Friday, April 10, 2015

Variety + Experimentation = Risk

Variety + Experimentation = Risk

Being an artist is a risk. Not only financially but most artists put their whole heart into their work which is then evaluated by others to determine whether it is worthy of purchase. This is not a profession for the faint of heart.

In such a risky venture, wouldn't it make sense to reduce the risk? No artist wants a piece to "fail" and not sell. Therefore, if you paint a beach scene with sand dunes and flowing grasses and it sells, shouldn't you be back at the easel and paint another beach? Maybe another 7 beaches? How about in 5 different sizes and you could vary the frame color.

However tempting that would be, I would say no. In each piece I am attempting to tell a new story. If I told a unique beach story, would the next beach scene have a story just as fresh? As I am working out the concept for a new painting I ask myself two questions:
Is this a new story for me to tell?
Am I telling the story in a fresh way that I haven't seen before?

Hence there is a lot of variety in my work. I am mostly a wildlife artist because it is easy for me to get excited about my subjects. But, whether it is a violinist in Genoa, outlaws of the Old West, or a sailboat on a summer day, I have other stories I want to tell.  Variety - the spice of life.

Okay. So I have a variety of genre in my work. Wouldn't it make sense to approach each piece the same way? Limit the experimentation to reduce the risk.
I firmly believe that one's artistic growth is tied to experimentation. I could paint different subjects all day long and my growth as an artist would be slower than if I tried some new techniques.

I've tried large paintings almost solely painted by glazing; metallic gold gesso base; Venetian red gesso; gray-toned gessoboard, tight detail, impressionistic interpretations, broad landscapes, and portraits with no discernible background.

For this painting, I am trying a soft look and using a tan/brown-toned gessoboard. There isn't as much a learning curve for my palette as there was with the Venetian red gesso  - or maybe I am used to adjusting my palette on the fly.

Variety + Experimentation = Risk

Being an artist is a risk. I believe playing it safe in my art is too great a risk. It may seem that painting a slight variation of a successful piece would give one the best chance of selling. Maybe....for a while. But it is a limiting experience for both the artist and the collector.

The greatest opportunity for growth is rooted in both variety and experimentation. New subjects, new ideas paired with different approaches. That may seem like a risk but I believe it is the best way to become the best artist I can be.

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