|Before Dusk (Central Park at 72nd Street) by Sam Adoquei,
oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in.
Somewhere out there, maybe even as you read this, a group of hungry, dedicated artists are taking a plein-air painting workshop. And at some point during this workshop—perhaps right at this very moment—one of those aspiring artists will ask the classic question voiced at least once in every workshop: How do I develop my personal style?
Well, if it’s Sam Adoquei’s plein-air painting class that he teaches every summer in Central Park, the answer may be somewhat surprising. I believe he’d reiterate what he writes in his latest book, Origin of Inspiration: Of the three essential qualities—skill, style, and vision—that serve as the backbone for successful artists, style is the only element an artist can do without, but luckily style comes without the artist making too much effort.
Wow, does that resonate with you? It does with me. I completely get what Sam is saying. I truly believe we do not need to worry about style—it will develop on its own. Much as your handwriting has a unique look that evolved over years of practice, your style (your personal way of using your materials) will naturally evolve as you spend years mastering skills (your ability to utilize the fundamentals of art).
It’s vision that poses the greater challenge. Vision is your reason to paint. Vision is your voice. Vision is your unique message to the world, expressed in plein-air painting. I’m still honing my personal vision. No longer content with merely capturing the beauty of nature when I am en plein air—not that there is anything wrong with that vision!—I know I want to convey a deeper message about my spiritual connection to nature and about my concerns and fears about the future of our environment. The fun and the challenge is figuring out how that vision will manifest itself through my plein-air painting.
Have you thought much about the vision behind the outdoor painting you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share. Leave a comment and let me know.