“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like “.This cliché can be an expression that has been said in lots of ways by many people. Knowing what you prefer is an excellent thing…being unknowledgeable is not. I do want to make the case for educating yourself about art in order to better enjoy it. I’ll focus on an event I’d during a painting workshop taught by Donna Watson.
Donna can be an accomplished painter who started her career painting scenes of clapboard houses and the lovely azalea bushes of her Northwestern town near Seattle. She changed her direction to at least one of nonobjective abstracts that may add a small animal skull or birds nest within its mixed media ingredients. She is really a knowledgeable artist and her goal in the workshop was to produce us more knowledgeable artists. One of the exercises she put us through underscored that goal.
Donna grouped us around a projector and told us that people were to assume that people were judges for a nearby art show and would be deciding which paintings submitted by artists would be contained in the show and which ones would be “juried out “.(This is a process utilized in most local and all regional and national shows to insure that the caliber of the show is substantial.) Donna would project a fall of an item of artwork and we would vote with a hand raised if we thought this piece must be included abstract art. Following the voting, we had a short discussion during which people who voted the piece in would express their reasons for including the task and people who voted it out would explain why they thought it should be excluded.
Every piece had its supporters and naysayers, often split 50-50. Then a last slide was shown. It absolutely was a rather mundane painting of a skill studio sink. Every hand went up. For initially we were unanimous in our approval of the piece. That slide was a “ringer “.Donna had inserted among most of the amateur pieces, a little known painting of a world renowned abstract expressionist, Richard Diebenkorn. None folks recognized the work. We’d no idea that it had been by a popular artist, but all of us saw the worthiness of the piece. What was it about this painting that managed to get stand right out of the rest? Why did all of us vote it in?
The band of people “judging” were all amateur artists. We work at creating art. We look at plenty of art. We study art. We are suffering from a palette for recognizing excellence in art. We approached this exercise with at the very least some education about art and our education gave us some common ground where to judge. Allow me to make a comparison from another creative endeavor, winemaking.
I live in wine country. A normal weekend pastime for my husband and I and friends is to visit wineries for tastings. At the wineries, we often receive instruction on what to consider in your wine, just how to smell it and taste it, and how to savor it. We also drink wine often; all kinds of wine, from “two buck Chuck” for some fairly pricey brands. Without even being aware of what we’re doing, we’re educating ourselves about wine. I don’t consider myself as a wine connoisseur; my limited sense of smell probably precludes that avocation, but I’d an event that let me know what I’d gained from my wine tasting experiences.
I opened a jar that had been a home gift, poured a glass, and took a sip as I was preparing dinner. To my surprise, I possibly could taste the oak of the barrel, cherries, and a little pear just as the wine pourers often say. Your wine sang to me. I totally enjoyed it. It’s this that could happen when you look at abstract paintings after you take the time to educate yourself about art. Knowing what goes into a great painting will make that painting sing to you. You will be able to state, “I know something about art, and I know why I know what I like.” My next article will start exploring the necessary ingredients that go into developing a great abstract painting.