Early on Monday morning, I finished my Peaceful Winter Scene painting. Overall, I’m pleased with it, but at the same time I’m not happy with all that I see here.
Now, to you, this painting might look like a peaceful winter scene, but it’s not. It’s actually a camel.
OK, I know. You can’t see the camel, and that’s a good thing, because I don’t do animals very well. If I ever tried to paint a camel… well, that’s not even a pretty thought. So, what in the world am I talking about when I say this painting is actually a camel?
Simple. One of my favorite bits of wisdom is the old quip that “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Think about it, and you’ll realize how true those words are. Committees have a purpose, and they have advantages in some things, but overall, committees can mean dealing with too many different ideas, too many different opinions, too many approaches to a problem, and too many compromises, resulting in something that pleases no one.
My winter painting wasn’t designed by a committee, nor was it painted by one, but to me, that’s how it appears. Each time I worked on this painting, the word that came to mind was consistency, or more to the point, its opposite: inconsistency.
I’m still at a point where I’m doing different things, exploring different styles, and learning different ways to approach oil painting. Fellow blogger, cathytea, recently commented about artistic style:
“…there’s no need to limit yourself to one style. It’s quite marvelous to have a range of expression and to surprise yourself!”
Yes, I’ll probably be one of those artists whose works are always all over the place — and I don’t just mean all over the house. I mean all over the place where style is concerned. But while I’m grateful to think that the art world allows such variance, I’m not comfortable finding it within a single painting.
To me, it appears that the soft, impressionist background was painted by one artist; the tress were done by another. Yet another artist completed the bushes, while another worked on the rocks.
Before adding in the final touches — those little bits of grass here and there — I stood at the easel looking at the painting for a long time, wondering which artist I was, and wondering, too, if my attempts to paint tufts of grass would add anything to the painting, or if I might only end up spoiling what was already done.
I added a little grass here and there — a bit half-heartedly — and I called it done. But now I’m left wondering again which artist I am? Oh, I know, I’m the entire committee, and that’s what bothers me.
I want to develop more consistency so that paintings I complete don’t look like figurative camels. I’m just not sure how to go about improving this aspect of my paintings. I suppose like so many other things, it’s very much a matter of practice. In time, as my painting skills become more developed and more refined, maybe my inconsistencies will gradually fade as my work takes on a more unified style.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll always be painting camels, and maybe that’s all right.