Hunting for An Artistic Voice
Writing about art has become one of my most rewarding endeavours, but long before I ever started to think seriously about the history of art, I was a painter.
What kind of painter, I find it hard to say. Blessed with the proclivity for artistic indecision, my archive — to give it a grandiose title — is inconveniently varied. For all the years I’ve been making paintings, I’ve found myself pulled between different mediums and subject matters with a kind of irresistible magnetism.
Commercially, I don’t think it helps.
To sell art, it’s undoubtedly beneficial to have a style, or to put it more prosaically, a brand. It’s useful in order for people to recognise your work at a glance, and if they purchase a piece of it, to know that what they have is representative of a slice of a bigger pie.
Yet when you work across so many different styles as I do, the consistency that branding requires never quite materialises.
Unrestrained by genre or medium, I’ve painted portraits and self-portraits, landscapes, abstract paintings, realistic, impressionistic, hard-edged, soft-edged, monotone and multicoloured works. I’ve dabbled across all of these in both oil paints and watercolours.
I say this not to boast but to reflect on the question: does it matter?
Here are a couple of examples.
The image shown above is an oil painting I made recently after taking a walk through the nearby countryside and finding myself exploring this inviting tunnel of trees.
I was pleased with it when I first made it, and now, after several months of letting the painting settle, I feel the same way. The image gets pretty close to the experience of walking through that woodland on that sunny day, with patches of colour casting ribbons across the ground in front of me. I like the way that some of the painted brush marks sit within the scene — contributing to the depiction — whilst others sit on the surface…