Looking back to 2008 when I really got started painting professionally, there were what I would refer to as the benefits of being a naive artist. What I was creating wasn’t quite as finely tuned or developed as the work I am creating today. However, I was able to discover some really cool ideas by accident. This rendered one of my earliest commissions “Balance.”
I had some really loose ideas based off of a project I participated in while studying art. This project consisted of me creating an editorial illustration inspired by a creation story. I know it was inspired by Hindu mythology, but to this day I am not sure which story I was drawing from specifically. Anyone who has knowledge of the Hindu religion knows that it has one of the largest lists of deities of any known modern faith. What I do know is that it consisted of a large snake that had a flower blossoming from it’s body. From that lotus blossom, the universe began to form. Like many creation stories, it’s largely metaphorical. Also, at the center of the painting was an abstracted sun. This represented the idea that many religions worship the sun. There were also fish, and some other ideas that I have long since forgotten.
This painting was also a commissioned piece. I had interviewed the client and gotten a general inkling of their interests. So in essence, this painting is about 60% my ideas, and 40% coming from the client’s requests.
I drew some vague inspiration from Robert Motherwell’s “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” for some of the background texture.
What resulted from this exploratory phase was a set of ideas that felt completely spontaneous. Today I wouldn’t dream of pairing such random ideas and expect the same results. I was in unfamiliar territory, and that was exciting.
From here each new painting presented an opportunity to grow and build upon each new painting with new visual ideas that built upon the success of the previous piece of art.
In some ways I don’t know if I could go back to this phase without establishing some form of pretense. I do believe many forms of faux naive art have a sort of limited shelf life of appeal. The 1980’s saw a boom in outsider art. This eventually came out of vogue in the mid 2000’s. Galleries and art directors have increasingly created a demand for art that has more of a mix of technical prowess and personalized style.
Even in my time as an art student I saw a clear movement away from the typical excuse of art students of “well that’s just my style.” Granted fine Art and Commercial art have different agendas in regards to communication of visual ideas, but you can only look at the same badly drawn art for so long. At some point a little technical skill has to come into play to keep things interesting.
This is why I am always striving to improve my art and introduce a growing list of ideas. In other words, we simply cannot go back.