Here is H. H. Jone's manifesto of Art-Eklecto, whose aim is to make use of as many artistic influences and resources as possible in its quest for personal inspiration. It is, in essence, eclectic art, as conceived by Johann Joachim Winckelmann and recommended by Sir Joshua Reynolds but expressed in a way which is particular to the present artist.

If ART-EKLECTO were a mini art movement, it would attempt to glorify all the great art which has gone before. Indeed, it would be the mission of the theoretical followers of Art-Eklecto to make much of their art heritage, but diverge from it as far as possible! The goal being to find the new in the old.

As a manifesto, it is a statement of the goal of artist Herbert Howard Jones to pay tribute to the former by means of 'original appropriation'. This is to take art which has an emotive quality for him and carefully synthesise it and turn it into something more personal and more original. The word 'original' in this context meaning slanted towards the proclivity of its creator, i.e. the artist. This approach could also be called the Eklecto Method or Eklectoism. In a sense, it is an attempt to reinvent the wheel, by taking its roundness and giving it a new metric.

It is also the artist expressing his admiration to the old master painters of the past for being the torch bearers and lighting the way for future artists! Appreciation also goes to artist David Mabb, a Head of Masters at Goldsmiths College, London, who has been using appropriated imagery for years in an attempt to rethink the political implications of different aesthetic forms in modern art and design history. However, Art-Eklecto has no such political premise, and is purely an aesthetic paradigm. 

Also, it differs from Appropriation Art, in that it seeks as wide a divergence as possible from original sources. But whether appropriated forms can be turned into decent new art is debateable! However, it is felt that Mabb has achieved this with his very intriguing exploratory pieces. But the challenge for the present artist, at this level, is whether it can be turned into anything at all. And if the process can proceed in a systematic way, with a sensibly established protocol, then perhaps something worthwhile can come of it. But only the observer can decide whether the efforts have delivered as hoped. However, the focus in this instance is mainly upon painting.

One development involves a varied approach to methods of painting, having experimented with various approaches to underpainting and creating the 'mauve tint' which utilizes purple at the underpainting stages and appears to stimulate the colours used in the later stages. We have also developed a form of 'a la prima' painting called 'embedding' which is the discovery that three or four layers of oil paint can be laid one on the other, thus speeding up traditional glazing.

These approaches to the creation of paintings could also be called Paintillism,  (as opposed to the Painterly style or Pointillism), as we are focussing primarily on painting, as opposed to other art forms such as sculpture, and tries to incorporate as many styles into itself as it can. In fact, Art-Eklecto is primarily style and method focussed without clearly defined boundaries. However, it is this all-roundedness which makes it hard to identify as opposed to say Fauvism or Cubism or something as distinct as Realism.  

But the portfolio of the artist will give us a clue as to whether the approach has been eclectic or not. Cynics may call this merely 'mimicking the style of others', except that it is earnestly trying to find something new in its explorations. For example, perhaps Cubism could be iterated as Circularism!  But we here we jest! In a nutshell, Art-Eklecto or Paintillism, as we immodestly think of it, is the 'painting art' of many styles!

But to be more specific, Art-Eklecto as a technique is an attempt to systemise a method of creating so-called eclectic art, which is traditionally without any specific style, and chaotically borrows from a wide variety of sources.  It is in part inspired by the instruction once given by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the 18th century, who approved of artists’ borrowing from others. As the head of the Royal Academy of Arts in London he was an influential advocate of eclecticism. In the sixth of his academical Discourses published in 1774, he wrote that the ‘painter may use the work of the ancients as a ‘magazine of common property’, always open to the public, whence every man has a right to take what materials he pleases!’ (Reynolds 1775, 26). Reynolds appears to have invented appropriation!

It is understood that the term eclectic was first used by Johann Joachim Winckelmann to characterize the art of the Carracci, (a Bolognese family of artists) who incorporated in their work, elements from the Renaissance and the classical traditions in general. Apparently, artists like Agostino, and Lodovico Carracci had tried to combine in their pieces Michelangelo's line, Correggio's chiaroscuro, Titian's colour, and Raphael's graceful symmetry, which is about as ambitious as it is possible to be!

However, without meaning to be critical, this casual eclectic approach to art creation can be chaotic, without rules and is inefficient. Art-Eklecto proposes that something truly new can be created through a more systematic, more efficient approach to the random ad hoc borrowing from multiple sources. Ideally the goal is to satisfy the Ouroboros Principle - see below.

Art-Eklecto as conceived by our in-house artist Herbert H. Jones is based on a triangle of three rules which he has conceived as: Appropriation – Integration – generation.

Appropriation – means to systematically and knowingly borrow from existing sources. This stage can be called, 'the stage of inspiration'.

Integration – means to synthesise at least two or three elements together, taken from outside sources and combined with the artist's own original input.

Generation – means to use these elements to produce something which can be markedly differentiated from its original sources and should not be a blatant copy, which would defeat the objective of Art-Eklecto.

The Ouroboros Principle is a term which refers to something which is constantly recreating itself and symbolises introspection and the eternal return. Like a snake eating its own tail but in reverse. Essentially, in this context, it is a cycle of self-perpetuating, self-evolving art, which gives birth to itself through a series of developments or editions or iterations.

To put it more simply, the appropriation is added to and changed. As the ancient Romans used to say, 'Facile est addere aliquid existentium per invention' - it is easy to add something to an existing invention'. But the object here is to open the arc of departure as widely as possible.

Appropriation - Although this smacks of blatant copyright violations and plagiarism, this is just the initial stage in the process and the aim is always to produce an iteration at the very least of the targeted sources. The ideal scenario is that something entirely original and new is birthed through this approach. H.H.Jones really tries to come up with the new as opposed to a mere iteration. The first stage surveys as much of the field of art as possible, and it is vast, scrutinising art as it evolved chronologically down the ages. This satisfies the first requirement of being systematic. Then, selections of style and theme, even philosophy or politics are made, which satisfies the second requirement of ‘knowingly borrowing’.

Integration – This is a crucial stage which attempts to synthesise at least one borrowed element with a concept from the artist himself. It is important that the artist adds something to the mix and this can be a random idea or a carefully pre-planned one. This ‘pinch of added magic’ is the alchemy around which the creation of the new art piece revolves. However, the requirement here is to find a working relationship or balance between the elements, even if the final effect isn’t necessarily aesthetic in the traditional sense.

Generation – This stage achieves the synthesis outlined with the production of the finished art piece, but it must satisfy the ‘differentiation’ rule and be seen to contain different aspects which weren’t found in the original source material. Mere omissions of original detail is a negative solution to this problem and is only allowed if new detail or features are added. It is also important to try and create as much of this ‘new art’ as possible to increase the chances of a successful piece being created.

The Ouroboros Principle is satisfied when the new art that is created is strong enough to become the basis of the next round of synthesis. In other words, ideally the new art should be interesting enough to be regarded as an original source in its own right. It is then from this original source that a far reaching artistic extrapolation is made so that the starting point gets absorbed and become invisible.

Other Practises

Colourisation as an identified practise

The approach of Art-Eklecto to the creation of new art can employ many different approaches which need to be identified and listed. One method is the use of colourisation, by which existing black and white drawings or prints are utilised as the basis for  painted works. This is probably the simplest discipline within Art-Eklecto and involves the following process.

1. A black and white, grisaille or chiaroscuro image is first obtained.

2. The image is reversed.

3. Colour is then added by the artist.

There are a few examples of the method on this site using oil paints and appropriated Victorian ink drawings. However, the divergence from the original work is only slight if dynamic.

Sliding, resizing and reversing are identified as methods

Here, the artist appropriates an image and relocates the elements in it by moving them to the left or right, up or down. He may also enlarge or reduce picture elements in size to suit his objective. In addition, images may be completely reversed. Or a combination of all the above practices can be employed at the same time.

Practitioners of Art-Eklecto or Eklectoism are by definition eclectic artists or artisans, and might also be called Art-Ekectics or Eklectists to differentiate from eclecticists. The difference in a nutshell being that the approach of Art-Eklecto is more systematic or should be. The above ideas are also 'open source' in the sense that they could be added to or critiqued by interested parties or participants.

See Gallery One

See Eklecto-Ebooks