I was absolutely crazed for the whole of 2016. Being a political cynic, I assumed Trump would win. I take NO joy in being right.
The only thing that gave me any relief from ranting and raving and getting into online arguments with TOTAL strangers, was painting. Whatever remains of my mental health can be attributed to my love of painting. It’s the only thing that takes me OUT of myself and OUT of my head, the most dangerous part of my body.
Now it’s a New Year. To save the remaining threads of my sanity, I vowed to avoid all TV news, newspapers, political magazines, etc. The reality still seeps in, be it via social media, conversation or the NYT headlines which I try to ignore as I grab for the Arts section. There was a front page article in the biz section about the online art business. Apparently, it’s red hot. Although I found it encouraging since I, too, am hawking my art on line, it pressed my “button” about art and commerce. The article was accompanied by a photograph of a painting that was reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s “Red.” It was repped and sold for a ridiculous amount of money by Christie’s. Looking at the painting reminded me how little I know about “art and commerce.” I simply don’t understand why anybody wants what is, essentially, a large canvas with a drawing of a box covered in shades of red. If somebody wants it, wouldn’t it be cheaper to find a kid to paint one in nursery school?
I am VERY much a novice. My education on the subject and experience is fairly limited. Mostly what I know is what I like and don’t like. When it comes to abstract modern art composed of only color and/or lines, I draw a blank. Why would somebody want it on their wall? It’s just color, which is absolutely fine, but why spend the gross national product of a small third world nation to obtain it? Looking at a pretty color can be soothing, but it doesn’t disturb or touch any emotions. It has no heart. Sometimes I wonder if people are drawn to it because it goes with their sofa. Or, of course, because of the name of the artist.
Way way WAY before I ever picked up a paintbrush, I was drawn to images that were not only beautiful, but made me FEEL something. Modigliani, Matisse, VanGogh, Beckmann and other German Expressionists. Those images bore a hole in my soul. When I looked into the faces of the people they painted, they spoke to me. When I see abstract modern painting it not only leaves me cold, it leaves me perplexed. The closest I ever got to “getting it”, from an intellectual standpoint, was Jackson Pollock. But even if I could afford him, he wouldn’t be hanging on my walls, nor would I run to a museum to see an exhibition of his work.
I don’t see art as simply technique or an intellectual experience. For me, as a viewer and now as a painter, it’s about mood and/or evoking an emotion. I believe the reason I’ve chosen, at least for now, painting portraits is because I am first and foremost a storyteller. When someone looks at my paintings, I hope it “speaks” to them and allows them to become the storyteller .