I was thinking, what if we all have a default pattern in painting, a kind of lazy way of solving different problems in the same way. Maybe I tend to put my horizon line in the same place every time, or maybe it's a straight line (I am in Florida after all) or I have a tendency to place the bulk of the weight on the right side of the painting or the left. Or maybe I tend to leave the center open. One way to see a discernible pattern in your work is to line up 10 or so paintings and get an art buddy or two to come by for beers and look for repeating tendencies. We all have them. Same brush work everywhere, same pallette, same shapes, same subject, you name it. I'm all about thought exercises... too much really. And it occurred to me, that if I took a random sampling of paintings and layered them transparently in photoshop (like putting two slides together) what patterns would start to show? If I had CLD, Compostitional Laziness Disorder, I would be able to see what my habits are. If there's a certain leaning toward an easy way to solve the problem time and again... it'll show up as an open spot in the layers. If not there should be a fairly uniform field. It's a tad like stars in the sky, if all the stars were clumped over on the right side of the night sky, something is amiss. If they are spread uniformly throughout, no matter which way you look, all is perfectly normal and perfectly natural. So I grabbed these 7 paintings at random. Layered them in photoshop and came up with this......
Not too bad. Pretty uniform pattern considering. It means that every time I go out to paint I'm looking for a new way to solve the problem. Compositionally that is. But this is a random mixture of subjects and motifs. What if I tried to skew it more? So, I took only the nature stuff and no boats, flipped anything weighted toward one side or the other and adjusted them all to one side. Similar subjects, with similar weighting. What would happen?
Not so bad. I skewed the input a bit so of course the results would show a general pattern but still not too shabby. No gaping holes, no same-same horizon. I think this exploration has great merit and I'll apply it to other aspects of picture making just as soon as I figure out how. But is it good or bad to have a pattern? After all what is it that separates one artist from another but our innate tendencies? If every thing I did was completely different from everything else I did, who would know it was me? One of the artists came in to my studio a few years back and held up an ad with a painting in it. I didn't know the magazine, it was a painting of a chicken on a solid color field, never seen it before fo-sho. Somehow I knew right away it was Grant Wood (yes I've mentioned this story before) , but how did I know? The subject matter was not his usual, the palette was somehow different, composition was centered. How did my brain know and why would that even be important? Because there is a thing that separates one person from the next, one artist from another, it's the voice that is hard-wired in, the collection of skills acquired and nature and nurture and the ability to be unique if only in a small way. That small way is our personal tendencies and patterns.
Maybe the moral is, it's okay to explore because your voice will come through either way. Not sure, it's till a thought exercise... and there will be more to come on this.