Monday, May 16, 2011

Questions, questions, questions

 Pink and white - not your average boy

Some days it feels like such a farce, this art stuff.  I go to my studio and produce a mess that I try to turn to gold without success.  And it makes me second guess myself and the purpose of the materials around me and why I'm doing this or trying to do this.

Then there is the pretention of the art world.  Not the artists usually, but those who feed off their efforts.  The galleries, framers, dealers, critics and exhibition organizers are the vultures waiting to pick the bones of artists.  Artists are like farmers.  They bust a gut to produce a product, whether potatoes or paintings and the merchants become rich off the proceeds.

Then there is the uninformed buying public who think there's no difference between a mass produced reproduction from Walmart and an original painting and want the same for $19.99.  Framed. Or commission  a complex piece with all their relatives and animals, make endless changes and haggle over price as if its a pound of sausages at the butcher's.

There are also the artists who consider that they are superior because they can afford a particular brand of paint or brush or slavishly use the brand and palette of an artist they admire, as if by owning or using it, it gives them magical powers of mastery over that medium.  Or the slightly mocking, patronizing tones of those who can only produce a painting from life instead of reference photos or who use oils instead of watercolour  because the masters did or use watercolour instead of graphite because the latest workshop guru told them to or who could never use a grid or goes on and on ad nauseum.

What has happened to art and those that artists choose or must choose to interact with, ply their trade?  When did it become big business and so cut throat? When did artists begin to hold technique so close to their chest and not share in case someone might learn how to do the same thing?  Did they forget how they learned?  Wasn't it from someone else?  When did artists start counting statistics of how many people visit their blog or website instead of concentrating on simply producing beautiful art?

I don't expect answers to these questions.  They are what rattles around in my head sometimes when I think about the often futile and fickle world of art production and sales.

Ok, rant over.  You can come out from behind the sofa now.  Its safe.


Billie Crain said...

Amen, sister.;)

Feathers said...

Can't think of anything to add--you've covered it pretty well!!!

Dianne said...

We all need to get it off our chest sometimes. You covered it pretty well too!
I get the "Oh, you ought to sell your paintings," but how come I lose them when I answer "I do, make me an offer."

Yelena Shabrova said...

There always were art vultures, snob artists, those who can only copy and follow, and illiterate "buyers". Nothing new, really. On the up side, there are still so many artists who share what they know for free or very little, there are people who are eager to learn if only the artist give them that opportunity instead of getting all offended at a awkward remark. Those with whom you don't agree will follow their path regardless of how much aggravation it causes you. Why bother? Why even look there? Isn't it s waste of time?

Anonymous said...

*peeks over top of sofa, checking coast is still clear" ;-)

I was at an exhibition opening last night (myself and 7 others exhibiting but that's beside the point). The other half of the gallery was showing work by members of the Academy. Some of it was beautiful, or challenging, or both - and some of it was what I think of as "terribly clever". I am sure the artist's could have written a length piece about their "terribly clever" work, but I'm not sure I would want to read it.

I'm with you -- rant at will...

Mrs Murphy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita said...

You write words that I think all the time - this was like reading my thoughts. That's it, you are a mind-reader along with a talented artist! About time someone came out and said what we were all thinking!

Felicity said...

Rant or breath of fresh air to read some honest words?! I totally relate and could add some thoughts of my own! For me, the conclusion was that my dreams were pointless all along. Is there any other profession where you are expected to be flattered to work for peanuts or even for free and after a lifetime of experience not even be paid enough to earn a living? I think it's a scandal so few artists can make enough to live on and I would love to see some survey into exactly how may artists are making enough money without either a day job or a supportive partner. I think it's time the lid was blown off and for artists themselves to stop being coy about it.

Benco said...

Excellent post, says it all.

BTW why the cat photo?

vivien said...

ouch! you are in a downer - true - but ignore them all.

What you do is imaginative, exploratory, your own and not a pale copy of someone else.

Some people have closed minds, not an original thought, no comprehension of skills, imagination, intelligence ..... they aren't worth worrying about.

RH Carpenter said...

If you haven't connected or hit a chord with all of us, we aren't aware! I agree with it all and have experienced much. However, I have found most watercolor artists are open with their techniques and "secrets" - at least, those are the majority with whom I've come in contact so far.

debwardart said...

I think you left out artists that don't give credit to other artists! I'm with you, too. "You want how much for that painting??" they ask, aghast. Never mind how many hours it took, nor the framing price to boot. Oh, but if you ask them for something, better be prepared to pay, after all, their time is important!! Rant all you want, you will feel better and remember, tomorrow is another day!!

Anonymous said...

For years I've been drawing and painting for my own pleasure, doing birthday cards for the family and entering the occasional competition and exhibiting in local shows now and then. Then circumstances meant that some work I'd done would be included in a book, and all that nonsense that you describe started to kick in. It's supposed to be a pleasure, for heaven's sake! Keep up the great work, M

Jeanette said...

Thank you all for commenting.

My post wasn't intended to be sour grapes about any personal experience, but my (and others its seems) view of the business of art.

I know that any industry begets other industries but in most businesses there is equitable shares in profits. It seems that there is not in art and the producer is the one coming out at the bottom of the heap.

Do those artists who truly make the big bucks have to sell their souls to do so or have they learned to play the game to their advantage?

I continue to produce art and to play the game to some degree. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps so. But I will always voice my displeasure at aspects of the business of art. That may put me further down the ladder, but so be it.

suzanneberry said...

thank you, thank you, thank you!!! this is an incredible post and says it all! you nailed my butt to the wall. suddenly it's about how many comments i got. really? when did that happen. i'm copying and pasting this if you don't mind and i'm reading it every day before i work. the art is the thing!!! bravo and so well written. i use photos mostly and am silly enough to feel inferior because of it. i'm done with comparing myself. it's the art! again, bravo. did i mention...BRAVO!!!

Sue Pownall said...

oh my... bet you feel better for that.

I particularly enjoyed the para "There are also the artists who consider ..." perfectly said, and it needed to be said.

Jeanette said...

Suzanne, I'm glad my rant fired and inspired you. There are as many elements that detract and destroy artists as there are elements that buoy them. It really is all about the art. The hell with the rest!

Yes and no Sue. Its a rant and its also thoughts that have been in my head for 30 odd years.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's nice to get it off your chest and out! Careful about wallowing too long.
Get back to the positive delights you bring about. Happy hump day! It's all downhill from here!!!

Jan said...

I've recently thought many of the same thoughts you've posted and have decided to go back to just painting for my own pleasure.
The business of art is just not worth the effort, at least not to me. I evidently don't have the talent or the marketing skills or the drive or whatever it takes to make a monetary success of my art.
I admire you for hanging in there. They say that you can't lose if you don't fold!

Gary L. Everest Paintings said...

Hi Jeanette,
My first time here and I really like both your art and the way you think. If you'll have me, I'd like to become one of your followers.
Newfoundland will always hold a special place in my heart. Flying C-9B transports for the U.S. Navy, I'll never forget the hospitality shown by the people of Newfoundland when mechanical problems forced us into an unexpected overnight stay.
Now, I've returned to Newfoundland via your blog and feel that this could be the start of, as Humphrey Bogart said in "Casablanca", "...a beautiful friendship."

Jeanette said...

I tend not to wallow Tracy. I'm more like a bolt of lightning - hit and gone.

Jan, the business of art is hard work, then again any business is and you get out what you put in most of the time. Art has a few more twists and turns and egos along the way, but mostly enjoyable.

Gary, its lovely to have you join in. I've crept around your blog off and on and adore the portraits you create and the thoughts around them.

Newfoundland hospitality hasn't changed a bit since you flew your transport in here (and they still fly in here from time to time).

Island life makes friends out of strangers in the blink of an eye, so you're always welcome.

r garriott said...

My friend Suzanne Berry sent me to your lovely, ranting post... so very true, so very succinct. It's a bit of an 'ouch!', but thank you for spelling it out so well.

And now to pick up the brush and carry on...