Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

March 3, 2019

The finer points of being boring

Filed under: Dorset,Uncategorized,Wales — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 6:52 pm

How immediately interesting should a painting be? Should it grab you by the collar and shake you up. Shout across the room to you? What do you do if all the other paintings by other artists are screaming at you too? Shout louder? For property they call it curb appeal. The risk if you don’t shout out is that you will be ignored. Your candle will only be lighting the inside of a private and obscure bushel. Does quality reach out across the room? I’m afraid not. Large size, strong contrasts, shocking content and primary colours are what does the trick. Of course one option is to promote yourself rather than the art, the celebrity option, if that’s you then read no further.

It is a problem there is no denying it. We all want to be noticed. We don’t paint pictures for them to be ignored. Then again if your picture is devoted to grabbing that across the room glance/instagram scroll past moment, then that is a pretty shallow reason to paint a picture in a certain way. Also as I said before everyone else is shouting too. There is a saying, “When all others are shouting, try a whisper.” Sound good, very zen like and that, great to drop into an arty conversation… but unfortunately not true. Some of my favourites in my own work are quiet mood pieces. Having watched visitors looking at my pictures they mostly don’t give them a first glance let alone a second. The distribution of Facebook “likes” seems to confirm this.

Maybe what we need is a better quality audience? That is not so silly. Putting your pictures before people who are keen on the sort of thing you produce is a pretty good strategy. Rather hard to carry out though, but with Instagram and so forth an easier project than in earlier times. I am not convinced that internet presence generates many buyers. They are consuming your images as momentary eye candy and all at your expense too. I pay good money to publish this blog, does it sell pictures? Yes a few but not as many as my galleries do.

This muttering has been provoked by Instagram. I had been ignoring it even though I have had an account for ages. You can trawl through an unending smorgasbord of paintings, many very good indeed. They do fall into categories though. There are the head studies with developed Sargent type features surrounded by loosely brushed block in. There are impressions done from snaps again with that all important brushy unfinished look. There are the academic wannabes doing saccharine Bouguereau impressions. There are the numerous contemporary impressionists who like myself trawl the waters stirred up by the arrival of photography in the 1850s. All the historical styles are there… except anything anything historical or religious. No Thatcher as Winged Victory with her foot on an Argentine neck! No Last Supper set in a Little Chef.

Much if not most is quite shouty, there are welcome islands of serenity, but mostly brushwork fireworks. As an ex 3D modelling man myself I keep an eye on the game design wannabes. Endless iterations or killer robots, zombies and scaled demons. Don’t let us not forget the swathes of “attitude” exuding girls wielding big swords who neglected to get dressed before teaching those Demon Killer Zombie Robots a stern lesson or two. I can’t help liking those huge vistas of post apocalyptic landscapes with vast spaceships and teeny tiny foreground figures to ram home all that vastness.

I may seem to be digressing here, but all of the above is designed to quickly zip through your eyeballs, give quick visual tingle and then be forgotten. Am I alone as an artist in finding the whole, post it and watch it slide briskly into the past with no trace, phenomenon a little wearisome? Is there any way for an artist to step back from feeding the social media beast and survive? I fear the answer is no. We are doomed for the beast in the machine to chew on us ad infinitum without even the hope of getting spat out.

Enough of dystopia, some daubs…

Swanage, Dorset, plein air, oil painting

A difficult windy day to paint a rather wide canvas, it took a tumble or two and has a ton of sand embedded in it. Difficult light too, this is not the final as I repainted the left side as my drawing was a bit to wonky. It is from Swanage beach looking East. I am getting rather fond of the three squares wide format it seems to suit seascapes particularly. 24in by 8in Oils.

cardigan, llangrannog, oil painting, Wales

Off to Wales for the New Year. This is Llangrannog in Cardiganshire. The day had been quite stormy and was clearing as the evening approached, which often means lovely light. 16in by 10in oils

Dorset, sutton Waldron, plein air, oil painting

One of my favourite scenes near Sutton Waldron, it always seems to make a good picture whatever the light. 10in by 8in Oils.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset, plein air, oil painting

The same day at Gold Hill in Shaftesbury. I was in a hurry so this is really dashed in. I intend to have a go at a cinemascope version… People say I shouldn’t paint Hovis hill as it is a bit naff… do I care? Not even a tiny bit! 10in by 6in Oils.

Llangrannog, Cardiganshire, Wales, oil painting

This is Llangrannog again I stood taking photos as the sun dropped and wished I had my paints with me! Still I enjoyed painting this. It was very difficult to get the feeling of tranquility that I remembered from the day. I ended up smoothing the tones more than I normally would to help the mood. 16in by 16in Oils.

Portland, Dorset, Plein air, oil painting

An early visit to Portland, this is on the west side. Very breezy but excellent light. I then painted a truly ghastly one on the other side that I wiped off in a fury… 10in by 7in Oils.

Bulbarrow, woods, snow, plein air, oil painting

SNOW!!! Everyone else in the country had it and here it was at last and a sunny day to boot. This was a lot to take on but could not resist having a crack at it. I will glaze it to give focus once it is dry. This is up on Bulbarrow. 24in by 8in Oils.

Rawlesbury, Dorset, Bulbarrow, plein air, oil painting

Went straight on to do this of the side of the ridge running up to Rawlesbury Camp. The sky tone was tricky a it had to be dark enough to give the snow punch. Snow has so many different hues, such fun to paint. 10in by 7in Oils.

Bulbarrow, snow, Dorset, plein air, oil painting

There was no stopping, Bulbarrow again, it had been melting rapidly and more and more green showed through. A race to get this done as the light was going over very quickly. A grand day out painting though. 10in by 7in Oils.

Dorset, snow, oil painting

I did this next day to try and catch the memory. Not quite what I want but I intend to glaze. Glazing is an odd process as you have to put your picture away for 2 months while it dries and then come back to it. It does things no other technique can though. I have quite a backlog of ones ready to do so I will try and put together a tutorial… a bit cheeky maybe as I am still feeling my way with the process. 16in by 16in Oils.

 

2 Comments »

  1. I am only just starting out exhibiting my paintings and I felt very much the same when I saw how they had been hung at a recent show. Among the many paintings on view, my landscapes were rather muted and didn’t ‘shout out’ to the viewer. But what to do? I am just building confidence in my style and I feel it would take me in a different direction were I to change my palette. I suppose one has to try to build a profile and Instagram seems a useful tool for that, even if the majority don’t buy. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Paula — March 3, 2019 @ 8:14 pm

  2. Hi Rob. I appreciate your musings very much. Like me you watch the art world in astoundment and then get back to your own thing. I’ve done everything possible to build up an Instagram following. And I mean everything. Still it languishes at mid 500 and I lose followers every day. Now I’ve pushed it all aside and I’m just doing what I like and saying what I like. My one stop is that I ask myself if it’s about my art before I post something. It stops the rants. I must confess to enjoying Instagram stories now. Once I started to interact with the stories a bit more and actually talk into them about my art and about my inspirations things changed. I started getting more diirect messages from my followers in response to my stories. Basically once it started sharing and stopped showing things did improve. I think it’s important to grasp that. It is social media and is meant to be social. No point just stick your art in there and expect8ng things to happen. Share your thoughts, failures, methods, inspirations. People do respond.

    Comment by Paulette Farrell — March 6, 2019 @ 9:48 am

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