Too Many Rules!

By NOAPS Artist Member Debra Keirce
Rules – They are a blessing AND a curse.
It’s nice to feel like we can follow rules to paint an incredible, award winning painting. It’s a curse to know that the most successful people broke the rules of their time in order to achieve their legacies. I mean, where would we be today if Benjamin Franklin had stayed indoors that day it rained and he got the notion to fly his kite? Love or loathe modern art, but what would have happened if the expressionists had colored inside the lines?

“It’s a Jungle Out There” by Debra Keirce, 12×16 Oil

The trouble with rules is knowing which ones to follow and which ones to break. I’ve come to really appreciate this lately. You see, I started a new venture this year. DebKArt Home Studios is hosting some of today’s master painters to teach workshops in Northern Virginia, in my home studios. I thought I had well stocked studios. I’ve been painting and teaching from them for so many years now, I was sure I’d thought of everything an artist needs and then some. But here’s the thing – Some instructors want natural light. Others want windows darkened so we can use artificial light. Some instructors and students MUST stand to paint. Others only sit. Some will paint only from life. Others will paint only from photos. Some squint. Others say keep your eyes open, or you won’t be able to see.
Don’t even get me started on how passionate artists can be about their brands of paints, mediums, substrates and brushes!

“Out of the Box” by Debra Keirce, 8×6 Oil

I am learning that whether you paint the light like Rembrandt did, or in glazes like Vermeer, or with direct deliberate strokes like Sargent, there is a rule book unique to each of these master artists. And the rules contradict each other. If you try to follow them all, you drive yourself crazy getting caught up in a web of absolutes, and you produce nothing.


“Pandora’s Boxes” by Debra Keirce, 6″x8″ Oil

As artists, I am beginning to believe that the challenge for us is not in learning all the rules. Rather, the challenge we all need to rise to, is creating our OWN sets of rules. I can live with that.
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1 Response to Too Many Rules!

  1. Great article, Deb!! Of course, I also LOVE your paintings!

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