So much for that decision September 16, 2016 14:52

Work in progress, Harold Roth, 2016I did the grounds for the next two paintings after picking out some reference photos. I happened to start with the one that is based on a photo I took at the shore of Seneca Lake. This has lots of mossy rocks and reflected sky and a very just slightly wavy surface. So I thought cool--tranquility or something like that. Although I surprisingly could not think of a title.

So yesterday I put in the colors that will show through the sky reflection (in the upper right corner) and began making smudgy shapes for the rocks in the foreground, which will be covered with moss. Today I went further in the modeling of the rocks, as you can see. The colors are weird because they will be covered with glazes that modify how they look.

I sat there painting and thought "Although I can pick out rock shapes pretty easily, it is boring." As I sat there letting rock shapes arise from the deliberately uneven colors, I had a sudden flash of not rocks but the shapes of human bodies. I stopped painting and focused on seeing that more clearly. Not bloody bodies or dead people. But just human shapes. Mysterious. 

I thought, "This would require redoing the rocks area. I'm not too far along, so it wouldn't be much of a hassle. And it would make for a much more powerful painting." 

But who would want to buy such a painting? 

And then I thought that question, although it's important if I want to make a living from my art, and I do, can't be the determining question about my paintings. Can it?

I posted a comment on a little while ago to the effect that instead of "painting what sells," as someone said, an artist should paint what is unique to that artist--their own personal vision. It's good business sense, based on the blue-ocean strategy where you create something unique so that you don't have competition. 

So can I take my own advice? Here I was all sure that I should be painting spare Luminist type landscapes. I enjoy learning technique and working on mastering my tools. I would be happy to paint such paintings. But everywhere I look, if I let my artistic "eye" relax, I see shapes within shapes, living forms, struggling to burst through the skin of the mundane. I feel like I should be painting that hidden world. But will anyone buy it?

I don't know.

And if they don't, will I become bitter, like some artists I see posting who have accumulated literally hundreds of paintings they can't sell and who burn them (!) because they run out of room and won't sell them for cheap? I don't want to become that.

But would I? If I were refining my own vision? Or would I end up that way if all I ever did was paint competent spare Luminist landscapes?


Reading over my last post, I see something I didn't see before--that what attracts me so much about the Luminist paintings is the dream-like quality of some of them. They seem full of some hidden meaning or something about to be revealed. Perhaps I can capture that dream-like quality in my own oddball paintings of, say, a shore with body shapes. 

I'm going to give it a try and see what happens.