Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creating a signature style.

A few days ago a fellow black and white artist, Terry Miller, (who's work I greatly admire) posted an interesting subject on his blog, Terry writes about how an artist needs to follow their own vision of what their work should say. He describes how beginning artists will sometimes emulate the style of those they admire. As a learning process this is valuable but there comes a time when a break needs to be made from established styles, market be damned. There can be a number of circumstance that allow this break to happen. It may certainly be artistic maturity, some personal epiphany, or simply natural progress. In my opinion, anyone that simply sticks with what sells is stagnant, just a practitioner and not a true artist.

Years ago, 20 to be exact, I made the photo realistic drawing above. Every grain in the boards of the canoe, each board perfectly aligned as in the actual boat. Very detailed and precise. I admire this type of work but it simply is no longer me. Over the years I've had a very clear vision of what I wanted my work to evolve into. Years of patience and visualization while I waited for my technical skills to develop to a level to achieve my goal. A method unique to my personality and what might be described as a signature style. I feel confident that this signature will continue to evolve over the next few decades. A process that I welcome.

I used to want to be a full time professional artist more than anything. Reality and circumstances have kept me from this and I've actually become grateful. I do not need to sell a thing! I create drawings that please ME. That's my only criteria. I do submit them for jury consideration but I mostly get turned down. That's OK. I have my integrity to consider first and foremost then my own artistic stimulation and satisfaction. Juries come last. 

I've transformed a jury rejection into a motivational tool. They only serve the purpose of accelerating my growth when I'm turned down. I accept it as a challenge! Recognition from my peers is more gratifying and honest by far.

Fran Sweet, (an artist I also revere) once told me that he could walk into any exhibit and pick out my work from across the room. A compliment of no small measure from an artist of his stature and something I'm very proud of. In a personal letter, Everett Raymond Kinstler described my work as full and rich. He's one of the big dogs of portrait painters! I don't intend to sound boastful, I'm just trying to make a point.

Stay true to your own vision and reap this type of pure, meaningful reward.


Terry Miller said...

Dean . . . well put, well said, and well considered. Thanks for the mention!

Anonymous said...

I love this drawing. I have about 5 copies and counting. Peace Greg M.