I was pondering the trepidation that many people have when gazing upon my paintings. This trepidation stems not from my paintings themselves, but from the eye of the beholder, the beholder's imaginary need to understand a painting. To comprehend its meaning, to get the message. There is something terribly intimidating about art to most people. Looking at art has been transformed into a learned skill fit for only a chosen few. How many of you reading this, no matter what your own background is, have felt intimidated when stepping into a museum or gallery? How many of you have felt not quite up to the task of looking at a painting or sculpture? How many of you hope that you are not asked to comment on a work of art for fear of saying the wrong thing?
I wonder at what point art becomes a language for the few instead of the language of the masses. I graduated from art school, which at first makes you think you have somehow entered that elite club of art connoisseurs (a.k.a. The Blowhard Society), and then allows you to realize that the knowledge you have gained is not a means to an end, but only a sort of talisman. A smooth rock you hold in your pocket that you can stroke as you think and ponder. In fact, a painting speaks every language there is, and has no need for a translator, an interpretation.
Some of the classic questions I've been asked about my paintings are:
"What is it?" Well, it's a painting...
"What does it mean?" What does it mean to you?
"What is it supposed to be?" (One of my favorites) It is supposed to be whatever you see...
Children are the authentic art connoisseurs. Children know right away what they like and what they don't. How everything makes them feel. I've tried mightily to nurture my children's artistic instincts, which can so easily be battered down through too much culture, to much schooling. I often ask my kids how they feel when looking at a painting, or a sunset, or at nothing at all. Their answers have always been a learning experience (for me).
Don't some things just feel like dancing?
While others feel lonely?
Or like joy... pure joy?
Or even like your mind... so cluttered that you can't think? As if you're tired?
I rarely give advice in this blog. But today if you can, look around. Squint your eyes if you must, and see what you see. You may be surprised.