A wise man once called me too honest. He was one of the most brilliant painters that I was ever friends with. Our art discussions would last through pots of coffee and into hours much later than they should have. We attended opening receptions together, had a painting class together, and would meet after class to comment on each other’s work. And, using all of that newly learned vocabulary from class, we coached one another.
We each became romantically involved with other people, and drifted apart, though we crossed paths in the art building on occasion. Since I worked full-time, and supported a sister, my time became a premium commodity. As he was preparing for his senior year exhibit, he asked me to look at the work. Expecting what I knew of his paintings and drawings I was surprised to see that what he was going to show were collages. They were well-executed, perfectly framed, and I hated them. They were cold. They didn’t lack his intellectual and conceptual acuity, but they lacked the depth his paintings always had.
I was asked what I thought, and I told him. And, my art-related vocabulary had matured. I said numerous times, “They are good, but…” He let me finish. He acknowledged all that I said, and agreed. But, he also shook his head, smiling and said, “But, sometimes I think you’re too honest.”
I’ll wear the “too honest” badge proudly.
I will address what I said about “hacks” in the last post on this subject. “Hacks” are not producing honest art. “Hacks” are also lazy. Two traits in some people that I find disagreeable. One criticism I received was for labeling. I don’t like labels, either. It’s just easier I guess, than saying lazy liar.
Criticism, given constructively, can provide the best “aha” moment an artist can get.
Most of us work alone, and have to trust our own judgments/instincts regarding the “everything” about our current work. Last year, a very respected colleague expressed to me that she would love to see my oils look more like my watercolors. She felt that the fluidity in my watercolors didn’t exist in my oils.
Lightbulb!! x 1000000000.
I would have never considered pouring paint thinner on a canvas lying flat, had that never been said to me. I do it all of the time now.
Academic critique is not anything close to what we can do in an hour and a half with 15 people present. The last academic critique I went through lasted 4 hours and there were about 25 grad students involved.
And, I never envisioned anything like that last night as I was writing. The first one I attended, I sailed through with my three Graduate Committee Profs. But, there was the crazy woman with the animal diptychs that wanted to remove my head and arms, so I might never paint again!! (She had gone before me so I had no chance to reciprocate.) I took a break to smoke a cigarette after the beating, and my mentor followed me out into the hall to make sure I was OK.
The next MA critique, even though Don begged me not to, the crazy zoo animal lady was not so lucky. But, I did keep it short.
So, again, what is good art?
Had Theo not had art dealer connections, what would have happened to Vincent?
Who makes the determination that a piece is good?
I think it up to the artist to deliver their best, in all of the technical, more easily defined qualities. Is it honesty and hard work? That might be a start.
As I have already stated, one of the artist/colleagues I most admired respected my opinion to the utmost, and I know what should be there, but can I always be subjective about my own work? I doubt any of us can be 100%, and that’s where I think these Artshare meetings need to bring a bit more to the table than just being a “show and tell”.
So, my goal is to be as good as I can be. To know as much as I can know, and hopefully be able to impart that knowledge to those with less experience. And, hope to have more “aha” moments.