Tag Archives: style

Is Popularity needed for Your Art?

Be yourself rather than what is popular. We hear this all the time.  But who doesn’t like popularity? However, being an artist is more than just being popular. It should also mean being artistic in your art.

Why do you make the art that you do? If your honest with yourself and the answer to that question is “Because it sells well.” or “It’s expected of an artist” then it might be time to look a little deeper.

Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Cezanne are very popular.  Their paintings sell for millions. The fame! The fortune!  Everybody wants to own a Van Gogh. However, these artists are also quite dead.  So, being popular artists really isn’t helping them out on a personal level.

Hopefully, your very much alive.  That means you still can live artistically by being true to yourself in your art.  Work on what you do best. Find your niche and don’t be a dead artist.

Longhorn
At 2200lbs. popularity doesn’t matter.

Your Style is More Important than Popularity

Catalog what you do in your art.  What makes you happy? Upset? What patterns do you find you generally follow when you create your art.   Do you gravitate towards a specific medium? Colors? Specific subjects?

Self experiment with your art.  Try painting in a different medium.  If you’re a painter, try using a camera.  If you’re a photographer try using a sketch pad instead.  Or use a different method to express your work. If you’re a color based photographer, try using only black and white techniques.  

You like painting in Oil?  Try doing Sumi-e style painting instead.   Whatever you do, don’t throw any of it away.  Trust me, you’ll want to. Your inexperience with a new style or technique will glaringly show.  But that’s not the point of the exercise.

My personal journey from photography to pastels and then towards watercolor has not been as smooth as I’d love to claim and I shudder to think of my first experiments. Often I’ve asked myself why I put myself through these catastrophic attempts.

But I always remember the main purpose of finding my artistic style.  After you’ve tried various techniques and methods look at your work. Yes, that even means that growing pile of trash in your bin of failures.

Try to discover what is common about all of them.  For instance, if you’re looking at a bin full of drawings, painting and sketches and discover that there isn’t a solid straight line in any of them, that’s useful information.  That’s your style showing through. Did you discover that you painted in 10 different shades of blue but only 2 shades of green? That’s useful also.

Maybe you discover that your photographic field trip to the park doesn’t have a single person in any shot.  Or, you suddenly realize all of your pictures contain unconventional angles.

As you begin to identify more with various mediums and preferences you tend to like and start focusing your work on those points.  Soon your patrons, friends and colleagues will be able to tell your pictures belong to you without having your name displayed.

The Benefits:

You will become popular for all the right reasons.  Namely you’ve been loyal to who you are and what you do artistically.  Over time this style will change as you change. Popularity is great.   But it is much more beneficial to live true to yourself and your natural talents than a fake it to make it strategy.  Be yourself. Be a living artist.

Red Crowned Crane: A Splash of Color Makes the Difference.

This incredible bird is a Red Crowned Crane. Cranes are birds of elegance and beauty that very few other species can match. The natural colors for the bird are simply a bright red crest on its head, a blackened color plumage to the face and a long, tall elegant body with further white plumage.

Red Crowned Crane
Red Crowned Crane

As you can see, it’s not very far off what this work intends to demonstrate. However, placing a black and white filter over the bird allows the bringing out of  finer nuances in the beak and head area. You see detail that would otherwise be lost to color. So, in an essence you gain parts of the image by promoting black and white.

This also works the other way around.  The black and white filtering of the image causes the background to disappear in a sea of darkness.  The result is a loss of distractions from the subject of the work and adding visual stimulus from the clashes of the white feathers of the bird against the black unseen background.

Normally, this opposition of black and white would take over the photo. But what makes this crane stand out, what grabs the viewer’s attention more than any other aspect, is the brilliant red color of its crest.

I took a chance by introducing the color to a black and white image.   Adding color to a black and white work of art has become very commonplace in photographic art communities. Generally though, like HDR style photographs, overproduction of these colored images has led to a bit of abuse.  More often than naught, the artist will color in a wide swath of the picture to try to highlight a large feature like a car or bus. Usually, the object takes up so much of the picture it becomes unclear why the artist changed it to black and white in the first place.  But in our case, the bird only needed that small flush of brilliancy.  So the overall effect of the color is a punch of visual impact that centers the bird as the sole object of attention. The impression is cleanly made.

To overdo the color in an image destroys the artistic flair of creating the black and white image in the first place.   It is proof of the concept that a little burst of color goes a long way to developing something special.

See the rest of the show here.

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The Secret of Red Tulip

This is our latest offering in our ever-expanding artwork dealing with flowers. Red Tulip is a portrait of a bright red tulip found in the flower garden one spring morning.   The main motivation for the work revolves around the lighting and the detail of the dew on the petals of the flower.

 

Black and White photography allows for you to see pieces of the flower that you would otherwise be unable to view due to the bright colors. The challenge in creating a piece like this is twofold. The first, and probably the hardest, is taking the shot. But to do that it is necessary to mentally sift through hundreds of tulips and lighting angles to find the right one. The fact that I only use natural lighting conditions when taking a picture really pushes my creativity when searching for my subject.

 

Another trick is that you have to be there early to get this shot. Most photographers preferring natural light will tell you that as the day progresses the light from the sun becomes more and more harsh. But there are other reasons for getting to the flower garden before the sun becomes your enemy. Early morning is the best time to capture the morning dew. The random droplets of dew on enhance our attention to detail when viewing a flower. It just naturally appears fresher.

Red Tulip
Red Tulip

 

The second challenge in this shot is the use of filters.   Because I do not use artificial light, I use various colored filters to create a darker or lighter image among the colors when converted into a black and white image.   These filters only do part of the job however, as it is then necessary to use dodge and burning techniques to enrich areas of the flower that will enhance the natural lighting or darken the background as my creativity inspires me to do.   While this is consumes a great deal of time, the result is worth it.

 

As usual, the hardest part of any artwork is the naming. I decided that since the main reason any flower attracts our attention for so long is definitely the color. So, I decided that I was going to name it according to the color of the original tulip. Thus Red Tulip was born.

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How Will You Scare Your Enemies this Chinese New Year?

Happy New Year!

恭禧发财  ( Gong Xi Fa Cài)  or (Gong Hey Fat Choy)

Since it is Chinese New year, I thought it proper to introduce one of my new works. This is Male Foo Lion.  Sometimes referred to as a foo dog, foo dogs are really lions. Foo Lions are very important symbols in Chinese culture and references to them are easy to find. The most famous being sets of Foo Lions from the Ming and Qing dynasties found in the Forbidden Palace in the center of Beijing, China.

I wanted to bring forth and center upon the emotion in the statue by giving a close-cropped view of the Male Foo Lionterrifying teeth and eyes of the lion. I envisioned the lion launching out of the frame at the viewer with its ferocious intent. The image was desaturated of color and various dodge and burn techniques are then applied along with a cool blue filter to enhance the whites and boost the blacks in the image.

Traditionally, Foo Lions offer protection from negative energy or Qi. It does this in the same way gargoyles work. The scarier or more grotesque the figure is the better.   This frightening visage protects its owner by scaring away the negative energy. It’s also important to place the Foo lion so that it is facing a door or window from which the owner of the lion believes negative energy may come.

The male lion usually has a ball under his paw representing the world and is always located towards the left side of an opening looking out. The female lion is found with a cub under its paw representing support. The female lion is always located towards the right side of the opening looking out.

This particular image is that of the male lion. So, if you wish to feel the full effects of its protection, place it on the left side of an entrance hallway, door, or window.

 

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Maybelle Loves Patrons, Work and Theme Connections

Have you ever looked at an artwork and thought, “Ehh…”?  You don’t hate the work, but you certainly don’t love it either.  You’re not alone. This happens every time I look at art online. Why does this happen?   It’s because a connection did not form between you and the artist.

When an artist creates artwork, they are working towards creating a connection on some psychological level between themselves, their artwork, and hopefully, a patron.  The connection is an internal meaning that both the patron and the artist can mutually identify with.   It’s of paramount importance to creating any art form and specifically to continuing the artist’s particular artistic vision.

Making a connection is a risky affair for most artists. It means sacrificing the need to please everyone approach of your work and instead selecting a particular topic as the subject of the artwork.

Sadly, not every piece of art produced will create the connection that the artist so fervently works for. It’s even possible for the artwork to make connections with other viewers that was never actually grasped by the buyer. That’s the gamble and struggle of art.

Some artists seem to create these connections effortlessly.  For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was famous for creating art that glorified his patrons while insulting them at the same time. He was obviously a genius at making meaningful connections to be able to produce such results consistently. But for the rest of us, why are these connections so difficult to create or manage?

It’s not really our ability to create that is the problem. Instead, the answer lies in our individuality as a consumer. As Carolyn Edlund of Artsy Shark suggests, it’s about themes. When we go art shopping, we usually unconsciously purchase things according the theme in us.

If a rancher goes online looking for western artwork, he or she is probably very attached to art portraying life on a ranch. It’s something the rancher can identify with and it becomes personally important. This makes it highly unlikely that he/she will purchase Japanese Anime.

Maybelle
Maybelle

Anime is not an interest of the rancher and has very little sway in making his or her purchasing decisions. On the other hand, a wonderful metal print of a cow that is for sale will grab the rancher’s attention. People only tend to purchase what they are truly interested in.

Every patron of the arts will differ in opinion about what is worthy of their consideration as a collector and what is not. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.

So, when a photographic artist looks at an image and wonders whether to sell it or not, they must try to select what theme would produce the greatest chance of that shot being sold.   In fact, the mere act of placing a picture under a particular theme is also an example of the artist trying to make that ever-elusive connection.

So, what’s your favorite art theme?

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