August 21, 2011

A Fork in the Road

It seems as though I’ve been walking down a straight and narrow road for quite some time with my work. I have always aimed to reproduce a piece from source material to the best of my ability.

But what exactly is my style? I seem to be at a fork in the road. The road to the right says ‘Realism’ while that to the left says ‘Representational’.

Now I’m always awed by the work of realists and how they manage to go from a blank palette to what looks like a photograph. They have such a great attention to detail and great mastery of their medium that they can do almost anything!

On the other side I’m also awed by the work of representational artists who recreate the source material but are able to find a balance between the details, knowing what to add and what to leave out. They are able to bring forth some of their self into each piece and their style┬áis evident. It’s not just ‘photographic’ it’s truly ‘artistic’.

Where is my work heading, what am I aiming for? This is the fork in the road that I’ve arrived at and can’t decide which path naturally follows or suits me.

Fellow artists have you’d ever found yourself in this position or similar regarding your style? I’m not sure if it’s something I need to sit down and determine or if it will naturally be decided for me.

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    16 Comments

  • Barbara J Carter August 21, 2011
    Reply

    I think style usually “just happens.” You could, certainly, try to push yourself in a particular direction, but I think you can only go so far with that. Your natural voice will come out. But maybe you could try both directions, like do two pieces (maybe even of the same subject) and really push to the extremes, to see which feels better. I’d be interested to see the result! Good luck!

    • Vanessa August 31, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Barbara! Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve heard a few people say the same thing, it will happen naturally and perhaps to try both until I’m more certain and I find one tends to fit more. One suggestion was also to have someone look at a body of your work and describe it, perhaps what they say may even be helpful.

  • Janice Tanton August 29, 2011
    Reply

    Style is a choice once you have the skillset to begin to manipulate it and get the results you are looking for. I’ve “rebelled” against just “one” way of doing something. Galleries for the most part, hate that – but I don’t serve the galleries. I serve myself and art as a communicative form. When you find a good gallery who understands who you are as an artist, it is much simpler to be intenful with your decisions.

    I paint in two specific genres with that intent. I paint in an Old Master’s style, and in an Expressionist style.

    Both equally serve a purpose in communicating my emotions, intent and direction with a direct link to my artist statement which is based on finding common ground and differences in cultural approaches. (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal). Both styles reflect who I am as an artist and a person, and I think that is exactly where I should be.

    “Style” is ever-developing and intentful at the same time.

    • Vanessa September 1, 2011
      Reply

      Janice thanks so much for that! I don’t see myself as a gallery artist either. Though I do show a few pieces through them throughout the year, they’ve never influenced my style.

      Perhaps in time as the skill set develops it will come. And thanks for the reminder about being true to the self and message of the art before anything else, that’s huge!

  • Sandhya manne August 30, 2011
    Reply

    I understand your dilemma, I started with a lot of reproductions,but somewhere down I did not find ‘Me’ in the finished art….so I started adding something to make the reproduction “Mine”….So now I like to create art thats totally “Mine”…..Listen to your voices…..

    • Vanessa September 1, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Sandhya! That’s pretty much the plan from here on in. Amazing how so many other artists have experienced this when they were early into their career.

  • Cindy Michaud August 30, 2011
    Reply

    I could have written your blog myself: I have stood at that fork for a long time. I have, however, been assured that “me” will emerge if i am patient. Do what interests you and sit back and look at it…what calls to you? I am starting to see a “combo” look in my work, a transition to something that blends both extremes. Do as Barbara suggests and paint same subject both ways, and as Janice reminds us: feel free to do it all.

    • Vanessa September 1, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Cindy! It can be daunting when you look around and it seems like everyone knows their path but you when really we’re all trying to find our way. I’ll definitely keep painting and let time and ‘painting from within’ do the rest.

  • Brandi September 1, 2011
    Reply

    I think most serious artists feel this way from time to time throughout their career – like any person in any profession we are constantly growing, learning, and experiencing things that influence change. As previously stated, definitely keep working from the heart & have confidence in your direction!

    • Vanessa September 17, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks Brandi, I will definitely keep striving.

  • Carolyn Weins September 8, 2011
    Reply

    Beautiful work Vanessa. It is a path/a journey. In your lifetime, you may end up venturing down both paths and a few others as well. Do your art and follow where you feel it leading you. You can decide later, if one label describes it better than another. All the suggestions are great. As you create and explore, you’ll feel a pull in the direction you want to go now. Later, you may choose a different direction. You don’t have to limit yourself.

    • Vanessa September 26, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Carolyn, I like that, it even feels natural. Just paint and see where it goes. That’s the plan!

  • Becky Joy September 11, 2011
    Reply

    Vanessa, I think finding your voice is an organic process and ever changing in most cases. Make sure that whichever direction that you go that it is enjoyable and that you feel good about what you do. Do it for the love of your art.

    • Vanessa September 26, 2011
      Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement Becky! I absolutely love your paintings!

  • Denise Bellon West September 19, 2011
    Reply

    Nessa, I just looked at your work, and I think you DO have a style. It’s very gentle and caring. I don’t see a difference between your still lifes and your portraits. To me they feel equally gentle and caring and are all beautiful. I don’t think you have to worry about doing one or the other. That being said, the intimacy in the portraits FEELS more like the real you to me. I have been told that if you paint every day your style will eventually emerge. Well, I too have been struggling with this dilemma, and after 20 years my paintings are still WILDLY dissimilar! I think you are doing just fine the way you are.

    • Vanessa September 26, 2011
      Reply

      Well Denise that just made my day! Perhaps it is there and just needs to be developed more over time. They do say your style is like your handwriting, and it’s difficult to disguise. I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between my portraits and other works but like you mentioned perhaps there are similarities and that’s what I should focus on too. Thanks so much Denise!

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