Saturday, August 29, 2009


WHY do we ART?

Creative people, people with a passion to make things, use colour and texture, put down their ideas, cannot do otherwise.

We are driven.

I can’t imagine a day when I didn’t do something that involved my creativity; it’s not even a consideration.

Left with an empty moment I will doodle or my mind will wash the world with colours. I never walk into a new office or home without seeing the art, the arrangement of things; my mind critiques it and learns.

I think sometimes it must be tedious to be around someone who constantly is SEEING and storing information, scanning their surroundings for new material, never at rest completely.

I get frustrated when people don’t take the fall of a shadow or the play of a reflection on water as seriously as I do.

That’s a bit silly, people don’t have to see what I see that would be part of the mission of my artwork, to share my vision, translate what I see into a new way of seeing for others.

I know I don’t see as others do why should I expect them to share my vision without the filter of my artwork?

Artists must be true to their vision-somehow, someway…I know that there are considerations of making money if you are committed to ART as a way of making a living.

Way back in my formative years my Mother told me to never paint bowls of fruit or clowns, they diminished one as an artist.

Possibly, HOWEVER I made a great deal of money painting and drawing clowns of various kinds.

I didn’t compromise. I made each clown a lesson in composition, style, colour and form whatever the subject one can learn from doing what they do.

Now, what if you do this just for fun, because you love to ART?

No difference…

Art is ART is ART…

Do the best you can do, be true to your vision, ART with all the passion you can muster and then let it go and move on to the next thing.

Later in my career selling flat art I was a little embarrassed by my early pieces until a collector told me she actually (in some ways) preferred my “More naive” work to the style I had evolved into.

I was annoyed at the time but looking back she was right, ART is about evolution and I HAD become a little slick and too sure of myself,

I often take classes where there are diminished expectations or in an area where I have little experience (I must find a sculpture class-I need to make a note).

The reason I take these classes is for my own enrichment and to simplify, to go back to an earlier stage and “reset” some of the hard drive we call a brain, to SEE differently.

It’s therapeutic.

I took such a class some years back because the teacher had an interesting approach to colour.

One lady in the class painted the same subject over and over and over until it was anxiety making; two trees one on either side of a house with a circular driveway in front-childlike, simple…sometimes she did the picture in realistic colours, sometime surreal, sometimes in monotones, but they were otherwise almost identical,

I decided at some point she was a harmless crazy, there are many such people who find their way to art, harmless, sweet and totally bonkers…they ART because it’s therapeutic and because they get attention that is otherwise denied them (unless they act out).

ANYWAY this lady with her trees, house and driveway pictures took a shine to me and would chatter away while we painted about nothing in particular.

She often looked at what I was doing and you could see in her face that there was a total lack of comprehension as far as MY vision versus her world of simple shapes and colours, often repeated.

There came a day when a juried show was held at the local art association-I had submitted my allowed 3 pieces and got 2 of the three back (I was so annoyed, my “MASTERPIECE”-rejected, what morons!).

Attending the first day of such a show is always nerve making as the awards are up and you don’t know exactly where you piece will be in the show---you find yourself scanning not for your own work by for blue ribbons-what won? If it’s too different from what I do will I have a chance in hell of getting any award?

I came upon a stunning, large FRUITBOWL painting, Lemons in a blue and white bowl against draped brocade, some flowers involved, lovely cool and calming.

It had won best of show.

I looked at it for a long time, the subtle shading, the way the composition was deceptively simple and how the viewer’s eye was carefully led about the canvas to always return to the lemons.

The title of the painting was “Remembering Yellow”.

WOW, even the title has class.

My little gouache of a theatre stage door, wonderfully whimsical, carefully thought out and framed was totally overlooked and hung in a dim corner somewhere near the rear of the show.

I understood next to the more finished things on display my attempt had been feeble and I would need to learn from that in order to do better the next time.

The top division winners and the best in show pieces are always purchase awards.
The artworks are auctioned at the close of the show and the Association and the artist split the proceeds.

The opening bids for the particular pieces are set by their creators and usually were within the parameters one would expect for “amateur” art.

When the FRUITBOWL came up there was a hush over the room and an excited murmur when it was announced that the opening bid was ONE DOLLAR.

CLASSY…classy all the way…

The bidding was fast and furious and the price kept soaring, finally to record heights for this little local show.

A well known businessman paid well over three thousand dollars for the painting and said he had a bargain in the deal.

I picked up my little picture and as I was glumly wandering out towards the parking lot I encountered the lady from my art class coming towards me.

“They’re pulling it all down.” I told her, hoping to save her a trip.
She just smiled and continued on her way.

It wasn’t till the local paper came out and the picture of her, her painting and the man who paid all that money for it appeared on the front page that I connected that the harmless crazy lady was also an incredible artist.

I never got to find out the whys and wherefores of this lady and her art.

The next class I was expecting to give her a bad time about not letting us know how fine an artist she was but unexpectedly she went missing and none of us ever saw her again (in person at least).

We kidded that she had taken her money and ran off to Paris and we buzzed about how surprised we all were and how we had been duped…a mixture of admiration, awe and very tart grapes.

A couple years later she surfaced again when she won a bigger show and made the L a Times Art section.

I found out that this pattern of taking classes and producing her simple “House” pictures was her way of going unnoticed; she was well known in some circles but completely anonymous in others.

Thinking back I had a moment of epiphany when I remembered that one day when she had been chattering away next to me and had looked at my painting her house and trees picture had reflected exactly the same complex colour study that I was working on.

I understood then that in her way she was doing very much the same thing that I do-she traveled around and in simpler climes reset her hard drive, her paintings were her notes, her way of remembering all of that which she had learned along her journey.

In retrospect it is humbling to think that even a successful and accomplished artist needed the reassurance and quiet of being surrounded by other artists and passing without being the constant center of attention or source of information toward the improvement of others.

She simply needed to ART amongst others who ART.

If we had known who she was and what level of appreciation she had achieved in the art world we would all have been intimidated by her, she would have had celebrity.

BUT…she simply needed to ART…she didn’t want nor did she invite or need the rest.

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