Saturday, November 22, 2008

Art Blog: Say WHAT?


Yesterday’s post set off all kinds of thoughts and memories for me. Looking at the daily painter websites caused me to remember my high school painting days. I would lay on the floor of my bedroom with my Grumbacher “Art of Oil Painting” book right next to me on the floor as I tried to copy all the hokey paintings contained within each lesson.

This book was my art bible. I wanted to teach myself to paint and wanted to make things look REAL. It was pure luck or bad timing that when I got to art school a few years later, I found out this kind of painting wasn’t considered worthy (according to my professors). During that era, realism was seen as cliché and boring. Being a loyal student, I listened and learned the styles of the time.

One thing I have been trying to wrap my head around this week is what I want my art to say. I want my work to be more than about paint or craft. I want there to be thoughtful substance. I think this "color series" has caused me to step back and reexamine my motivation and the content contained within the pieces. The majority of my work tries to send messages or speak on a topic. Usually, I would like the viewer to see the painting but also, to think about issues beyond the paint.

This is why looking at the daily painters art was timely. Just for fun, I made a quick list of what seems to be the preferred subject matter of the realist painter (or at least those in the daily painter cadres).
There are a lot of paintings containing:
Aluminum foil wrappers, marbles, fruit, anything metallic or shiny, water in decanters, crumpled paper or fabric, more fruit, pastries with colored sprinkles, fried eggs, flowers, lots and lots more fruit, etc.

They choose this subject matter because these are objects that will showcase their draftsmanship and realism techniques to the fullest, as well as, appeal to the masses. When painted well, this subject matter brings on the “OOOoooos and AHHHHHs”. In other words, painting stuff like this gives more bang for their art buck. I too am amazed at the skill that takes to make paintings like these. My goodness, I spoke the other day about starting to twitch when I painted any kind of straight painting without gouging, sanding, or gluing something to surfaces. If I tried to paint in the style of super realism, I would have a full fledged seizure!! LOL LOL I admire their commitment and stamina.

The thing that bothers ME (This is my own problem. I am not passing judgment on the daily painter people!) is that I can’t get past the technique. I look at the paintings. I think WOWY ZOWY that looks so real. Then, there is nothing more. My mind doesn’t wander or relate to anything else. There is nothing more to think about after viewing the shiny metal pot or gooey food or a bunch of oh so pretty flowers. My mind goes blank. So this is a lesson for me. I want the viewers of my work to think about more than how I make my work. I would like my art to be a springboard for other thoughts about life and emotion. I want my art to SAY more.

It is fun to look at works like this though!

Duane Keiser
Egg No.33, oil on linen/mounted, 5"x6" 2007

"Duane Keiser Paints a Shiny, Reflective Ball" video
Looking at the slimy egg painting or watching this Duane Keiser video makes me think I am watching a magician do tricks. They do look very cool, but for me there is still the “Say WHAT?” factor.

Now this is kind of funny to me. After writing this post, I was just wandering around YouTube. I found this video of the works of a daily painter. The humorous thing is the video highlights just about every "preferred subject matter" I mentioned in my original post. Do they have a club or credo or something? Oh well. More power to them all.

"Daily Painter: Abbey Ryan"


self taught artist said...

I think WOWY ZOWY that looks so real. Then, there is nothing more. My mind doesn’t wander or relate to anything else. There is nothing more to think about after viewing the shiny metal pot or gooey food or a bunch of oh so pretty flowers. My mind goes blank.
I have the exact same response. I guess I don't want my art to mean anything, or at least obviously so. I like art and making art that is open to interpretation and allows people to think or feel whatever comes to their mind. good post sheree

Sheree Rensel said...

It is OK if you don't want your art to mean anything. I do. However, you have to consider there is a difference in the type of art we both do. We are not of the same ilk. Your art tends to be utilitarian objects (clocks, pencil holders, etc.) That is all good. I really don't expect to find meaning in those kinds of things.
On the other hand, I just make painting you hang on the wall. While people are looking, I hope they think and find meaning. That is why I paint. That is my purpose.
Thanks for the thumbs up on the post!

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LCNeill said...

Hey Sheree, I think at some time in their life an artist will struggle with what they want their art to say or mean, but the truth is, it means something different for everyone who experiences it. The act of creating sometimes is enough for an artist.

Sheree Rensel said...

I totally agree. Art does mean different things to different people. In fact, that is exactly what I meant in the post. I want my art and art I admire to say and mean something to ME. That is why fried eggs and aluminum foil fall short for ME.