Monday, June 06, 2022

On the Question of Changing Your Style


                        Photo from 'A Life of Picasso The Minotaur Years, 1933-1943' by John Richardson

I was so surprised to see that these portraits of a woman's head (I forget which one it was, maybe Dora Maar) were both painted in 1939.  Look how different they are!  One is a somewhat realistic depiction of a woman with a cute green hat.  We would know who it is if it were a friend.  The other one however is a strange contortion of a head and body, sort of surrealist, and only the people on the inside know who it is intended to be.

Many times I am chastising myself because I keep changing my 'style', if you can call it that.  I go back and forth from a more realistic depiction of a landscape to a minimalist abstraction with only a few clues as to what it is.  For instance, here is a lake that I painted inn 1999:

Chaperon's Lake, 38x54", 1999.

You can see it is sort of an impressionist lake scene with shrubs and bushes in the foreground, then the water of the lake and the view across it.  However, here is another lake that I painted in 1988:

Lake Shapes, 40x50", 1988.

It is so different. There was time to change because they were painted 10 years apart.  But Chaperon's Lake is more similar to the work I did in the 80's when I was first starting out; and Lake Shapes is hinting at what I went on to paint in the early 2000's.  I guess I sometimes I have to remind myself that I can still do something, to reassure myself that I am still me.  And it is actually really boring if you are just repeating yourself.  When you are in your studio regularly you have lots of ideas and you want to try them all.  Many famous artists do it with no qualms at all.  Look at Gerard Richter - his two different styles are extremely apart from each other, all abstract to photographic reality.