Friday, March 22, 2013

Art Blog: Young Artist / Old Artist

These days, I am surrounded by young artists. Some are very young. Once again, I am teaching college age students. Some of them have unbelievable talent and untapped skill. Also, they are full of wonder and enthusiasm. They are like sponges wanting to know who, how, what, why, and when as it pertains to anything ART. Sometimes, I will be looking at their young faces as I show them an artist's work or a new technique. Their reactions are so fresh and full of excitement. I remember when I was like that.

It isn't that art has become mundane or uninteresting for me. I think my flames of creative desire have burned down to sparkling embers which continue to glow. I will admit it takes something special to make the burn jump and spark into fire. On a recent trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, there was a little flash.

As I walked gallery to gallery, I started realizing that I have seen tens of thousands of works of art in my life. Between artist's studios, galleries, and museums, the number of works I have viewed could never be counted. I started thinking about getting older and how my taste and interests in art have changed over time. Like most artists, I have my own art history that is reflected with each decade.

When I was in high school, I would pour over encyclopedic, art history books. You know the kind. I would peruse pulp, art history volumes which summed up art history in 200 pages. I teethed my way through antiquities to modern art. I remember being in love with the Impressionists. I especially loved Renoir. Those puffy soft brush strokes and rosy colors fit in with my romanticized vision of being an artist.

My first years in college, I became interested in all things Monet. His use of color and concern for light were fascinating to me. I would look at works like his haystacks and Rouen Cathedral for hours. I understood what it was like to view the works of a master.

In later college days, conceptual and minimal art was all the rage. It wasn't for me. I found myself going to the Detroit Institute of arts and hanging around with the primitives. The raw energy and pureness of intent was so real to me. This art was human and emotive. Maybe this interest came as a backlash to the cerebral art of the '70s. I wanted to see the "hand of the artist" (not a formula or work by assistants). To this day, all primitive art speaks to me.

As I turned the corner at the museum, this tiny piece caught my eye and brought a smile. It brought back a sweet memory. Years ago, I was in an artist's NY studio. He had a piece by some artist from the Ashcan School hanging over his bed. I can't remember whose work it was, but I remember staring at this piece and asking him about it. He said it was an original and it had been a gift. After seeing that piece, I became enthralled with all art ashcan.


In recent years, my interest in raw, human art has transformed into loving naive and outsider art. Actually, this interest dates back to the same time I loved Monet. My professor at the time, David Barr, turned me onto both genres of art history. To this day, I excitedly flip the pages of Raw Visions Magazine. It was there, I was introduced to the work of Mary Proctor. When I saw this piece at the museum I was reminded that excitement for art was still there in my heart.

There is a yin/yang to whether you are a young, enthusiastic artist or seasoned creator. Those days of bright eyes are wonderful. However when you are able to count your art years, it is joyous too.


Rebecca Bush said...

I too, fell in love with Primitive and Folk Art and love to see fresh original work wherever it may be found. Thanks for sharing your expereinces.

nancy namaste said...

I think that parts of our art journey's are similar - when I was younger, I loved Renoir and his full figured women. I think I identified with them, being on the plump side myself. I find that it does take a lot more to make me "jump" as it were but sometimes I go back and revisit the masters and realized that there was a lot I had not seen. Right now, I am studying watercolor, esp. the works of Winslow Homer and Sargent. They have a freshness and freedom that speaks to me.

Carolina said...

The new artist are talented and the old have become legends.