First there was painting.
Before Photography, painters and their brushes made use of light, composition and color theory to create art.
Then came the controversy about whether Photography could be considered an art form or not. Nowadays, with dedicated museums and the evolution of Photography, there is not so much questioning about Photography being an established visual art.
Nostalgia or traditionalism tend to dismiss new approaches. New ways of seeing the world. “Photography is for those who can’t paint.” Or, “it’s just mastering a machine, not being a master. Nothing but a description of reality.” Wonder what they would say about the digital oil painting filter…
Hey, anyone can paint a blob on canvas too… And unless it is one of my son’s beautiful-to-me kindergarten works, I will probably dislike it.
I define Art as a creative activity and result of expression. Just because something is artistic, it doesn’t mean that I have to like it. The term art does not absolve the piece from being good or bad according to each viewer.
I love going to museums and frankly have been behind in that practice. I need to schedule some visits in the near future. Here in Tampa Bay we have the MoPA, the Dalí, the Tampa Museum of Art and other good options.
But the world has a collection of wonders to offer…
For instance, take “Starry Night”. Years ago, my middle sister and I took my son to New York; it was fun to start seeing art through his eyes. I love doing that, seeing the world through his fresh lenses, one of the joys of motherhood. I particularly enjoy the MoMA and we were glad we stayed in a hotel walking distance from it.
“Starry, starry night…” Don McLean’s soft voice makes the soundtrack for this. Loving this painting may be considered a bit of a cliche, like saying the “Mona Lisa” looks smaller “in person”. After all I have a magnet on my fridge with the image of the masterpiece…
But if I let the snobbism towards cliches deter me from loving something, I’d be succumbing to the world of self-importance. Cliches are born for a reason: they are good things gone “viral”. But that doesn’t diminish the work itself. It may tire you, but it will probably still be essentially good.
But there is always this expectation that you are only erudite enough if you are able to mention the lesser known works, whether they be in music, books, movies or paintings.
Well, for Van Gogh, nothing was a viral cliche back then. “The Red Vineyard”, the only officially recorded painting sold in his lifetime? It’s still mind boggling to me… and it breaks my heart when I think how tormented he must have been. So much beauty and despair in one mind…
“Starry” makes me feel the winds of a warm evening, reminds me of the joy of seeing a bright moon in the sky when I’m driving. And my silent talks to Venus, the diamond in the sky. In my humble opinion, this painting can go both ways: sad and desperate, swirling in thoughts and emotions that are darker at night. Or vivid happiness through the shades of blue contrasting with bright yellow, breathtaking movements of a night covered in astral jewelry.
I played with watercolors and even took a class on Sumi-e, the Japanese watercolor ink painting technique. As my teacher always said, “it’s all about the flow”, with her distinctive Japanese accent. But it’s all just therapeutic to me – just adding images of my paintings in the same post as “Starry” feels sinful.
Art is smart. Chameleonic. It can be transformed from one medium to another without losing its essence: creative expression.
Whatever art form tickles your fancy, don’t forget to include it in your planner. It nourishes the soul, provokes thinking and beautifies the day. Visit a museum, paint or draw something, go to a concert, pick a play, read, write or buy a movie ticket. Just art yourself.
Thanks for reading.