Sunday, April 1, 2018

How to change your art style

I have been a photo-realist painter for 40 years.  And in February I changed my art style.  Not just a little bit but dramatically.  How did this happen?

This piece was done in 1978 and even though it was before I worked with photographs, it already anticipated my attention to natural appearances, to subjects that maintained the illusion of reality.

So where did my wild ride into surrealist painting come from?

In part it came from discovering a new media and technique: painting with chalk pastel.  I have worked with pastel on paper in the past, but never have I added water to the mix.   A remarkable fluidity emerged that was both "realist" and abstract.

This new art style also came from trying another new material: yupo paper.  Which is not really paper at all but a plastic surface that allowed me to lift away, repaint, and lift away again.   Nothing is permanently fixed on this plastic paper, and so some of the rigidity of being "photo-dependent" also lifted away.

Most of this change in my art style came from just following what was happening on the paper and with the materials, rather than having a plan. 

In fact, this new painting is of a dream, and I had no plan.  Only a few cryptic descriptions: of two women in rough water trying to get back to the dock which did not seem to be attached to anything;

and a strong sense of danger in the dream's final question: How safe is this repair?

Although this new style of art is closest to may painted shamanic frame drums, their deer hide surfaces painted with earth pigment do not have the same depth or complexity.

My Journey Oracle deck of divination wisdom cards also have images that well up from the unconscious.

But again, these are nothing like the part of my brain that opened to a new art.  I don't really know where this art style came from.  But I intend to fly with the bird into this new sky.