Coming and Going


“The only way to say what abstract art is, is to say what it is not.” Ad Reinhardt (from The Painter’s Keys)

The work of two very different blog posts jumped out this week for what each represented.  Bloggers Elena Caravela and JF of Close to Eighty unintentionally demonstrated the past and the future of today’s art.  One told the story of where art in the Twentieth Century has come from.  The other is the representation of where art is going.

Where art has come from was not the actual purpose of the post by blogger JF of Close to  JF posted links to two fun art quizzes.  One was asking the question of whether viewers could tell if an artwork was by a famous artist or by an ape.  The other was art by a famous artist or a toddler?  It was surprisingly difficult to tell which was which.  Follow JF’s link to see if you can tell which is which.  Both quizzes are very good examples of the art of the twentieth century.  And the art world wonders where their followers went.  Why pay top dollar for art that can just as easily be made by your neighbor’s toddler.  There may be more to the art of the last century but does it matter if the viewers can’t tell what’s made in the studio and what’s made at the zoo?

Elena Caravela posted a painting. The Crossing, from a series she has been working on, exploring the theme of Blood and Vapor.  What struck me so profoundly was the depth of emotion so evident in the painting.  Two children are in a boat on what looks to be a terrifying journey.  The painting immediately brought to mind the stories I had heard of Cuban refugees risking all to get to the shores of freedom.  The painting could have multiple levels of meaning to different people. The important point is the depth of feeling and meaning communicated.  No one will doubt it was painted by a living breathing adult human with emotional depth.

Art of the twentieth century didn’t care if people felt anything or not.  The artists likely didn’t care either.  There is very little there to connect with deeper human emotions.  Art appears now headed toward connecting with people again.  It delves into different layers of the experience of living.  When we look at art we want to feel something on some level.  We want to look at a piece of art and say, “Yes!” that makes me feel X, Y, or Z.  We don’t want to say, “Did your toddler do that?

I would love to hear what others think of The Crossing.  And how well you did on the quizzes!

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Weekend Inspiration–Looking to Each Other

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“You can look anywhere and find inspiration.”  Frank Gehry  (from The Painter’s Keys)

Dry spells, days without inspiration, lack of incentive can happen at anytime to any artist.  You show up at the studio, sit in front of an empty canvas or paper and nothing happens.  Nothing is working.  You looked to all your usual sources of inspiration and still nothing.  So what now?  You can give up and walk away or you can look to your fellow artists.

Stories are everywhere of artists who worked in groups.  The Impressionists were noted for it.  Monet and Renoir occasionally painted the same subjects.  Picasso and Braque explored cubism together.  The tales of artists gathering together in Paris cafes and bars are well known.  The Abstract Expressionists frequently met in New York at various locations.  Artists are gathering today.  Are you one of them?

Gathering with fellow artists today does not necessarily mean physically meeting in a restaurant or studio.  Artopia Magazine suggests, “Following artists on social media is a great source for finding inspiration on many levels.”  Taking the time to “like” other artists on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, read artist’s blogs and check out artists websites are all ways to gather with other artists in today’s internet world.  Artists are doing amazing things all over the world.  All it takes is a couple of clicks to enter a world of inspiration from fellow artists. suggests joining a local art group and if you don’t have one, start one.  Find a group of other artists and make plans to meet together.  You can choose to take a meal together regularly just to discuss art in general.  You could meet together for some Plein Air painting.  Another possibility is potluck once a month rotating at each other’s studios. Find your fellow local artists and make a plan.

When you are blanking out on inspiration, look around at other artists and see what they are up to.  If you find your fellow artist also in a blank place maybe you can inspire each other.  And if not, you can always commiserate with one another until new sources of inspiration can be found.  Nobody stays dry forever.  Companionship during the dry times may help move the dryness on down the road.