Which Art Wins?

How do we measure what is good art?

Above you’ll see examples of my art: a watercolor, an acrylic landscape, an acrylic abstract, and a realistic oil portrait. No, I’m not asking you to vote on my artwork but to think about how we measure art.

Here is an interesting excerpt from a book I’m reading titled, The View From the Studio Door, by Ted Orland.

“In academia it’s considered a virtue to frame questions that yield clear, concise and demonstrably correct answers-answers that remain a constant no matter who responds to the question. But equally, there exists another entire universe of questions in which the answer changes as each new person engages the question. Questions that introduce value judgments and shades of meaning and degrees of certainty into the equation engage entire fields of human endeavor that fit poorly (if at all) within the prevailing educational framework. Like the arts, for instance. You can measure to a clear, concise and objective certainty the color of the sky above your head-but what is the color of the sky inside your mind? For Maxfield Parrish the correct answer was a cerulean blue; for Albert Ryder it was midnight black; for Beethoven is was F major. Making headway in the arts is a process of navigation without numbers. How do you measure what is Good? What happens when there are many correct answers to a given question? And what happens when some of those answers are profound, others superficial? Or when some are intellectually abstract, others searingly personal?

Those are not-pardon the pun-academic questions. If a roomful of students all arrived at the identical (and demonstrably correct) answer to a math question, it would be exemplary. But if those same students answered an artistic question by producing a roomful of identical paintings, something would be terribly wrong. Indeed, if the only things that counted were the things you could count, Haydn would clobber Beethoven 106-9 in the symphony playoffs, and the Museum of Modern Art would hang street banners declaring Whoever Paints the Biggest Picture Wins.”

Well, Mr. Orland said it well. Our opinion of any given artwork is subjective. My opinions, too.

WEEK ONE: 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Hi There, my REALLY good friends. I call you “REALLY” good because you are kind (or bored?) enough  to be interested in my art and how I do it! Thanks for joining the ride. I love to talk and have found it frustrating if I cannot tell others ALL about my latest painting and how it came to be…along with all the suffering I had to go through to get that color on a surface. Grin! You may find more than you want to know, but you can always scroll down and hope to find something a little more interesting.

My mentor (the artist friend who created the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge), said if we know we’ll miss a day out of the studio, to do the painting ahead of time and not to feel guilty. She said that is not cheating, just “being organized.” So I got organized and painted #1 the last day of August, right before the September challenge began. We spent the next three days visiting our youngest Grandson at college in San Antonio. Great fun! But when I got home I had to do two paintings in one day. I sincerely hope I don’t have to do that again soon. I mentioned to David that back in my commercial art days working in an art studio, I would have thought nothing of being told to do two works of art in a day, sometimes after lunch. Hummmm! What’s the difference? Maybe I’ll figure that out and change my expectations.

So here we go! Painting #1

Painting #1

Painting #1 “Taking A Break-Sightseeing in Rhodes” 8″ x 10″ oil on museum quality panel.

This is a warm-up sketch. Sometimes it helps before starting a painting.

This is a warm-up sketch. Sometimes it helps before starting a painting.

After the warm-up sketch was completed, I continued.

oil sketch #1 with laptop in view

My photo references are on my laptop making it easy to move around to the best place or angle.  This photo shows my preliminary oil sketch.

#1 begin color

Adding color.

AC takes over my art stool graphicThis is what happens when I stand up to step back and take a look at my progress. I prefer to sit as I paint.

#1 a little more color

A little more color. At this point I stopped to do a lot of thinking about how to progress. I wasn’t completely happy so far. David (my husband) has a very good eye for painting  and gave me his advice. I went back to the easel and tried his suggestions. They worked.

Painting #3-"Rhodes Old Town" 6" x 6" Acrylic on museum quality panel.

Painting #3-“Rhodes Old Town” 6″ x 6″ Acrylic on museum quality panel.

Painting #3

By the time I started painting “Rhodes Old Town” I was pretty tired and painted with a lot more speed and abandon. Maybe that is a good idea….speed and abandon…not being worn out. Remember, I took this challenge to get looser with my painting.

2-Breakfast on the Isles-RhodesPainting #2

“Breakfast in the Isles-Rhodes” 6″ x 6″ acrylic on museum quality panel.

Well, this is actually #2 and I don’t know how I managed to get it out of order. But, no matter. This is one of my whimsical painting styles. It’s a lot of fun, and in a way, easier, but I can’t seem to decide to stick with whimsy or try to be more serious with my painting. I even like to switch mediums.

4-Lounging in Lindos, Rhodes

Painting #4

“Lounging in Lindos, Rhodes”   8″ x 10″ Acrylic on museum quality panel.

Is this cat a local or a tourist who is worn out from sightseeing? Either way, he is frazzled. This is one of my whimsical paintings. I have an ongoing discussion with myself about whether I should paint “serious” paintings, or just have fun with whimsy. Today whimsy won out.

5-Blue Window- Rhodes Old Town

Painting #5

“Blue Window-Rhodes Old Town” 12″ x 12″ Acrylic on museum quality panel

This painting took several hours to paint today, but I enjoyed it.

Painting progress-Blue Window

The photos above show you  a little bit of the exciting procedure to create a painting. Grin!

Grapes at Tharri Monastery

Painting #6

“Grapes at Tharri Monastery-Rhodes” 6″ x 6″ Acrylic on museum quality panel.

Well, this little painting took much longer and was more difficult than I anticipated, so I may not get to post a seventh painting until next week. I’ll paint one tomorrow, of course.

An artist friend once said she started from a pink surface. So I gave it a try. Not sure what it accomplished. Some say color shows through other colors.

Hmmm! Can that be true with acrylics?

Start with a pink surface

Library Courtyard-Rhodes Old Town

Painting #7

“Library Courtyard-Rhodes Old Town” 6″ x 6″ Acrylic on museum quality panel

Yay! I did it! Seven paintings in seven days. I had to get an early start this morning to get it done. Now, I want to go to Rhodes.

Please visit my website, http://www.artbyadelebower.com to see many more of my paintings.  Click below.

Thanks for visiting. Meanwhile, I hope you have a great week and I’ll get back to my easel…..tomorrow!

I would love to have your feedback. Please leave a comment!

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