The Italian Garden, oil, 1984-85, Janis Hauser (aka Jan Blencowe)
Elizabeth Park Rose Garden, watercolor, 2009, Jan Blencowe
Miss Florence's Garden, acrylic, 2010, Jan Blencowe
It's very interesting having a daughter who is pursuing art. Watching her at 16, find her way, gain skills and begin to recognize her unique signature style is enriching for me. (You can see her most recent painting here). Yesterday I dragged some of my old paintings down from the attic for her to see.
This caused me to take stock of where I started and where I am currently on the artist's journey.
The first painting above was done just after I graduated from college with my BFA. As you can see I was working in a much different style. Back then color was very important to me as was an acknowledgment of the flat surface of the canvas ( think Cezanne and the post-impressionists) so the perspective is intentionally skewed and while the shapes do have volume they are flattened and somewhat abstracted rather than being meticulously modeled. It has a kind of Alice in Wonderland feel to it.Yet, when you look at the next watercolor and pen sketch done en plein air in 2009 I think you can still see my unique signature and I think you could surmise that the same artist painted both.
The last painting done this year has much more sophistication, subtlety and realism, qualities which I have been pursuing and developing for at least the last ten years in my work. My heavy handedness and my proclivity to flatten, abstract and stylize are things that I do naturally that I have worked hard to refine. Not obliterate mind you, just control and bring to a level of masterful refinement. That's work. I think it helps me create better paintings but it's work and I think that's why I really, really enjoy my watercolor sketchbook. That venue allows me to cut loose and work freely in a flowing, natural way.
"Not that we can't do more than one thing, but one of the things we should let ourselves do is what comes naturally and easily" ~Julia Cameron
Those watercolors and to some extent my other field works are the bones that I develop my more finished paintings on top of, literally. Very often the early stages of my paintings, especially plein air, look a lot more like my work form 1985 and the watercolor sketch from 2009 but I go on in subsequent layers to bring about the refinement.
But why continue to work and refine a painting? I feel better about my finished paintings when I do. I think it's because that process of controlling, refining and bringing some deep calm out of what started as something more visceral, chaotic and raw is a metaphor for my life. I've spent many years developing an inner life of peace and calm that is very satisfying and protective despite the challenges of life. Those early painting from when I was 22, the sketches and the early stages of my paintings capture my enthusiastic experience of life but my finished paintings communicate my contemplation of life and the wisdom I've gained from that. Make sense? It doesn't always make sense to me either LOL But there you have it that's the best explanation I can give you at present.
Looking back brings up the question of where I go from here. ????? Not sure but I have to think that through now that I've taken a look back, and so the journey continues.