When I am inspired to paint something I just do it without considering the commercial viability or ‘artistic worthiness’ of the conception. Art is something I do because it feels good.
NORTHERN EXPOSURE (the 6 season television show that ran in the early 90s) was not on my radar in its original run. I knew it was one of the most popular shows on the air, I just never watched it. I contented myself with the coffee break observations and synopses I received from friends and co-workers. My beloved life-partner, Patrice, had a nostalgic love of the series so she bought the box set for us to watch together. Often our video tastes are polar opposites; what I enjoy is too violent for her and what she enjoys is too sentimental for me. NORTHERN EXPOSURE is a neutral ground on which we can spend an hour together as we eat dinner or while Patrice crochets.
It’s still hard for me to imagine why the show was such a hit. Even so, I’ve come to appreciate Joel, Maggie, Maurice, Chris, Ruth Ann, Holling, Shelley, and Ed. I especially like Chris, the ex-con Radio DJ prone to artistic impulses and philosophical discourse. In one episode, Chris points out to Holling that ‘art’ is the process of creation and should be appreciated for the sheer enjoyment it brings. Selling art is not ‘art’ — it’s commerce. The two should never be confused. Though such confusion is easy to understand in the light of Andy Warhol’s rise to fame and fortune. If we take our cue about art from the mainstream media we will become hopelessly mired in self-defeating artistic neuroses.
Recently I painted an abstract with lots of blue and red. It made me feel good, I enjoyed the process, got that ‘artist’s high’ and that was that. Looking at the finished piece, I thought it was destined to remain on the shelf of canvases in my garage. I assumed it had no commercial appeal. Shortly thereafter I was given the opportunity to hang twenty one pieces of my art in the lobby of the local public library. The first day of that showing, a friend saw the red and blue piece, fell in love with it and bought it. BONUS! That’s what the sale of art should be, a bonus on top of the joy of creation, not the driving, defining force of what we choose to create.
Two years ago I painted an abstract of a river scene. My experiment was to see how quickly and with how few strokes I could paint the thing. I spent about 15 minutes on it. It accomplished the unspoken goal in the back of my mind, but I never believed anyone would pay money for it. At a local pop-up event, I took the abstract river scene along just to fill up my space. A little 8-year-old girl fell in love with it instantly, so her mother bought it for her.
The three overriding benefits of art are: the intoxicating act of creation, the sense of satisfaction that comes from someone liking the piece so much they want to make it a part of their home environment, last (and least) is the money that goes into the artist’s pocket when (if) he/she makes a sale.
I understand that my perspective may be difficult for many folks to embrace, agree with or even understand. I’m pretty sure a few artists get what I’m saying.
Have a great creative day!