Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Emperor's Old Clothes 1.0

Can you tell if the person you're looking at--as far as you're concerned--is attractive? Can you determine if the food you're eating tastes good? Can you recognize whether you like the music to which you are listening? These answers seem obvious to me and, hopefully, to you too. If you can recognize something that strikes your senses favorably, can't you recognize whether a piece of art is good?

Just as noticing attractiveness, enjoying food, or enjoying music stirs the emotions positively, seeing good art makes you feel something positive too. It's not just a mere technical acknowledgment of skill. It's an emotional experience. You feel the impact. And again, I mean this reaction emotionally, not physically. That emotional reaction to good art is your qualification to judge art.

People sometimes say, "I don't know anything about art." So? That doesn't matter. Everybody is qualified to judge art. There are no prerequisites to be able to tell if something makes you feel good (or feel anything else for that matter). Sure, an art education--whatever that constitutes--may provide perspective in a way that can make you appreciate something to an extent that you otherwise wouldn't. It doesn't, however, confer the power to determine "goodness."

You don't need someone to tell you why, or if, something is good or bad. You don't need someone to tell you if something is "worthy." You are the sole decider, as it matters to you, as to the merits of a work of art.

Now you can see through the snake oil-type praises of for emperor's new clothes and, despite loud pompous convoluted proclamations to the contrary, you are fully equipped to call the emperor out as actually being naked.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Medal Mettle

On your mark.

Get set.


Blah, blah, blah...

And now...

Break. The. Tape.

What if every painting you rendered was like an Olympic event? And what if, theoretically, there were an unlimited number of participants in the process of creating a painting? And, as a kicker, what if medals were given out for completing those paintings? Who would get a medal?

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that there are an unlimited number of medals. Let's further say that the medals are figurative: They are actually pride or freedom or energy or time or money or praise. I submit that everyone could get a medal. However, the only ones who shall receive medals are those who finish their respective work of art.

Simply starting a painting would yield no reward, no medal. Working on a painting would yield no reward, no medal. Showing off how well the painting is going would result in no reward, no medal. It matters not how great the project is until it reaches completion. Many so-called great works of art that are unfinished do not hold a candle to a(n) (allegedly) not-so-good creative work that is done.

So, in the spirit of this post's admonition, I'll shall vow to finish my paintings--and keep my mouth shut about them while I do--before starting new stuff. Likewise, I'd better publish this post, warts and all, without further ado.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

There's No Time and There's Always Time

I remember a boss I had when I worked in a laboratory years ago. When we had to redo a batch of tests, he'd say, "You never have time to do it right, but you always have time to do it over."

Wow, what a great line! It was an "aha!" moment the first time I heard it. Even though it seemed to take on the life of a mantra for this boss, I felt I "got it" right away: It was a cautionary implicit warning that I heard in my head ever after (at least in the lab). Stressful though some assignments may be, it actually gave me an inverse kind of freedom to "do things right," as it became easier to follow a procedure to a T than opt for seeming time-saving shortcuts--shortcuts whose results could effectively wind up necessitating the do-over. And the cherry on top was the peace of mind for having stuck to the right procedure.

Long story short(er): Some years ago, the idea of a picture of carousel horses escaping a carousel came to me. That is, they pretty much came to life and ran off. I thought, "What a cool idea for a picture!"

Once I decided that I was going to render this image, there was a problem. While the picture in my head had elegance and pizazz, figuring what exactly to put on paper and, eventually, canvas, was surprisingly tricky. All along, I had this nagging feeling that there was a step-by-step way, evolving though it may be, that I could implement to realize this cool idea. However, not heeding my former boss's advice, I plunged ahead, repeatedly discarding much too much possible planning that would've made this a pleasant process. I worked on this piece like I didn't have time to do it right. Ultimately, I started--but didn't quite truly complete--four paintings before I rendered one that I could plausibly say conformed to the original idea.

Good Night Carousel
Until then, you see, I violated the lab's mantra. I didn't take the time to do it right. I didn't want to wait any longer to show off my "being an artist," and, ironically, I actually lost waaay more time with my false starts than simply taking the time to systematically plan and execute how I was going to realize this image. Of course, I never had the luxury of saying those first impatient attempts were acceptable...but I had the time to "do it over."

It was gratifying to finally say, "I'm done." And while I recognize that it didn't really match what was in my head, the eventual rendering actually excited me that I could create more art along the same lines (and way)--confident that they will only get better and better....