Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Wiser
(oil on canvas, 2014)

A student brought a notecard with a reproduction of a painting on it to class last week and wanted me to look at it and tell her why she found the image so appealing. It was a nice painting, of a New England farmhouse and some barns in winter, with a strong "rule of thirds" composition, painted in a loose, semi-impressionistic style with local colors (red barn, blue sky, etc.) accentuated with pretty, more subjective pastel colors. The drawing was accurate and the whole thing was executed with skill and aplomb. In the end, we concluded that all of these things contributed to the image's appeal, yet I found it ripe with clich├ęs and devoid of originality. This lead to a discussion about "expectations". The image that we were discussing was clearly painted in such a way so as to meet the expectations of a broad-based buying public. No harm there - we all want to make a living. However, I believe that art has a responsibility to not meet our expectations, but to challenge them. Not to make us feel intelligent, but to make us question what we know and believe. To broaden our horizons - intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. To surprise us. To stir us up. To grab us by the shirt collar and say "Look here! Here's something you've never seen before!" I know. I know. Most people don't care about such things. They just want a painting that matches their sofa or reminds them of the place that they visited on vacation or reminds them of a famous artist who's work they can't afford. But there are people who care about experiencing something new. I know, because I'm one of them.

Anyway, this is the old Henderson potato house once again, this time in warm reds, yellows and oranges, with some purples and teals and greys thrown in....for anyone who cares.

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