Is it important to stick to one theme and technique?

I have often been crucified by the public for not sticking to a theme over an extended period of time. I have tried to find a topic or theme to explore over and over again but I get bored with the subject matter after a while. I have attempted to paint portraits, trees, flowers, water formations, water plants, etc. I have created puppets, sculptures and masks which I have been very successful at. I have even attempted quilting and have purchased fabric and supplies to quilt for a lifetime.   But, after a while I get bored doing the same image over and over again. Is it important to stick with one theme and technique for a lifetime??  I have so many years to live and lately I have been asking myself, “What theme and technique can I stick with?”

I love Gerhard Richter’s works and he is consistent.  If you see one of his works in New York, Germany, or in London, you will always recognize Richter’s works. He has a specific technique that he uses over and over again.  He takes a squeegee in different sizes and moves the paint  across his canvases. He makes hundreds of paintings and all of them are done in the same way. He has found a technique and a procedure for applying the paint onto his canvas. He loves colour, (or the absence of colour) and plays around with one colour next to another colour and is not satisfied until he feels it is done. I love his work and would love to find a technique and painting style that becomes my identity.   It really is scary just making the same painting in variations over and over again. But, consistency is often recommended by the art world.

Marsh Studies

Here is the next shoreline study that has possibilities. It still needs a bit more work on the reeds because I think there is too much wax which makes that area too thick and dense. Some more burnt sienna, yellow and green around the middle. I love the way the light comes through the dark incised lines but I need to bring in more of those white lines to make the top section less dense. I don’t know if this is finished yet. I may have to work on it some more and will share the final results.


As you can see below I scrapped away the top half of the painting and simplified the composition. I just did not like the thick application of those reeds. I felt that the previous painting had no life and it was too busy. I reworked the water and added water plants below the top reeds. I like the circle affect that I created. I think the water is too white and needs to be a lighter blue because the white suggests ice instead of water.

Marsh Study 3

Another marsh and shore line study. I think this idea has many possibilities so now I want to make a bigger 24” X 24” marshland painting and use this #2 painting as a starting point. I want to continue with creating a sense of distance and will also continue to add water lilies at the bottom of the next painting.

DSC_4852 copy


After viewing this painting for a while there was something in the painting that kept bothering me. I saw the straight line of the back weeds and the front weeds being too straight so I worked on this study again. I broke the top line and made it move in a wavy line. I also broke up the bottom line as well. I think the final composition is much better.

P1040972 copy

Another Drastic Change

I still am not happy with the technique and the stiffness of the black reeds on this painting. The wax is too hard to control because I can’t do thin lines or blend in the same way as I do with a brush and acrylic paint.  I will work on the techniques of applying wax in order to keep the elements of the water and the shorelines. I also like woking on a high horizon line with the busyness at the top and the water reflections extending from the top to the bottom. This painting focuses on water reflections at the shoreline. I have finally discovered a technique using the iron to blend the colors into each other. I like the results using lines to suggest water and plant formations. This one still needs more work on the top because it looks so stiff.

shoreline #3

I just did not like the stiff reeds in the above painting so I heated up the top area with my hot air gun and scraped off the reeds down to the paper.   I turned it around and saw that the water suggested sky so added plant like formations over the bottom which suggested wild flowers and plants in a field.

Here is the final study and I hope it is done. I have a lot of difficulty telling myself that a painting is finished and keep looking at it for days.  I start seeing that a colour needs to be added, or a line is too straight, or an area pops out too much.  So, I work on it and sometimes destroy the painting or sometimes the changes improves the work.  Once I am satisfied with all of the elements and principles in a painting then I can relax and not work on it again. I think this one is finished because I do like the colours in the composition and there is nothing that I want to add of take away. This is a 16″ X 16″ canvas.

Wild Flowers

Pickerel Weeds # 2

I kept looking at the painting and decided it was a bit too dark so I added more yellow and light green to the leaves and the stems and the yellow/green wax brightened up the painting. I still think that I need to lighten the background a bit more. Will try to add more light blue instead of white and see what happens.

Pickerel weed final