We were chatting about last year's movies. My children talked mostly about the various action hero movies that came out. I think there were a hundred thousand or more. Then my wife chimes in about Daniel Craig and some other bloke also with pouting lips. All rather dire to be honest.
The thing is that most of the movies all seem to be the same. Loud, improbable and plain silly. We still watch them though. Maybe there is a reason sequels attract viewers. We know we are getting something that is entertaining. A sure thing. It does not always work though. Every Iron Man sequel, for instance, was rubbish.
What about art of the painting kind? An artist asked me recently how she could find her own style and produce something fresh. It is a good question. Are we as artists only producing what has gone before? Has everything been done already? Are we putting out sequels because they sell?
The impressionists tried to follow a formula for painting light and atmosphere. Only Monet persisted and did it superbly. Most others went in different directions. They developed their own style. It was a natural progression. For example Cezanne, Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin and then later, Bonnard and Vuillard. All distinct yet all influenced by impressionism in one way or another. Even to reject impressionism is to be influenced by it.
Fast forward to modern art. Pickled sharks, unmade beds and blank canvasses were hailed as daring new art. Lest we forget Duchamp's toilet decades before? Or Picasso using a rope to frame a painting? Perhaps everything has been done?
So unless you want to trawl the hardware store for new directions I could suggest the following:
Perhaps finally: Don't be afraid of influences. The greatest service we can do for other artists is to learn from them. It is their gift to us. Create your art with joy and freedom.
All the best for the New Year.