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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Art as Codependancy? Rant

I have what some have kindly called a chilled view of my art. It's paint, an anything else seen is merely incidental.
 Nothing has so much incited "Harumphff's" from other artists as this fact. I don't have a meaning or wish to communicate anything. I paint what I see. I don't express my inner self or want the world to *understand* me. I'm not a particularly needy person, and why should they? They've got their own things going on, and frankly I don't find myself so intriguing as to think they'd spend a moment on it....still.
  I find it curious and often amusing what others think my art means. For the purposes of this blog, I write something, then go find a piece of art that may or may not fit. The art was "paint." Most of the time it's not deep or complex. I'm far too lazy for that. Seriously, I just paint.With the exception of a scarce few, my paintings were not about emotion. Further, I find painting while being overly emotional as successful as balancing my checkbook during an emotional outburst. In other words, for me, the two are a disasterous combination. Emotional housekeeping, however I do pretty well.
   I find the effort to communicate something with paint to be far more confusing than simply saying it, so I write instead.
   Sometimes I've had people get indignant that I must have meant to *say* something in paint, because that was what they felt. I'm not powerful enough to force someone to feel something. If paintings were powerful enough to *make* people feel certain things, we'd all just sit and look at something beautiful and feel good all of the time. Sure, it helps, but please!
   No, I'm not buying it. If a viewer feels something, it's their feelings to be responsible for. The same goes when I feel something. No one forced it on me. I have and am responsible for my own feelings, my own sight. I cannot feel your feelings, and you cannot feel mine.
  But "What did the artist want to *communicate?*" Many of them do want to do that, and that's wonderful. Most do these days, but it wasn't always so.
   Artists used to be skilled craftsmen like cabinet builders, brick layers and masonry workers, and they used to get paid like these do. Relatively recent in history (last century), was the advent of wanting to express oneself in paint. Imagine a bridge builder insisting that he be understood. Personally, I'd not drive over that bridge.
   Technique has taken second or third place to emotion, and I don't see why they can't work together. With a solid ground of know-how, any direction might be taken, but so few even want to learn to draw. They aim to be *understood,* and it saddens me that they don't seem to have self acceptance. The idea of Van Gogh lobbing off an ear is not romantic to me. It's sad.
   Still, there are those who will not own their own feelings when looking at art. Blame seems to be the route to happiness for these. Again, "The artist must have intended it, because I felt it." Ok, let's take that to some well known artwork.
    May I introduce the classic "Ink Blot Test?" These were created by artists, yet they are used to find out what the viewer is all about. The artist smashed two pages together with ink, no intent, just ink....."just paint." These tests reveal the viewer.
   If the viewer insisted that "No! That's what they really are! That's what the artist intended!" They might get an interesting diagnosis.
   This is not to say that occasionally I might not experience an emotion during a painting, or that another might not have that same emotion on viewing it. It's fine when it happens, but I learn more about others when it doesn't. Most often what I paint and what people see are two different, if not opposing things, and this is cause for delight, because I am learning.
   I've painted the wealthy who were *seen* as impoverished. I've painted the serene who were *read* as insecure, I've painted the sad who others insisted were *sexy.* ad infinitum.
   I don't see any value in trying to get others to understand me, and I'm not so sadistic that I'd want you to experience some feelings. Alternately, some are so good, I'd rather keep them to myself. hehe! Besides, it's much more fun for me to try to understand others.
   Admittedly, I like the puzzles in paint of emotion that others make. I get to guess what they felt, and every once in a while, I get close.
    In compassion, for the emotional voyeurs among us: In any painting I've done, most often what I felt while painting was peace, a quiet mind without thought. Sometimes, I've felt a little paint get on my fingers too.  Maybe that's "sad, sexy, insecure and impoverished," It could represent the deep inner meaning of, or the social impications of.......(not a chance)  but I doubt it. winks!
  A quote from James McNeill Whistler,
"As to what the picture represents, that depends upon who looks at it." Art quote source: Pot of Paint by Linda Merrill, p151. Quoted in Like Breath on Glass p32.a'
Read other Quotes from Whistler  here:
tina jones


  1. Tina,

    Thanks for writing this so that I didn't have to!


  2. Very good Tina. Many times I just paint to piant, no emotional connection either. Sometimes I can paint something and FIND a emotion to fit it, hehe. I too find peace, quiet and comfort in the moments of just painting, rather technique, size of brush or choice of paint, it is simply motions of a brush across the canvas and space of time of a day. But I do find joy is paitning and when I can't rather it be no focus or time allowance I get rather perturbe and need to find me some chocolate to sooth my jagged nerve. Thanks Friend, Sandra