Painting by: Jan Van Goyen
I apologize for missing a day. I am on a painting trip and there is no internet service where I am staying. I have been using the library nearby, but yesterday I could not get there before it closed. Soon I will be back at home and my times of posting will return to the regularity with which I have heretofore operated…Stape
In the last post I spoke about copying at the Boston Museum in the mid seventies and discovering how different the work of the masters was from what I was making. Here is another thing I discovered then.
I have spoken about form and how it must be installed rather than seen. I will now speak to another quality a painting or drawing can have. That is style.
NATURE HAS NO STYLE. STYLE IS INSTALLED AND NOT DISCOVERED BY THE ARTIST.
One of the problems with photo realist paintings is that they are styleless. The photo realist may choose different subjects, but that is not the same thing as style.
STYLE IS HOW IT IS A PICTURE OF, RATHER THAN WHAT IT IS A PICTURE OF.
Ideally, style makes a work something that can be made by the hand of one man and no other. (note; I am using man as the name of our species and not as differentiated from woman )
So how do we go about getting this style thing? Many dreadful paintings have been done in the pursuit of style rather tan excellence. If you work to make excellent things your style will develop on its own, just as it did in your signature. It is the natural result of finding how you as an individual artist want to do the things that are common to all the paintings you make.
Quality trumps style. Often art students will pursue style instead of developing their abilities. They think that if they can just find something to do that is the most unusual and idiosyncratic they can be good artists. They value the unique above quality. This reduces painting to a sort of s trick at which they imagine they can be the first to arrive. I am not aware of anyone making sculpture from potatoes and knitting needles, or tropical fish and straight razors, would it make me a fine sculpture to begin? Perhaps I could rival Polyclitus using these materials but it would be because of the style with which I arranged them and not because I was the first to have hit upon a new and perfectly original artistic concept