Finding my style

In this very first post of my blog, I want to talk about some of my recently finished paintings and how they have helped me to develop my technique and discover my personal style.  Below are some of my paintings, and they can always be found in my “Gallery” page. In future posts, I will document the development of individual paintings, which take weeks to months or years to complete. What I am showing in this post are some completed pieces I have assembled over the past 2 years, and I can only reflect on how they came to be.

I have loved painting my entire life, but it has always been a side activity and I never felt that I had a cohesive portfolio of work that I could show anybody, and I never felt like I could really call myself an artist. When I tried to make art that I thought others would like, I couldn’t get anywhere, because my expectations got in the way of enjoying the process. I could never paint an image the way it would appear in my head, and that’s partially because the image in my head didn’t have a consideration of the capabilities of the materials I used or the way my hands manipulated them. I knew that I enjoyed the feeling of applying paint to paper, mixing and juxtaposing colors, and changing what I saw on the paper based on how it ended up looking. I enjoy the process of painting, so I focused on that and gave up on trying to get it to look like anything pre-determined.

My designs tend to end up being organic and floral, especially when I don’t think too much about a specific image. I love the natural beauty of flowers and tend to be drawn to floral motifs in clothing, accessories, and decor. Besides floral themes, I also like to paint my rabbit, my sister, and other people I love. When doing portraits, I usually work from a photograph, otherwise I can’t get the proportions right.

The main technique I use is the layering of thin layers of acrylic paint. I will explain this in a lot of detail in future posts, and will provide tutorials on how to experiment with this method.  There are many aspects of this technique that I enjoy. First of all, it makes everything changeable. If I don’t like something I can just paint right over it. If I don’t like any of it, I can paint over the whole thing. White paint is especially useful, because it lets you start with a blank slate. Secondly, the building up of successive layers has a lot of benefits. It allows you to refine an aspect of an image by tweaking it slightly in increments. The texture that develops is visually interesting, and you can often see through many layers at once and experience an interplay of colors hitting the eye.

I use color to define objects in my painting.  I’m not sure how a colorblind person would view my paintings, and I wonder if the major effects would be lost in their eyes.  Complementary colors are especially important to me, because of the way their juxtaposition makes objects “pop.” Sometimes, I intentionally restrict my color palette to get a specific mood or effect.  To do this, I pull out some paint tubes and force myself to use only those I pulled out to paint a specific image.

Deciding when a painting is finished can be tricky, but I often have a strong feeling about it when the time comes.  Basically, I keep working on the painting, hang it up and let it dry, reflect on it for a while, work on it some more, let it sit some more.  The time it takes is indeterminate.  But each time I see the painting, I’m either overwhelmed by an urge to change something, or I accept and appreciate it for what it is.  After I had been looking at it for a while, it either grows on me or annoys me.  If it annoys me, it’s not finished yet.

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