Saturday, August 25, 2012

To Borrow or not to Borrow

Most of the time, I borrow technique freely while I am working. I look at lots of art and see what's worked for the artist, and try those techniques my way. It's usually how I (and lots of artists I know) learn new things.

(This is a detail of my latest, untitled, and not quite finished Landscape-with-a-Single-House.)

This, and the landscape paintings from the previous posts, came from seeing some paintings at a Western Slope gallery last winter. To use a label (sorry) those paintings were pretty standard Contemporary Impressionistic in technique. But the color-use was not standard.  The artists had used vivid, pure color in an sort of Expressionistic manner. 

So my head was filled with lots of new ideas for painting some vivid acrylic landscapes of my own.

(This is a detail of the other side of the painting)

I started out with sketches--lots of them.  Usually, I look at works I admire, and consciously borrow the hell out of the successful techniques.  This time, experimentally--in a (probably idiotic) stubborn fit--I purposefully stayed away from looking at any landscapes during the process, and purposely avoided borrowing many techniques. But I must acknowledge a debt to Watterson--his landscapes supporting the antics of Calvin and Hobbes will never be out of my mind.

At any rate, this painting was very difficult for me--one of the hardest painting times I can remember. But it was worth it.
I ended up with works that looked nothing like the original, colorful ideas that had sprung up in my head, but I am very happy with the result. I'm pretty excited by this recent crop of paintings, and best of all,
I learned a lot during the process.

In purposefully not borrowing, I discovered some very interesting ways with paint.  
That being said, nothing spontaneously occurs within a vacuum, and I know that all the things I've seen and liked and been taught contribute to all the work that I do. And I will go back to purposeful borrowing, because trying to re-invent the wheel all the time would be foolishness.

Hope that made some sense. Oh well, I appreciate you reading it anyway!


  1. Remember a million monkeys with paintbrushes should be able to recreate the Mona Lisa. :-)

    1. Got the paintbrushes; need a few more monkeys in the studio. 999,999 to be exact :-)


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