Painters Who Obey The Urge | Expressive Painting

It seems absurd to think that any of us would feel alone in any of the emotional states we experience. Joy, frustration, and everything in between, are felt by all of us, so why do we sometimes feel off? I most often feel off if I’m not being true to my authentic self.

Annie O’Brien Gonzales realized her painting style wasn’t what she wanted it to be, and sought ways to make it more authentic. She found what she was looking for when she discovered the art of expressive painting. Inspired by artists who helped pave the way 200 years ago, Annie is happy to share her discoveries with you. If Annie’s article (below) inspires you to create more expressively, treat yourself to one or more of Annie’s new art workshop DVDs on expressive painting, or her new book, Bold Expressive Painting: Painting Techniques for Still Lifes, Florals, and Landscapes. ~Cherie

Expressive painting | Annie O'Brien Gonzales,
An expressive painting by Annie O’Brien Gonzales (Pin this!)

What is Expressive Painting? by Annie O’Brien Gonzales

At some point you may have became discouraged or received negative feedback that kept you from painting the way that felt most natural to you. It’s possible that the realistic style of painting isn’t “you.” If that’s the case, you just might be an expressive painter. In my case, I fought painting flowers “my way” (read crazy color, non-realistic) because I was concerned about earning the label of “little lady flower painter.” Having studied at a very traditional art school, I had it in my head that to be a “real painter” one had to paint something serious and paint it realistically. Then I took a hard look at what truly made me happiest and which artists’ work I gravitated to. I realized that, for me, painting is about color, pattern, and expression and less about perfection or meeting the expectations of others.

I discovered that the painters I most admire are expressive, relying more on color, shape, and pattern to create emotion than on traditional perspective, chiaroscuro, or reproduction of reality. I most admire painters like Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard and more recently, David Hockney (Expressionists, Post-Expressionists, Fauves) to name just a few. These painters heeded the urge to use vivid, non-naturalistic color, innovative composition, and non-traditional subject matter, and it worked. They chose to paint in a style that is highly personal and subjective.

Of course, expressive painters still must learn the basics of painting–mixing colors, composition, and use of value contrast. You have to learn the rules to break the rules sometimes. But once you gain control over the basics, content and style are up to you. As expressive painters we owe a debt to the artists who painted around the turn of the 20th century and broke free of long-held painting traditions. Beginning in the late 1800s with the Impressionist painters (Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro), the Post-Impressionists (Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin) and the Fauves (Henri Matisse, Andre Derain) painters began to celebrate pattern and color. French painter Maurice Denis radically reminded the art world in 1890 that “a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude, an anecdote or whatnot, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order.” The legacy of these artists is that we now have the ability to paint with individualism and originality. We only have to please ourselves.

I wrote my new book Bold Expressive Painting: Painting Techniques for Still Lifes, Florals and Landscapes in Mixed Mediato serve as a guide for painters who feel the urge to paint expressively. ~Annie

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