The Laws of Nature

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Lambert's First Law
watercolor on paper
26" x 20"
Katharine A. Cartwright, NWS
The other day, someone asked me if I thought that art created with traditional materials (e.g. surfaces and paints) is relevant any more. He was referring to the emergence of the use of electronic technology to create art in an age when we're so tech oriented. Everyone carries a cell phone, or I-pad, or computer .... you get the picture. Therefore, art created using or incorporating these devices is a relevant reflection of our society and interests. So, I could understand his point and believe that this type of art is relevant and very important.

However, there's also a good defense for the relevance of the type of art I make using traditional materials. The concept (content) is really what makes the art, in my opinion, no matter which materials are used. Relevance comes from  content. It reveals the artist's relationship with the world around her - the world she presently lives in. What could be more relevant than that?

So, the question really isn't relevance but the taste and sensibility of the art patron. You can do "neat" things with electronic devices in creating art that you can't do with a brush and vice versa.

What's your opinion?


-Don said...

I've watched that relevance issue with regards to electronic technology put television news and production into a tailspin. Before that, I watched that same relevance issue with regards to television news put newspapers into a tailspin. Interestingly, both have survived despite their no longer being relevant - however, they've also had to adapt. Those that have not adapted and those who have been resistant to change have found themselves not only in a tailspin, but also crashing and burning. The ones that are succeeding have found that they need to embrace all electronic technology and accept that it is not only the future, but the now.

To reject any medium or tool as irrelevant or fadish is to limit ones options. Personally, I have embraced electronic technology as a means to my ends. Nearly every painting I've created in the past decade has gone thru my computer at some point during its creation. By no means do I consider myself a contemporary artist, though. I still consider myself a traditionalist who chooses to use electronic technology as a tool - a means to an end, not the end in itself.

So, long story short, I agree with you, Kathy. Tools are tools and content is king.

I love having you back in our blogosphere, my friend!


Casey Klahn said...

Let me see...(takes a sip of old school coffee). Relevance? Relative to what?

It is the old dialectic: Not now? Not good!

When did materials become the meaning?

I agree that art is innovation. I call it innovative evocation. But the feelings evoked? Those aren't new at all.

I would say the artist's ideas are revealed anew in the next artwork rendered. Materials? Who parses materials? You are right on about content.

Dan Kent said...

Is acoustic music still relevant after the invention of the electric guitar and Hammond B-3 organ?! I rest my case.

It is the expression and not the tool that matters. Personally, I have been moved by pictorial works made with traditional media far more than by those that have been created digitally.

Unknown said...

Gentlemen Three: your comments are very astute and filled with gems. Thank you for this! Lots more to think about.

John Salmon said...

Got to agree with Don Casey and Dan. The accoustic music one was a very good analogy.

hw (hallie) farber said...

A tough one. I feel as creative using my iPad apps as I do with actual paintbrush in hand. With me, concept is most important (and learning is probably second). Finished work is somewhere near the bottom of my list.

Celeste Bergin said...

I just think people will always feel touched somehow by things that were made "by hand". there is something so unique about it, people can sense the humanity behind the mark. I have nothing to base this on but my own experience. BTW, I love your painting in this post. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Jon, Hallie, and Celeste - Thanks so much for your comments. Just goes to show that our work means so much to us and, by extension resonates with others. That seems to be key to being relevant!