271:Why we like what we like

WHILE I was painting my newest acrylic I reflected on the impulses that drive us to find our particular styles.

Although on a certain level my oil painting style satisfies me I’ve never felt it was sufficiently distanced from the style of my peers. There were some elements I felt were aspects of mastery of the medium, mastery by brute repetition, rather than an authentic reflection of a distinct personality.

I’ve always been intrigued by the nearly instantaneous facility I achieved with the woodcut medium. I’ve wondered why learning to paint has not been as easy as acquiring woodcut skills. I assume there is some innate ability that allows some skills to be aquired easily and others less so.

The artistic mission is to figure out those abilities over which we have command and assemble them into a unique artistic expression.


One of the things that doing color woodcuts taught me was I have a knack for thinking in layers. The trick of adding one discrete layer of color over another comes easily to me. Such facility was a clue that layering might be ultimately incorporated into my painting technique. I also thought that I dealt in line well. Adding linear elements such as cloisonnism might be a productive avenue for me.

Other elements that recur overtime, interests that closely resembled obsessions, should also be incorporated into my ultimate painting style.

Is was always a mystery how I could sketch a landscape that looked aesthetically pleasing in its own right yet when I went to paint it I had trouble translating the pleasing aspects of the sketch into the painting.

These mysteries begged to be sorted out, contemplated, and reassembled into a productive working method.

As I painted this new painting I realized many aspects over which I had mastery came into play. For example, doing a complementary underpainting allowed me to experiment with field effects in the subsequent layer. Lubricating the surface of the under painting allowed me to paint Alla Prima in the second layer of paint. Scratching into that second layer felt like cutting into a woodblock. All of these aspects of painting tapped into a subconscious level of expertise that allowed me to paint at a higher level than I normally would have expected.

But the best aspect is that this stylistic innovation feels very comfortable to me. It feels like coming home to a comfortable environment, one I yearned for without knowing I was homesick.

Will I pursue this new avenue of creativity? For the time being I believe I will. But ultimately only time will tell.

– Brad Teare, February 2016

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Updated: 30th November 2020
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