Evolve Healthy Notes
To evolve is healthy for painters I think. I have been gradually changing in my work since the beginning. I believe fresh technique and ideas keep our work exciting and interesting. I know some artists who have not changed in style for years. Their brushwork is predictable as well as their palette, subjects and so forth. Yes, I would know their work anywhere, and they have an established style, but is that good? Surely their fans and collectors will run out of interest eventually? I don’t know.
I have evolved more times than I can count. I am a curious person so that suits my personality well. I think the key for me is interest in the process of painting. I don’t care so much about the finished work. Of course I want it to be good and pleasing. We all have egos, but if I didn’t make a living from my art, it wouldn’t matter much about the finish for me.
I think it is the path along the way through a painting that keeps me at it so enthusiastically. Happily, I have matured enough to not worry overmuch about where I am in the pecking order of artists anymore. What a relief! There are dozens of decisions along the path of a painting. All of them are viable and none are perfect. Making those choices create the unique quality of one artist’s work compared to others. If you line up a dozen painters in front of a scene, the 12 paintings will be different, due to the decisions made along the way to end. Isn’t that cool?
Then there is the factor of maturing, both in age and style. When I was a young painter, I wanted to paint everything. I had a mishmash of subjects and styles going all at once. My work was immature and chaotic. I was experimenting and learning in art school and for some years after. Developing into a mature painter takes a fair amount of time. I didn’t really learn how to paint until I was fifty, though I had painted all my life. Now at 68, I am developing some consistency in my body of work. It is important now not to fall into the trap of safety. I know how to paint, but I don’t want to lock myself into a style because it is pleasant and I sell paintings. Now is the time to renew the adventure. My time grows shorter due to aging. I still have a lot to learn and I still need to push further to find those arcane learning opportunities to grow.
Branching out to birds is one of those fun ways to push myself. Two years ago I knew nothing about birds. I have focused some of my study time on small birds now. They are primitive and whimsical but they are a relief from the hard work of being a landscape painter and increase my knowledge base of the natural world. I don’t have the skill of serious bird painters and wouldn’t have the hubris to try to compete with my betters in that genre, but I can have fun and learn from these sweet little creatures. They take me away from my other work for a bit of fun and learning.
What ever your path, change it up now and then and don’t be afraid to look silly. it is all good learning.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…
Southwest Potato Salad
1 lb red potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 limes, for zest/juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic seasoning
3 oz queso fresco, crumbled
Slice potatoes and place in microwave-safe dish with water; cover and microwave on HIGH for 8–10 minutes or until tender (stirring halfway through cook time). Drain and let stand to cool.
Chop cilantro (1/4 cup) and shallot (2 tablespoons). Zest 1 lime (2 teaspoons); squeeze both limes for juice (2 tablespoons).
Whisk in large bowl: mayonnaise, seasoning, cilantro, shallots, zest, and juice. Add potatoes to mayonnaise mixture; toss gently until blended. Crumble queso fresco over top and serve. (Makes 6 servings.)