I recently saw a painting that reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about for awhile: contradictions in paintings. This piece is a good example of what I’m talking about–it’s a street filled with construction debris, traffic stanchions, barricades, shadows, etc.–yet it is a very lonely place. It was based on a very cold but sunny day in lower Manhattan.
I often put subtle contradictions in my work, I think they add interest and probably more importantly, they are interesting to me to paint. Why is that of importance? I believe all artists do their best work when they are engaged with their subject and derive satisfaction from getting their message across. Sometimes, that means painting things that might be a bit unsettling visually or in terms of mood. This can translate into an odd phenomenon–lots of interest in the piece, but not too much chance of a sale either. That does not bother me–I always paint what I find most interesting regardless of whether I think it is something people will want to buy.
I also think that working in this manner gives you a more likely chance of creating something that goes beyond being a pretty picture, or something that portrays technical proficiency, etc. Reaching for that extra something is so much more exciting than simply creating work that is “marketable”.