinated me but I do NOT see myself doing it personally. Both extremely detailed realism, and abstracts fall into this category for me. Neither do I harp about minute details endlessly, nor can I paint something entirely from my imagination. But, I admire both. I love seeing abstracts and would hang one in an instant. The second category of art is one that fascinates me, and also makes me want to paint like that. The third one is art that does not appeal to my senses at all, so let's leave it at that. The second type of art is thus the most important, and that's where I see myself in future.

Even wanting to pursue a particular style, only comes by looking at more art. And also understanding that you may NOT be great at pursuing all the types of art that you admire. I wonder how many of you will agree with me, but to me, there is a clear line between artists whom I admire and artists who inspire me. And my focus is mostly on those who inspire me. I have a big list of painters in WetCanvas who're my favorites, and I open their threads with an extra bit of enthusiasm. The way they look at subjects fascinates me. And so my style continues to evolve.

I have also discovered that I do not want to restrict myself by subject matter. I don't think I ever will, as I enjoy painting a huge range of subjects. Animals are something I'll probably never do, but I love painting anything else. Color is what excites me, and I will continue to paint a lot of subjects that have strong color usage, contrasts, shadows and the likes. I have overcome my huge mental block that I do not have a delicate enough hand to do florals, by doing so many florals that are far from delicate but definitely identifiable as mine. I think that's the key, to just follow your heart and discover what you love painting. It is very important that you first love what you do, the question of a collector loving it is secondary. If you don't love what you do, a collector may not either. If on the other hand you continue to do what you love, I believe your style will by itself find you :)

This painting above is a work in progress, I hope to complete it by the weekend. It is pretty big, 20 by 28 inches. After all those little florals with so much texture, I finally plunged into a bigger one. With the irises gone and poppies in bloom everywhere, I took a lot of photos of these gorgeous flowers and I just had to do one. I hope to follow it up with more poppies in the smaller format too. Let me know what you think.


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