Neo-Pointillism (or something)
One question I get asked about my art… a LOT… is
“What do you call this style?”
This question always makes me blanch a little. I know it’s an innocuous question, I should just answer simply and move on. But the answer is complicated. It gets into the core of why I do what I do and how important it is to me. So, I find it a difficult question to answer.
The quickie answer I’ve come up with is that my style is a form of “neo-pointillism”, only with bigger “dots” and looser rules about what colors I can use. True Pointillism was a very brief movement, mostly promulgated by Georges Seurat. It required the use of tiny dots of color that, like pixels on a TV screen, blur together into a recognizable image (such as people on a riverbank). My style starts with the general idea of Pointillism but loosens the rules… a lot. My dots are large brushstrokes, and they are often elongated and even sometimes curved. Strict Pointillism requires using only a very few colors, but I don’t restrict the number of colors I use. I start with a solid red background rather than a white canvas. And so on.
So, the short answer is that my paintings are sort of Pointillist, but different.
To me, the difference is vastly important. It’s my own unique twist on the idea. It’s what sets my work apart from everything else. I don’t like calling it anything other than “my style”. It’s different, and I want it to be different. That’s why I’m so proud of it!
So, I’d like to say “It’s just my style.”
But that’s not what they’re asking. They KNOW it’s my style. What they want to know is where it came from, what genre it belongs to, what historical (or political or philosophical) school of thought, what teacher, how it came to be. They want a category so it can be neatly filed away. They want to be able to say “Oh yes, that’s the Pointillist artist.”
I understand this need. I really do! I do exactly the same thing when I look at other artists’ paintings. When I look at a painting I classify it: it’s a plein-air landscape, or a realistic still-life, or an abstract, or whatever. We all like being able to categorize stuff this way. It’s efficient. It helps us remember stuff. It’s how our brains work. I do it too. So I understand why they ask.
And in fact, their asking is a compliment. A really big, serious compliment, if I can only get myself to see it that way. They’re asking because it’s NOT obvious what “category” my work falls into. That’s exactly what I’m aiming for! I’m trying to blur the boundary between abstract and realism, between a painting of “something” and a painting that’s abstract blobs of color on a canvas. When someone can’t categorize my work and needs to ask what it is, I should see this as a triumph. It worked! It’s so different, they don’t know what it is!
But it’s still hard for me to answer the question.