The Laws of Nature

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Audience, Part 1

The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)

Chapter 6: Audience, Part 1

We artists usually make art for ourselves because it’s satisfying on many levels. In fact, most of us are compelled to express our thoughts and ideas through our art even if there were no audience. However, as Orland writes, when audience is added into the equation, the whole process quickly becomes more complex and often more troublesome. We'll explore the "troublesome" aspect in part 2 of this chapter.

The author likens art without an audience to a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it. The tree fell, but without a witness who cares?? Over the long run, art without audience is incomplete. The meaning of your art may be embedded in the artwork itself, but its purpose arises from its relationship with audience.

In support of this notion, I’d like to apply it to all artforms. How is a ballet affected if no one ever sees it? Likewise, a novel, poem, movie, sonata, and so on? And, how would the private existance of the arts affect our culture? I know that seems absurd, but it helps me to put art in perspective. I would argue that part of the intent in making art from any discipline is to communicate with others. The trick is, however, to not let the audience influence our creative authenticity.

The essential questions Orland asks are:
Who is the real audience for your art?

Where would you hope to find your art ten years from now?


Robin said...

Right now I am working on a large painting and I felt like I started it without enough focus. I am trying to remind myself that it's OK if the end result isn't a painting that is a "masterpiece" as long as I continue to learn and grow with each step I take as I paint. My audience bounces back and forth between wanting patrons to find a connection to my finished paintings to me having learned and problem-solved throughout the creative process. I can't think about 10 yrs from now, first let me get through today!

Linda Roth said...

My family, visitors to my home were the only audience for my fine art pieces. My clients were my audience for my design and architectural drawings--they couldn't take their hands off those pieces--and when they bought the conceptual plans and the plans materialized into actual structures that was extremely satisfying. Now, concentrating on my fine art side, I'm realizing I will have to figure a way to show my work--go into the business of art. I dread it. I'm afraid being in business will cost me artistic freedom, (you hit it on the head)--the very reason I've kept my art secret all these years and channeled my capabilities down a related, but different path.

In ten years? The only "mission" that comes to mind is "Highly skilled."

Mark Sheeky said...

It wouldn't stop me painting if I knew absolutely that nobody would ever see the results. Being a communicator is no fun if nobody listens... but should that stop the speaker... or should it convince the speaker to say different things..?

Hope hmm... where would I like my art to be in ten years... in great galleries and on the walls of the rich and intelligent. In books! On television! Wouldn't we all want those things?! I wonder if part of me hopes some would still be on MY wall. If so, am I holding myself back with that notion?

Good news. It's very likely that ALL of our art will be on the Internet in ten years. Things have moved on since van Gogh's day. We're as good as immortal now. Hello to anyone reading this in the 22nd century.

hw (hallie) farber said...

I'll be really old in ten years. I hope I won't be drinking the fluid acrylics and eating modeling paste.

These are very good questions. I don't know whether my audience is tuned in to me or I'm tuned in to my audience--there is a connection.

Unknown said...

Hi Robin - it's definitely a lot easier to paint without the pressure of thinking that each painting must be a masterpiece. You're wise!

Hi L.W. - yes, marketing our work is uncomfortable at best. But, once the first few sales are made it gets easier and easier. The only problem is that it's time consuming. So far this year I've sold 57 paintings (these are paintings that I've worked on over the past six years) and I spent waaaayyy to much time doing business. Now, I hope to spend a couple of years developing this new series before I become serious about marketing it. It's good to take a breather and just paint!

Hi Mark - quite a conundrum!! You're right about the internet. It's a great way to be "seen."

Hi Hallie - I think the connection that we feel to your work is that you deal with the issues of our humanity in an unusual way and it's powerful. Your humor is partly funny and partly serious - like the adage "many a truth is told in jest."

Celeste Bergin said...

I've always subscribed to the idea that the viewer completes the picture...and yet the idea of just cranking out work without "caring" who ever sees it totally appeals to me too. I like sharing what I do, and I know I'd do it no matter what. Ten years from now...??? I just hope I am able to work and I "evolve".

Myrna Wacknov said...

For me, the most important aspect of art is in the creation. I think most people put too much emphasis on the results at the expense of the process. The time I spend creating, exploring ideas and techniques is the magic in my life. Sometimes the results are terrible, sometimes okay and occasionally amazing. I do put my work out there but the audience approval is just icing on the cake. It's mostly a selfish endeavor where I entertain myself by exploring the possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy, I think Myrna hit it on the head for me. Phew! I feel relieved! I've been thinking about audience all day long and either I'm all over the map, or haven't found it yet. In the end, I really enjoy having one of my ideas come to life on paper.

Unknown said...

Hi Celeste - "the viewer completes the picture" is a great way to put it. I agree!! And, like you, I don't want the burden of speculating about who might see my work.

Hi Myrna - well put! And, I love the way you continually experiment and transform your work. It's fascinating!

Hi Peggy - I'll ditto what I just said to Myrna because it applies to you, too!

Casey Klahn said...

Showing your work is imperative.