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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WHO Is It For?

I present this painting in its current state again because it was criticized last night as having lost some of its vital wild character when the trees were softened and much of the orange underpainting was covered over with (admittedly luscious) paint strokes.

At first, I felt saddened and confused. I made this exciting painting into an ordinary one? Young also said NO do not paint over that red! But I got started and could not stop painting till it looked like this.

The question that arises in me today is, for whom am I painting? This is a question that all artists, in all media, genres and styles, face. The axiom is "paint for yourself; you cannot please everyone, and someone will respond to your work". Another side of that is, REAL artists paint as individualistically and idiosyncratically as they can. Now the thing is, everything has been done, from wild colors to quiet sombre fields of soft color; from ultra-realistic to totally abstract. One of the comments I have heard several times in the critique class is, "we have seen this before". In other words, if it has been done, it cannot ever be done again. This is the impossible conundrum today's artist faces.

Yes, this painting is now tame in comparison to what it was, but I like it. Maybe it needs more orange touches to bring the colors back to life, but I like the soft trees; I like the soft sky; I like the brushwork in the mountain mass. So, if "paint for yourself" is the motto, I am doing that.

The options (the ones I can think of) of the audience to paint for are:

Art History






Commercial value


Of these options, I will choose JOY. This paining has been a joy to work on, and even if I put in more orange, I will take great pleasure in doing so. That is enough reason to do it.


Violet Faulds said...

You paint for the person who has a deep resonating connection with the painting. Maybe it's you, maybe it's the person who buys it. I don't think you get to choose.

I love the painting the way it is right now. It looks like the hills above Crystal Cove in the summer. Before they graded it over and built faux Mediterranean monstrosities. It's a magical place and you captured it. Even the light. Especially the light.

Young Geoffrion said...

I agree with Violet, despite my urging you to leave the orange and red alone. I often feel every painting has a life of its own, and the artist is but the midwife, helping it to squeeze into the world. Some paintings are stillborn, and sometimes there's no help for it. But you can rarely decide beforehand if it will be blonde or swarthy, happy or glum. We have to accept our creations on their own terms.

As to whom one should paint for: you left one option off your list. You know I am not a deeply religious person, but I have to admit I have always painted because I believe that is my mission or burden or gift. Even if I do not believe in Him (or even in Her), yet I still paint for God. The rest of 'em: history, money, fame and collectors, can take a back seat.

Osprey said...

I think while an artist sees her work as a continuum, other people tend to see individual works as though existing in separation. The artist's necessary experimentation is a changing, living thing, as opposed to the stasis and death of a single perfect state.

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

I dunno who i write for - me mainly, but I do like and enjoy the praise and amusement of my friends. I think I'd like more than that too, but not enough to do anything about it - as long as I'm smiling and my friends smile too, it's all good :)

p.s. Young - "squeezing" made me wince and I've not even got the right tackle!