Sunday, January 31, 2010

What makes a painting...a Painting!



Sorry, I've been a bit busy...filming a pilot in Bangkok that may interest the airlines. If you are signed up for my newsletter it'll be in there along with a heap of other stuff that we've been up to in the last few weeks. This IS going to be a busy year folks!!!
Now back to my book and what makes a painting..well a painting! Something that is very much in  my line of fire these day.....




In other words, the psychology of connecting to the viewers emotions.



 …….and here
     

                                                      

a psychology based on respect, honesty and relevance.


What ALL my Paintings have?

1.Honesty

I’ve selected these 2 from many to drive home the point of honest painting- paintings that keep faith with the origins and purpose of art yet are contemporary and fresh.

They are both simple figurative paintings depicting an everyday event.An event that man has practiced over the last 14,000 years.

Their appeal is to almost anyone and everyone. The story is passive and commonplace-one that is known to everyone. Each offers multiple connections to viewers from all walks of life.

In no way are the messages challenging, tumultuous, marginal, obscure, extreme or sensationalist.

Does that mean then these paintings would be condemned by mainstream art gurus? Yes and yes again. I painted both and found joy and excitement in doing them. I thought about what I wanted to paint, then what was to be included and for what purpose and then the mood I wanted to impart.

Did I think of the viewer? Not really. The mere fact that I lead a life much like others and enjoy the simple and honest things in life is enough to tie me to society at large. My life experiences are much like everyone else (perhaps moreso) and my passage through life much the same as others with events, loves, moments of despair, occasions of extreme excitement, challenges, passions, mortgages, taxes, school fees, football, holidays and so on. Just like everyone else.

This is where these 2 paintings and all others I do have their origin and connections.

If I wanted to use my painting skill for political purposes or to challenge religion or highlight an hypocrisy I could, but I just haven’t seen the need yet. It doesn’t mean I have no axe to grid about such issues-I do, and very fervently so-but not to the extent that I feel the compulsion to paint the conflict.

Does this mean I haven’t matured as an artist or as an individual whereby my conviction must find expression in paintings as well as words? No, it’s just that I feel my passion of belief best expressed in words and action rather than art-at this stage. It’s a bit like accusing another who believes strongly in an issue lacking true conviction by not walking the sidewalks with a protest banner! What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another? There are many ways of ‘skinning a cat’! Maybe in the future I will paint my political objections and become a societal activist artist. Some artist do this, some don’t. Some people walk with a limp, some don’t. Just because it’s fashionable and politically correct to walk with a limp or not doesn’t mean that I am wrong not to be part of that movement or cause. My convictions or my personal sense of honesty guides my actions. Not the pursuit of recognition and peer approval. So I paint honest paintings.

The two paintings above are honest paintings. They depict scenes with which I have close affinity and empathy. I have seen both and liked both and want to paint both. That they connect to others is comforting and supportive. It  reassures me that I am part of the human race and not one man out- not that I need that, in any deep psychological way, for those who want to query me and go in that direction. It is simply good to know.

If the connection is such that the viewer wants to live with it and separate it from me and asks me to give him or lend him or he chooses to buy it then so be it. That action is an action in isolation and is part of another process- generally known as the market process. A sale doesn’t detract from the honesty of the painting-as many would like to see it.

The act of acquisition has its own set of circumstances and influences totally separate and independent from the inspiration, conceptualization and process of painting.

For the mainstream drive-by gurus of art, art that is honest and sells is somehow less, while art that connects to the few and the extreme is somehow more. It the end the final arbiters of what is valid and worthwhile to society is determined by society and not a handful of  marginal misfits who propagate and celebrate the extreme. For those of you out there who have trouble with where art is take comfort in the fact that honest art survives the test of time.


Respect

There is respect in both paintings. I respect human endeavor and dignity. I respect where we all are now, how we got where we are and the gift of life. To paint anything that fails to treat humanity with respect is fundamentally flawed.

That the endeavor in the beach painting connects is because it is accurate to the particular endeavor and the related circumstances -boys netting and catching fish and generally having fun as a group with a dog with interest from circling seagulls. I have done this and seen it done and been on many beaches like this so I am familiar with these circumstances and events and feel qualified to accurately  and faithfully depict such a scene with due respect.

By studying the behavior of marauding beach birds and their actions with fishermen I can faithfully construct an engagement composition that is realistic and valid. By studying the actions of laying out a net, preparing to net, setting a net and generally handling a net I understand and can accurately depict a scene where individuals are attempting to net fish from a beach.

Each posture conveys an action directly related to the process. I respect that posture by being faithful to its correctness for without that the process of catching fish by netting would be flawed. The action would be wrong and so to would be the painting. It would be no more than a parody.

It is incumbent upon me to respect the subjects by being accurate in detail and in action.

To paint a seagull flying up side down would be a glaring mistake. As an artist of integrity I am letting down the many great artists of the past who have given their life and time to developing the science of aesthetics to the point we are now. To paint a seagull up side down is to be disrespectful to my forbearers and to the science of animal behavior as well as my fellow man. The running dog in my painting is faithful to the actions of a dog in full flight-the legs are correctly positioned in relation to each other, the neck and head is correct in extension and size as is the sweep of the torso and the streamlined tail. And he is correctly enacting a scene common to a seagull and a beach dog.


There is due respect to each element in each painting. The man who builds my house respects the science of construction and complies with the protocols therein and builds me the latest high tech dwelling my budget will allow. 14,000 years of experience in construction is guiding him. And I get the result of that. He goes about his work with respect for the science, for his fellow workers, the client and the budget. Just as I approached the young lady with the geese. There is accuracy and respect for the young lady’s figure and my painting of her, accuracy and respect for the geese in terms of their position near her and the suggested direction of their wander plus accuracy and respect for the mood as set by the colors associated with a setting sun.

The exciting part is to be able to do this with verve and a sense of spontenaiety such that the accuracy and respect is seen as that, but is in fact a series of finely tuned well thought out accidents. An impression in other words. But first and foremost we are as artists the visual technology carriers of 30,000 years of learning. What our individual contribution to society will be  is largely determined by how well we have absorbed, understood and been able to synthesize this information with the circumstances of living today.

Too true....on with the show.

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