I'm interested in the issue of "stroke" for painters. We know what it's like to recognize a particular artist by looking at their mature work and quite often their early work. Part of that recognition is in the application of the paint as it becomes a relationship of forms in the painting.
One knows a Soutine, a Constable, a deKooning, etc. in that way. In fact you would probably know who you were looking at by seeing only a fragment if the fragment wasn't too small.
Pollack, often referred to by those who want to degrade his accomplishment, as the "drip" painter, was far from that.
His application or stroke was indeed unique but it was no different than what was required by any other painter throughout many centuries. His complicated strokes produced a new space and form to him and this is what we all do in trying to make sense of the flat surface facing us.
I'll attach two paintings by a good stroker in the representational arena. (Andre Derain's; jeune fille and Le Beau Modele)
Some painters rely on having discovered the application of paint that both unifies the entire field of vision and generates an emotional excitement in themselves and their potential audience. (ie.,Welliver, Close).And they tend to work within this parameter with only slight variation to the motif. Some, like Derain, are guided by creative instincts that result in a broad range of discoveries and conclusions. In this, each painting (or series) has to be understood on it's terms rather than considering "the market" and by using the same solution to satisfy the market.. The market, of course, demands a consistant look for various reasons. (one being that many collectors need simplistic definitions of art). But painters that succeed beyond the market are driven by more complex discoveries and passions. And of course, by definition, popular culture denies the importance of complexity of this kind. Andy Warhol's strokes are absent other than the single stroke of the silk screen squeegie. Rembrandt, Beckmann, Titian, etc. realized the feelings that are successfully released through being in touch with the material.. The medium was definately a major part of the message.
Tim King sent this Andre Derain painting to members of the Midwest Paint Group recently. It's at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Derain's precisely "drawn" strokes that generate dynamic dimensions are particularly evident.