Pondering The Artist Life
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Lake Shore - by Lori Woodward
Yesterday, I was chatting with artist friend. She had a still life of veggies and gourds set up on a chair - and she was painting from life. Her style is contemporary, bright colors - great design! She lamented that she'd like to study with artists who could teach her to paint classically - like Zorn or Sargent.
I immediately shot out a comment (perhaps too emphatically) ... Why in the world would you want to paint like thousands of other living painters? You've developed a unique and pleasing style, and while it's not like Sargent or classical - there is a growing audience for more contemporary styles of work. Why not stay with what you're already doing? If you're enjoying your own way of painting, stay with it - develop a body of work, and then market it.
She thanked me, and I hope I wasn't too strong. But sometimes I have to wonder why any artists who has found their own niche would want to paint like someone else? In today's marketing economy, it's niche marketing that is making good sales. Collectors are tired of "the same 'ol thing". They want something that is well done, unique and identifiable to that one artist.
I'm not one to say one style of art is any better than another. There are plenty of folks out there who have developed their individual tastes - and many of them are wanting less traditional works because it doesn't fit in with the newer modern decor. Each generation seems to reject the decorating style of their parents - they want something new and different, something that defines their own generation, and right now, that style is sleek, European, and for the most part has no Victorian or Old World elements. I'm seeing tastes for art run in the same direction - unframed, wide-canvas with bright color and bold painting.
On the other hand, I'm NOT saying that there isn't still a market for traditional work. I prefer to paint in a traditional manner - so I need to find collectors who appreciate that style. In this new world of marketing to individuals without agents, people are developing individual tastes and collections, and that goes for music, art, food etc. It's no longer a mass-marketing world.
Let me end with this... be yourself! Do not be led to clone another painter just because that person has collectors, or because your mentor thinks he is the only one who does "real" artwork. Remember, there are all kinds of collectors - and there are all kinds of art. If we all painted exactly the same way, how boring the world of art would be?
Do yourself a favor: find out who you are and what your artistic inclination is - no matter what style that may be. Seek out a teacher who can help you develop your unique artwork - by learning principles, not copying the teacher's style. Artists make art - and art is as individual as your signature.