A few playful musings on art.
By Mark Elliot | 10.17.18
Illustration by Mark Elliot
I waited 20 years to read Robert Henri’s, because I didn’t like the title.
I believe the word "style", to describe how an artist works, means well, but is both bloated and vague. I prefer instead, the term: conceptual approach. As I feel it is more true to what restraints or exploitations an artist has used to guide the decision making in their work. Look at any artists approach to paint application, brush-work, perspective, color and so on and you will begin to understand what they don’t do and what they prefer to do. You will start to understand the specifics of their "Style". But in concrete terms rather than mystical abstraction.
You can ask this of your self as well, “When it comes to the concept of brush-work, what approach am I interested in persuing? Do I want my strokes to be energetic, soft and feathery, direct and sharp?” As you do this you will start to define and understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you like or don’t like about it. As viewers see your work, they will refer to your collection of conceptual approaches, as your style.
For dessert, indulge yourself for twenty-five and a half minutes and watch master paint forger, Tom Keating discuss, and paint in the fashion of, W.H. Turner. )
Listen to yourself when you talk to other people. Those you’ve just met and those you know well. In these conversations you are likely to find a harmony and a disparity. In one you will likely find elements of your perceived self. In the other you may find your more intimate self. In these two selves, you may start to gain a more complete picture of who you are, what you are about, and what you want to say. This is helpful in refining your voice as an artist. Or as a person, if you are interested in that kind of thing.
Take the time to write down all the questions you want to ask all the people you want to know about. Then slowly, not to overload, share those questions with those people. It’s best to have them written down. It’s best to organize your thoughts. And it’s best to ask a question with a clear intent. As the one who is asking, be ready to share your thoughts on the subject as the discussion should be able to go both ways. However, one should avoid asking a question where the driving motivation is to answer it themselves.