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The Biggest Compliment?

January 9, 2014 by admin

We have grown up getting compliments for things

Good job

Good job

we do well, and then criticized when we do something wrong. It’s pretty much bred into us. As an infant the entire family will clap and jump for joy when accidentally roll over on your back. And then all the high fives you give your kids when they finally sit on the toilet to pee. (totally glad that still doesn’t happen, but maybe it will again when I grow old)

Jump back this way to adult life and we still see all types of behavioral modifications being passed our way. Raises at work when you do well, speeding tickets on our roadways when we don’t.  I loved getting stars on my papers in grade school, red, silver, gold… okay I saw some people who got gold, “hey, why didn’t I get one?”

Under a glass

Under a glass

What about as an artist, what kind of praise do you like? For me the ultimate of course is Best of Show, with a big fat check. Is that the ultimate? Maybe not, but it’s up there. I sure do enter enough shows on the chance that I just might win, or at least get accepted. Sometimes things don’t always workout the way you want and you are left with what you thought was a really awesome painting, and here they didn’t even want it in their show. We must learn to be resilient as an artist, because we don’t always get the praise we want.

How about that other praise?

I get it all the time, and maybe you do too. It’s the “Oh that looks like a photograph”. I know that is normally meant to be a compliment, and to

many it is. But to me, it’s not the compliment that it is intended to be. I think it’s intended to be. I mean I’ve never actually asked if they meant that in a nice way or not, but I assume so.

My goal as an artist is not to recreate the scene so to speak, it is to envision what is before me, and try to capture how the light effects the scene, and to bring back that feel that took me there in the first place. Is it a windy cold day, with a dreariness about? Maybe a hot summer afternoon with no escape from the heat anywhere?

What I like to hear if I’ve done my job right, is “I like the light in this piece”, or “this feels like a autumn morning”. Maybe it’s me, maybe I have not conveyed a feel or air about the painting enough for the viewer to experience what I had taken part in when I saw that scene and decided “this is what I want to paint”.

There are those artists who strive for a photo realistic painting depicting the scene for exactly what it is. I admire those artists, and appreciate their technical skills, but what I want to do more and more is bring back that wonderful imagination that at one time kept me occupied for hours on end, and create compositions that not only feel, but “wow”.  There are photographers who “wow” with their pictures, there are ball players who “wow” with their on field abilities. What kind of compliment do you give them as they hit the ball out of the park?

As pretty as a photograph

As pretty as a photograph

A good standing ovation is always welcome, with cheers and accolades as they run the bases. Try that at your next opening, maybe getting high fives as you go down the line.

In many art shows you have the “public’s choice” or “artists choice” awards. How about next show give everyone a sheet of stars, and each of the guests come along and put stars on the paintings that they like. What do you think, should we let the patrons use the “gold stars”?

Take your art to an open critique, that will sober one up fast, and make you think that maybe you should reconsider your profession. Keep a thick skin, but it’s that old reward/punishment modification again. Not to change behavior or your personality, (or lack thereof) but to teach us what is wrong and what is right in our art.

It takes a skill to be able to comment on art of all types and skill levels. Art is not the same as adding up all the columns of a spreadsheet and getting the figures right if you are an accountant. In art, high praise and compliments are given to artists who do solid fields of color, nail toilets on ceilings, have their cats chase a feather across a canvas as it spreads paint. The same gold stars are given to the photo realism, the abstracts and the expressionists.

How in the world is the general public supposed to know what is “good art”?

A star for you.

A star for you.

(of course another great topic for later) Let alone know the correct thing to say when confronting the artist and their work?

If someone wants to tell me “That’s as pretty as a photograph” that’s fine. I really do appreciate their taking the time to at least acknowledge that

something has been created by the artist and is now on display for the publics view.

But really, if you’ve got a gold star sticker sheet…

I’m just saying.

 

Winter Grays

March 27, 2013 by admin

I was in a juried show late in 2012, where I was fortunate enough to take an award for a painting I was not holding much hope for. Into the Los Pinos ValleyDuring the reception, the juror, a Dr. William Eickhorst was good enough to talk to all the artists, and to explain why he picked what paintings he did. It is not always required at juried exhibitions for the juror to do this, but always appreciated. What Dr. Eickhorst had to say about some of the art he chose and didn’t choose was to say the least informative, definitely entertaining, and at times brutally honest.

I love this sort of candidness from a juror, he pulled no punches when letting the artists know what he thought was good, or should not even been ever painted EVER! Now if he’s picking on your painting, this can be quite a blow to not only your ego, but wondering whether you should be even considering a career in art. It takes a very thick skin to be an artist, and to put what you worked so hard on out before the people and their sometimes rude insensitive remarks. But Dr. Eickhorst knows what he is talking about, and has quite a resume to back up what he says.

I try not to let it bother me too much, I’ve seen a juror reject a piece of art, and then that artist enters it in a different show, and it wins “Best of”.  Try to figure that one out! (actually, that’s easy, different juror’s like different things)

At this show, on this night, Dr Eickhorst was discussing with the artists afterwards, and was talking about some of these “gray” paintings. “What Monet was doing when creating the Impressionistic movement was light and colorful! Not dark and gray! He actually pointed to one of my pieces when refering to the grays. Some of the other artists when their piece that they had toiled long and hard over actually got into verbal battles with the guy trying to rationalize their creations. When he pointed out my painting as one of those art in parkville“grays”, I said nothing. Was it from biting my tongue in anger, or dumbfounded by the pure audacity of this guy? Really, I’m no different than the rest of you, I have feelings, though I have had to become a little more resilient from all the rejection through the years, but this time it wasn’t that. I was smiling inside, because I had finally did it. I had finally stepped away from the brilliant colors of my previous pallet. For over the past year my mentor had been working with me with creating “beautiful grays”, and it was hard. My colors were always too bright, too rich. Not that that is a a bad thing, I love color, but I was looking for more subtle color. Rick’s paintings mastered this, and he had been working with me to achieve this on a different level.

Rick had died shortly before this, and will be truly missed, though I still turn to him for help and direction. And on this occassion when Dr William “Bill” Eickhorst was talking of the impressionistic colors of the masters, and not these grays, I again turned back to Rick, and this time he was smiling. He had did it!

I have a long way to go in this pursuit, but I will get there.

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