Finding your own Personal Style:
Personal style will evolve as you move from the representational to something more imaginative. We all want our own style, our brand, that personal look. In my own work, I am inspired by where I live: the landscapes, buildings, the wild plants, morning and evening light, and my travels.
Landscapes of Montana:
I feel fortunate to live in Montana. It is the fourth largest state in land mass (just over 147,000 square miles, but a less populated state (right about a million inhabitants). It is a land of landscape diversity. I live in the southwest region, which is high, dry, mountainous, and rocky. It is also home to a number of blue ribbon fishing opportunities. My house and studio windows look out on the Continental Divide. It is a place to find inspiration.
I paint landscapes mainly in watercolor, and acrylic. Although I have painted in many western states, Montana landscapes are my most frequent subjects. My favorite time to paint is early morning or evening, thus giving long shadows and a special mood.
Our most frequently visited western state is New Mexico. I paint annually in the northeastern corner. There I find the light crisp and clear and exhilarating. Idaho, California, Washington, and Oregon are also inspirational venues for painting.
Intricate shapes and forms of plants continue to inspire me. Yucca, rabbit brush, roseships in autumn, cabbage (not wild necessarily), Indian paintbrush and thistle have all been my subjects repeatedly. By changing composition, shape, color, and focusing on a close-up view, the mind can be challenged to go further. The results can be surprising. Sparking enthusiasm to work the subject into a series moves the artist to further exploration. Ideas grow from such endeavors. Through trial and error the artist finds one’s own personal style.
I recommend travel to foreign countries for the reason that we are surprised and delighted by so much. We cannot make assumptions as we do in our own familiar territory.
In my travels, I have painted in many foreign countries: England, Wales, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, China and Japan. My longest painting foray was to China in 1985. A time without cell phones, personal computers, or even many cars. It was a phenomenal adventure. Because each of these countries has its own charms and cultural surprises, I would like to expand on them in my future blogs.
In the next blog, I will reminisce about China. What inspired me in a two-month internship in Chinese landscape painting? What were some cultural surprises?