196: Finding your style

This week I’m getting ready for for two shows–an abstract show that will be the largest exhibit of my work to date–and a one night landscape show that in the past has been the best show financially of the year (once I earned 25% of my income for that year in one night).


My studio is packed with paintings. As I look at them I realize what a varied career I’ve had. I’ve done illustration, woodcuts, comics, photorealist acrylics, and impressionist oils. I see elements of all styles in my current work.

The abstract phase of my career came as a complete surprise and evolved out of experimentation with extremely thick oil paint on small canvases. I decided if I wanted to paint with that much texture I needed to shift to acrylics using a variety of texturing and thickening mediums.

There are common themes running through the two shows. Both concern themselves with texture–the abstracts are an extreme case of texture obsession. But color is important too. Both have lots of fields effects that maximize the perception of color.

I’m surprised how much I’ve learned with the abstracts has cross-pollinated into the landscapes. I have no intention of abandoning either style. I’ve made peace with the fact that although it would be economically more rewarding to focus on one genre I’m incapable of making a sound business decision.

So what is style? It is a fusion of everything visual you love with the technique you are physically capable of producing.  Sometimes your gifts–or lack thereof–will trump your passions and radically modify your expression. Sometimes your discipline will triumph and you will be able to infuse a new method of expression into your creative gifts. If you are honest about the process a genuine mode of expression will emerge that will be 100% yours. It will be a treasure nothing can diminish. It will have its virtues yet be flawed–just like you. Above all it will be the expression of a unique mind.

Brad Teare–October 2014

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Updated: 18th September 2020
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