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Pippa
01-13-2009, 08:44 AM
I'm sure this has been done to death at one time or another, but I thought I'd have a go at it.

I'm really interested to hear what you all think is "good art". I know the requirements of what makes "good art" vary greatly from person to person and I'm interested in hearing all your opinions.

I'll start. For me, good art is based on design and colours. The design must be appealing and intrinsically attractive. All elements must draw the viewer in, with nothing leading the viewer out. The colours should work well together with both harmony and discord. Beyond design and colours, "good art" should leave something to the imagination. It doesn't spell out everything, nor answer all the questions. I find the paintings that really grab me exemplify these things.

What do you think? :) What sort of paintings "grab" you?

Potoma
01-13-2009, 12:40 PM
Good art makes me feel wonder and holds my attention. It's generally a mood, perhaps combined with mystery.

robertsloan2
01-13-2009, 02:09 PM
I can boil it down to two things, each of which is complicated.

Objective Technical elements like composition and so on. Some of these do apply even in the abstract realm or with art that deliberately violates beauty or convention. I have been applying some idle curiosity in a nonscientific way to see if what we mean by "good composition" is the same as other cultures, or if that's something culturally rooted.

On anything representational, one of these is whether you can recognize what's been painted and how well you can. If it's not, the composition, balance and color harmony things may still apply depending on context. Celtic knotwork done to decorate ancient Bibles still comes up on greeting cards.

There may be some elements of painting that are hardwired in our human genes, things we respond to as instinctively as a small person making a "ma" sound makes people respond by trying to find its mother.

People love the best paintings in the Lascaux caves and other ancient works, whose painters had no idea of what we'd think of as good or fashionable or valuable. They don't get promoted just for being 30,000 years old, they turn up on the first day of every Art History class ever taught with the point that "Some of these are so good that they'd hang in any gallery today if you didn't know they were 30,000 years old."

So as a science fiction writer, my idea is that any objective art criteria are biological and part of our being a social species that communicates a lot in as many different ways as we can put our clever paws to. We always made marks on things. We always tried to make them visually dramatic so the next human that came along understood what we meant. And we've been at it for so long that the ability to understand marks left by other human beings is gut natural and comes from our genes as much as the urge to do it.

Subjective personal criteria that I believe ultimately come down to the individual no matter how conventional their taste has been educated. The person who wound up cultivating a taste for fine art after a college degree in fine art and learned to see and understand all the forms of fine art by always, always agreeing with the teacher on what was good or not -- the traditionalist -- is still going to have favorites.

They may be different favorites than he or she had at the start of the course, having come to understand some of the less accessible types of art, but there are still favorites.

What's odd is that after taking a lot of humanities and art history courses, my favorites were still my favorites and I came out of it with a better understanding of why I hated the art I hated. I didn't just dislike it. I disliked what it meant so violently that if the artist had put it into words I'd have stood there in the gallery having a four hour debate with him over life, the universe and everything.

Art is communication and all messages have content.

Stepping away from the biggies like religion or ethnic tradition and so on which can educate an eye to understand the niceties of complex symbolism and add more layers of meaning to a Gothic painting or a modern Goth poster, there are some basics.

If you showed me two equally well painted animal portraits and one was a cat, the other a dog, I'm a cat person. I would look at the cat painting and feel all warm and mushy, want to reach in and scritch it, set out some food, tickle the fluffy tummy. I'd look at the dog painting thinking about the brush strokes in the fur and isn't that interesting how you got the eyes.

I might reach that point on the cat painting too, but only after that initial warm rush of getting the message that the cat was there.

Subject does matter in the subjective. The same well-painted floral painting could look dull and trite to one person who just doesn't like floral paintings and gets very annoyed that so many of them get in galleries, or just perfect for my living room to the next person who wandered in, thinks florals are cheery and likes flowers, and found her favorite flower larger than life and rendered exquisitely.

It can get as fine-tuned as whether it's irises or roses.

The things that can be taught are the objective criteria of good art. I've never met an artist who wasn't interested in them on some level. Picasso said something like, two collectors meeting in a foreign country will immediately start talking about Art, but two artists meeting in a foreign country will talk about where you can find turpentine cheap.

So we're in on the backstage nuts and bolts technical discussion most of the time where "what makes good art" boils down to "Notan, what a good idea and I can do it right in Photoshop before I do my sketch to see what I'm doing" and set out drool buckets every time Terry Ludwig's extreme darks get mentioned. (Oh yes, someday.)

Those are the things that can be taught, those are the things that can be understood and applied regardless of your subjective reactions.

Subjective criteria come out of culture and individual ideas and life. Art always has a message and if I disagree with what it's saying, when it's said beautifully it's actively more annoying! When I look at a well done abstract expression of nihilism, it's like a depressed person screaming at me that life is pointless and everything sucks.

I wouldn't want that for a housemate and I wouldn't want it on my wall, but it gets a lot of appreciation for its rawness and for breaking through social barriers that existed at the time to do things gallery owners left out. The same type of person doing the same type of painting about the feeling of being in love with pthalo blue might have me grinning and bringing it home, because I paint too and I like pthalo blue a lot.

The content of the message affects the subjective, so does everything else about it.

So "good art" says what you want to hear and does it well. Pretty much like "good writing" or "good music." It clarifies something murky or it affirms something that matters, it makes you think, it is effective communication. I can admit the depressed expressionist was good at it but still don't like the message and would rather not get up to that argument every time I go in the living room.

Some people would appreciate that if they are having trouble grounding in reality and trying to fight through denial of their feelings. The same painting might be darn good medicine for someone who's not happy with their life and needs to do some introspection.

Both objective and subjective criteria matter to me.

Subjective criteria are why it's so important to be true to yourself in painting. To say what you really mean. A hypocritical painting done just to please a perceived group of other people who like something you don't, because they've got money and you don't, is a bad habit that can dig itself deeper and deeper.

When I look at what succeeds or not, all the successes have in common that they learned the skills of creating art and communicate well. Sometimes success can hit early before the artist has all the skills, a fad can sweep around on subjective criteria and the artist is stuck in a horrible position of any improvement being rejected because it's not what they were famous for. This can and does happen to writers too.

I know all the stunning good artists I've ever known are all used to learning, constantly critiquing, testing, experimenting, studying art and improving their art every time they paint. Masters are always students. Maybe becoming a good artist just takes the attitude of learning to enjoy learning to paint, because that's the really fun lifelong part.

I couldn't answer this in less than an essay. Maybe I had too many Humanities classes where questions like this got points. I've been rewriting this essay as often as the subject comes up.

There's my view of it: good art is successful communication with other human beings.

Sonni
01-13-2009, 03:38 PM
After composition/design, value/color and engagement, deep resonance.

Donna T
01-13-2009, 03:45 PM
Good art makes me feel wonder and holds my attention. It's generally a mood, perhaps combined with mystery.

That pretty much sums it up for me, too. I want to feel something and all the technical accuracy in the world doesn't matter if I get no response from the piece. I have noticed lately that the bold, abstract pieces that demand attention from across the room in a gallery do nothing for me the second time around. It's like a commercial that's so funny at first and then becomes annoying. I guess I need that sense of mystery to keep me interested.

Donna

bluefish
01-13-2009, 06:50 PM
It's simple -'If the customer purchases it - it's GOOD ART!

westcoast_Mike
01-13-2009, 07:02 PM
Not necessairly

It's simple -'If the customer purchases it - it's GOOD ART!

There are a lot of schlock artists out there that do quite well, just because they have good marketing skills. For me, it has to capture my attention and make want to keep coming back to it. To define it further, your could get a MFA and still argure about waht you think you know.

Punky2
01-13-2009, 08:13 PM
For me it's the feeling also. Art that I really love is something that reminds of something, like a memory, or if it's a landscape it makes me want to be in it. I don't even notice the composition or design, which probably means that it's good.

For me, even some abstracts can evoke a feeling, like wanting to be inside the painting. This is all purely subjective, of course.

Terri

Sonni
01-13-2009, 10:07 PM
There are a lot of schlock artists out there that do quite well, just because they have good marketing skills. For me, it has to capture my attention and make want to keep coming back to it. To define it further, your could get a MFA and still argure about waht you think you know.

I agree. I know a few. ...:rolleyes:

Does anyone want to start a thread: The Dogs I've Sold? I got material:eek: .

annette71
01-14-2009, 12:25 AM
Hmmm, great question...i've been wondering myself lately...

From my simplistic perspective, for art to be "good", somebody has to give it that adjective. So at the end of the day it is pretty much a personal decision. The viewer can be educated in arts or not, and based on that, he/she may have more elements or criteria to qualify an art piece in its technicalities, in addition to personal taste. But for most of us mortals, art is about emotion, about how we react to an image. It's about how bad we need to have that image hanging in our living room or wish we could have it.

If you look back at history and see how in the early days "good art" was equivalent to a technically accurate painting, but then centuries later the paintings of expressionists (which departed from many of those rules) are being sold for millions of dollars, i can only conclude that what is good art is basically a decision of the viewer (which can be affected by different factors). This does not detract from the fact that the "decision" of an educated viewer or group of viewers may cause your painting to end up costing a load of bucks. But i don't believe "good art" is strictly related to price. Remember that Van Gogh never sold a painting in his life (or maybe he sold only one, i'm not sure).

If a person enjoys a painting so much that he/she is willing to pay for it to enjoy it on a daily basis at home or work, that piece of art is good, at least for that one person. I think most artists long for "that one person" more than they long or a "collective decision of approval" of their work.

My humble opinion...

Good thread.

Annette

helenh
01-14-2009, 06:55 AM
What draws me into a painting (or sculpture, or glass piece, etc.) is that the artist projected a vision that was far beyond the ordinary. I could look at a Rembrandt and say, "I've never looked at a face that way." Then I could stand there and stare at it and discover all sorts of nuances. I could say the same for Matisse or Picasso where "I've never looked at the human form that way." But beyond just being original, it must add another dimension, one that is compelling, intriguing, and timeless. Those traits are quite ephemeral and I don't know how to define it further, but I know it when I see it. It creates the difference between a nice picture and great art.

Helen

Deborah Secor
01-14-2009, 11:51 AM
My view is that 'good' art effectively communicates, drawing the subject, artist and viewer together, no matter what kind of artwork it is, or when, where or how it was done. 'Great' art transcends time and effectively communicates to more (or most) people.

Deborah

DAK723
01-14-2009, 01:47 PM
What I like best, and think is the most successful, is art that captures and communicates the essence of the beauty of the world we live in. It can be the beauty of a landscape, a plate of strawberries, a face or figure, the interplay of light and shadow, the glitter of water on a lake, etc.

It should communicate some feeling, atmosphere or mood - connecting the artist and the viewer with a shared human emotion or experience.

Don

Sonni
01-15-2009, 12:47 AM
Here's what David Leffel said in American Artist Oct, 2005:

"Great painting is the product of a mind that is seeing, tasting, exploring the entire fabric of life."

bluefish
01-15-2009, 11:24 AM
If you have a chance to visit NYC, you will note museum after museum, gallery after gallery, all featuring different forms and styles of art - 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'!

What 'Sonni' thinks as good art may not correspond to 'Donna's' view - 'Maggie' may like something that 'Deborah' is not impressed with - thank goodness we all are different in our views, likes and dislikes - it allows a broad spectrum of diverse art and culture! Some of the pre-historic sketches in the various caves may not win any prizes in the current art competions but they were a thing of beauty to those ancient artist that drew them with the tools available to them!

We all attempt to do the best we can, sometimes under very adverse conditions - enjoy what you do and hope you bring some 'joy' to someone as I do with my 'SCHLOCK' art - I enjoy the 'marketing' equally with the 'creativeity'

'schlockfish' :D :angel:

Sonni
01-15-2009, 06:52 PM
If you have a chance to visit NYC, you will note museum after museum, gallery after gallery, all featuring different forms and styles of art - 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'!
:D :angel:

In part, I disagree. I think you are describing a matter of "taste," not beauty. Let me explain.

There are basic rules of compositiom/design/form/value, etc...I won't go into them, but I would expect every serious artist, wannabe or professional, knows them, and continues to study and incorporate them in their work. If you read, Leffel, Dow, Albert, Kreutz, Roberts, Carlson, Hawthorne, and a host of others, you will see they all say pretty much the same thing about the basics--the structure of good art making. AFTER that, there is concept(our method of thinking), taste (our perception of truth), truth (our perception of life), expression/technique (the method of ingesting and communicating all of the above), etc ( probably left something out)...which is personal. As we grow as artists and art appreciators, I think our styles do tend to change, but I'm not sure our basic "mark making" does, though it may evolve, because this is our personality, which makes us different from the next guy.

I have to agree with David Leffel when he says, "Most people begin painting by trying to match the reality of what is in front of them. The closer they come to achieving that match, the more they believe they have accomplished something. But in truth, they have only copied what is outside of them. That kind of external process doesn't lead to a fulfilling conclusion." This could be translated as not making good art.

Leffel goes on to say, "There are today and have been through the years, painters who are skilled craftsmen. Talent and facility abound, run rampant even, if we include all the excellent commercial illustrators. What is in short supply is taste. Talent without taste is tragic. Taste must be cultivated. It must be nourished in every aspect of one's life. It is the consideration of life itself."

So I don't think beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I think it goes much deeper and much further. And "art" appearing in a gallery or museum, certainly does not make it good, though it may comment on the taste of the gallery owner or curator.

bluefish
01-15-2009, 07:38 PM
taste? - 'schlock art'? - I'm lost! - one of my degrees is not a MFA - therefore I guess I don't understand these concepts!

My limited 'taste' knowledge is enjoying a big 'juicy steak' or 'fettacine with white clam sauce' - yum,yum!

Although I've commented on 'schlock art' I have no idea what that is!

All I know is I try to make an interesting and beautiful painting, utilizing color and innovative concepts - I guess the 'taste' of my customers agree with what I am trying to convey! All that other reteric is foreign to me and is going to stay that way!

'bluefish' :angel:

AnnGarlough
01-16-2009, 05:49 PM
What an awesome thread. I haven't been around much as a great opportunity opened up for me last month in the colored pencil medium and I'm working away on that presently. But a new pastel commission arrived yesterday so I'll probably be popping into this forum more.

All that being said, I am greatly enjoying the posts here. I don't labor under the delusions of personally creating "great" art, but so thoroughly love what I do that it's OK. I have a following of clients who think my animal portraits are great art, and that's hard to beat! Not everyone enjoys working by commission and more than a few look down on it. But the ability to make a living doing what I love brings me indescribable satisfaction.

As far as truly great art, I find enjoyment in art of many styles as long as it resonates with me in color, composition and artistic skill in rendering it.

Colorix
01-17-2009, 09:39 AM
To me, Really Good Art has a spiritual quality to it.

Now, "spriritual" is a much used and abused term that can mean about anything -- and does. So, what if I try the word sublime, would that give a better indication?

Wikipedia:

In aesthetics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetics), the sublime (from the Latin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin) sublimis ([looking up from] under the lintel, high, lofty, elevated, exalted) is the quality of greatness or vast magnitude, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic.


Or, as the great German poet Friedrich Schiller put it (not even paraphrased by that unreliable memory of mine, but from my subjective understanding of what he meant): the sublime consist of a paradox, whith two things that are both true. The emotion stirred in us is one of both great joy and exquisite pain, possibly the word "awe" would come near.

It is something that resonates within, that touches the soul *and* mind. Needless to say, it is very rare. Much of the best art is competent and good, even parttakes of beauty, but few are able to reach the hights of the Parnassus, and achieve true Beauty that stirs the soul.

Technical excellence and competence isn't enough. If I may borrow from Music, I've experienced the difference. There is a song-cycle by Shumann called "Dichterliebe", of the German (yes, again!) lieder tradition. The 'plot' is simple: boy meets girl, love is fallen into, girl jilts boy, boy tries to keep a good face, boy sorrows/rages, boy accepts.

One of the songs in the middle is titled "I bear no grudge" (Ich grolle nicht). (Yeah, sure!) I've heard it sung by one singer regarded as one of the world's best, and I've heard it as the "final exam" of a newhatched singer. Mr Famous sung it very romantically and beautifully, and Mr NewGuy, who'd just been left by his great love, sung it with pain, grudge, and total conviction. When the cycle was compledted, Mr NewGuy was met with the stunned silence of the audience, lasting for the eternity it took for one of his relatives to be so embarassed they started to clap, and the spell was broken, and the audience surged to its collective feet, clapping madly.

Personally, I'm nowhere near this, still working on developing technical skills, so there at least will be a possibility of nearing the goal, maybe. The one thing that is a striving for something Else, is my use of light. It is symbolic of The Light, although it is still only "light". Technical excellence is very important, but sometimes adequacy is quite enough, to give a hint of the Sublime.

And after reading my thoughts, and Robert's, I'm tempted to answer the question with one word: "brevity". :D

Below is a dialogue with Rob.

Rob wrote:

There may be some elements of painting that are hardwired in our human genes, things we respond to as instinctively...


I think there is: harmony of proportions, for example. We still tend to place the "area of interest" in a Golden mean section of the canvas/paper. The harmonic proportions were a very important constructional element of the gothic cathedrals. Even the ancient Egyptian tomb paintings utilize the golden mean in the construction of humans (in an odd way, those figures are entirely mechanically drawn according to rules.)

Research has been made into what constitues an attractive face that is considered beautiful. Again, the proportions favoured instinctively by humans is of the Golden Mean.

People love the best paintings in the Lascaux caves and other ancient works, whose painters had no idea of what we'd think of as good or fashionable or valuable.

Those make me think that humans back then might have lived in a technologically more primitive world, but humanly and artistically advanced nevertheless.

So as a science fiction writer, my idea is that any objective art criteria are biological and part of our being a social species that communicates a lot in as many different ways as we can put our clever paws to.

As an SF reader, well, actually, I'm sorry, but I think it is just plain common sense. After all, we're designed as harmonically proportional living beings, with the help of The Golden Mean, Fibonacci, etc. Our cells have and form living patterns. The brain doesn't show the crystalline structure of a hexagon, for example, but pentagons are abundant, as are other design elements for living things.


And we've been at it for so long that the ability to understand marks left by other human beings is gut natural and comes from our genes as much as the urge to do it.


Agree. And as long as we look on things with open minds, we tend to read them rather accurately.

Subjective personal criteria that I believe ultimately come down to the individual no matter how conventional their taste has been educated.

People do the most amazing rationalisations convincing themselves that Jackson Pollock *is* good, because art critics have said he is.... But what do they have on their walls? I think people have to deny their humanity in order to swallow the stuff you have to force yourself to believe in in order to be "properly educated".


What's odd is that after taking a lot of humanities and art history courses, my favorites were still my favorites and I came out of it with a better understanding of why I hated the art I hated. I didn't just dislike it. I disliked what it meant so violently that if the artist had put it into words I'd have stood there in the gallery having a four hour debate with him over life, the universe and everything.


And the post-modernist artist would have been delighted, as his aim was to raise your hackles. They say they want to provoke emotions, but when they get met by my emotions of laughing myself silly :evil: :D , they get angry and disappointed.


Art is communication and all messages have content.


Amen! We may not, or we may, agree on what is a great content, but we do agree that there should *be* a content. I've looked in horror on the narcissistic stance of "art for art's sake, money for god's sake" (a 10 cc song, I believe) of modernists and post-modernists.

The things that can be taught are the objective criteria of good art.

But they are not enough. Again, borrowing from music, I've heard a *perfect* computer made bit of what was originally real music. The computer had made the meter exact, and every note had its exact scientifically computed length of sound. And it was technically absolutely correct, and as absolutely horrifyingly ugly to listen to. :eek:

While my heart (and eyes) weeps and rejoices at the sound of the Benedictus movement of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, where a divine violin hovers above the singers and orchestra.


So we're in on the backstage nuts and bolts technical discussion most of the time where "what makes good art" boils down to "Notan, what a good idea and I can do it right in Photoshop before I do my sketch to see what I'm doing" and set out drool buckets every time Terry Ludwig's extreme darks get mentioned. (Oh yes, someday.)


:lol: I think I've burst my spleen... Yes, that is often what we do discuss. And I too love that newly discovered (by me) tool of Notan, as it will help me get a little bit nearer true Art, but it is a tool.

I know I avoid mentioning aspects of what I regard as great, or true, art. I'm usually met by silence, and people look oddly at me... shake their heads, and start talking about the weather.

Subjective criteria come out of culture and individual ideas and life.

Let's not forget the "lemling effect", where suddenly "everybody" rushes in the same direction, mindlessly. Unfortunately, it exists. But, to mix my metaphores, "only dead fish float with the stream".



Art always has a message and if I disagree with what it's saying, when it's said beautifully it's actively more annoying! When I look at a well done abstract expression of nihilism, it's like a depressed person screaming at me that life is pointless and everything sucks.


They are, and it is, for them. And they want us to suffer with them, so they don't feel so lonely in their pit of hell-- they want to bring us down to their level, or below, so they can feel better. Narcissistic and self-centered squared. True art, IMnot-soHO, will strive to lift people up, to cultivate them with culture, to elevate mankind to her fullest good potentiality. True art is altruistic. And hard, as you have to teach yourself to be better, as a human. How can you help others up, if you can't show them what 'up' is, and why it is better?

So "good art" says what you want to hear and does it well.

Aye, and Great Art says what you need to hear, even if you don't want to.


Subjective criteria are why it's so important to be true to yourself in painting. To say what you really mean.


I'd express it as: it has to be a part of the human experience too, have a universality that people can relate to.


I know all the stunning good artists I've ever known are all used to learning, constantly critiquing, testing, experimenting, studying art and improving their art every time they paint. Masters are always students. Maybe becoming a good artist just takes the attitude of learning to enjoy learning to paint, because that's the really fun lifelong part.


Somebody, several sombodies, have said: Attitude is everything. Friedrich Schiller said: "Man is only truly man when he (and she!) is playing." And the best way to learn is to play and have fun. (Charlie said that last sentence :D .)

I've really enjoyed this, thank you, Robert, and thank you Pippa for asking the question that set off all the wonderful answers!

Charlie

robertsloan2
01-17-2009, 11:33 AM
Wow, Charlie! Thank you for such a deep lengthy and interesting response. I think we more or less agree. I hadn't actually mentioned spirituality because I didn't want to open up the whole debate about religion, but spirituality goes way beyond any given religion. It's inherent to being human.

I just tend to be relatively private about mine when it's off topic, that's all.

The market, being a market, suffers constantly from that lemming effect. I see it happen all the time, usually someone will make a lot of money from it and if their work is good or they're good at marketing, it may last into a stable career.

Andrew Wyeth just died. I loved Andrew Wyeth. Christine's World spoke to me from the first time I saw it in a museum as a little kid. It was the one I recognized when I first read an article about Wyeth and I have followed him off and on ever since. I'd forgotten who did that one but I never forgot the feeling of it.

I'm not sure we consciously need to try to express the human condition. We're human. We're each living it, our own lives have a full complete expression of it right within us and what we paint is going to carry what we want to say whether we want it to or not. I can recall painting something I thought of as cheery and pleasant when I was in high school and everyone else seeing it thought of it as brutally depressing.

For me it was one of my high points, a good day, a good memory. To others it was a glimpse at what high school was actually like for me and it shocked them. Most of them had a lot less trouble standing in line and didn't have to be afraid of whether they could get up again if they dropped their books and bent to pick them up.

Reading your response though, Charlie, what came to mind was a geometric abstract painting, series of paintings that I saw in a major corporate lobby in Chicago. It ran through several lobbies, this painter whose name I don't recall was very popular locally.

Each was a big canvas neatly divided into one inch squares and covered with neat little flat perfectly painted color patches. They staged perfectly up through nine or ten values, then changed hue by one step, flowing into each other. Some had patches of neutrals that shifted hue, others patches of pure color that just shifted value. There were 20 or 30 of them.

They sold like hot cakes to the big companies and banks in the CBD. They were bright, classy, attractive and set off lobbies done in neutral muted hues with a splash of color.

The first time I saw one I broke out laughing. That was Art For Art's Sake all right. He sold his color charts! He just took his cool color charts from whatever sketchbook or scrap papers he did them on and developed them into paintings that sold like crazy because they said nothing about "life stinks" or "you are unworthy," they were an invitation to paint.

I am not sure that the buyers quite understood what it was about those paintings that made them so compelling, but that's what comes to my mind whenever I hear about "art for art's sake."

I heard the phrase long before I actually saw any of the ugly paintings usually associated with it and it stuck in my head as a theme. Completed by those color charts in bank lobbies. Every now and then I see a good one -- someone who does an interesting painting and leaves part of it incomplete showing all its stages on the way to completion, a teaching painting, where without any text you can figure out how to do colored pencil realism, that's art for art's sake.

I do want to do one someday, not sure what medium it'll be in, but it'll be something like a still life of art supplies with a lot of instruction on how to use them in the way that I handle different areas and probably the "finished part" in the focal point.

So my mind shears off away from what was actually meant by "art for art's sake" and fills in the one statement that would make sense in that context: a pictorial art lesson. One that would be fun and invite any viewer to pick up a brush or a pastel stick.

I think there's a tradition in universities for professors to get to inextricably mingle their personal opinions with whatever's been discovered or discussed in their subject. Better teachers could care less what your opinion is and will freely hold a debate, sure that the process of debate will make you pay attention to the topic and understand the arguments you disagree with in order to refute them. It's not just art history, I ran into both attitudes from different teachers in all sorts of classes. The ones that demand you agree in order to pass wind up getting a lot of students disengaging, putting down the expected answers and not getting as much out of the class.

Sometimes later on they can't believe they did that, lied to get a grade, and so believe the lie in order to think well of themselves afterward.

Charlie, thanks for that comment about spirituality and light. It completely makes sense with my emotional reaction to your paintings. My thought when I look at any of them is "You're in love with the world." No matter what you look at, you will pour that light over it and show what is cool about it, show it in a way that makes me love it.

I had no particular feeling about fat little round teapots till I saw the painting you did on that challenge with the yellow teapot in it. Since then that shape has meant something deeper to me, it brings up all sorts of associations that are wonderful.

I wound up finding one in our house and put it in one of my still lifes and it became more personal, because the blue one really is my daughter's favorite herbal tea pot and meant healing as well as comfort. Saved my life at least once, probably several times, from pneumonia, exhaustion, malnutrition.

Yours brought up a different memory from Wind in the Willows, the point Toad was in jail and the jailer's daughter brought him some tea and toast. So a book as well written as your teapot painting was painted collided in my mind and the good things in the world weave together. Your paintings remind me of them and are something that pull me out of dark memories at a glance, remind me why I put up with all that to get back out into life.

Very, very good paintings can transcend culture and go way beyond specifics. It happens in all the arts. You reach it sometimes, so does Deborah, so do many of the artists here. They'll grab all the specifics in the viewer's life -- my daughter's healing teapot -- and make them more vivid, more memorable.

There were a lot of debates in college about the purpose of art too, as if every bit of art ever done from the Pleistocene onward all had to have exactly the same motive. That sort of thing made me nervous, but it's pretty common in academia. A tendency to want to categorize everything and pretend it's all understood if it's been catalogued, then rate everything precisely on a scale so that we can value it according to its exact status.

The old Academy used to rate subjects of paintings as higher or lower and dismissed anything that didn't fall into those subjects. Top was mythology and history, I think followed by portraits, landscapes and nature, bottom was still lifes, everything else was just shlock. I can see why this got seriously annoying to the Pollocks and Picassos.

When I think of subjects for art, it's like asking about genres of books. I don't like mysteries, do like science fiction, out of the mainstream it's harder to choose the particular books I enjoy by subject but I do know that personally I'll enjoy a mediocre science fiction novel over a mediocre mystery. That list of "history/mythology, portraits, landscapes, still lifes" in that order is someone else's genre scheme and a bid for unearned status to put their tastes above mine.

I happen to prefer nature over everything else because my spirituality is very earth centered, if I paint a forest that's where I'm finding my focus on the divine. It's a cultural difference and a personal difference. So I'll respect other people's lists and tastes and ratings as being personal, just not agree that I should abandon mine in favor of theirs.

There's one sketchbook available that is proportioned by the Golden Mean in two sizes, ASW has it. I often considered getting it, to see if it'd be easier to lay out a composition in something shaped like that. Thanks for mentioning that too, Charlie. I may go measuring it up on a page and try something with it.

robertsloan2
01-17-2009, 11:35 AM
That pretty much sums it up for me, too. I want to feel something and all the technical accuracy in the world doesn't matter if I get no response from the piece. I have noticed lately that the bold, abstract pieces that demand attention from across the room in a gallery do nothing for me the second time around. It's like a commercial that's so funny at first and then becomes annoying. I guess I need that sense of mystery to keep me interested.

Donna

A great cartoonist told me once: "You don't have to draw well. You can be lousy at it as long as it's consistent and you have a good gag. If you can come up with good gags you'll be a great cartoonist."

It's possible to do paintings that are bold and grabby across the room and then have a lot of depth once you come close too. I've seen many that I keep coming back to over and over again. They usually aren't blocky bright colored abstracts though.

robertsloan2
01-17-2009, 11:38 AM
I agree. I know a few. ...:rolleyes:

Does anyone want to start a thread: The Dogs I've Sold? I got material:eek: .


I love that idea of a thread for "dogs I've sold." A long time ago I came to the conclusion that I might as well sell my mistakes. The buyers don't care about what I hated about that painting or that it wasn't what I wanted it to be. They saw something in it that they loved and I'd only be ruining their day to run it down to them.

It's too bad I don't still have some of the really bad sketches that sold, because I wasn't getting copies of them at the time. The life portraits I did in my first week of street pasteling in New Orleans are probably all on that list. I think I was giving some of those people jaw tumors and broken noses and sundry other medical misfortunes. They didn't care though, as long as it looked human and I got the eyes right they were happy.

At the same time, I'm learning constantly from your portrait of me. You are so good that I may be looking at that thread and drooling at your dogs, because they have something to teach me.

I'm sure if you do start the thread, at least one wonderful painting that catches my eye and my heart will be on it. I'll react pretty much like the buyers of my bad Prismacolor undersea scene with the malformed shark in it (I got the colors right and the shark was at least sort of three dimensional) did when I put that in an art show.

Still it'll be fun to read what you say about your dogs too and why they didn't work, it'll help me understand it when I do something I think is great without realizing that two years down the road I'll want to hide it at the bottom of the storage box.

I even have one that's in that category. I thought it was perfection when I first did it. It still gets a lot of attention for its cool idea and it has got some good points or it wouldn't have been that popular. I can see its flaws a lot more clearly now and may be getting ready to redo it with the skills I've gained from Charlie's class.

robertsloan2
01-17-2009, 11:45 AM
If you have a chance to visit NYC, you will note museum after museum, gallery after gallery, all featuring different forms and styles of art - 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'!

What 'Sonni' thinks as good art may not correspond to 'Donna's' view - 'Maggie' may like something that 'Deborah' is not impressed with - thank goodness we all are different in our views, likes and dislikes - it allows a broad spectrum of diverse art and culture! Some of the pre-historic sketches in the various caves may not win any prizes in the current art competions but they were a thing of beauty to those ancient artist that drew them with the tools available to them!

We all attempt to do the best we can, sometimes under very adverse conditions - enjoy what you do and hope you bring some 'joy' to someone as I do with my 'SCHLOCK' art - I enjoy the 'marketing' equally with the 'creativeity'

'schlockfish' :D :angel:

Oh definitely.

It's one reason why I don't tend to run down the "shlock" art. I heard too many people put down greeting cards... till I met real artists who were occasionally selling good paintings to greeting card companies and publishing them, figured out where card designs came from.

Sometimes there's bad art that happens to be on topic and sometimes good art gets presented in a mass-market way and gets called shlock because it's popular. If its a poster, it's wound up in the homes of people who couldn't afford a painting by and large. Sometimes class differences come into it.

My blue collar grandparents looked down on fine art with a traditional blue-collar annoyance with upper class pretension. They liked paintings that were representational and they liked paintings of subjects that made sense to them. Give them a mountain scene or a good still life or a child with a violin and they'd enjoy it, most of the historical art in museums appealed to them. They'd get dismissed for their tastes by a certain equally defensive group of critics...

Who ignore just how many imitations of 20th century moderns wind up interpreted in furnishings and textiles and taken for granted.

I sometimes suspect that some 20th century furnishings added to "the anxiety of modern life" because some nihilist's abstraction screaming at the world that life is horrible got popular, got reinterpreted as a tile pattern or textile pattern and put on all sorts of people's couches, carpets, floor tile patterns to add a subtle underpinning of "there is a depressed person screaming at you in the background" to the ambience of the home.

Colorix
01-17-2009, 05:27 PM
In case I'm not the only one who isn't up to date:

schlock also shlock Slang
n. Something, such as merchandise or literature, that is inferior or shoddy.
adj. Of inferior quality; cheap or shoddy.

Charlie

bluefish
01-17-2009, 07:14 PM
My art's not cheap - therefore, I don't qualify as a 'schlock artist'! - GOOD! :D

rankamateur1
01-18-2009, 06:03 PM
I was just reading Ken Rockwell (www.kenrockwell.com) on what makes a good image in photography and his opinion applies here: a good image is one that instantly transports you to a different place. I think the same applies to all art, even if the "place" is not necessarily a physical place.