Thursday, February 07, 2008

Maggie on Style, Part III

top: "the anatomy of adrenalin"
bottom: "the three fates"
both 10 x 30" acrylic on canvas

I did have one of my usual posts that is about nothing in particular planned for tonight -- actually, I think it was going to focus on shampoos (how exciting!) -- but there were some questions posed in the comments of the last style post that I really thought were good. So I'd like to take another post to talk about those. I'll keep answering them as long as you guys keep asking them. And feel free to answer other commenter's questions in the comments as well -- there are a wealth of talented artists who frequent my blog (and I'm humbled to say that), and I know they have their own version of the style story.

Becca asked: How long did it take you to find your groove?

The short answer is 3 years. Though I'd been drawing and doodling every since I was a tiny maggot, I didn't really think I was going to do anything in particular with my art until I was out of college. And then I threw myself into the "painting a day" movement -- I produced over 400 pieces inbetween 2006-7. Believe me, that accelerates the process a little. But also keep in mind that for a lot of that, I was completely unguided and didn't even realize I wanted to be working towards a cohesive style.

Tracy Wall asked: Did your previous patrons give you any grief for not producing what they originally fell in love with?

I got some agonized e-mails from collectors of my cityscapes when I stopped selling them, but they were understanding when I explained why I was moving in another direction. And then my colored pencil clients (who were paying higher prices because the pieces took longer and because I had more credentials to my "colored pencil" name)(since I had to basically market my two styles separately) were perfectly pleased to continue buying from me, since the injection of pizazz from my acrylic cityscape style only improved the colored pencil work. And my income went up when I dropped the cityscapes.

And Autumn Willow asked: As with others who've commented, I'm at that crucial point of figuring out a style. My problem is... doesn't it get kind of monotonous and boring to use the same style and medium pretty much all the time?

I had this question in mind when I picked the two paintings for this blog post. They're two of my favorite paintings ever, but as you've probably immediately noticed, they don't look like anything else I've ever done. So here's my answer. Yes, it would be intensely monotonous and boring to use the same style and medium all the time. Plus, you'd get stale. One of the great things about artists is that we're always growing and changing. So yes, for my shows and for my portrait clients, I do my usual style, colored pencil with wild flairs. But on Sundays, as you guys have probably noticed, I do art for me. I pull out my pastels, get myself covered with paint, pretend I'm someone else -- do something that I never intend on selling. And sometimes it's a tremendous mess and failure. And sometimes it's wonderful, and I can file that information away for later.

But I don't put these experimental pieces into my booth. The only way I ever show my experimental pieces is if I do enough of them to be a series -- so it looks on purpose. You know, the section of the art history book where they show 10 large full-color plates and the caption is "Maggie Stiefvater's so-called "Splatter" Phase in the early part of the century."

So those two Adrenalin pieces stay in my studio, waiting for me to do more of the series. And one day I will. And then I will pull them out proudly. Until then, I'll incorporate what I liked from those pieces into my current style and watch it slowly evolve.


Tahirih said...

Hi Maggie, I love your last two posts, well, actually, I love all of your posts. Anyways, thanks are always exactly where I need you to be! It's amazing. About three days ago I was pondering the question of style. I am in Maui right now, the place with a million art galleries, contemplating presenting my work to a gallery, and I'm thinking...Do I have a style? How do I get a style? Do my paintings fit together coherently at all? And then you post on style!
Oh yeah, my last painting was a horse, fresh off the easel. I could use a critique from a real artist if you ever have time to check it out.
Thanks again for your wonderful blog,

vivien said...

when people worry about developing a style I worry - but you are right in the way you describe it :)

Not working in the style of < insert name of choice > but finding your own language of paint and marks, as unique as your handwriting.

Style evolves as you work and you do need to show cohesive work at booths or galleries - or it devalues the work you've done, looks as though you don't quite know where you are and you are trying out styles like trying on fancy dress.

it is important to experiment and learn and develop as you say and I absolutely agree that a series is needed before it's shown.

Though I work in many different media and on the edge of realism/abstraction, sometimes more realist and sometimes more abstract, I think the 'me' is there throughout. I hope so anyway.

Tales of an Artist & his Travelers said...

If you search for a style it will always prove to be just beyond your current work. Your style should also change as you vision of life changes. There is no "style" only the visible mark of your spirit. Free your spirit and let it guide your hand.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful piece Maggie!!! I have different styles that I use. That way I don't really get tired of them. I don't do realism, although if you find me drawings and not my paintings I have done that in the past. Picasso started out painting realisticly. He said that his later works were harder to create though. Artist's styles often change. I agree with tales of an artist on the subject of style. Your work is always great. :) Thanks for sharing it with us!*HUGS*

Cathy Gatland said...

This is an incredibly helpful series of posts to me - I'm well on my way to being that 80 year old painting her false teeth! Having spent the first 20 years or so of my artistic career in advertising as a renderer and having to produce diverse styles -"paint me this credit card in the style of Monet" - was one art direction I remember... I have been at a loss as to how to hone and personalise my work now that I have the freedom to choose what I do. You've suggested some excellent pointers and I'll get right on it, thank you!

Casey Klahn said...

Boffo new banner, Maggie!

Count me in as one of your style series fans.

Barbara Pask said...

Hi Maggie, This is Barbie Bud, I changed my user name to show my real name. A lot more professional I think. Just wanted you to know it was me. I really have enjoyed these posts on style. Thanks, Barb aka Barbie Bud

Kellie Hill said...

uh-oh! it's breaktime at work, so I just clicked over to your online portfolio link to look around, and I'm pretty sure that somethings mixed up- the still lifes and landscapes clicker-area takes you to the horse portraits place, which is gorgeous and beautiful and all, but probably not what was intended? just thought I'd let you know.