Friday, September 24, 2010

My Art Philosophy

I suppose for anyone to figure out their niche in the art world, it's commonly said that he or she must start with a philosophy behind their art--their "why." Trouble is, communicating my philosophy is almost as difficult as finding my style. It just so happens I'm a very practical person and am usually bored by the flowery, emotion-laden statements many artists make about their work.

Lest I sound cynical, let me describe it this way: we've all heard it said that a picture is worth 1,000 words, right? Well, what if I post this picture?

Above is a random image I stole from this site after a quick Google search for "cute baby." Do you have 1,000 words come to mind when you look at it? I know I don't. I think, "Oh, another cute baby photo," and move on with my day. That's only 5 words.

You probably say something similar upon seeing this photo:

But, for me, I see much more in this one because this is my oldest daughter, Brynn. Don't worry . . . I'll spare you the Mommy bragging. It will suffice to say that she was born weighing a whopping 1 lb 4 oz and has spent a great deal of time fighting for her life.

It's all about experience.

In the painting world, many artists pour their hearts and souls into some emotional expression as they paint and then define their art by those emotions. They could talk forever about their work, their experience, etc, but does that come across perfectly as intended? In my (humble) opinion, probably not. A viewer only sees what connects with their experience. If they don't have an experience or an appreciation for what or how an artist paints, far less than 1,000 words come to mind. In fact, they barely glance in the general direction of the piece representing the blood, sweat, and tears of that artist. And, when the viewer actually does have 1,000 words come to mind, what are the chances they are the same 1,000 words as the artist? Practically nil.

Does that mean the viewer isn't "enlightened" about art? Despite what some NY Abstract Gallery owners may say, I think not. Not everyone is going to appreciate your art . . . but some people will and that's all that matters.

My point is, although I do have a philosophy behind my art, that's not why I create it. I have large doubts that anyone will spontaneously pick up on my philosophy without reading my blog or getting to know me personally; and at that point, I've communicated much more effectively through verbal language than visual.

But as far as concrete visual communication goes, I connect a lot with painters like David Leffel, who are very practical. He said in his book, Oil Painting Secrets from a Master, that the concept behind one of his paintings was "the movement of light from left to right." Another painting's purpose was about, "purple and yellow." Now THAT is something I think I could try to communicate visually. And yet, even still, one of his patrons said, "Oh, I thought your work was about 'quiet.'"

And that's okay.

Even without perfect communication of some overarching philosophy, I still paint. Why? Because I love to paint. I love to learn about light and how it reacts with stuff. I love to play in the oils and see what they can do. I'm fascinated by the effects you can create with different tools--a brush, a knife, my fingers, a paper towel, sandpaper, saran wrap, etc. I love getting lost in a concept--even if it's a concept that only I will ever fully understand--and how the rest of the world melts away as I totally lose track of time. I even love my failures--okay, maybe at the time I really want to throw the painting across the room--but eventually I love that the failure happened because I improve for the next one.

So what's my philosophy? Well, I suppose it's the same for my art as it is for everything else. It would be this: seek lasting peace in all aspects of your life, pursue excellence in the things that matter most, embrace pain when it's necessary, and then share what you've learned with others.

But if you connect with my art or my blog in some other way, I will clap my hands and say "That's wonderful!"