Novelty Is Seldom The Essential

“In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature.” Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 063
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 063 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How true are these words from the famous French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec? We artistic people are always trying to find that one thing – that elusive single thing that will make us stand out from the rest. We strive to be novel and so original that we sometimes end up doing nothing at all.

I’ve said it in other posts, but it’s better to just do what you love, in your own way – that’s as original as it needs to be!

Recently I have been painting still life scenes and they too can tell a story, in their glorious simplicity, through choice of colour etc, and as Lautrec says “Making a subject better from its intrinsic nature’ is the actual challenge for the artist painting realism – a pot, or a watering can, or even an ironing board has a beauty and a personality and portraying that essence is what resonates with the viewer.

So do it in your style. Capture the essence of anything in your own way and stop worrying about finding something that has not been done before and stop worrying also about who will like it. That’s being truly original. Even Picasso painted all sorts of things beautifully and realistically before he painted in the style of cubism. Who knows what you may stumble upon too on your creative journey!

I also love these words from Andy Warhol which sums it all up perfectly.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” Andy Warhol


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