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The art of making art...

onceupon made the most interesting post this morning about art.  I commented but it got long enough that I thought, "Hey, this could easily be a big long rambling entry.  I must share."

Not sure how well these comments will fit into your post but having drawn all my life, after having been to art school, working professionally as an animator and hanging out at a local atelier for a year and a half I have put a lot of thought into art and what it is.
I think everybody to one extent or another does art even if they don't consciously recognize it as such. I agree with you that once the basic needs are met there is something inherent in humanity that makes us strive for more...and that can be called art.
With that said, I think there are also different degrees of art. Jackson Pollock has been mentioned in your comments at how profound his work actually IS and how you have to be educated to "get it," and that opinion is fine but you'll forgive me if I would rather look at Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling. I'm sorry but working on a fresco painting THAT good, THAT large for THAT long brings me to my knees more than dribbled paint on a canvas.
Someone can make the most incredible hats out of polar fleece and that's great...but you'll forgive me if I am more blown away by the paintings done by the artist who owns the atelier.
I guess I am an elitist but I think while art has a slipperly definition, it is disingenious to consider all artists...and all art to be on the same playing field.
I went to an art show a few months ago at the University of Utah. It was for one of the student's master thesis and when I talked to him about it... (most were small pieces of cobbled together tiled art and various collages,) I asked him how long it had taken to put togther this current body of work. I was frankly stunned when he said it had been 4 really intensive months for about 90% of it. (There were over 50 pieces hanging on the wall.)
How much thought can go into something that you crank out in 2 days? And for a masters?

Now, I'm a cartoonist...I take about 2 hours for a really good cartoon though when I go into color they have been known to take up to 12 so I'm not exactly of the opinion that art needs to take a long time and be a tortured laborious process...

...but then I don't consider cartooning to be easily compared with something like say, "The Last Supper."

Apparently universities are starting to come under a(in my opinion a long over due) backlash of students who are tired of being told, "Oh be free! Challenge yourself and the audience and bascially splatter paint around!" They are more increasingly frustrated students who want to learn to draw things that look like THING...to paint figures that look like FIGURES.

More and more co-op and ateliers are cropping up with the intent of studying the old masters and their techniques and I for one couldn't be more pleased.

I suppose I am rambling but I guess in my elitist brain while I admire all things creative...(my sister made the most AMAZING wall quilt!) I don't consider all art to be equally great and study and disclipline are more impressive to me than some street artist who wants to "challenge the audience."




( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2005 08:46 pm (UTC)
Amen, sister.

I have no objection per se to abstract art, and sometimes I even admire the colors and so on. But, for the most part, I like stuff that looks like the stuff it's supposed to look like. I suppose that makes me hopelessly provincial, but so be it.

The notion that you have to be educated to "get" Jackson Pollock strikes me as ludicrous - you either like it or you don't. Anything else seems a little pretentious. This Emperor has no clothes, and I'm grateful that students are starting to be more outspoken about this.
Mar. 30th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
The commenter didn't mean educated in general. She meant Pollacks' work needed to be contemplated and you had to think about it. Educated never entered her comment. She related her experience -- how she didn't like Pollack, didn't regard it as art, then sat down in front of it for a while, contemplated it, and came away with a new appreciation and consideration for art in that style.

I don't think it makes you provencial to like art in a traditional style. I think people who like traditional art forms are doing themselves and the art world in general a disservice by being apologists. Like what you like but being self-deprecating about it only devalues the art in question in the eyes of people who may not have formed opinions yet, you know?

I fall into the camp like tends to like more abstact art. While I appreciate the glory of Waterhouse, I'm also a big, huge, giant fan of assemblage and collage pieces. I often find them far more interesting than traditional art. But that's because that's where my taste lies. I can appreciate the skill, talent, and dedication that went into producing great works of traditional art, but the stuff on my walls is far less traditional because I buy what speaks to me.

This isn't to say that either kind of art is wrong. I'm interested in the discussion between the two communities and how, from an artist's perspective, some of that gap can be bridged. Fine artists often don't consider nontraditional artists to be "real" artists and I think that causes more harm to the arts community than can be expressed.
(no subject) - new_iconoclast - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
changes in understanding - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: changes in understanding - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: changes in understanding - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: changes in understanding - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 10:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: changes in understanding - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC)
I believe it was George Lucas who made a comment about how anyone these days can learn how to use a computer but it was more rare that they knew how to draw, clasically, I guess you could say. The basics.
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC)
I can use a computer, but I can't use one to animate. I still can't draw a figure with any degree of detail. So I don't know how accurate his remark is.

And, for computer animation, I think you have to delve even deeper into the basics of anatomy and figure drawing.

Take a look, if you have the chance, at some of the special features on The Incredibles DVD and tell those guys they aren't artists. I'd especially love to talk to Bud Luckey, who switched from traditional animation to become a computer animator.
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
Pixar and Bud
Actually pretty much all of the animators at Pixar can draw. People just see the glossy computerized end result and don't see the mountains and mountains of art created to get them to that end result.
Bud Luckey is a legend. He's the man who brought us "The Ladybug Picnic" and "The Alligator King" from Sesame Street.
My understanding was that he did all the designs of the characters, storyboarded most of it and did the music and dialogue himself...but he stayed pretty far away from the computer buttons for this particular short.

(Bud also did the voice of ...forget his name. The government agent who looks like Nixon,) in The Incredibles.)
Re: Pixar and Bud - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
Okay, let's see here. One, you took my comment all wrong. I did not say that computer animators are not artists.

You said: "I can use a computer, but I can't use one to animate. I still can't draw a figure with any degree of detail."

I think that proves my point, thanks!

I am actually quite a fan of Pixar and their work, not to mention familiar with it. Again, never said they weren't artists. Try again.
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bellezzarubata - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jatg - Mar. 30th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 31st, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:13 pm (UTC)
I'm totally not trying to hijack your journal! I'm just totally into this dialogue! I'm so glad you posted this to your journal.
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC)
No no! I'm glad you are commenting!
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 30th, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
Now, I'm a bit on the other side. I'm not a very good realist; my sculpture has been compared more to Brancusi than Michelangelo. But even beyond that, I'm actually recognized for costume design - some of my work, even though it's wearable, has been honoured in art shows and the like. So I end up seeing anything that displays thought, skill, and imagination as art, rather than only looking at the old masters. I do adore masterwork paintings in the realist schools, but I'm also very impressed by Kandinsky and others in the abstract schools.

Still, I do think that some art is superior to other, simply on the basis of skill, thought, and imagination as I said above. Study and discipline *is* critical and impressive, but I think I'm a wee bit more open to alternative materials and disciplines than not.
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC)
This is the side of the fence I tend to come down on as well.

I credit one of the commenters in the original post with bringing up the idea that no matter what medium of art the piece belongs to, if the artist has not honed their skill the piece will eventually ring hollow. Raw talent is a starting place. Discipline and refinement carry things the rest of the way.
Mar. 30th, 2005 09:59 pm (UTC)
I could state a preference for gloriously skillful works of art like Michelangelo's collected works but it would simply be that, a preference.

It is an elitist overture to ascribe value to a work of art simply because it required more skill or effort to produce than another work and I think you recognize that in your comments Jett. You prefer one artist over another, awesome, you ascribe more value to skill in art than in expression, also fine, but I would stop the car and get out when someone tries to tell me that something, say abstract art, is a lesser artform because it takes less skill or effort.

I don't consider myself any less of an artist because I choose to work in the medium of comics and my efforts fall far short of what Michelangelo produced. I would certainly say Michelangelo was far more skilled than I am but we are/were both artists, and the same is true for Jackson Pollock.

I think I understand another frustration you are expressing though. In the artworld there is a tendency to defend art for art's sake. To allow young artists to learn only loosey goosey abstract methods such that they cannot produce even the most basic formal images. I agree, it is really good to see a return to classical values in artists and I do believe that education in art begins with solid principles of observational drawing/sculpting/painting skills. I don't know of any Jazz musicians who only know how to play Jazz music -- they all learn to play music from the sheet first and learn to play well, then they learn to improvise. The same should be true in the art instruction.

Man this is such a big subject though and I'm not even close to being done. I'll stop there and spare you all. :)
Mar. 30th, 2005 10:08 pm (UTC)
Don't stop! Come over to the original post in my journal and share your thoughts there, too, if you'd like. I'd love to hear what you have to say -- I'm a comics geek and have long loved comic book art.

Hooray graphic novels!

This is a HUGE question in scope and I don't think I fully considered how out of hand this discussion might get when I originally posted about it. *grin*
Mar. 30th, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC)
Art and God
Getting into the metaphysical, let me throw a few of my private musings out:

Women have been revered for their ability to create life and give birth. It is a partnership with God...the creator of us all.

God created everything including us. I find it fascinating in the Bible the first few chapters detail how God created the world.

The act of creation is therefore by its nature godlike.
Mar. 30th, 2005 11:13 pm (UTC)
We had this debate over AIM but I'll restate it here.

If people find a way to express art that is freeform and it works for them, then goodfor them. Classical training is all well and good but it's not the be all and end all of art.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Someone will admire a Jackson Pollack and someone will think it's just paint thrown at a canvas. The beauty of art is that both viewpoints are equally valid.

I'm not a huge fan of abstract art but occasionally something will come along that will make me stop and look again. I will happily look at a lot of crap for that one moment. Likewise I don't always find old masters thrilling. But I remember the first time I saw "The Ambassadors" at the National Gallery and my jaw just dropped.

Is one art form "better" than the other? No. Just different ways for people to express different things. Creativity should not be quantified by time put in but qualified by the idea.

Mar. 30th, 2005 11:17 pm (UTC)
As an addendum, by an amusing coinkydink, Google is today celebrating Vincent Van Gogh's art - check out the Google logo :)
(no subject) - onceupon - Mar. 31st, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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