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Thread: Thoughts on the development of style -- Part 2

  1. #1
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    Thoughts on the development of style -- Part 2

    Since i have some interest I'll finish off the next two installments. Please do add your thoughts to these threads -- a discussion would be wonderful!

    In part one I stated my opinion that:

    "...style is a combination of three factors that include; what you like, what you want to say and how you work."

    Having discussed "What you like." Let's examine

    What you want to say

    This is an interesting area, because it encompasses what your work is about from both the subject point of view and the creative solutions you are exploring point of view.

    We all know artists who tend to focus on a particular topic. O'keeffe's flowers, Remington's wild west, and Dali's dreamscapes are but three examples of artist's whose subject matter became a cornerstone of their style. (Peter Pinckney's grand landscapes are a good example from right here in the AR Forum.) The topics chosen are the stories that the artist wishes to tell. It is not unlike novelists who work in a genera -- mystery, horror, sci-fi, romance, etc. Included in the subject matter area are the blending in of whatever emotional and intellectual statements an artist may wish to make.


    Another aspect of what an artist wants to say is found in their handling of design elements like line, shape, light, color, texture, form, space as well as compositional elements like contrast, balance, unity, scale, proportion, and rhythm. These are universal elements that all must come to grips with and the solutions that they devise become a part of their style.


    Cezanne painted the usual portrait, still life and landscape subjects of his day, but his work was also concerned with some of the underlying problems of form, shape and the flat canvas. His solutions inspired Picasso and the cubists of the next generation. Van Gogh is largely remembered for his color, but the emotional impact of his psychological landscapes is doubly powerful due to his intense concentration on line. This can be clearly seen in a painting like this or in his pen and inks. Picasso romped through styles during his lifetime. This portrait is a great example of his mastery of line. His work in this style is instantly recognizable.

    Other artists have focused on compositional elements. Rembrandt's use of light and contrast is responsible for the focus and drama of his work. Jackson Pollack and other abstract expressionists on the mid 20th century devised some new answers to the problems posed by the elements of design and composition by either striving to break free of them or by stripping them down to the basics. (Mark Rothko Example)


    While you would not know it from my recent work in the After 9 Gallery, most of my own work of the last few years has been concerned with the subject of music. This has been on two levels -- the topic has been musicians and musical instruments, while the underlying formal consideration has been about the parallels between the twelve tones of the western musical spectrum with the twelve hues of the standard color wheel. (See the two attached images below.)

    What do you want to say with your work? What design elements most intrigue you and have you excited? If you choose a subject and stick with it, it will become a part of your style.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    I think you're confusing style with genre here.

    Style is more like handwriting, than like a theme.

  3. #3
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    Hey Al, Great thread and a great topic to discuss! I think you nailed it with the combination of three that creates an indivual style. I want to spend some time thinking about this before I respond completely (I'm currently at work right now). I hope people give their feedback to this topic, it is very interesting.

    Out of curiousity, I looked up the difference in Style vs. Genre. This is what I found;

    genre 1 : a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content

    style 2 a : a distinctive manner of expression

    Looks like style falls within genre so I guess it's all just symantics.
    "The significance is hiding in the insignificant. Appreciate everything."
    Eckhart Tolle

  4. #4
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    It's not semantics. A style does not make a genre; genre is more about form and content, than presentation. Your dictionary definition seems to use "style" and "form" as similar concepts; I use "style" as a name for a specific presentation model. You can present a given content with a given form in different styles, and you can do different forms in the same style. Style is like handwriting: the message can be still the same, but the handwriting may tell different things about the author - not necessarily related to the message's content.

    To elaborate it further, I use "style" as something deliberate, that you can imitate or design. For the sort of "artistic handwriting" that is a natural, inherent, evolved set of habits of a particular person, I use the term "manner".
    So you have content, form, style, and manner. In the order of lessening control you have over it.

  5. #5
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    I understand what you are saying Arenhaus. I'm not sure the exact term to use but I think what Al is talking about is that even within the different genres or forms of art i.e... realism, impressionism, cartooning or caricature, abstract, surrealism etc...there is a unique identifiable style of the individual artist. My impressionistic version of a vase full of flowers will look different than your impressionistic vase of flowers. Why is that? What influences me when I paint a vase full of flowers. What values, colors, paper/canvas, tools do I choose to capture a look that is pleasing to me.

    I also think that individual style is sometimes more apparent to others than it is to the actual artist. I feel like my style of painting is all over the place depending on the type of art I am doing. However, I have been told by family and friends - that view a lot of my artwork, that they could point out my work immediately in a room full of other artwork. Not because of the quality (or lack of...lol) but because of the way an image flows from my mind to my hand to the canvas. This is less apparent when I do works off of photo reference or when I mimic a look that I find pleasing in another artist's work. The more outside influence I use when painting, the less noticeable my individual style (manner) is though it is still there no matter what I paint or how I paint or draw it. My individual style is Very noticeable when I conceptualize an image completely from my mind.

    Al, this is a fascinating topic and I hope others add their take on it.
    "The significance is hiding in the insignificant. Appreciate everything."
    Eckhart Tolle

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