Monday, April 11, 2016

Art Blog: Creating From Experience?

I am thinking as I type this. The first question I have for you is:

Should artists create art that is out of their realm of personal experience?

Recently, I have noticed work by artists that struck me as being dishonest. I wondered if it was because the imagery or subject matter had nothing to do with their own lives. I have thought about this for days. Does an artist have to experience their subject matter?

Hypothetical examples could include:

-A rich artist painting about poverty.
-An author who writes stories about life in Madagascar, but has never stepped out of Des Moines, Iowa.
-A male artist creating work about the struggles of women.

Then my head spins in a new direction. What about imagination? Artists use their imagination to create things imaginary or even the impossible. Without this, there wouldn't be Science Fiction or Fantasy. This contradicts one thing I learned in college. One of my writing professors told us over and over again: WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW! In some ways, I agree, but I am not sure. I guess why all this bothers me is because the art which made me think of this topic, seemed disingenuous. The lack of actual experience made me feel as if the work was more of an exercise in technique rather than a deeply felt product of familiarity or background.

Then, I start to check myself. I think of all the various bodies of work I have done over the decades. Were they from my own experiences? I started with nature: CHECK. I moved into social issues. Hmmmm. This is interesting. I did war images, but I have never been to war. I drew about death, yet I am still alive. I have done lots of gun imagery, but I don't advocate for firearms. Most recently, I have worked a lot with emotions: CHECK, CHECK, CHECK! Currently, I am doing some painting work that I don't have a clue what it is about yet. LOL Also, I have been working with photographic images about being Catholic: CHECK. So I asked myself this question and I still don't have an answer.

What do you think?

3 comments:

Marleyne Mauri said...

I would like to think that art created from direct and personal experience constitute one specific way to make art but when you think of all the romantic period painting where people painted imaginary landscapes...or even of Rembrandt and his pupils painting scenes with exotic animals that they never had seen..we would delete an amazing number of work of art. While I am not a professional artist, I can see that what stimulates my creativity has often nothing to do with what I experience...for example, I am fascinated by profile portrait of the Renaissance...and would like to paint them or integrate them in my art! Go figure why!!! And that seems to be also what you experience...

I was very happy to see that you resumed your blog!!!

Sheree Rensel said...

Marleyne, You make some very good points. I don't really have an opinion either way. It was just something I was thinking about. THANK YOU so much for your comment! Sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself. LOL

Marleyne Mauri said...

I know what you mean...And I had another thought: if one should paint only what he/she experiences, then it's ok to paint Renaissance figures or War landscapes because what one would paint is really how he/she experiences these phenomenon!!! We are in the clear!!! Ha ha!!! Let's paint whatever we want!