Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your opinion needed:Realism vs impressionism

16x20 acrylic on canvas

8x10 oil on canvas
Renovations, family responsibilities (sandwich generation), and yard work have kept me away from the studio. I don't know what happens when I am away, but when I come back, I feel that I have lost my way. I question my goals and where I want to be artistically. I used to paint realistically, doing commission work. Like many other artists out there in the blogosphere, I am now trying to learn to paint more "painterly" with looser more expressive brush strokes and a more spontaneous look. Sometimes though, I miss painting those wonderful details. I used to have confidence when I approached a painting. Now everything is a learning experience and struggle.
How many of you out there struggle with the transition from realism to impressionism? Or do you find it difficult to "loosen" up in your work. Why is this so difficult to do?
I did this painting of a Maine Coon cat on a marble fireplace  about 5 years ago. Below it is a scene from Dundas that I did today. The lilac bush and mauve colored car caught my eye as the evening sun created long shadows. The house had some great green shutters and door.


Dana Cooper said...

You are sitting my head Catherine, I know exactly what you are talking about! Time away did much the same thing for me in questioning my goals and what I want to do artistically.
I find it hard to loosen up but sometimes I wonder if I really want to.
I will be curious how other see this, thanks for bringing it up.
Love the Dundas scene!

Marian Fortunati said...

I personally prefer impressionism, but I know many how like the realistic look.

I think you do both beautifully and should just please yourself!!!

Jan Yates, SCA, Canada said...

Catherine to be honest when the 1st image started to come up i thought "who's painting is this? she must be posting someone else's" I was taken aback to learn it was yours..

In my humble opinion your current paintings are alive and show a direct response from not only the artists' hand but spirit as well and not just a 'copy'

having said that i am also a fan of realism as there is real skill in brushwork, edges etc when done well and with integrity --look at Canada's Mary Pratt--i think as long as art hits an emotional note with the viewer all is good--easier said than done i know

As far as the struggle with transition in style, perhaps don't think so much in terms of painting style? maybe the 'whatever it takes to achieve the affect i want' is in order?

i absolutely love your pallet in the current painting--the yellow green is so conducive to this time of year-especially with those violet lilac notes-fresh and gorgeous brushwork as usual

finally your question re 'why is it so difficult to do'? i read, i believe on Marc Delessio's(sp) blog
a tag line for his art school saying something along the lines of:

'if you think art is easy you're not doing it right'

Carol Schiff Daily Painting said...

Catherine, How talented are you, that you can paint in two such successful styles. I would say this is the mark of a very accomplished artist.

I would tell you not to be concerned, doesn't the scene tell you what it wants to be? Have you tried to merge your two styles, impressionistic in most areas but maybe more detail and sharper edges around the center of interest? Don't get me wrong, I love your works just the way you present them today, just trying to suggest a possible way you can use both your skills.

In my opinion, everyone talks about becoming looser, but many of the art magazines, and many of the top selling artists today seem to have a tighter look. I find myself looking for a way to "stand out from the crowd" but, with these two styles, I think you may have the skills to do it.

Tahirih Goffic said...

I know what you mean, I struggle with the same thing myself, and I think many many artists do. I switch between realistic paintings of animals...(which sell) and impressionistic paintings of people (which don't sell so much)I hate the tedium of realism, but I get caught up in the detail at the same time. I know, that when I look at a more impressionistic piece, it stirs up feelings and emotions more effectively than a realistic piece so that is why I want to paint that way. I do like what Carol said, it's definitely a compromise, but I also think that you have to look at your own emotional response to paintings. What do you feel the best doing? Do that, and your passion for painting will come through.

Marie Theron said...

Hi Catherine, up to this day, I cannot get rid of an illustrator's style. Wow, that still life is immaculate, the marble fantastic!

For all things out of doors the impressionist style looks so good and so Parisian! Do both! Why? Because you can!!!!

padmaja said...

I have always loved you work Catherine, amazing as always!
For me, since I started my art journey with traditional Indian work that has a lot of intricate designs and details, My brain has been conditioned to think with details.It has been a struggle to let go of details, but it is also fun to see how I can let go and interpret something without details.But I enjoy both processes for they have their own beauty.

Dewberry Fine Art said...

I to struggle coming back when I am pulled away. I question my abilities and goals. My mind has never stopped being creative, but the physical movements of picking up the brush and applying paint has. It is like exercise, we must keep the muscles going. So those breaks need care, understanding and kindness. They are just out of sink.
Catherine your realistic style is amazing, but I prefer the freshness of the impressionistic approach. I think knowing realism is important in impressionism. Knowing what can be left to the viewer to fill in. I love that about impressionism. There is an invitation to the viewer to become involved in the process.

Kim Blair said...

I, like Jan wondered who's painting you were posting when I saw the cat painting. Although I can appreciate detailed precise paintings, I much prefer your more painterly style. I also think that many of us struggle with wondering about where we are at and our unique 'styles', and sometimes just wanting to try on a new look and see/feel if it fits. We can always dabble in both areas...

My suggestion is to create a second painting of this Maine Coon cat, using your more expressive style... it would be so much fun to see how you would handle this gorgeous cat with your looser brush work.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with all of our friends...your work in phenomenal...but I especially adore your impressionistic pieces...I think they are so strong and so very painterly. I think the creative spirit is not meant to be so tightly funneled into a expectations and "a defined style". Your impressionistic work speaks for itself...masterful.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I never have difficulty loosening up..I am way too lazy of a painter and have A.D.D.... :)

Kim Rempel said...

Hi Catherine, I saw this on DPO and it jumped out at me. It just glowed. I was told that if you paint and paint and paint your style will emerge. I struggle too. But one thing I noticed for myself, being 2 years into oils, is that I paint looser in acrylics. And for my plein air I prefer acrylic and with my dailies I prefer oil. I guess we all come at things differently - and thank goodness for that! I agree with Tahirih, think on what gives you your emotional response and fuel ahead!

Catherine Jeffrey said...

Thanks everyone for their comments and insights. Such great thoughts that I will certainly take to heart. I like the idea of letting the subject or scene dictate the way the painting should look, and not get caught up in what style I want to paint it in. I also like the idea of dabbling in both styles. As Julie said, "the creative spirit is not meant to be so tightly funneled into expectations and a defined style."

Gwen Bell said...

Both of these style are equally stunning! Particularly when I opened them to the large views. The detail in the cat's fut and the vein of the marble is magnificent! How talented you are that you can paint both so masterfully.

The only reason I'm leaning toward the loose style is because that is what I have identified with and love about your work after all this time of Following you. But, really I know you would be successful at both.

You are really getting my little brain going here since I'm still struggling to come out of a down time myself. Doesn't it feel like you're always starting over in some ways?


Hey. . . we both got on a lost path from other responsibilities Catherine. Sure can be dismal. Funny how viewing others + trends makes us feel a tad insecure and question our paths.
Personally I love your current, looser, impressionistic style, yet art is so subjective to one's own tastes with no right nor wrong. Have seen a huge resurgence with realism - especially in daily bloggers. But no one can touch your atmospheric scenes, so please don't change courses - but that's my opinion.
Hang tight and follow your heart Girl.

Donald Diddams said...

Sorry I missed this when it was posted, but both the original post and the ensuing discussion are great food for thought. It seems there is heightened awareness these days of the tension between realism and the more expressive/impressionist styles. The painting of the cat is truly stunning, and as I look at it I am intrigued by the contrast between the detail in the cat and the looser brushtrokes used on the painting in the upper left. Perhaps the person who suggested a merging of styles had something there! In any case, the best advice is to follow your own muse, something which you seem to do very well!.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

I don't have a problem with you going back and forth if you want to! Both your loose and tighter work are lovely. You don't have to explain to anyone why you choose to do one style one day and another the next. When you come back from a break, just say to yourself "I'm going to wipe off the first 3 paintings..." and it frees you - and I bet you don't have to wipe off any!