Thursday, December 20, 2012

Translater or Transmitter

I recently posted in a discussion forum on ArtWanted where I've had an online portfolio since 2004.  The Art Discussion was about "Everyone being an artist" which is actually problematic for the majority of people because so many people have a sense that art is only really art if it's "good."  Really? Okay then define good art so everybody can tell what to look for.  At this point people usually resort to comfortable blandness and say things like, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," or they get defensive and may say, "I know good art when I see it." "I know what I like."

Okay, maybe we do know what we like in a piece of art but why are some artists revered while others are completely forgotten?  Probably the greatest figurative artist of the later half of the 20th century, according to a majority of art historians, was a guy whose claim to fame was dubbed the screaming popes.  Google this: artist who painted the screaming popes. Immediately the first return will be the 1953 study after Diego Velasquez' Pope Innocent X by artist Frances Bacon. Bacon was so enamoured of the Velasquez picture that he painted variations of his own interpretation 45 times in a 20 year period. Most of these images are grotesque in the extreme and there's nothing sacred or popelike or even sane about the garish images. They are visual nightmares.  Margaret Thatcher described him as, "that man who paints those dreadful pictures."  So okay he wasn't popular with the majority of people yet after his death his entire messy studio building was taken apart and everything was transported to Dublin and lovingly reconstructed exactly as he left it.  Even the trash was included.  His work spoke to people in some way beyond visual appreciation.  He touched a nerve.

So this is the gist of what I posted the other day.  I include it here as an image since we don't allow right clicking on the AW site anymore.  I had to prt scrn and save it as a jpg image.

The Earl was Earl Cunningham.  Look him up to see what his art looks like. I ended that post by talking about art journaling.  Before 2011 I had never even heard the term.  I stumbled across these videos on youtube that described how different people created their journal pages and I was amazed at the inventive techniques they often employed in ways that made sense to them to accomplish their vision.

I have always tried to do my own artwork with as much technical proficiency as I am capable of.  In this sense I am "good." In this sense, also, I am mostly a translator of what I see.  It's much more difficult to be a transmitter.  Your work might not look very proficient.  It might look weird to you in many ways.  It might look like something a child did.  It might also bring you and others great wonder or joy.  It is the releasing of something intangible.  Something not born of skills but born of heart and soul.  It might even be a little bit scary to let go and dive in.  I have tried to let go and sometimes I feel lost, confused and uncertain as i try to feel my way from mark to mark. It's also exhilarating to not have to be in charge but to let some inner impulse take over.


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