One of my largest sources of personal torment in my artistic life-span has been my inability to self-describe. When a scenario arises that forces me to explain myself, my process, my artistic and personal belief system, I seldom jump at the opportunity. Something about my spiel is un-rehearsed. Too honest. I can't bring myself to utter the cliche artist regurgitation that many of us often use on our artist resumes. I have been trying to figure out what kind of Artist I am. I have run into some problems.
First, I can clearly describe what kind of artist I want to be. I believe all artists operate under their super-ego, and try desperately to project outward, the image that suits their own sensibilities. I believe that the hyper-aware hopeful self portrait an artist uses in a statement is just another projection of our internally theorized artistic identity.
Not that these projections are dishonest, in fact, they are hyper-honest because they are glimpses into the way an artist views themselves relative to the rest of us. Artist Statements are telling and informative, but sometimes, they can seem like fluffy bullshit. I especially view my own with scrutiny, which has led to my over-thinking the subject that I feel I have to publish my thoughts.
There are several sub-categories of art and artists. Trying to fit myself comfortably into any particular genre has seemed challenging. So, with much thought and personal expense....I have decided to call myself a modern romantic expressionist. Naming myself is one thing, I would like to take the opportunity to expand on and defend my self-recognition.
Romanticism (or the Romantic era/Period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1840. Partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it was also a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education and natural history. (from Wikipedia)
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic,particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including painting, literature, theatre, dance, film, architecture and music.
The term is sometimes suggestive of emotional angst. In a general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco are sometimes termed expressionist, though in practice the term is applied mainly to 20th-century works. The Expressionist emphasis on individual perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic styles such as naturalism and impressionism.(from wikipedia)
These two categories are highly emotionally charged, as am I. That is the real connection here. The Romantics and The expressionists were groups of artist that were transforming, if not outright rejecting popular heavyweight art movements of their time and subsequently became popular with time. In theory, I believe that I can place myself in here somewhere. I do identify with several modernist movements in bits and pieces, but the emotionally saturated works of the expressionists and the modern American abstract painters suit my sensibilities closer than others.
So in theory, I am a Romantic Expressionist. But in painting style, I am more closely related to an impressionist. My paintings up close look more like a Monet than a Constable. Many of my color choices and technical skills come from close observation of the French Impressionists of the late 19th century and eary 20th.
Impressionism casts a wide net of influence. The main reason that I hesitate to self identify with them is, I feel that ALL modern American painters are influenced heavily on the works of that time period. Our use of color and our application of color theory has forever been altered by the discoveries of Pissaro and Monet. The majority of popular art movements in the late 20th century and early 21st century in the United States is heavily influenced by Impressionism from the Hudson River School to the Modern Day Plein aire painters. The French coined the term itself. I worship Monet with a comparable amount of fervor as Rembrandt and Vermeer.
So I guess the most honest description of myself to this point is a modern american painter influenced heavily on the ideals of expressionism, the appreciation for the natural world, and the intellectual color theory of the French Impressionists. I guess that will do for now.