THOUGHTS . . . About Art . .. #2
Are you drawn to watercolor, colored pencil, pastel, oil, photography, mixed media, clay, bronze, wood carving or something else?
You’ve seen someone in a museum or art show spot a piece of art, and seem to be pulled toward it as though a magnet were drawing the person in. The reaction is interesting—a medium close-up squint, then an extremely close examination of the signature, then a backup for a long look. Maybe arms cross, or the chin is stroked, or the head tilts just like a dog tilts its head when it is surprised.
Are these viewers addicted to a certain medium? Do some of them flock to watercolors only because they are watercolors? Perhaps it’s the mood they create. I hope to heaven that they are not trying to choose colors that match the couch.
Certainly the cave artists weren’t trying to match anything. All they had to worry about was contrast. I am enchanted by their work.
What about oils, perfected by the Masters, perhaps hundreds of years ago? Is it the richness of color, the story-telling aspect, the excellence of execution?
Has art progressed in its march to today’s art? Artists have certainly tried to invent new ways of producing their works, new styles, different media, different in as many ways as they could imagine. The Impressionists painted scenes using the common people as models, and they introduced emotion into some of their art. That is not easy to do.
Calmness is often a feeling that buyers look for in art for the home. Others go for the exciting, whimsical, fanciful or simply a bold, colorful design.
Let’s make a giant leap into Modernism and Abstraction. A very fine artist told me that when people get close enough to his paintings and realize that they are abstracts they quickly back off or turn and make a quick exit. I have noticed the same reaction to my own nonrepresentational work.
Why do we paint something that people can’t recognize? It’s because we like to. At least I do. It gives us some satisfaction to create our own individual strokes, glue something to the canvas or board, add textural interest, set extreme ideas in place, or simply fill space with warmth, depth, or fascinating colors—anything we desire. Ideally, we learn to paint the traditional way—then break the rules.
What’s in, and what’s out? Is it important? Sometimes we wonder if artists or viewers have good taste. Whose taste is good? And who is to say?
Art is a personal expression for both viewers and artists.