Art is definitely subjective. We all know that. While I rave over Egon Schiele, many of you dislike his works. I love Jackson Pollock, but I don’t get Mark Rothko at all. I’m starting to feel that I’ve found a home for myself in tonalism, and yet despite pledging fidelity to the art of George Inness, my eyes are already straying toward works by Jules Dupre. Oh, how fickle one’s heart can be, even in matters of a love for art.
Recently the idea of picking favorite artists has come up a number of times, and truly I could never put together a short list. Any list of my favorites would be several pages long. Most of my favorites would probably be tonalists and impressionists, and most would hail from the Barbizon School or the Hudson River School, but still there would be many others from different times and places.
But does it matter, really? While it’s valuable to study art history and become acquainted with different artists, different movements, and different styles, what really matters in art isn’t which works we know, which artists have most influenced us, or how much we’ve learned about any particular movement in art.
What matters is that art should please us. Art should move us — in different ways — and we should keep this fundamental truth in mind not merely when we’re looking at someone else’s art, but most especially when we’re creating our own.
It’s important for us to understand that creating art is a very personal experience. We must draw and paint for ourselves, not for anyone else. Sure, I love it when I have paintings in a show and a judge comes along and hangs ribbons on them. That’s a great feeling. But that’s not what truly matters in art.
What matters is the satisfaction we gain, the sense of personal accomplishment that comes from creating something with pencil and paper, or ink, or oil paints. For some artists, it may come, too, from digital art. There are many different forms of expression. Visual art isn’t limited to drawings and paintings. There are textile and needlecraft arts, installation art, interactive art exhibits. There are gardens filled with sculptures. Pottery is an art, as is glass–blowing. We have our different preferences about what we like to see and about what we like to do.
I like to draw, and I love to paint. Both are new skills for this old woman, and I’m pleased to have come as far as I have in the last few years. Of course I want to learn more; of course I want to improve both my drawing and my painting abilities. But here’s what really matters — not perfection, not absolute accuracy, not painstaking attention to detail — simply doing. It is the act of creation itself, however flawed it may be, that truly matters in art.
You may or may not like a drawing or painting I post. That’s all right. If you want to point out the weaknesses in my art, please do. It’s always good to know what areas most need improvement. Yet in the larger scheme of things, that’s not always so important. What’s important in our art is that we continue to pursue it with passion because we love what we’re doing.
I enjoyed drawing the “old barn” I’ve shown here. I spent a couple pleasant mornings with my sketchbook, first putting down the basic shapes of the building, later adding shading here and there. I could do more to it, I suppose, and maybe it would be a “better” drawing if I did. But does it really matter? If I’m happy with my drawing, if I feel a sense of genuine accomplishment, if I’m pleased with the progress I’m making… well, folks, that’s what really matters, isn’t it? I think so. You may or may not agree; we’re each entitled to our opinions about art and life and what foods we like and the music we listen to. In the end, though, what we must listen to most of all is our own voice, our own heart, our own thoughts about who we are.
Plain and simple, it comes down to this… just as Rick Nelson sang in Garden Party:
“…it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself”
When I draw with graphite or paint with oils, it’s not for the eyes of some judge who may be asked to view the work as part of a show. It’s not even for the praise that might come from family or friends. And even though I love blogging and appreciate each of my two thousand plus followers, in truth, I’m not drawing and painting for you.
I’m doing it for myself.
I share my art here not for the art itself, but because of the experience of creating it. I hope both my successes and my failures, my dreams and my doubts, can be inspirational to others. It comes down to that very simple truth — what really matters in art is that we do what we love and love what we do.