And I think this notion is becoming more and more outdated. There are simply too many tools at the fingertips of artists these days for them to want to limit their experimentations and play! I personally spend quite a bit of time each morning simply looking at art, art supplies, and techniques. And I know from past experience that the style in which I am painting today may very well not be the style that draws my attention next week or next month.
Sometimes I equate this kind of experimentation as being similar to a writer writing in a journal or even beginning a poem or story. Sometimes you just have to start and see what happens. You may have to write your way into the piece and later discard the preliminary part once you get to the meat of the matter.
I don't know about other artists, except from my conversations with them, and watching them work, and reading biographies about them, and viewing documentaries of their practices... So wait, maybe I do know a little about other artists! It seems to be a common practice to have an idea, whether it is vague or quite intentional, to sketch, design, or layout the idea, and then to see what happens.
For me this is a critical part of the equation. I must give myself freedom to follow whatever path appears before me as I work. This is precisely why commission work is more difficult than personal work--there exists a preconceived product that must not only live up the creator's standards, but it must please the commissioner.
When I first started painting, I did not have a lot of confidence in my artistic abilities. I was insecure about my paintings so I started putting dots cut from magazines on them in an equally spaced matrix.
This is an example of one of my earliest paintings. Titled "Melusina" it is quite large, 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall, and is about half covered by 1" dots cut from magazines, many of which contain small images.
When I first started doing this, observers tried to figure out my process and would say things like, "Oh, you paint the picture, then you stick dots of the same color on top of it!"
In reality, this is how the process was born, but very quickly it morphed into something else. Soon I found that I often felt the need to place a dot of a complementary color on the surface. Or if I was working in an area where a line intersected a dot, I reversed the colors to draw attention to the line.
No doubt I did this initially by accident and like the serendipitous result so I tried it again...
And then I got bored with this system, and tried putting a smaller dot inside the large dot. I soon realized that this "endangered" the original image by threatening to break it up into unrecognizable forms. It only worked on very simple, distinct images like the one a left, "Miscellaneous Blonde I," which measures 24" x 24"
I have tried many different styles since my dot days, but I will save those for later discussion.
A common thread in many of my creations, however, is that they are photography based (probably because I taught that subject for 20 years) and many of them are portraits.
Even then, I was not interested in simply copying this into a replica painting, so I played with it more, resulting in the painting in oil, 36" x 48" at right.
Because of Sloane's continued and the bright colors, I titled it, "This Girl Is On Fire."
A few weeks later I started down a path of studying cubism, and used several other photos of this model to create a portrait which would capture what I came to call "frenetic cubist" effects.
It measures 30" x 40", is in oil, and is titled, "Avid Reader."
I find it to be an interesting practice from time to time to look back at my body of work and its progression through various stages. To go from this:
To this--looking at similarities and difference.
Surprisingly enough, I see a lot of similar elements in these two!
I guess you could say I have gone back to my roots...