Thursday, January 10, 2008

Still Life and Other Stuff

Onions and Garlic
colored pencil on paper
3.5 x 2.5 inches
copyright 2008 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I have been reading
Finding Your Visual Voice, A Painter's Guide to Developing An Artistic Style by Dakota Mitchell. This book is a perfect read for me right now. Although it says it's a 'Painter's Guide' I find the topics covered relative to any 2-D media as the subject of the book really is about exploring and discovering your unique visual preferences for image making. The author encourages the reader to look past what might be perceived as expectations of others and find what is truly your voice in art making. Also the book provides exercises to help the reader along in the process. I am slowly working through those. (If the above link does not work you will also find a link to this title in the side bar on the right)

I am often faced with the challenge of how I want to approach my art. From what media and in what 'style' do I find the most satisfaction. Reading along in "Finding Your Visual Voice" I realized that in the past my 'style' of painting usually reflected what I believed was expected from others more than what felt right to me. Not that I didn't get a sense of satisfaction from my working methods but the motivation to do things in a certain way were more from external forces than internally created by me. And I wonder if the painting media itself was part of that external force. Now that I am focusing on drawing I do feel more comfortable with the process. I enjoy paint, the look and feel of it. And the color possibilities are exciting to me as well. But drawing is more comforting to me at present. Painting was a very active engagement with the materials and process while I find drawing to be more meditative. And this is a quality I am more at home with at present.

It is interesting to me the ebb and flow of my artistic preferences over the years and how those preferences relate to everything else happening in my life. Another topic covered in the book, besides methods of working, is subject matter. Now the 'what' of my artwork has been remained consistent. In art school of course we covered everything. Lots of still life and figure work. But since leaving school I have for the most part focused on landscape images. I like the practice of drawing objects, as in the image above or with the Everyday Matters challenges, but I eventually gravitate toward landscape. Once finished with school and settled into domestic life with my new husband (the art professor) I remember doing some of my first landscapes in pastels. And I remember his comment, "what are you going to do with those?" So I put away those drawings and completed a new body of work on another subject that I actually did end up exhibiting and selling most of the pieces. They were all images of chairs. Then I did a fairly successful non-objective series of paintings. I tried various methods for interpreting landscape, color field images and such. Well, you get the picture. Now that I have returned to art making I am once again back with landscape as a subject. It feels right to me for now. So you probably won't be seeing any more still lifes, like the image posted above, from me for a while. Except for my Everyday Matters challenges of course. Which I need to get busy with right now!


Rita said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Ann. It's funny that we always seem to gravitate back to subject matter and mediums that feel most comfortable to us, isn't it? I've always found that it kind of feels like "coming home".

Thanks for sharing the link for the book as well, it sounds like a good read!

Jennifer Rose said...

Looks like an interesting book, I am going to put it on my list of things to read. :)

I feel the same way about how you do when you draw landscapes, when I draw dragons and fantasy creatures, drawing them just feels right (I don't draw them enough though :/)

images of chairs? Different types of chairs? different views of the chairs? I'm curious about the exhibit. :)

Alanna said...

I look forward to seeing your landscapes...I love your still lives, though!
Thanks for visiting my blog (Teri gave me the idea to put that image on as my header!)

Camplin said...

I love art that leaves me with bad breath.

Wendy said...

I am very interested in this book but holding off because it is at least $50 here. I thought it would be good for my acrylics students to have a browse through. (Also for me). I love the drawing. I particularly like the way you've used the yellow and violet to get the greys. So I should buy the book then? P.S. The link in the text isn't working.

Ann said...

Thank you all for commenting. I wonder about revealing what I'm thinking, it can be kind of scary sometimes. But your comments helped confirm for me my thoughts on this whole process. I appreciate you all stopping by!
Jennifer - they were high contrast extreme close ups of parts of chairs focusing on the light and shadow as it passed through their decorative elements and structure. Sounds a lot better than they actually were :)


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