A: At its core all art is communication. I personally believe that without the component of communication, there is no art. The expression of human creative skill and imagination becomes art when it is appreciated for its beauty, complexity, emotional power, evocativeness, etc. A sympathetic and understanding audience is essential.
Why might artists fail to communicate? Perhaps they haven’t mastered their medium sufficiently to elicit a reaction from the viewer. Perhaps the viewer lacks the necessary artistic, cultural, or intellectual background to understand and appreciate what the artist is communicating. Maybe the viewer is distracted or preoccupied and not looking or thinking deeply enough. There are many reasons.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2014, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Inspiration, Pastel Painting, Photography, Studio, Working methods
Tags: appreciate, art, artistic, artists, audience, background, beauty, believe, communicate, complexity, component, core, creative, cultural, deeply, define, distracted, elicit, emotional, enough, evocativeness, expression, fail, human, imagination, intellectual, looking, mastered, medium, necessary, perhaps, personally., power, preoccupied, reaction, skill, Studio, sufficiently, sympathetic, understand, viewer
Reproductions of “Cardinal Rule” (top) and “Blue Ego,” originals are soft pastel on sandpaper, 30″ x 38″
A: As a pastel artist I’ve never worked outside – with so many pastels, it’s just not practical – but early on in the “Domestic Threats” series, I created two outdoor setups. Works in the series derived from elaborate scenes that I arranged and then photographed.
I used to take long walks along the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA, and there was a tree stump that was fascinating. It was mostly twisted roots, knotty branches, dark hidden spaces, etc. (top painting in photo). One morning I took several hand puppets and stuffed animals (my subject matter at the time) and carefully arranged them on the tree. Around me people were busy exercising their dogs. Soon I attracted quite a bit of attention – a tall blonde woman playing with puppets on a tree stump! Dogs came over to sniff. Their owners came over, too, and I was pressed into explaining, again and again, that I was an artist, that I was photographing this scene so I could paint it, etc. The interruptions were very annoying.
The second time I tried an outdoor setup was again along the Potomac River, but this time I selected a secluded strip of beach where I was undisturbed. I had forgotten to consider the light and inadvertently chose a cloudy day. I remember being disappointed that the light was flat and lacking shadows. The painting (bottom in photo) turned out to be one of my least favorites.
I resolved from then on to focus on interiors. Alfred Hitchcock famously used rear projection so that he could work in a studio rather than on location. One reason, he said, was that in a studio he had total control. I know what he meant. When I set up an interior scene and position the lights to make interesting shadows, indeed, I have control over the whole look. No aspect is left to chance. The accidents – improvements! – happen later when I work on the painting.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2013, An Artist's Life, Creative Process, Domestic Threats, Pastel Painting, Photography, Working methods
Tags: "Blue Ego", "Cardinal Rule", accidents, Alexandria_VA, Alfred Hitchcock, annoying, arrange, artist, attention, attract, begin, blonde, bottom, branch, busy, carefully, chance, cloudy, control, create, creative process, dark, day, disappointed, distracted, dog, Domestic Threats, elaborate, exercising, explaining, fascinating, hand puppet, happenr, hidden, interesting, interior, interrupt, knotty, late, least favorite, light, location, look, morning, nothing, original, outside, owner, paint, particular, pastel, pastel painting, people, photo, photograph, planning, playing with puppets, position, Potomac River, press, rear projection, reason, resolve, river, root, Saturday, scene, secluded, second, series, setup, shadow, sniff, space, strip, Studio, stuffed animal, subject matter, tall, time, top, total, tree stump, twisted, unobserved, walk, walking, woman, work
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I cannot even imagine the individual arts sufficiently distinct from one another. This admittedly exaggerated attitude might have its most acute origin in the fact that in my youth, I, quite inclined toward painting, had to decide in favor of another art so as not to be distracted. And thus I made this decision with a certain passionate exclusivity. Based on my experience, incidentally, every artist needs to consider for the sake of intensity his means of expression to be basically the only one possible while he is producing. For otherwise he could not easily suspect that this or that piece of world would not be expressible by his means at all and he would finally fall into that most interior gap between the individual arts, which is surely wide enough and could be genuinely bridged only by the vital tension of the great Renaissance masters. We are faced with the task of deciding purely, each one alone, on his one mode of expression, and for each creation that is meant to be achieved in this one area all support from the other arts is a weakening and a threat.
Ulrich Baer, editor, The Wisdom of Rilke
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2013, An Artist's Life, Art in general, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Inspiration, New York, NY, Painting in General, Pastel Painting, Pearls from Artists, Photography, Quotes, Studio
Tags: "The Wisdom of Rilke", achieved, acute, admittedly, alone, area, art, artist, attitude, based, basically, bridge, certain, consider, creation, deciding, decision, distinct, distracted, easily, editor, exaggerate, exclusivity, experience, expressible, expression, face, fact, fall, favor, finally, gap, genuinely, great, imagine, incidentally, incline, individual, intensity, interior, master, means, mode, origin, otherwise, painting, passionate, possible, producing, purely, Rainer Maria Rilke, Renaissance, sake, Studio, support, suspect, task, tension, threat, Ulrich Baer, view, vital, weakening, wide, world, youth