On Sunday evening, my husband and I went to a concert with very close friends. We went to hear Herbie Hancock perform. I was excited because I enjoy jazz immensely and I wanted to hear this legend. The crowd seemed as thrilled as I was. Sadly, Hancock’s performance included work that we recognized, but it was changed to the point where we could only pick out a few notes of the beloved songs sprinkled into long sets of jamming riffs. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy musical riffs. I was just disheartened that I didn’t get to hear the songs that I know and love the way that I know and love them.
Artists take a risk when they change their work. They risk loosing the audience that has come to appreciate their art. However, if artists don’t change, then they don’t grow. It is a tough trek across a precarious balance beam.
Last week, some lovely visitors to my studio asked me a question during the course of their visit that has had me thinking. They asked, “Has your work changed?” They have not known me, or my work, a long time, so I wasn’t sure exactly why they had posed the query. To better understand them, I initially answered the question with a question of my own. This led to my discovery that they had purchased a piece by an artist whose work and style has changed dramatically. I answered as best I could on the fly. As usually occurs, why is this so?, I thought about a more thorough answer twenty-four hours later.
Of course my work has changed over the years. I think that the changes most recently may be almost imperceptible by all but the keenest eyes. I feel a change in my work as a direct result of my trip to France, but I don’t think that others can see it. However, if one looks at my early work and then at the art I am producing now, there is a marked difference. First of all, when I first started working in pastel, I used Canson Mi- Teintes paper. Many years ago, this was the paper that was available for pastel use. As time progressed, I became fatigued with using the same surface and began my search for a different approach. This led me to several commercial papers and finally, to preparing my own surface.
Secondly, when I first began seriously committing to making art, I had considered portraiture. This seemed like a perfect fit for my personality since I am, most decidedly, a “people” person. I worked from the model for years, doing figures and portraits. The clarion call to landscape didn’t occur until I was attending a Daniel Greene workshop. I have rarely experienced the clarity that I did on the long drive home from that workshop. I most certainly didn’t want to paint portraits and I didn’t want to paint in a photo-realistic style, but what did I want? Upon my return to the studio, I pulled out several art books. Looking through the pages, I marked the images that moved me emotionally and then reviewed my preferences. I realized that a more intuitive, emotional response was what I wanted to elicit in viewers, and I began working toward more expressive art.
So, in answer to my visitor’s question, my work has changed from a more photo-realistic approach to a more expressive one. I am much more concerned with a strong composition and a more simplified approach than I was when I first began painting. Early in my painting experience, I wanted to learn techniques that would enable me to express myself clearly in my work. Now, I can work without concern over the technical qualities of my medium of choice. That said, I am itching to experiment some more, so a change is sure to come.
Happy to have you here. This is where you will see work in progress, tips about making art, seeing art, and enjoying art. You will also see ways to live a more joyous life.
Want to learn more about my upcoming workshop in Italy, October 5-12, 2019? Click here.