The Laws of Nature

Friday, November 12, 2010

Community Discussion continues ... Day 3

Our discussion is gaining momentum. Fantastic! Yesterday, Margaret got things started by expressing her concerns about producing worthy or “serious” work rather than fluff. In a simultaneous post (isn’t it funny how this happens?) Robin queried about what defines a “professional artist.” These two competing topics opened up two interesting pathways for conversation.

Here’s a recap of the responses:

Comments on Margaret’s question about “serious” work:

Meera offered that our passions should guide our work.
Robin agreed with Meera and added that it’s the only way to be true to our art.
L.W. reminded us of what a circus the professional art world can be, and to just “paint.
Hallie finds serious topics in Margaret’s work (as do I!) so it can’t be “fluff.”
Rhonda gave us insight into the fact that an artist’s work is serious if it’s heartfelt and an expression of one’s solo voice.
Carolyn has discovered the importance of content that springs from the roots of her soul in producing serious work.
Mark agrees with Carolyn and adds that it’s the artist’s intent that makes the work serious despite outside opinion.

Comments on Robin’s question about “professional” versus “amateur” artist:

L.W. offered the perspective that paid athletes can’t partake in the Olympics because they are considered professional. She expanded that to the IRS regulations in this country that require sales and deductions as a definition for a pro.
Hallie recounted many of the business responsibilities of a professional artist and decided it wasn’t her thing.

All this led to a new question posed by Dan:
What techniques do you all use to help spur expansion and growth?

Carolyn is spurred on by reading books on art techniques and experimenting.
Hallie agrees and lists a few great books to read.

Maybe we can continue discussing Dan’s topic today and then spin off into another area of interest.

Go for it! This is great.


Unknown said...

I'd like to begin by responding to Dan's topic about what spurs me on toward expansion and growth in my art. I'm a concept oriented artist, so the medium doesn't really matter to me. I use whatever medium and technique that best expresses my concept. In order for me to expand and grow my work I need to spend time formulating concepts that offer both universal truths and my own unique take on them. This means getting in touch with how I see things and then finding a way to express it. How about the rest of you?

Elizabeth Seaver said...

What a fun question to ponder.

When I was first starting out, it was important to me to try it all--oil, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, printmaking in lots of forms and get as much instruction as I could. I had to find my niche! Then I experimented in each of those media (and mixing them up) for a while. I created some work I was pleased with, but knew I was a little lost without my own vision or voice.

Once I began to trust that the images I kept wanting to paint (but thought were silly or childish) were really about my unique expression of myself and my view of the world, that's when my love of experimentation kicked in to good purpose. With some of the fear of being thought frivolous kept at bay, I could work hard and well. I could actually begin to see the changes in my skill with materials and the ability to communicate my point to the viewer.

I am always searching for new ways to express my love of the ridiculous and whimsical. To do that, I must keep pushing myself to do things I haven't done before and continue to solve problems and meet challenges that inevitably arise in the creative process.

Susan Roux said...

Before spinning off I'd like to comment on Margaret's concern of worthy versus fluff work. Though I do agree to a point about the passionate part making your work serious, I think the defining line goes further than that. Some artists limit themselves with time parameters for various reasons. Be it a daily exercise, a study, an experiment, a quick response to a subject etc. Eventually some get caught up in only doing quick work. Though many pieces may have good results, I too question how far they could push a work if the time restraint were removed. When I think of Fluff versus Serious, this is what comes to mind.

Robin said...

Making art helps me process my life - sometimes it can be meditative and therapeutic, and for me I care that I can convey a feeling or emotion when I paint a landscape. If that means someone can share the feelings of serenity and peace I am re-creating in my art then I feel I continue to grow, sometimes its spiritually, always creatively. I think it's good to challenge yourself as an artist, for me it was learning a new medium (encaustic) and also experimenting with a new subject matter briefly (portraits) but I don't think there is anything bad or wrong with feeling comfortable in a body or work. Every time we paint, we grow and learn something. Don't we? I have been told "successful" art these days means it should be pushing the envelope, but I don't agree. The result for me is there are many galleries that would not be a good match for my paintings, that's ok.

Linda Roth said...

I think of twenty, thirty minute and hour long sketches as just that sketches--quicky exercises that limber you up, get the juices flowing. Drawings are more serious. Mine can go a couple of weeks, maybe more. Paintings are no dash offs either--they take time and consideration, corrections and additions and a final viewing period where I like to hang them and just live with them a while to make sure everything is sitting right. Blogging art on the net, I've found artists who tend to work very small (3 x 5 would you believe) and on light weight supports--for easy shipping I suppose? They also painted the same picture over and over again just slightly altered. How boring. How mechanical production. How not art that stuff is--nothing but dash off for sale.

Robin said...

I have to respectfully disagree with you, L.W. I am one of those artists that has painted the same thing over and over... I spent a year visiting and painting pathways at a local bird sanctuary, and for me, every time I visited the paths I saw something and felt something differently. What about Monet and his water lilies or haystacks, he painted them over and over. Is it bad to practice with repetition?

It is exciting to me to hear how other artists think and thank you Kathy for facilitating and stimulating all of us!

Linda Roth said...

This has noth...well a little to do with keeping in touch. I like getting everybody's responses via e-mail, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how to set up what you have going here for e-mail follow up. So after reading much help. I found DISQUS and installed it for free, but I would have preferred having what other bloggers have. Kathy, what gadget do I enable? I think this on-going discussion is terrific.

Unknown said...

Hi L.W. - I'm not certain about what other bloggers have since I'm a neophyte when it comes to this stuff. so, if someone would please suggest what I should do (in detail) that would help! I have to go out for a couple of hours and then back to the studio, so I'll check back later today. Thanks for the suggestion!

RH Carpenter said...

Since I have a Google account (email), a box comes up after the comment box and word verification that asks if I want followup emails sent to my email address. If you check the box, you get followups for the day's post. Check next time you post a comment and see if that box is there - it's after "choose an identity" lists your email/name and before you hit PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT.

Linda Roth said...

Robin, I didn't mean to offend anybody who paints one particular subject. I am one of those people. I've painted the woods behind my house many times and I'm also doing a series on pastries. In the tiny paintings I've seen on the net the colors are exactly the same, the trees have hardly moved, nothing was noticeably different. No new viewpoint had been added. No new renditions. No visible growth of the artist was apparent. I'm all for concentrating on one subject, I just don't want to paint it the same way two, three, four times. It's got to be boring as hell to copy yourself over and over again.

Robin said...

No offense was taken, L.W.! I appreciate being able to have this open dialog. I do also have to ask ... is it bad to want to paint things that you know will be more salable? (maybe that is a new topic for a different day).

Unknown said...

Hi Robin - thanks for the suggestion. I already get emails when someone posts a comment on my blog, so I must have made the correct selection. I thought that maybe L.W. was referring to something else.

It seems that we've shifted gears a little toward the act of intentionally producing art for the market. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I wouldn't do this because it compromises my personal vision and intentions. On the other hand, there are artists who need to put food on the table and a roof over their heads who can't afford to produce work that they can't sell. It's my hope that once they achieve financial independence that they'll be able to produce authentic work instead. So, I don't judge them harshly and there are plenty of folks who want to purchase inexpensive paintings just to have something original and pleasing on the walls. It might not be to my taste, but that doesn't matter.

Joyfulartist said...

I copied this out of Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. "The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is to simply teach you how to make the small fraction that soars." (Page 5)
That has been my mantra since I read it. Some of my art goes under the bed, some gets framed for the gallery or art show. I'm OK with that. Whenever I take a workshop or a class from an accomplished artist I'm spurred on and my work grows.

Linda Roth said...

Robin,I don't think so. I'd like to get into selling, but seem to be having difficulty throwing my hat in the ring--actually, I don't think I have enough product in inventory to go into sales yet.

Mark Sheeky said...

Is it bad to want to paint something saleable? I don't think so, or at least most artists have in the past. George F Watts earned his living with portraits but painted his own subjects in his own time. Nothing wrong with that. Another question is is popular art saleable art? Is popular art good because it's popular? If nobody likes a painting, it must be bad, surely? Those are big questions!

Celeste Bergin said...

"What techniques do you all use to help spur expansion and growth?"

I take workshops--about two per year. I read books..I come here to Katharine's blog..I participate in art discussions on a weekly basis with a group. I go to museums and watch artful programs on television or dvd..I am committed to painting or drawing nearly every day. it all keeps me busy.