books & more books

here i am, still buying and reading art books at a regular pace, one or two a month.

as i finished reading these i wrote book reviews of the ones i liked or admired. the rest went into the garage, in a box with all the other boxes.

i didn't often take on the painting projects in these books, but read through each one carefully. if i could visualize every step of a demonstration painting from my own experience or skill level, i wasn't especially interested to pursue it. if the painting asked for a skill or produced an effect i wasn't familiar with, then i would try it.

books were still my substitute for teachers.

i began to recognize the components of a style: a favored set of techniques for applying the pigment to the paper (nita engle's paintings are basically built with maskoid and multicolor washes), a characteristic selection of images or subjects that justify the effects created by the techniques (engle's washes are used mostly for fogs, clouds, waves and snow), and the relationship that these representations create with the viewer (her pictures are mostly sad or sentimental).

all that didn't help me find a style of my own.

often i'd admire a book even if i didn't especially like the painter's style. hilary page has written a fine painting tutorial, although i find her paintings clumsy and timid. stephen quiller wrote an excellent book on the color wheel and color theory, although i find the choice of colors in his paintings bizarre and distasteful.

my painting ranged over several styles — methodically realistic, fantastically cartoonish, slapdash colorful, improvisationally abstract, and purely technical exercises.

i wasn't terrifically happy with any of them.

i didn't look at one of my paintings and say, that's how i want the world to be, i'd say yeah, i did that painting.

all those books, all those paintings, all this time ... watercolors are hard because they create so many possibilities in a complex, immediate, rapidly changing process.

someday, i thought, i'll start to understand that process, and turn it on images i really love, and figure out the techniques i need to create those images ... and that will by my style.


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