Saturday, March 22, 2008


Part of me is not very happy about our spring snowfall, and part of me is grateful that I have a good excuse to stay inside and work on my painting. I have to say that my biggest worry with regard to my artwork is that I don't see any one personal artistic style emerging. I am just as happy to design a playing card featuring Stephen King's face for the EDM group as I am experimenting with abstract paintings. In either case the payoff for me is a sense of discovery and surprise.

This little design was the result of a challenge for the Everyday Matters group. "Draw a pack of cards, or design a new face card." I don't play cards, but I like looking at their designs, so that was the approach I took. I don't draw a lot of faces, and have never tried caricature, so I searched around the internet for tips on getting started. That led to my looking at my old high school yearbook, and attempting to draw familiar faces, then moving on to the master of horror fiction. After a couple false starts I managed to come up with a design that reminded me of King. What I have learned from making myself do even the challenges that don't speak to me right away is that they don't have to be automatically appealing. Pretty often the unappealing ones are the ones that end up having an interesting and surprising result.

I think many people who draw and paint are frustrated by their inability to loosen up and be experimental. I certainly have been unhappy by many of my tight, literal paintings. In an attempt to portray real beauty in the world I often can't see the big picture because of my concern with detail. Personal emotional response, even composition, takes the back seat to picky-picky detail. With that in mind, I decided to try different materials (illustration board, gesso, acrylics) and a different approach. I'm happy with the process, which seems less like work and more like exploration, and the results. But here's the thing - the response I get at home and online where I post on Flickr, is lukewarm at best. It's not the responses I get, which are supportive, but the lack of response, as gauged by the number of times the photo is viewed or marked as a "favorite." What comes to mind is Mom's warning, If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. My assumption is that people are mostly keeping their mouths shut. I never know if lack of response because viewers don't like a loose style, or because I'm just not doing a very good job. Maybe it's some of both of those factors. Or maybe I need to include the abstract work in a different group.

Anyway, I feel the need to try new things, even if they aren't enthusiastically received. At some point I need to just usher my inner critic to the back row, and try to ignore her. I can only hope that way I can continue to grow, and in the end develop a recognizable personal style.


Teri C said...

I read with interest your comments as I am with you, I draw anything that interests me and have gotten to the point that even 'bad' is a great learning experience.

This is a great playing card!

Sugar said...

I have to agree with teri c.... there really isn't a bad turnout when it comes to expressing oneself through art. I have started my life long interest with copper enameling and my first works are not a pretty sight, but what the hey! I'll keep on trying. :)

Sharon said...

I actually saw this lovely abstract on Flickr and was going to comment when the phone rang. I often view art on the internet that I really like but I do not always leave a comment, particularly if I would only be repeating what others have already said. Anyway, the colors in this are gorgeous. And I also think the composition works well. I'm amazed at how many different mediums and styles you experiment with. I always look forward to seeing your work. You seem rather fearless and I admire that.

Rima said...

Oh, punny art! my favourite. cute and well done (the card, of course)

Love the abstract - it's boisterous and energetic. And charming. I think it would be good to continue exploring in this vein.

I'm glad I "followed" you here from Papiers Colles (my sister's blog).

Rayne said...

Very original. I really do like your Stephen King design. Many, many, people do not comment for all different reasons. They are just cruising the 'net for enjoyment. They don't feel they are 'qualified' to leave a comment on an artist's work, they don't feel comfortable commenting on any thing, and so on. Something I read a long time ago has really made a difference for me, it went something like; Never create for the approval of others, create for your own soul only.

no way said...

You know, I really like these loose paintings you're working on. I totally understand the need to loosen up and try new things because I, too, feel like I am too comfortable with my own style, and need to keep pushing ahead. I say keep working on these. They're beautiful and they take you in new directions.

Sue said...

Great card. I thought it was Stephen King initially then was surprised to find I was right.

I agree also with Teri - even 'bad' things teach.