Saturday, December 24, 2016

Point of View: Eye of the Artist

Does your child like to draw and paint? I don't mean fingerpainting, though yes, we all start there. I'm talking about putting thought into drawings or paintings that show an artistic talent.

I'm asking because of a discussion about photography versus paintings that I won't go into here (not the point!) I'm really thinking about how we respond to paintings, how we talk to kids about art and how they and we decide when something IS art.

It's subjective (and maybe that IS the point) but you don't have to be art critic, I think, to know when there's real thought behind the painting you're looking at. How do museum curators decide such things? How do critics, for that matter?

When I look at a painting, I want to see more than skill. I'm looking for a particular point of view that the artist is trying to show me. (If they don't have a point of view, then it won't come through and I don't think I'd care about the painting). 

For example, the work of  Alberto Giacometti. (Check out his painting Caroline.) I discovered him in college and then decided he was exactly what an artist should be. His work made you stop, think, look again. It carried his emotional response to what he was seeing and then elicited an emotional response from the viewer (or at least, this viewer).

I guess painting starts with learning it as a craft - but if someone really wants to be artist, they will then need to add their own personal and passionately felt emotional overlay - like Salvador Dali. In fact, Dali felt you needed to train classically as a painter and then add your own point of view.

That's what I would tell my son if he was interested in painting. It's what I tried to tell him about singing, and what I look for in any artist - whether they are a singer, writer, composer or painter.

Point of view isn't everything. But I believe it makes or breaks what you create. That's why I've tried to give a point of view to Ruby's artist mother Nell in The Beat on Ruby's Street.

And though I usually include some articles from experts here, I'm not going to with this one. Because art is too precious to trust to experts. It needs, in the end, to be ours.