Compulsively, I read biographies on painters/artists and movements. I never restrict myself in regards to medium nor era. I notice that starting at about the time right before the impressionists, there was a common occurrence. A lot of artists had the same life trajectory with variations according to their personal temperaments and artistic voices.
There would be the years of learning followed by chrysalises period from which they would emerge with the base of what would become their distinct individual voice. Often, this would be followed by years of trudging forward while suffering through various slings and arrows of critics and the general public.
If lucky to still be alive, then once through this phase is the first blush of fame. Often times the fame would grow but it becomes sort of a trap. An artist starts to second guess themselves trying to hold onto all their hard fought for gains. This includes the temptation and pressure to merely repeat what had brought them their initial laurels.
From an artists point of view it becomes pandering where one pantomimes the familiar as to hear applause. Galleries don’t want to risk sales by the artist striking off in new direction. There is the danger that critics won’t understand or appreciate any deviation from what they like about an artist.
Even artists who mange to navigate all of this, when you read their biographies or “the letters of” type books they all comment on the same sweet spot of their careers.
It is when enough “fame” has finally happened so that they have met all of life’s basic needs (food, clothes, shelter et al) and can buy art supplies without having to think about the impact of any purchases on the rest of their lifestyle. The long gestated voice is recognized and appreciated but not to the degree that there can be no further evolution to it.
With no distractions from practical considerations towards daily living nor external pressures of audience, gallery or critics the artist is free to explore and follow their own North star.
This golden time is too often recognized only after it has passed.
In an attempt to buck the trend I try to take advantage of it as often as possible. Aside from a way of showing appreciation for my situation, it also fosters evolution.
Rarely do I do studies before doing a painting. This time I decided to, as to play around a little with compositional balance. Also, I decided to greatly increase the size of my work from the usual 11×14 inches to 25×30. when I paint it is usually flat upon my table. Because of the size, this time it was on an easel.
I have a great, heavy wood and brass easel which could be used for massive sized pieces. As I worked on lower sections of this piece, I sat on a stool with my feet on the bottom cross bar of the easel so that it looked like I was a windsurfer.
With my paints I always use half pan sets. I had been given a few tubes as a gift and decided to use those too. they required very much a different touch.
overall, I was very pleased with the results of this piece.