I have at long last come to an obvious conclusion about my art: I paint what I paint the way I paint it, and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it! Oh, don't get me wrong, I try to change my style all the time. I see lovely paintings by so many talented artists and I say to myself, "I want to paint like that!" But by the time I sign my name in the corner, it looks just like a painting I would do.
What brings this to mind is that today I thought I'd have some fun and copy a Sargent painting. It's a great exercise to try and figure out how a great painter worked. And just like exercise in a gym, I felt like the ninety-eight pound weakling next to a body builder! His painting was an exquisite little gem of a young girls face. His color, values, modeling and drawing were perfect. My attempt at copying it was...well... let's just say that no future museum curator is going to wonder who did which... It just looked like a Kevin Mizner version of a John Singer Sargent painting, if you get what I mean.
Of course, I have influences. Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Homer, Sargent-- the list is a long one. And I want to paint just like them. I also want to golf like Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, and I can't do that either. My problem is that I try. Nothing wrong with trying, but there is a mountain of frustration in trying to do what you're incapable of. There is an adage in sport that I need to transfer over to art: Stay within yourself. You know-- you can't hit a five-run home run, or a hole-in-one on every hole--so don't try. Same with painting. I don't think Winslow Homer ever struggled painting a still life of flowers. He just didn't paint them. Norman Rockwell would probably be unknown today if he tried to paint society portraits like Giovanni Boldini. I can't paint pictures like a Homer or a Rockwell. All I can do is paint the type of pictures that I like in the style that best suits me.
So with a heightened sense of resolve to just be myself, I head out to my studio to work on my next painting.
I've got this new technique I've been dying to try out.
Who knows, maybe it'll look like a Corot!