Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Working in Style

This morning I lugged my French easel and a 12x16 canvas out to the hinterlands of Campobello Island. Lower Duck Pond is about as far as you can go into the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, unless you go all the way to the end, Liberty Point. But I'd hiked around Lower Duck Pond the other evening and thought it'd be a good early morning spot. Low tide, especially, is an attraction for me, and it doesn't get any better than the Duck Ponds.

"Flood Tide at Dawn" 12x16, oil/canvas

This painting ended up having a Hudson River School quality. Not that I'm bragging! The point I want to make is that I wasn't thinking of doing a Hudson River School painting at the time. I was just mixing paint and paying attention to the color harmonies I saw. If you've been following my blog, you'll have seen other styles, even as recently as this week. Sometimes the paintings were painted with modern brushwork and expressionistic color. I bet if you looked over my last 10 years of paintings, you'd see at least a half-dozen painting personalities there. Who am I channelling today? John Frederick Kensett? Rockwell Kent? Emile Gruppe? Edward Hopper? Or possibly even Cezanne?

I don't think there's anything wrong with painting in a variety of styles. Sure, the gallery or the museum will want to see work with a consistent style. Showing a variety of styles in a show can confuse the viewer. There's also something to be said for "brand identity." But when I paint, there are so many things to think about, things that seem to me more important than trying to apply a consistent style over my body of work.

Still, isn't style the summit of craft? If I am so meticulous with design, color usage and brushwork - shouldn't I also be concerned about consistency of style? I have a favorite quotation regarding consistency. "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contract myself. I am large; I contain multitudes." (Walt Whitman.)


Sandra Nunes said...


Carolyn Jean Thompson said...

I'm glad you talked about changing styles. I was beginning to think I was lacking a style or an artistic identity. I think change is refreshing and invigorating. I would quit art if I had to do the same style for a long, long time. But, I also don't have to worry about pleasing the public or galleries!

Mystic Thistle said...

A stranger recently asked me what my style was. I was tongue-tied. I guess its something I should think about more, but I have trouble pinpointing it. Beautiful painting.

Dave Lebow said...

Fantastic painting. Really robust and dramatic. Great job!!