Paint-L Exhibition:  MET ON THE INTERNET  

COMMENTS FROM THE MEMBERSHIP VIA E-MAIL

The Paint-L list has a number of conversations/threads running through it at any one time, many smaller groups interested in many different things, all talking at once. Throughout this exhibition are excerpts from these many threads, shared thoughts and opinions on everything from artistic training and techniques to the art of business and criticism of current work being done around the world to facing creative issues in the studio.                                                                                                Lyndie Vantine

 

On facing the blank canvas:

The blank canvas, or just beginning a painting,(I'm not sure which) is the hardest part of being an artist, in my opinion. I can think of numerous reasons to procrastinate that start. Lately I have been putting several random strokes on the blank canvas, just to get it over with and have "something" as a beginning. Because my goal is a really loose painting, this helps even more. At this point, my problem becomes making myself stop painting, even to eat!
                                                                                                                        - Ellie Griffin, North Carolina

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On critiques:

I don't believe there is a soul living who likes harsh criticism, but as Harry Truman said "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". I don't like the heat either, but on the other hand I want and need what's in the kitchen. Many people tell me "Oh, I love your work", which is great for my ego, but the person who tells me that I should "look at the proportions of that chair", or "the eyes are not in line", or "a little cropping would help the negative shape", is doing me a far greater favor than the ego stroker ever could.
                                                                                                                         - Daniel Shouse, Georgia

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Or who is better or best?

Let's not be realistic artists, abstract artists, decorative artists, fiber artists, women artists, gay artists, studio artists, outdoor artists, New York artists, western artists, etc. Let's just be artists, proud of what we do and willing to respect others, whatever their interest or skill level. After all, we'd like to have their respect, too--and what's more, all of us were beginners once. It saddens me to hear artists put down the work of others. We don't have to like every type of art, but I feel we owe other artists the effort to attempt to understand what they are trying to say--and certainly to accept their right to say it their way. There's a lot of stuff out there that may not seem worthy to be called art (some of it is in the best museums!), but give it a chance. Then, if it really seems to have no saving graces, just acknowledge that you don't understand it and leave it at that.
                                                                                                                            - Nita Leland, Dayton, Ohio

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On utilizing new tools and technologies:

An artist will create and will use the tools to create that he/she feels... ...draw from the life experience, and grow as the years go by. In the meantime, artists will acquire more tools, i.e. computer, software, artograph, airbrush, acrylic paints, new types of brushes, specialized brushes, new surfaces, ....etc., etc., etc.Does this mean that all these new "tools should be considered as "cheating" since they have become quite specialised in themselves[?]
                                                                                                                          - Louise Carbonneau, Ontario

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Tools and technologies:

...ask your friends and professor if they have heard of the CAMERA OBSCURA. If they take a look at their art history they will find that there is a long and honorable history of using "projected" images as an aid in composition and perspective. 'Taint cheating.
                                                                                                                                                      - Silver

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On good skills and training:

What? Expecting painters to learn to draw? How shocking! Yes, I think painters should learn to draw. It surely wouldn't hurt for modern painters to learn the skills of the old masters. I think that an artist who does not know how to draw is for the most part incapable of making the rightful adjustment. They would not know the proper adjustments needed to make things look right. I have seen too many works look like mechanical reproductions done by too many people who don't know how to hold a pencil. It is nonsense to think that people who can't draw a figure can suddenly shortcut to artistic talent.
                                                                                                                                                  - David Falk

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Is painting dead or just resting?

Even in parochial Vancouver, the multi-media and installation artists get most of the attention from curators and the arts magazines. The commercial galleries sell mostly paintings. What is going on? How do we painters react to this situation?
                                                                                                                  - John Aarts, Vancouver, British Columbia

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Is painting dead or just resting?

For me, painting exists as its own language - its application is infinitesimal. No one would declares that playing music on the piano is dead. I believe that painting is another way of communicating-- it has existed since prehistoric times in almost every culture-- the electronic media cannot reproduce the beauty of real paint-- the critics may ignore it, but they cannot bury it!
                                                                                                                             - Katherine A. Byrne, Boston

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More questions than answers:

I am now struggling with getting my painting/printing/sculpting skills at college, and the next problem is the content.
What does the medium enhance or intensify?
What is pushed aside or obsolete by the new medium?
What older form of medium is retrieved?
What does the medium reverse into if pushed to the limits?
These are the things I am considering now. I don't have a solution, and I don't see a way to resolve this [at the moment.]

                                                                                                          - John Aarts, Vancouver, British Columbia

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Medium is the Message?

...these days the artist's idea is determining the medium for the artist rather than the medium determining the idea; i.e. people are more interested in using a medium that best expresses what they have to communicate.....and this could change from piece to piece, work to work...and I must say I think it leads to some exiting results and thinking.
                                                                                                                                       - Linda Hicks, Boston

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More on painting: dead or resting?

Now me, I feel despair and hysteria about the idea that art should be nothing more than novelty (in its meaning of newness.) 25 artists -- 100 artists -- can all paint exactly the same hillside in the same medium, but every one of the paintings will be uniquely interesting because each artist will put something different into it. Unique, yes; new, no. Who the heck cares about new? Bah!
                                                                                                                                        - Chris Blom, San Jose

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Is painting dead or taking a breather?

Painting may well be taking a breather, as are other more traditional mediums. They will surely be better for it if history is any indication. Painting was declared dead back when Kandinsky painted his first abstract. Then again, for sure it was D.O.A. in the 1970's. There was probably someone back in the 1800's declaring painting dead as the impressionists were showing their first works publicly. Photography has also had its up and down times, as has printmaking. The one thing that seems certain is no single medium stays in favor forever. People tire of one thing and want to see what else is out there.
                                                                                                                                   - Lyndie Vantine, Baltimore

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The business and soul of art:

I realize everyone must pay their dues... and if we treat our art careers like any other business venture, i.e., with a product to sell... commodity, decoration whatever you want to call it... when we create art to fund our lives (no matter what the inspiration) we are creating a product to sell, just as a manufacturer of whatchamacallits is doing, then we need to sensibly and intelligently market that product. As in any business, there will be a time of expenses outstripping the profits and there will come a time in which profits will begin to rise. If not, we need to take a serious look at what we aren't doing.
                                                                                                                                               - Rebecca Gharis

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The business and soul of art:

If an artist's purpose is to sell the work and it does sell, he or she is then successful. It an artist's purpose is to create work for the pleasure it gives in creating it, and it does give him or her pleasure, then he or she is successful. If an artist's purpose is to do both, and it does not sell, then he or she is still successful. If an artist's purpose is to do both and it does not give pleasure in it's creation but it does sell, he or she is still a failure. IMHO.
                                                                                                                                        - Daniel Shouse, Georgia

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On creativity:

Five-year old children have a wealth of artistic inspiration and talent, and the world beats most of it out of them by the time they graduate from high school. In fact, most adults have to relearn how to scribble even though it came so naturally to them as children. Fortunately, some of us slip through the cracks.
                                                                                                                                                   - David Falk

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On creativity and the business of art:

Maybe too much emphasis is put on how successful artists are in pleasing others. Pleasing takes the form of approval from your Kindergarten teacher at 5 or how well your works sells in the market at 50. While approval is beneficial and motivating, if it is the "be-all and end-all" of our activity, all we are doing is feeding our insatiable egos and dancing to the whims of others. So what if this other artist sold work? So what if Picasso got his cabinets for a signature? (in retrospect that was probably a very good deal for the cabinetmaker !) How does this impact your artistic growth? If you had the opportunity to sell work in this manner...would you do it?
                                                                                                                   - Carol Martell, Long Island, New York

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You say either, I say ither....

Are we able to come to a common ground in visual interpretation? IUm not sure. Especially, since, if we look at paintings the same way that we look at the television, all we will get is information. Good painting, like an active metaphor, always leaves us wanting, thinking, and enters us into a process of understanding - beyond logic and into a poetics.
                                                                                                                         -Conrad Bakker, Chicago, Illinois

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In our own time:

Many artists realize that both the content of what they are trying to express, and the means they employ to do so, are not accidental -- and not even particularly individual. There is such a thing as Zeitgeist (= the spirit of the times); and we are "stuck" in expressing it, for better or for worse.
                                                                                                                  - Philip Gerstein, Boston, Massachusetts

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The only way to it is through it:

To me if an artist isn't working toward a greater understanding of themselves through their art, its only an exercise. If they are strongly under the influence of a teacher or haven't found a voice, I can usually see it.
                                                                                                                 - Lillian Fitzgerald, Alexandria, Virginia

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Why Paint-l is still talking:

I obviously cannot speak for the 100+ people out there who chose not to contribute on a daily basis. I find this list interesting for a number of reasons. Not the least is that it follows a pattern similar to other lists, i.e., 20% contribute 80% of the verbiage. The 20% because of their high level of participation take on ownership and tend to interact with those with whom they are most familiar, thus proving that people do business with people they know, birds of a feather...
                                                                                                                    -Marvin Smith, Cheney, Washington

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And we still keep talking...

I think one of the things to keep in mind about Paint-L is that it is a platform from which the more vocal members can preach about art and receive almost instant feedback, allowing them to evaluate their thoughts and beliefs in light of what their approximate peers think and feel about what they've said. At its best, this group is an amalgamation of hundreds of years of technical experience in making art, and promoting art. It is a how-to book without the book. It is a support group for the creatively impaired and dispaired. On a somewhat lower level, it is a Gertrude Stein wine and cheese party at which half-baked ideas can be roasted, toasted, or trampled based upon their own merit or lack thereof. And on the lowest level, it is a fun place to be. If, at times, we seem not to have thought through everything we say, at least there are those amongst us not afraid to call us on it and argue the point.... If there This is intellectual recreation and as with most forms of recreation, if we're a bit "out of shape", the results usually "ain't too pretty". What we lack in intellectual athleticism, we may up for with heart.
                                                                                                                                      Jim Lane, Marietta, Ohio

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On abstraction and representation:

I find that I feel like I am forcing a certain "artiness" into the work when I abstract, or use a device from another artist (as in the example above). Such devices should probably be arrived at by each artist so that they have meaning and relevance to the work. Instead they often feel contrived when I use them. When there are unexplained abstract elements in a representational piece they can steal the focus of the work. For example, I see the four figures, but what is this schmoo shape and why are these figures divided in half?" Does anyone else feel like they are sometimes forcing the "art" of their work, so as not to be merely "illustrating" the idea?
                                                                                                             -Lawrence Wells, New York, New York

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The left brain and the right brain:

I decided many years ago, that when it comes to art, music, etc., there are those who just feel and those who both feel and analyze. Analytical types are good to have around because sometimes they can help define what it is that you like. I look at a painting and say "I just love this painting!" The analytical person says, "What do you like about it?" And I cudgel my brain and eventually reply, "I dunno! But I could look at it for hours!" Well, sometimes after the analytical type onders and expounds I react "Oh, yeah! That's why I like it" and sometimes I react "You analytical types have got to have your heads examined." Whatever; listening to them expound can sometimes be very enlightening and sometimes is reaaalllly boring. Fortunately here on the List we can just hit the DELETE key when the conversation gets boring. ;-)
                                                                                                                           -Chris Blom in San Jose

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More on critiques:

The difficulty of doing a critique of art over the net is that is what is being critiqued is the scan of the artwork. Some images may be two reproduction generations away from the original artwork. And those of us who document our own stuff know that the picture almost never looks as good as the real thing. This narrows the scope of can be meaningfully critiqued. For example, you can't in a lot of cases comment on the artists use of paint. Also, it becomes difficult to comment on the use of color since the color of the piece will be skewed first by the scanning and then by the monitor on which it is viewed. I think this leads to serious but not insurmountable problems regarding the meaningfulness of a virtual critiques.
                                                                                                                                                       - David Falk