By Erin Nevius, editorial intern for The Artist’s Magazine.
“I try not to repeat myself,” says Everett Raymond Kinstler. “I try to avoid finding a formula or a recipe. That can be very difficult. If you fall into a rut, let’s say, of painting nothing but portraits, you’re going to repeat yourself over and over again.”
Kinstler has spent his storied career refining and redefining his artistic voice, keeping it malleable and fresh. And considering that his portraits have brought him widespread fame, it may come as a surprise to some that Kinstler credits a great deal of his continuing artistic growth to another love—painting landscapes en plein air.
“Landscapes are a more personal expression,” he says. “It’s very clear to me why Sargent finally said ‘No more portraits.’ When you do a commissioned portrait, you’ve got to please not only yourself, but a client as well. And unfortunately, there are many restrictions—size, that sort of thing. Whereas if you’re doing landscapes you’re painting your own experiences of what appeals to you, what stirs you and what stimulates you. How does that enrich you? I think you’re developing personality. And one of the most valuable assets for an artist is a strong artistic personality.”
“Don’t go outside with the idea of making pictures,” Kinstler says. “Go outside and learn, and absorb and understand nature. Try to make quick, spontaneous statements that focus on some aspect of the scene. That’s where you’ll pick up certain truths.”
Kinstler reached a key plateau in his personal development when he stopped emulating his favorite artists. “There was a period when I was very troubled by the fact that I was influenced by so many artists that I loved,” he says. “I was leaning too much on trying to be what they were. In my case it echoed so much of painters like Sargent and Franz Hals. Then I began to get more confidence, ability and experience, and suddenly it began to come from within me. But that takes time. There are very few artists who spring on the scene whose personalities and point of view are so marked. No matter which artist you look at, if they’re real good, there was visible development. For example, Whistler was very imaginative as a landscapist. He took from nature, interpreted it and turned it into poetry. If you look at some of his early drawings, they’re very, very mechanical and filled with detail. And if you look at the etchings he made as he got older, they became almost abstract. The great artists develop the ability to know what to leave in and what to leave out. How do you develop that? You develop it by working hard, experience, learning and challenging yourself.”
Learn more about Everett Raymond Kinstler at ArtistsNetwork.com and NorthLightShop.com.
Free Download! A Streamlined Method for Quick and Deliberate Plein Air Painting