Friday, March 02, 2012
The Medium War
There is an endless debate in art circles over which medium is the favoured one for producing art. The purists say oil but I never hear a sound enough argument for the preference. There is the argument that the 'masters' used it. Well they did mostly because they had no alternative beside watercolour, both having to be created by hand in many instances, not a quick fix at a local art supply store. In some areas of life, we cling to the past as if it shows us the way forward, instead of forging out own paths.
The collectors have their preferences also, again societal followings lead towards oil too, but without strong argument for the choice. Are we programmed to presume oil is a higher quality medium to paint with? And, if so, what drives that thought?
Skill in handling is often cited as a factor. But that can be said of any tool used to produce art. If you cannot handle the medium well and know how it performs, you set yourself up to fail. Oil painting, like painting in any other medium takes practice, many hours of practice to become competent in it.
I was told today by a gallery owner that buyers currently look for oil paintings and that works under glass are out of favour. Whims? Trends? Who or what is the catalyst that pushes the end user to decide which medium should be the chosen one? Is it the same trend that dictates what colour we should wear each year or paint the walls of our sitting rooms?
What about the image itself? Where does composition, competence in technique and eye appeal fall down in terms of mediums? A beautifully drawn piece can be as stunning as a beautifully painted piece in any medium. I believe that if the view has a connection with the image, the medium in which it is executed has little role to play in whether it has appeal or not.
There's an eternal circle that exists of one medium chasing or being chased by another, one claiming superiority over the previous til it runs full circle back to its origins again. And then there is the snob appeal of materials within some artist circles. Its another version of "Whoever dies with the most expensive toys wins." concept. Some individuals slavish purchase outrageously priced materials in the hopes that the the higher the price and/or quality, it will magically turn their mediocre paintings into gold.....'oh, yes, that Sheep's Hoof Brown, its only $120 an ounce and made from the elusive Tattamangoula male sheep in Outer Mongolia, but its just divine to paint with darling and XWY uses it in alllllllllll his paintings and you know how much *they* go for...' I know, over the top, but you've all heard something similar somewhere before, right? ;)
My conclusion? Paint what you like, in whatever medium you like. If you are competent in technique and composition, your work will find its own level.
Mine has leveled today with a local gallery representing my work. Stay tuned for more details soon.