Art critiques are so useful that I go to them if I get the chance. One reason is that doing your work in the sanctity of your studio or out in the field is only part of the creative job. The other part is putting your sacred cow in front of other people, to praise, to criticize, to ignore. An elemant of growth is coddled and stunted if one doesn't do that.
Some good artists I know have said, in essence but without using the exact words: "I know the people at that critique. They won't tell me anything I need to know." Other artists have said, "I can't be sliced and diced in front of all those people, I just can't." First, people don't slice and dice, at least I haven't seen it at any critique---if anything, people sugar coat things too much. (Understandable) Second, people don't have to be smarter or more talented than you to tell you something that carries weight. No one has a monopoly on the truth. The best lessons in life are always right in front of you----that I know---and it wouldn't be possible unless we can gather wisdom from most of what we come across. Even if it is a lesson in how not to be.
You may hear ten asinine comments from one person and then the eleventh thing that pops out of their mouth is the one comment that you've never heard before, or not at the right time that made it meaningful.
Yesterday the critique I went to shocked me on many levels. I wondered while sitting there if I made a blog post about it, how much detail I would go into. You don't want to criticize needlessly. It was very strange. It was so clear as the critique wore on, at points interminably, that some of the artists there wanted to grow as artists and some simply wanted to make sure their painting was going to get into a certain contest or sell chop-chop double-pronto. In the monetary case, the critique was therefore a tool to make sure their painting was squared away with the right finishing touches. In the contest case, the critique was a tool to make sure a certain number of pairs of eyes declared the painting was not offensive or out of linear perspective or something. Personal growth was somewhere far away. I do think there's a big lesson in the observation of this----sometimes you have to let go. People are people and we have to accept each other. I hope people accept me with all my funny ways, so that means I have to accept other people with theirs.
This time the magnifying glass was on shadows for some reason---cast shadows in particular. Quickly one could sense a third of the artists at the critique were willing to play with shadows, alter them if necessary, as a compositional device---and about a third were firmly opposed to doing so: shadows must be completely accurate to the light source, etc. (The remaining third were silent observers in this escalating conversation and presumably had no strong opinion for or against altering shadows for artistic intent or following what nature---or in last night's case--- cameras---had provided ample proofs of.) It was noticeable that the painters who painted from photographs as their sole resource for images were the most adamant about following whatever cast shadow the photo had indicated. It was a peculiar conversation. Two groups of painters that one would think had more in common than not, were communicating to each other with increasing difficulty, and one had the feeling that the English language was ultimately the only thing they shared. And it still wasn't enough. So what I learned last night---I always learn something at the critique---was that a critique in my case is definitely something that I want to bring increased understanding to me of how what I'm doing is striking others, and not use the critique, as I saw some doing, as a form of corroborating what I already hold dear.
I did learn a couple other things but I'm going to keep them to myself. ! Ha.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
One of the reasons I notice instagram more than before must be because I just can hardly stand to watch the televised news anymore. I can only take so much. So my attention goes to instagram instead of CNN, to examine paintings, drawings, and interiors of beautiful houses instead of the real news which is truly making me gasp every day at this point. It's really awful. I wonder if it's as bad in other countries. If you pick and choose your online news sources it's better than tv news by far.
One thing that makes me very cross is the coverage of one story to saturation point, so that one week all you hear about --to pick at random an instance---are confederate statues being pulled down, and everyone is coming to fisticuffs over it, then it's barely mentioned ever again. I don't really care about confederate statues, I never cared about confederate statues, but after being force fed every compelling reason why I SHOULD care about the fate of confederate statues, they may as well tell me how the statue-story ends, instead of acting like it's none of my business anymore. They must have thought it was my business for that period of days when it was the leading story every two minutes for at least a week. It was as if nothing else in the world was happening except outrage over some statues that people had been walking past for decades without even noticing them. Suddenly the same complacent people were in such a frizz they couldn't rest till all the statues were yanked down or covered with a tarp.
I did have an opinion on the statues which I didn't see anyone else talking about---they should have been auctioned off to collectors for display on private properties or in personal gardens, and the money then used by that city for some rational purpose. Bronze statues go for a LOT. For instance, 10,000.00 seems like a lot of money but it is nothing for a bronze statue of that size. People buy and commission small bronzes all the time for far more than 10 k. Go to an art gallery if you don't believe me.
Instead, the sight of one of those big bronze statues being pulled down by a rope, falling into pieces of shapeless rubble, was the uninspiring result, all achieved by a frenzied crowd. I don't think there is anything scarier than a crowd mentality bent on destruction. Why destroy it? It's still a work of art, it's still bronze, some of the statues seem actually quite beautiful in a traditional sense. Without a name plaque no one even knows or cares who those statues depict unless you're a history major. The truth is, if the crowds honestly were that interested in the subject of statues they would have been on the arts committee of their towns, and these people definitely weren't, it was a mob composed of normal people not do-gooders. It was like looking at the result of a mass hypnosis, in this case learning very quickly to notice and hate something they had previously been ambivalent about or perhaps even fond of.
(If the country really wants to tear down statues they should start with the colossal abstract metal sculptures by unknown artists that grace the courtyards of countless city buildings erected in the 1980's. Talk about criminally ugly eyesores whose day is done.)
But what is news one day ends up----so often---being not mentioned anymore in a short amount of time.... What happened with Zika virus? Was it cured? They never talk about it now. They said that we needed to prepare for a global catastrophe then they changed the subject. Meanwhile there's a giant pile of plastic in the ocean that gets bigger every day, why don't they talk about that once in a while? Or force every country to contribute to the cleanup of it by January 1, or something. Something concrete. If the media applied the same thumbscrews to the populace that they employed in the cause of statues, I think that pile of plastic would be history.
Painting plates is a breeze compared to watching the news. And I think painting is hard.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Thursday, August 31, 2017
They don't have the blogger app online anymore. I don't know who 'they' are, just the anonymous bunch of computer people that put the app online in the first place. I've been using it for years and now I can't post a photo on the blog here at all. It's just like Trader Joe's. You get used to something being right there, at first it's a treat and then you depend on it, then it's gone forever and when you ask what happened to it you get a blank stare as if you had just imagined the whole thing.