Fixations And Admirations

Sometimes a painting captivates me to the point that the power of it stays with me afterwards, and certain of it’s characteristics find their way into my work. I’m not sure if I should see this as a setback or as part of the process of moving forward.

I find myself trying to not paint like what I saw, saying to myself that I don’t want to be like someone else. But, somehow, it bleeds into a subsequent painting. It’s like I have to get it out of my system before I can move on.

I tire of it quickly though and go back to seeing things in my own way pretty soon. I don’t get tired of seeing and admiring it though (after all, the strength of great art is in it’s staying power) but just in painting like it.

I want people to walk into a gallery and know my work instantly. This is a sign of development and refinement, and is right up there in importance with my vision–what the work is about. In fact, voice and style are interrelated.

Fishermen 40x40 acrylic on canvas MTMcClanahanI guess with the advent of abstract and modern art, style became secondary to intent; you might know an artist by what is made rather than by how. But with a more traditional painter/artist, style is synonymous with personality.

How many of us go about our days like everyone else, doing and saying the same things over and over, our minds fixed in conformity? How many of us ever dare choose Frost’s unbeaten path?

It takes confidence, won through many trials overcome, to find ourselves, our individuality. This became overtly apparent to me reading the words of Steve Jobs (shared at Inspired “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Follow your heart.” How many times has this been said? It took one more time for me to hear it clearly.

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

4 Responses

  1. roopadudley says:

    I admire the styles of so many painters and the vision of even many more. I can say this quite confidently — my paintings never looked like any one else’s but my own since a very young age. My class fellows used to joke about it and so did my art instructors. It never donned on me to copy someone else’s style as I was more involved trying to understand what was being said than how it was being said. Falling in love with the message not the technique.

    • Interesting Roopa. I seem to always be taken with the textural. I am first impressed by the visual. I guess because, and this is interesting to note, I have my own message before I have my own style. Sometimes we copy to learn and sometimes it’s inadvertent in the process of growing.

  2. roopadudley says:

    I place value on idea over craftsmanship. Now don’t get me wrong, I also like to see excellent craftsmanship as well as I have discussed in great detail in my book. However, it is the abstractness of what does and does not exist visually that moves me — it is always the context over the content — what was actually said over how it was said. I do like beauty in art (textural and tactile quality) and ideally it is dynamic when the two are of equal caliber.

    • I guess maybe I appreciate the same as yourself, But thinking more on it, I can’t really separate the message from the means, they form their own texture somehow. And not necessarily representation but the abstract elements in relation to the message. But I think it all relates. But I see what you’re saying.

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