Friday, March 22, 2013

Copying Other Artists

Last night I spent some time looking at the websites of a number of artists, known and unknown, whose work I enjoy. It had been while since I'd done that, and I really enjoyed myself and felt excited afterwards... full of new ideas and ways to think about things and look at the world.

For the longest time I stopped studying at other artists' works because I would become so enamored with it that I would unintentionally (or 'intentionally') begin to copy it, or mimic it. That was a good thing for me to do, because I am the type of person who loves to be influenced by others. But that mentality can be problematic for those, like myself, who desire to hone their own technique and build their own body of work. So that is why I took a break from studying other artists for a few years.

It was very helpful. Now, after this "fast," I think I can look at other artists' works and enjoy it, and be influenced by it in positive ways, but not try to emulate it or copy it and thus be "unoriginal."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Facets of Artistic Discipline: The Painting Schedule

This winter my studio has been so cold that it simply has not been fun for me to be over there and work. It is sort of insulated, and I have a space heater, but it is still freezing. So finally at some point in January I decided to just not do any work over. While I used to able to stand painting in a freezing place, or sweltering place, the older I get the less I can tolerate it.

So until I can better insulate the studio, or build a new one (preferably with a wood burning stove), I will reserve the coldest months of the year for smaller work that I can do in my nice, climate controlled office. By this I suppose I mean icons... and maybe some smaller watercolors.

One of the most important aspects of the artistic life is discipline. And part of discipline is knowing what to do when, and what works best in a given situation. That's what this is for me. I simply can't do my best work if I am physically uncomfortable, so there is no point in me painting anything in the frigid cold or sweltering heat. It will just be a waste of time, energy, and supplies, which is stuff that I cannot afford to waste! Best to paint the oil canvases during a more agreeable time of year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Egg Tempera Icon Painting

Lately I have been working on a bunch of icons lately and hope to have at least 20 for sale at diocesan synod in Annapolis, MD this summer. These are the best icons I have ever done. The really exciting, though, is simply working in egg tempera. Today I realized just how much I enjoy this medium. I have to say that were it not for iconography I probably would never have tried egg tempera. It is a great medium in which to work because it is both rigid and flexible... sort of in between watercolor and oil. The amount of detail you can get is staggering, and I really like the matte look of the paint. For now this medium is so closely aligned with iconography in my mind I would never use it for anything else. I once painted some landscapes in tempera and only one of them came out okay. The problem was I was not painting icons! It just didn't work. I love egg tempera, so that means I will be painting icons for many years to come. Perhaps one day I will branch out and try some additional subject matter in this medium once more.