I go about every Sunday and read the art mags at Barnes and Noble while I consume a coffee of some kind. Yeah I know, that’s taking advantage, but as it stands it’s still the best art education I can get. I get a pretty good idea, as I use and peruse, what America seems to think is good painting and I am able to keep tabs on folks I know and the opinions of folks I don’t. Last week I picked up a magazine that seemed to feature article after article on what it is to be the artist with “something to say”.
The idea was that every successful painting begins with feeling (the artists, about something), and that leads to so and so artist having something to say. And of course having something to say leads to greater understanding by the viewer and that is what makes a successful painting successful. Or something like that.
So… how in the world do we know what it is an artist meant to say? I mean really know. In a word we don’t. 🙂 Unless the guy/girl sits us down and explains in some understandable way just what the message is. And it’s even worse, for me at least, when it comes to abstract work but we’ll save that idea for later. For now, I just wonder how important it is I to have something to “say”. Or perhaps more to the point, how complicated does this have to be?
Now here’s a painting I finished a few days ago. Let’s get right to it and see what that “feeling” was or was not, why was I driven to paint this particular scene, and how all that translates to whether or not it’s a successful piece.
Okay, get this. I was drawn to this particular scene because bla bla bla etherial bla bla bla spiritual and then intellectual pursuit and lofty lofty this and that!! Huh? What the heck was that? But we’ve all heard it! Some fella laying it on so thick you just want to stick your finger down your throat and gag a little.
So let’s try an approach that’s a little less offensive to OUR intellect. Let’s just say maybe I was drawn to the blue in those shadows. Or…lets say the contrast between what lay in the shadows and what lay in the light was intriguing. Maybe the texture in the rocks strewn about the road was more than I could pass up. Too, it could have been the cool morning and and the feel of the morning air on my skin. Maybe I just love to get into the paint and smear it and play with it and try to make sense of what’s in front of me in the process. Could be what I have to say is as simple as “Man you should have been with me that morning”.
How does anyone know all or any of that though unless I tell them.
That’s why it’s up to the folks looking to decide why they like this painting. (to heck with a bunch of my ideas) Is it the contrast between light and shadow? Texture? The feel of the morning? Color? It goes with the drapes? All of the above? None of the above? I guess I have my reasons for painting this one and the viewers, if they like it, will like it for their reasons. How much more perfect could a relationship be? For me, I’m into contrast, always have been. Then again, isn’t EVERYTHING about contrast? Is this a successful piece? Not particularly. Not at least, as I figure it, until someone besides me sees it.