Let’s just say I know a thing or two about being an artist. I used to paint, OK? In NYC. and Chicago. One of my colleagues in New York was fond of saying that painters were a rung below poets on the ladder of occupations. In other words, no one cares. Or they will go to hear a poet before they will come to your art opening. The only people, really, who care about painting are other painters. And if you are a painter they probably don’t like your work either.
The Art World (capital A Art, capital W World) is pretty impenetrable. I get that. Frankly, art appreciation has been a problem ever since Marcel Duchamp said that whatever an artist points to and calls art, is art. Not only did that open the door to anything being declared art, it opened the door to any jackass that self identified as an artist calling anything art. So now we have hundreds of different media from video to dirt being used for “artistic expression”.
Of course, Duchamp was just leveling the playing field because everyone else in the world is an art critic. Everyone else in the world points at art they don’t understand and/or don’t like and declare, “That’s not art.” Most people who have no art background still think Norman Rockwell or the Poker Playing Dogs are the high water marks of art. More sophisticated types (who maybe took an art history survey class in college) might up the ante by mentioning Andrew Wyeth.
Or John Singer Sargent. Suggest that what good contemporary painting you might find actually traces back through Balthus, to Cezanne to Poussin to Giotto, and people will look at you like you have two heads.
Why I quit painting
I quit painting ten years ago because it became apparent to me that it is a dead medium. Look around in any museum and then look around in any contemporary art gallery. It’s all been done far better in the past than anybody is doing it now. Anybody. Contemporary realist painting really is crap. There are no modern masters.
Nobody is making paintings like Soutine or Matisse or Cezanne or Goya. There’s some tight realist work being done, but the French Academy did it better: is anyone today painting as well as Ingres? Hell no. It’s all copied from photographs, all surface with no idea of how to make form or how to compose; all pretense and fluff made by hobbyist housewives who are “fascinated” by color. If you are a wannabe realist painter reading this, sorry.
How to feel better about yourself
It’s a hair shirt occupation. You will get more satisfaction and positive reinforcement as a crack whore. And you will feel better about yourself at the end of the day. Seriously.
“Of course you want to be an artist. Everybody does, once. But they get over it, like measles and chicken pox.” ~ Gully Jimson, “The Horses Mouth” by Joyce Carey.
No one really paints anymore. They make commodities. Pretty designer crap to hang on the walls that match the sofa and drapes. Nothing wrong with having pretty crap hanging on the walls, but call it what it is.
I like what Henri Matisse said: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.” The difference between things is where the art lives. That’s why in a world of Hi Def viewing where everything is the same between things, painting is dead.
Which is fine with me, frankly. I’d rather watch a movie in 1080p.