Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Choosing to be Different

-By Donato

Compassion - More Human Than Human      Oil on Panel   24 x 18"  2017

Being really different is initially very easy to pull off.  If you've ever shaved your head, painted your face or worn clothing so far out there it shocks nearly any audience you engage with. The real challenge is finding a way to live with those choices and make them a part of your new lifestyle and community without burning every bridge you've built, social or otherwise.

The same is true when it comes to art, it's easy to make up a new style, arrange patterns drastically different, or flex some new material muscle.  The telling is in who will now 'buy' what you are selling, both figuratively and literally. Tapping into an audience that wants to consume what you have to offer is one of the greatest difficulties most artists strive to overcome.

Some artists prefer critical consumption of their work - images appearing in exhibitions/shows/venues where they are socially validated, others prefer the financial success commissions, sales, and notoriety brings.  There is no one path, nor valuation structure, which tells us when someone has successfully achieved their goals.  This is why we hear of artists who we may look to as 'top of the crowd' who then abandon their rocketing success, withdraw from the limelight, or change style just when everything was looking so great.  So great to an outside observer, maybe not so great for the internal motivators for that particular artist.

The Fellowship in Hollin       65" x 34"    Oil on Panel   2017    
Those choices that appear to cripple and steer away from success, to chose a different direction, may actually reflect a deeper path the artist is following, one that runs more true to the artist's intent. Thus a choice that may come off as different, may in fact be one that is attempting to be closer to 'the same' than an outside observer could discern.

I bring up this issue about choosing to be different because we all feel that pressure at various points in our artistic development.  Be different to stand out, be different to say something in your art, be different to stay relevant, be different because it remakes you.  What ever the voices are, I find the greatest challenge is to be different while staying the same.  Getting to know what it is that motivates you and learn to see into the deeper current that you are plying.  When you do this for yourself, you can then recognize it in others.

Fumble!      11" x 14"   Pencil and Chalk on Toned Paper    2017
I want to be different, but keep reaching that audience which respects my voice.  I want to be different but still play with the tropes which define who I am and where I came from.  I want to be different so I can grow from where I now stand, and reach a further shore.

These are not impractical thoughts or desires, but rather approaches that require introspection into who we are as people and artists, and path building which allows for the continuity of experience and artistic expression. What are the outward representations of all of these differences?  I really do not know. I attempt to create art that feels 'true' to what I feel and who I am, regardless of the client or audience I am creating it for, and not bound by some restriction on approach, style, nor content.

I have been grateful for the chance to bring these practices to bear in my recent works, and look forward to seeing where they will carry me.

Portal II     36" x 24"   Oil on Panel  2017
Whispering Woods     18" x 24"   Oil on Panel  2017



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