Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Throw Some Curve Balls!

      I bought this month’s American Art Collector magazine, and as usual, it’s interesting to see what is going on in the world of art.  I had two thoughts after perusing the entire issue:
     #1) Most artists have a distinct niche
     #2) I like leaving the niche every so often

     Let’s look at #1.  From the moment we start painting for ourselves, we try to make a statement.  We basically paint what motivates and excites us as artists.  I have enjoyed painting working cowboys for the past 16 years.  The cowboy genre has been good to me, and as long as I find motivation from ranch people, I will continue to tell that story.
     But every so often, it’s nice to take a different road.  This, in my opinion, is artistically healthy for several reasons.  If for nothing else, absence makes the heart grow fonder, even in art and subject matter.
     Over my career I’ve veered into several different subject matters that were all satisfying, and continue to be.  

Out Of Utopia

Here is a small list of detours I’ve taken:
1)     Fly-fishing
2)     Montana landscapes (specific to Manhattan, Montana)
3)     Rooster fighting (I enjoyed roaming around the characters that are drawn to this underworld
4)     Argentina Gauchos
5)     Still lifes inspired by Chardin and Daly (Flowers, teacups, thistles, the sky’s the limit)
6)     Dog portraits (specific to working dogs I’ve known)
7)     Fly portraits (I find hand-tied flies from the “old school days” fascinating
8)     Family portraits
9)     Even a tack room (extremely satisfying, but detailed)

Memories Of Afghanistan 

     I can hear you now, “But, Mark, everyone says I need a hook, a niche, a box I can be put in that the gallery can sell.”  This is the same old song and dance.  Everyone will know if your painting has been painted for you, or for the check---it comes through loud and clear! If you are painting from the heart (something that genuinely moves you) that comes through even louder and with much more clarity.
     This week I can add my first nocturne to my efforts.  Night scenes in watercolor are difficult and my effort was no different.  But it was satisfying and I’m happy with my final painting.  In the end I painted 95% of the painting with two colors, but that remaining 5% made the painting.  It was a thrill and rewarding!

Waiting For The Night Guard

     You may be more comfortable winding up your two-finger fastball that has never let you down.  But every now and then, it doesn’t hurt to keep them on their toes.  Throw the curve!


  1. I really like the night time painting Mark.
    What a challenge!

  2. Thanks, Melissa! And yes, it WAS a challenge. It took me several attempts to figure out how to portray nighttime shadows. I'm really pleased with the results and can't wait to do more!