Friday, September 12, 2008

Johnny One-Note

In my previous post, I mentioned a weekly art show I used to visit from time to time and how much I enjoyed a desert landscape painter that showed there.

I remember another painter I used to see at that show. I can't recall his work in detail, but it featured mountains, a lake and pine trees. All in browns and greens. ALL of his paintings.

For you see, he painted the same painting over and over again. Big ones, small ones, horizontal and vertical ones of each size. But the image was essentially the same on each canvas.

If a customer really liked the image, s/he would have no problem finding the right size and format for the available space in the home or office. If people didn't like the image, well, there was nothing else to look at in this guy's booth, so the buyers would move along and look elsewhere.

I never did talk with the artist. I'd love to know if he discovered the image was a winner: that's why he painted it and it only. Or: was it an image he liked and therefore banked his time and his material costs on re-painting it ad nauseum?

I've heard artists like this referred to as "Johnny One-Notes." No variety, no experimentation--just do what's safe and, possibly, saleable. While it isn't unusual for artists to become known for doing a certain subject with variations, THIS guy took it to an extreme.

Frankly, I think that's sad. If he's still painting and selling work, I hope he's grown in his art AND in his ability to take chances.

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