Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monet on Having a Style

Gawler Ranges, Australia, WIP
colored pencil on drafting film, 12 in. x 15 in.
copyright J. Rose Welty

Have you heard that you need to develop an artistic style? Something that you are thereafter known for? Are you trying to find/develop that elusive style? Up and coming artists are often advised to develop something that makes them stand out, something that immediately identifies their work. This often becomes a major hazard for a young artist who struggles to find that defining element. Their work can then stagnate and become troublesome as they search for that "it" factor.

So, I chuckled when I read a quote last night about Monet's view on "style". He had been branching out in subject matter on recent travels in 1863. Paul Durand-Ruel, an art dealer that bought and sold many Monet works, objected to Monet's new experiments. Monet replied, "There's no point in my being the man of the sunlight, as you call it, one mustn't specialise in a single theme." (House, Monet:Nature Into Art, p. 25)

It's doubly funny that Monet saw no point in specialization, because Monet, in today's terms, definitely had that style or "it" factor. His work is some of the most recognizable on the planet. Did he just try to say that he didn't have a style, but he really did? Did he not recognize that he had a style? Did he realize later the value of style? Were his experiments so bad that he ended up deciding style wasn't such a bad thing? Maybe an artist is never the best one to know his style, in other words, he/she is just too close to the thing to see it, until someone else points it out? What do you think?

Above you see more progress on the Gawler Ranges. I do hope to finish it soon and get some different images up for you to see. :-)


Katherine said...

This is so funny - I'd just come to the conclusion I needed to write a similar post!

I think his style is about the way he sees things rather than how he executes art - I'm now off to try and expand........

Ann said...

But even if I nail down a "style" won't it always be evolving as I learn, a fluid process? This is something I struggle with. For Monet, it's the whole package isn't it? How he saw things but also in terms of color, composition, and execution...

I love how your landscape is coming along by the way.

Rose Welty said...

Katherine, I'm so glad to hear we'll get some answers! :-)

Ann, thanks for stopping by and your kind words. What you are saying (that you struggle with it) is exactly why I try to not focus on a style. I'm still learning, so maybe I just haven't gone far enough, but in other arenas I have style without trying. Meaning, we all have a style of walking, talking, making friends, cooking, etc we just have a style without trying. Why can't it be the same in art? Yes, as an artist you tend to gravitate towards subject matter, medium, ways of working, ways of selling, etc but why does it have to be such a thought-out thing? Can it not be more organic? Why limit yourself in the beginning? Are you farther ahead to choose a style now that doesn't work than you are to wait and stumble upon it later?

Ann said...

Rose, you are so so right! I think I'll copy your comment to stick on my drawing board so I have a constant reminder. So much better said than what I was trying to get at!