Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Day in the City

"A Day in the City", 10" x 8" watercolor on 140' Daler-Rowney cold-pressed paper
A dangerous thing happened recently.  I got out of the house.

I have been in contact with artists all over the United States and the world by reason of this blog and my life has been enriched beyond measure, as I have said many times before.  And as I reflect at the end of this year and the start of the next, I am forever grateful.

But I decided that it was time to meet local artists as well.

An art museum just 5 minutes from my house provided the opportunity.  The Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in North Miami, began an artists' round-table recently.  Artists meet, talk about their work, share their thoughts, and provide critique.  There have been two in the last two months, and I have attended both.  An excellent moderator, Lark Keeler, provides provocative questions to encourage lively conversation.

After the second session, I left with more questions than answers.

It is apparent that most of the artists are deeply influenced by Art Basel and its satellite art fairs that have been held in Miami for the past several years.  Most are also art-school educated.  I am not.

I have attended Art Basel each and every year as well, though this is the first year I have attended any of the satellite fairs.  At Art Basel, there is, to me, a stark dichotomy between the works that I have been excited to see each year and the cutting-edge contemporary works that encompass much of the fair.  While I am motivated and recharged each year and love seeing what is being done by artists today, I am often totally blown away by the original work of "classic" artists I have seen such as Modigliani, Neel, Freud, Mitchell, Calder, Diebenkorn, Thiebaud, and Hopper.

Although I am sure they feel a part of a continuum of art history, the majority of the artists in the discussion group appear to be wholly fascinated by the contemporary artists - the more cutting edge the better.

I, on the other hand - I can't help it - am suspicious of gimmicks and wary of trends.

Some of the talk surrounded how an artist communicates with his or her audience, whether a back-story of the artist or the artist's intended message enhances or hinders the perception of the art.  Without such a back-story is the audience lost?

I know two people who do not know one another, that attended Art Basel separately that were so unable to comprehend the messages of contemporary artists, that have found the artwork to be at best incomprehensible and at worst ludicrous, that they have said they will not return.

Maybe they are not the intended audience anyway, as they do not have millions to spend.  (I'm being cynical again).  But should art be accessible to only an elite that have an art education?


I find value in and am inspired by enough of the contemporary art that I keep returning.  I am self-taught in art and art history - there are huge gaps, I am the first to admit - I admire skilled works, can often discern what the artist is trying to do, and am broad-minded enough to understand the exploration of and attraction to new mediums.  But I am left mystified and bemused by others.

I brought this up at the talk and after the responses have decided that I am going to make a concerted effort to raise my level of understanding of contemporary art.  Maybe you can call this a new year's resolution, I don't know.  I think it is just part of the process of exploration.  I have the will to learn.  A wary part of me wonders - am I trying to be part of the elite?


When my turn came, I showed them the picture "Around the Corner" in my post found here and I frankly had trouble understanding the reaction. I believe that overall they thought it was well-done in every part, but lacked significance, a clear message, a unique visual statement. The moderator kept showing how the picture would look cropped in various ways, the message being, perhaps, that there was too much to see and that I needed more focus. Maybe that was the idea - I'm not sure I understood completely.

Do not misunderstand me, I believe that all that was said was in the spirit of helping me to grow and explore, and the feeling in the room was excitement from the sharing and observations.  I share that feeling.

I just can't help but feel that if I were in Portland, for example, what would be valued would be completely different.  There is a vibrant art community there, and does the fact that Art Basel, showing the top galleries of the world, sees it differently, diminish that art?  I tend to doubt it.

In any event, I liked the idea to focus on each element of my picture.  I also liked the encouragement to be more creative in my representation.  I have felt this urge myself.  If I wanted to be a photographer, I'd be carrying a camera instead of paints.

So I returned to the same location in South Miami and sketched the distant building that first attracted me to the scene - but I tried to grab only the key parts, and then the mere suggestion of selected other parts.  I decided to do a more abstract piece, using the scene only as a starting point.  And "A Day in the City" is the result.

I would be very interested in your ideas on anything that I have said.  I think it will be some time until my thoughts are unmuddled.  But this is part of growth, I think.  (I hope.)

Oh, and one other thing.  I am thinking that maybe this small piece will be better as a diptych than as a single work.  There is a different feel about each side.  What do you think?  Here it is, "virtually" divided in two, with an inch off the bottom, so that it will be two 5" x 7" works (approximately, as I had left a small margin around the edges of the full picture - don't know if it would screw up the framing process to do this).  So, what do you think?

Thanks!  And a Very Happy New Year to you and yours..

53 comments:

  1. We need to constantly bring new ideas and creativity into our work and not stay in one place, the round table sounds good. I'm self-taught and often feel perhaps I'm missing something in my way of thinking but you can have good & bad art at any level and having an art education doesn't automatically make you 'great'. In general I am wary of 'jumping on the band wagon' and following trends.
    However I love this new watercolour and style and would stick with the original version, you can always paint another as a diptych?
    Happy New Year Dan & happy painting!

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    1. I completely agree with everything you have said. Thanks Cathy! I plan on still attending the group - I like being challenged on fundamentals but that is quite another thing from abandoning them. I am certainly not ready to do that. Besides, my abstracts are circa 1950 and are hardly cutting edge. I will explore for the purpose of understanding and incorporating. I will not follow any trend, but will stick to my own instincts. And a very Happy New Year to you!

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  2. Dan, I loved this post. And to tell you the truth, I like your original AND the diptych. But maybe the diptych better, since I love to work in series myself, for the continuity of thought.

    About meeting with other artists: yes I do this at a local artist group, too, and am often quietly dismayed at the lack of adventuresome spirit in some of them, who seem not to grasp that their art is not about doing what they've seen before. On the other hand, I am not a fan of gimmick,either, and there's plenty of that around in the art scene.

    I think those of us who've put our art education together themselves -- I studied with some great artists, and took a lot of coursework, all my own choice depending on what materials I wanted to learn -- are more untrammeled in our approach than art school graduates. At least I like to think so! I wouldn't say I was self taught though, since I learned so much from the teachers I chose. But I'm interested to see that you and Cathy, both of whom have a wonderful loose style of work, are not art school products. Ha! this proves my point...

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    1. Boy those two hands are tough, aren't they? I never want to do what has been done before. But, as I argued to the group - isn't there a progression that can take place in representational painting too? I believe so. And I tried to do it in "Around the Corner" by using parts of buildings, rather than one, and placing a light pole smack dab in the middle of the canvas. I thought I was daring until my explanation fell on wholly deaf ears. But they wear their glasses and I wear mine. And thank you for calling my work loose!! Happy New Year, Boud, and thanks for visiting. :)

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  3. Hey Dan! I love this painting....! I like it both as a whole and/or as two paintings...though if you did it as two paintings the one on the right has an element directly in the middle. One of those compositional "rules" (that can be broken). I guess for that reason I'd lean toward keeping it as one. I like how it is a blend of representational and abstract and the colors and design are great.

    I am glad you are getting out to meet other artists-it IS a slippery slope, however, because allllll those nice people are also your competitors and it doesn't matter if it is Portland or Miami..some of them are going to be cool and sincere helpful and others are going to be competitive and jealous. I think the experience of being with other artists is so valuable and yet you do have to gird your loins...because it can irk you and/or flatter you and on and on. You must decide each and every time someone critiques your work whether or not you find merit in what they said. It is an art itself to be able to engage with other (in real life) artists. You can find people who are open and helpful....and also the opposite. You do have the added feature of the influence of Basel! Heady stuff!

    Your entire post indicates you've thought it through really well. Keep going to the meetings and remember men like you admire did have other artists to engage with, but they also worked alone. It's a balance. Don't ever worry about the lack of traditional art school. I agree with commenter Boud..art school is often NOT a good thing. One final thought, you might find kindred spirits in a plein air or sketch group. But...I am biased that way.

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    1. Thanks, Celeste! What a wonderfully thoughtful comment! You have burst my Portland bubble - my fantasy of Nirvana is shattered! ;) Very interesting observation, and I will keep it all in mind. Of course, I have no competitors yet, because I have yet to market my work. But that day will come.

      I plan on continuing to attend the meetings. I was a bit intimidated by the group in week 2, by reason of the art school-trained artists, so I appreciated your comment about traditional art school.

      I joined a plein air group. It had a competition (which I decided I was not ready to attend), and then I waited for other events..and nothing happened. I definitely want to do plein air. There are some other opportunities out there as well - I will keep my eyes open. Thanks! Happy New Year!

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  4. This is a great post Dan, and while reading this I was saying "yes, I know that" "oh yeah been there"... I also feel very enriched by my fellow artists I have meet through blogging and emails, and I enjoy the friendship tremendously.
    But going to other art groups where I meet other artists face to face, is also something I enjoy... But I also have some times a very hard time with some of them, meaning like you the once I have gone to have chritique nights and we share our work. And those once can be a hit or miss, all depends on who is in the crowd at the time. I noticed many times that many people are afraid to say what they really think and or it can be also that they dont understand the whole concept of a piece (or its not what they like, or its not their style)... One time, two of us brought abstract pieces, but the guest speaker who's an artist and she was doing the critique that night (she paints in WC and flowers and landscapes). She clearly did not like abstract and also has no interest in it, so she had a very hard time to critique and it was clear she did not like abstract or even understand it... but all plant subjects no matter how they were made, got two thumbs up.

    I totally think that everyone who wants to do art should do it, education or not.... And really, getting educated in art comes in so many different forms, schools, groups, books or self thaught. Just because one has a paper stating the art school and training does not make one as one. Many super talented artists have no schooling behind them at all, and I think its all about passion, will, drive and believeing. I went to art school, and I learned a lot, but I feel that my own style and likes I learned by trying out on my own, finding my style and playing with it... In short Have fun with it.

    I keep going to groups and meetings, and I enjoy some, learn some and share some... Art is about what you see, and how it makes you feel.

    I trully enjoyed this post, and Im glad to see Im not the only one who comes back from a meeting with more qestions or wonder. I love abstract, and this painting of you'rs is very interesting and the flow it has between the colours and the shapes. I like it both in whole and in two, but it would be fun to see the two but just switched around (left to right and so on). It has great light and texture.

    Thank you for a fantastic friendship Dan!! And I hope you and your family the very best of the new year.

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    1. I so appreciate your comment, Mari, because it is good for me to know that my experience is a shared one. [Funny story about the plant paintings! :)] I have passion and drive, I think - it is mostly a compulsion. I need to do art. First there was passion. Now there is compulsion. That gives me drive. I believe it is what is keeping me sane, if I am to tell the truth. I know that art school is a starting point. I have read enough to know that schooling in itself is not enough. But the knowledge and experience of using different mediums, with some guidance, would be nice. But I agree it is not necessary.

      It is interesting what you say about switching the diptych - I will consider it, for sure. Of course the funny thing is that the drawer, where my work ends up, doesn't care. I know nothing about framing. I am grateful for our friendship as well, as I said at your blog, very grateful -- Happy New Year to you and your family too!

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  5. I really enjoy all your posts, Dan, and this one is really thought provoking. I don't have anything to add, although I really want to see what others make of your experiences at the art fair in Miami. I love your work, and like too the vibrancy of this abstract version of the same scene (I like the diptych idea.) And I would love to hear from artists in other towns if their own experiences are the same. But learning from the wonderful online community, I have picked up from all of you that whilst stretching and always seeking to grow, there is always the essential kernel of integrity, which for each artist will be different. You and most of the people I 'meet' on line have that in spades, and it seems right to prize that and hold it fast whilst pushing other doors and seeing where you end up. As a musician, there is something of the issues relating to contemporary work in contemporary composition - just without the millions :). Anyway, haven't contributed anything to your debate, just registering interest, and support as always for your artistic path, which we are all grateful for you sharing.

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    1. I would love to hear about the issues in contemporary work regarding music, although I can imagine it. In classical for example, if everyone is going to be John Cage, there is no room for Vivaldi. Same thing. Interesting comparison. See? You did contribute to the debate! And I am glad you found value in this post. Thanks!

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  6. You did well in pushing yourself. Maybe you'll want to continue in that direction, maybe not. At lease you can now make a balanced decision. Yes, a lesson for all of us.

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    1. When I started this blog, it was a small step that reaped huge rewards. I have not forgotten. I am prone to stay in my comfort zone life-wise (though not art-wise - I am anxious and willing to try new things). It was the memory of that step that made me take the step of going to these meetings. I will add to my knowledge, and the hope is that my art will be enriched thereby, and that I won't be a carbon-copy of anyone! Thanks, and Happy New Year!

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  7. This is beautiful! I love it.. :) hugs

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    1. Thanks Mari - I've seen you challenge yourself in many ways too, and I'm glad you like it. Hugs to you! :)

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  8. Without reading all of the other comments, I'd like to respond. I hate intellectual discussions on art with other art school trained (big deal) artists. They're too intellectual--lots of high-faluten gobbledygook to screw up your mind and make you doubt what drives you to make art.

    For a while I was like that. I went to art school. I am educated in art history. And I participated in those discussions. After a time, I came to a conclusion: I think I was a better, more original artist before I did all that training and thinking. Thinking is a killer Dan.

    Your original painting is terrific. The two that followed after your critique by learned colleagues are just as terrific--not any more terrific, but the same terrific as the original. (I think they are two separate paintings. Each can stand on its own). These people just tell you what they would do if they were painting that city scene--well that's them and you are you. You painted your painting according to your experience of the city. Let them paint the city as they experience it.

    For a while I liked and tried abstraction, but the paintings were shallow in my estimation. They were so far removed from subject, they lost--I lost, their meaning. I discovered I couldn't separate myself from the subject. It was the subject that got me to pick up the brush and respond to it however I did. I need something in the art to hold on to. Your cityscapes have that something. Push them further and the something will dissipate.

    A lot of contemporary art I think is on a par with The Emperor's New Clothes." The paintings are naked. If you don't read some sort of text, the artist's theories, his poems, his title along side of it, you have no clue as what he was thinking if anything. For all you know, the nothing he painted is the nothing he has to say and he's actually a talentless boob probably represented by some gallery owner looking to discover the newest art movement. (Basil is full of those). Well, there are no new art movements.

    You can probably tell I feel very strongly about not getting too chummy with intellectual artists who paint with their minds instead of what moves them. I don't trust them. I trust me and my reactions to the world around me as I painted my reaction. My paintings reflect my life, nobody else's.

    The work you've shown here is unusual for you. I find that very interesting. I like this side as much as I like the others. This was a stimulating post, but your sense of humor disappeared after your first sentence. That should tell you something. I'd like it back please. Please don't fall into the pseudo intellectual trap. Artists don't talk. Artists don't write. Artists paint. That's our language. Go to these things with a grain of salt and a bottle of Miralax just in case. Your work will grow as you do the more you work.

    Aside from Barnett Newman and his red field with white stripe, most of the contemporary artists I feel skeptical about are sculptors: Eva Hesse was the first to come to mind, while I was reading your post. Then: Sol Lewitt; Bridget Reilly and the op artists; And the guy who dumped all the dirt in the middle of a stark white museum gallery. As the exhibit was moved to other museums, did the guy dump the same dirt or did he get new dirt? Did he have the same number of yards of dirt in each museum no matter the size of the gallery his installation was to occupy? These are the questions that go through my mind...

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    1. Well, Linda, this is just about the best, most comprehensive, wonderful comment that I believe I have ever - ever - gotten in this blog. Thank you for your heartfelt analysis. I resolve: I will try not to think too hard. :)

      I agree. The abstract was not easy, but I could hammer these out far easier than the representational work. But do I want to? No. It is the refashioning of what I see in representation that excites me. It is the artists that do the same that excite me the most. I do not like photorealism, really, but show me a true artistic vision of a real scene, and I am agog.

      Your point about the Emperor's New Clothes was exactly my point. I raised it at the meeting. And was told, no, I would understand if I allowed myself to take the time to experience it. So I have resolved to see if it is true. And I totally understand that the dealers are marketers first and foremost looking for the next big thing.

      I laughed and laughed at your comment about the sense of humor disappearing after the first sentence! :) It's true, and I will keep that in mind. Very insightful. It will not disappear, I assure you. Nor will my healthy skepticism. Of course I'm a skeptic, my wife says, I'm a Sagittarius!

      Yes. Dirt. Significant questions. Thanks. I get it! I will save the new year's wishes for your next comment. ;)

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    2. "For a while I was like that. I went to art school. I am educated in art history. And I participated in those discussions. After a time, I came to a conclusion: I think I was a better, more original artist before I did all that training and thinking. Thinking is a killer Dan."

      I'm afraid I disagree Linda. I am also art school trained and studied art history. I believe I am a better artist for having been taught the basics, having the opportunity to experiment and studied what had gone before. Yes thinking can lead to self-doubt especially when we compare oursleves to what is being shown around us, but that happens whether we've been to art college or not.

      Dan your point about the backstory is a good one. I went to a talk by Lamia Joreige and afterwards saw her installations in Tate Modern and the backstory did help make sense of her art. I still didn't like it, but could understand it and appreciate why she made it.

      Gimmicks and trends are problematic but great art movements are born from them - eg Impressionists, cubism... I think our role as artists (self taught or college trained) is to be true to ourselves. Maybe experiment with the gimmick if it appeals, ignore it if it doesn't. Like advice we can decide whether to take it or not, or get a 2nd or 3rd opinion.

      Wishing you a happy and inspiring 2013.

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  9. Dan, Dan, Dan... L.W.Roth.. said what I wanted to say only better... because I'm not much of a writer... Don't let those nit-wit art school grads with their no talent dog excrement pop-art change you... you are a talented artist and a thoughtful person. You might want to start or join a Plein Aire group... I tried that here in Charleston... but most of them are painting tiny 4x6 oil paintings... I also joined the artist guild, attended a few events, again... loaded with oil painters... I found the most comradeship from an adult education class taught in the evenings at the high school very cheap... like $80 bucks for a 10 week class. Patience and persistence Dan, just keep painting... do what makes you happy... and stay you...

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    1. Hah! "nit-wit art school grads with their no talent dog excrement pop art" - my god! You say you're not a writer?! What would those folks think if they read these comments!! LOL.

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    2. I'm upset reading that. Not everyone can be labelled because of a few.

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  10. Hi Dan, I liked your top version just fine; it works better for me than the split out version.

    Oh how fun to go to Art Basel! It's great to read about your experiences with Art Basel and the discussion group. I applaud your idea of trying to learn more about contemporary art.

    I grew up in an artist family, surrounded by books on modern art up to the '50s artists. I grew to like Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro, Klee, Braque, Chagall as well as the artists you mention. Isn't a Calder mobile a treat to look at? So, when I decided to embark on my own personal study of art, I thought I'd seek out contemporary art. I subscribed to ArtNews magazine, Art in America, etc. I looked at pictures, read articles, looked for books. There is much that leaves me cold and much that I admire, often for purely intuitive reasons. I figure the art that leaves me cold may appeal to me at a later date, who knows.

    I will say this, I found the best way for me to learn about contemporary art, was to explore a contemporary approach to drawing and painting, ie. non-objective abstract. I certainly found out how difficult it is. I also found out how profoundly personal the visual statement (painting) can be. I can't say I made any kind of splash in the abstract, contemporary art world, but I certainly learned.

    Isn't this drawing and painting world fun? I look forward to reading about what you discover!

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    1. Hi Peggy! I thought of you as I did this. I was thinking that what I was doing was exactly what you do - abstracting real objects. It is quite an endeavor, and expanding for sure. Basel was great. It is always great. I look forward every year to going. All of the artists you mentioned - all of them - were at Basel. I didn't mention them because I was only discussing the artists that primarily have inspired me. The funny thing is that these are also "classic" artists, hung with the impressionists in perhaps two or three galleries. All of the rest, with some exceptions, is contemporary. Still, Art Basel is astounding, captivating, inspiring, etc... many more adjectives, and I love every part of it. Even the sculpture of the pig that is a radio.

      I used to subscribe to ArtNews and Art in America too, btw. Now I am thinking of subscribing to Art Pulse, which features interviews with cutting-edge artists, so I can learn.

      Calder. I had seen Calder beforr and always admired the beauty and engineering skill. But this year a gallery devoted a space to one silent, contemplative mobile - it was completely isolated - showcased with no distraction. It was a revelation. Loved it.

      Yes, yes, yes! I love art and painting world. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks! And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

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  12. I've been considering the diptyck idea. I agree that the two should be flipped--the painting on the left should be on the right. That way the yellow will carry the eye and join the two, but I would frame them together with a two window mat. The paintings are small. Framed together with an 1 1/2" border around and between would make an effective presentation.

    Sorry I ran off at the keyboard. But I am really turned off most of the folks I meet at these art chat symposiums. The talkative ones are too full of themselves.(Only mingle with the quiet ones). I'd rather talk to the artists I meet at workshops and in classes. I did enjoy getting out of the house and taking those courses at the art association, but there were still good ole boys/gals, artists who voluntarily work on committee or in the office or make regular contributions, who get preferential treatment when it comes to juried shows. What does that say about their work in those exhibits? Is it good art or are we seeing the work of people who are ass kissers? There, I've done it again. I must really have a hard on.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, a two window mat is what I would do. I need to learn more about framing.. I've yet to frame anything I've done.

      Don't be sorry - great, great comment!! Makes me feel like I've really spurred discussion! Interesting what you say about the juried shows too.

      LOL - your last remark in this comment, though, even spooked Hallie! :)

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  13. Well, I hate to follow Linda's last sentence but here goes. I join you in your muddleness--I'm torn between "A Day in the City' and "Around the Corner." If I hung Around the Corner on my wall my guests would think "Nice work--I like it." If I hung A Day in the City on my wall, my guests would think "Nice work--Hallie must know something about art that I don't." From what I've read about Art Basel, patrons buy based on critics' reviews, for investment, and to outdo their friends.

    I think you need to paint what pleases or challenges you--and that will change over the years. Take all advice with a grain of salt, even mine. Happy New Year.

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    1. You know, you are so right. I think I need to aim my arrow (with apologies to Linda, and to you) somewhere in between.

      Thanks Hallie! Happy New year!

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  14. Shirley Levine wrote:

    Very interesting blog post and something I've been thinking about this past week.

    Last Sat, on the last day of the previews, I went to see the new Abstract Expressionism exhibit at MoMA. The artists represented were the giants of the past - as this new direction was happening for art worldwide. As I walked around I was uninspired and for the most part, uninterested. However, I really do like some abstract art - we have ones that I adore in our apartment. But what was it that I loved when we bought them and why did only 3 artists in the MoMA exhibit "speak to me?"

    I feel as if I need to spend the next year asking myself this question regularly. Was it the composition? The colors? The hint of something representational? None of the above? All of the above?

    I will follow your musings with interest - and have to say that I love the side by side halves of your painting. But I also liked the full page.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Hi Shirley - thank you! How interesting. I feel the same way. The originals of certain abstract expressionists get me almost every time: Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning come to mind. I love Richard Diebenkorn and have a book of his art, but amazingly I have always been underwhelmed by the original pieces when I have seen them. And it's true. I like what I like, and the rest .. well. That is why I am never (well, almost never) disappointed if someone doesn't like something I do. It is so very personal. I've never thought to analyze it. I'm not sure I want to. Thank you. :) Happy New Year!

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  15. Beth Berman wrote:

    definitely one unit. Very nice!!

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    1. Thank you Beth!! I appreciate your opinion. (I'll have to tally the votes -- and then toss them away and make up my own mind! Gulp.) Happy New Year!

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  16. Hi Dan! I've been pondering this for a day and want to give some thoughts. But I do not want at all to set myself or my opinions in the same manner as artists who wish to give critique. Please know that this is born out of my own journey as an artist, a self-taught artist, who has, at times, desperately wanted to be "excellent" at what she does, whether it is classical drawing in charcoal or abstracted shapes and colorwork. You name so many of my favorite artists as well! And I have gone through my share of paper and canvas in searching for how to paint and draw like them. ALL of it, all the exploration, all the time spent in classes or drawing groups listening and learning from other artists has ALL gone into who and what I am right now. I am still exploring and learning, so the journey continues. But here's where I've landed. As you arre a part of these kinds of things, you will begin to hear ( and you are already hearing it!) YOUR OWN VOICE AS AN ARTIST!!! The times I have come away from a critique or a class and I am feeling repulsed by what they said, or confused, or rankled, or whatever...this has proven to shape what it is I myself want to be about in art. For me, I do not appreciate having to sqeeze, mash, constrict, chop, my creative vision to fit someone else's vision or opinion. For instance, the pressure to have an emotional element in a piece....well, that's just hooey. I firmly believe that when you are dawing/painting what you want and love, that emotional element will be there. As you grow in your creative ability, your VOICE will grow stronger in being able to express that emotion. After years of feeling a bit like a pinball machine, bouncing around differrent styles of art trying to find "me", I realized that I simply love to draw. That's it. And if that drawing is a simple line, or a charcoal portrait, or a watercolor painting, or a pastel plein aire, then ok. But my voice is just to draw. Draw my life, what I love and experience in my life. This might take the form of abstract colors being thrown around on a page or a canvas. Or it might take the form of one liner drawing. Etc. So my point is this: Everything you have posted on. your blog, whether someone deems it "good" or "bad", "cluttered" or "unfocused" is very Dan-like. Take joy in knowing that your VISION is coming through and will continue to as you keep drawing and painting. I used to wish I had an art degree. I have met many artists who do have this education stamp of expertise. Most of them are locked into specific and particular ways of how it must be done and I do not wish to be like this. I want to be free to express my vision as an artist in whatever way I would like, faults and all!!! You are free Dan! Free to pursue contemporary art and all that it has to offer you, free to crop or not to crop, free to paint and draw who you see. it. So my thoughts about the painting are that it does hold together as a whole piece. I say this because, even though therer is a. lot going on in the painting, my eye is led around the painting by specific elements. Yet the two cropped diptych images a beautiful as well, and provide two simpler images that allow the viewer to revel in the colors and shapes individually. This is my UNeducated art opinion. Indeed this entire comment is merely my two cents worth!, Take from it what is helpful, leave the rest behind! That last bit is a good way to approach any critique or class setting. Many cheers and blessings to you on your journey of finding and clarifying your vision!

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    1. Jennifer, I am just amazed at the quality of responses for this post, and you are no exception. I do want to be excellent at what I do - you hit the nail on the head. There may even be a certain desperation about it. I am not concerned about my voice, but I am concerned about how to use it and how well I use it. I agree after my session with all of my online therapists, that pressure for any style, or the exclusion or inclusion of any element is "hooie". I also believe that sincerity in work will come through if I have the proper tools to express it. Thank you for saying that my vision is coming through for you, and that I am indeed free! I know what you are talking about, and I have seen works that seem so completely academic. But I have also seen that the quality of many schooled artists is so high, and that they have the opportunity to be at least introduced to many techniques - possibly the one that could be the key for me. That is part of what I wonder about. I am not yet where you are in that respect. Thank you for your cheers. Thank you for your blessings. It is really nice to know that I have them. Happy New Year! To finding and clarifying vision in art!! Woohoo!

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  17. Dan, I really thank you for your original post, which gave rise to this terrific chorus of voices in art!

    And reminded me of one last thing: the house of art has many rooms, and we can love some forms without disparaging others. No need to boost our own opinions by trashing some forms we don't like/get. I've found (I'm quite old now) that forms I really despised years ago have come to seem a lot more valuable with the passage of time, my time, that is. Every time we encounter an artwork, we are a different person from the person who last saw and experienced it. What we take away from an artwork may very well be what we brought to it! just a thought...

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    1. Boud - no, thank you. I am blown away by the chorus of voices in response to this post. Thank you for your summary - it is so true, and fitting conclusion to our discussion. Thanks for both of your fine comments!

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    2. Boud - no, thank you. I am blown away by the chorus of voices in response to this post. Thank you for your summary - it is so true, and fitting conclusion to our discussion. Thanks for both of your fine comments!

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  18. First, I want to say how much I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your work. You are interesting (and interested), your art is original and unique, and very well done. As for this post, as I was reading it I was reminded of an exhibit of "modern/contemporary art" at the Detroit Institute of Arts quite awhile ago. One of the pieces was nothing but a urinal hanging on the wall! There was a little group of people standing around it going on and on about how original, thoughtful, illustrative of today's social climate, et cet, ad nauseum. I was standing a bit away from them listening and laughing as quietly as I could. I love many of the same artists you do and I am amazed at the infinite ways we all view and interpret the world around us. I really like your two paintings and I so admire the way you are willing to push your own limits. That's something that's hard for me to do. You give me courage. nancy

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    1. I am so glad. Have courage, Nancy, because you have something to build upon certainly. I love your story. It's a riot. I wonder if it isn't a bit of "the Emperor's New Clothes". People are too much. And you are right, it is wonderful that there are so many folks with their varied perspectives. And we can laugh at some of them if we want. Hah! Happy New Year!

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  19. Well ... I'm not an artist,Dan, although I'm called one. I only use the term when I'm marketing my 'products' or furnishing my blog because it is the only term people recognise.

    As you know, I'm pen & ink centred; I take my inspiration from people like the Brit (Swedish really) Axel Herman Haig and the American John Taylor Arms. I admire them so much that I study their techniques and their Points of Views. One day, and I'm leaving it a little late, I hope to be better than them. Now if what they did was 'art' then I am producing art, if they are artists - then I am, but that is just a coincidence.

    That I draw architecture in great detail, which reflects the 19th century rather than the 21st, does not mean I don't appreciate, say, abstract. However, for a abstractionist to tell me to become more creative, is inappropriate. That other artists tried to advise me on how I should draw I would find annoying, unless I asked.

    My work sells, and so 'Joe-Public' does seem to like it, and they fund my progression... but I'm not doing it to impress the client or the critics.

    So what I think I'm saying is, do your thing! There is no wrong way! If you want critique, then that's OK! If you want to do your thing - do it!! If one wishes to produce garbage and call it the ultimate in modern art, and the world takes heed, good luck!

    I always like your stuff, Dan... and it does annoy me when I can see that you have taken a painting from 'A' to 'Y' as you have above, and someone tells you to go onto 'Z'. Heck, the bloody cheek!

    Happy New Year, buddy, look forward to sharing 2013 with you!

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    1. Thanks so much! I like the freedom your comment gives me, and you are absolutely right. You, John, are an artist, and a great one. If it is true that someone would not call what you do art, that is their failing, not yours.

      I have only one question. What on earth does "Heck, the bloody cheek!" mean? You British.. :)

      Happy New Year to you, and I certainly feel the same - look forward to visiting you in 2013!

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    2. (chuckle)yeah! loose translation, "Hell, what a f****** self-opinionated w****r!" to presume they know better about your work than you do.

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  20. These look awesome Dan! I love how you are doing something out of the norm, and I really like this approach. Meeting other artists sounds fun, something I hadn't have the time nor courage to do yet... I guess I don't think my presence worthy of others' precious time, but perhaps someday when I engineering work is not taking all my energy during the day anymore, I'd be able to get out and meet people! Happy New Year Dan!

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    1. You are worthy..you are worthy. No question about it. Happy New Year Alex!

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  21. Jane Young said: I really enjoyed reading your commentary about meeting local artists. I'm not so enthralled by abstract art but my husband (the photographer) thinks that contemporary art stimulates his imagination. He's also an actor, writer, and furniture restorer. I think it's exciting that
    you were curious enough to see what other artists, like you, are up to. We have something like that in Kansas City. It's called Artists Anonymous. I have to admit I haven't looked in to it. Maybe I will since you wrote about your experience.I also wanted to say I really liked your abstract painting with lots of wet-into-wet. Very nice effect. Hope you have a Happy New Year.

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    1. Thanks Jane! Happy New Year to you! When you go, be prepared for a ride, it's really something. Very exciting, a little nerve-racking, fun, and as you read, it kind of shook me to my core. Your Husband sounds like a fascinating guy - wow, so cool. I hope the both of you have wonderful new year.

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  22. No comment on the whole contemporary art thing...But I love your painting! And yes, it should be a diptych! The two large buildings compete in the original painting and work fine alone.

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    1. Thank Yevgenia for your input - glad you like it!

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  23. I really get what you are saying about wanting to move your work on as I feel my work is incredibly light weight and almost twee... no hidden meanings, intent.... who knows, sometimes it is as much as I can do to get a piece to look at all "painterly" but guess what, despite all this I just love to paint, I want to paint all the time and when I'm not painting I'm thinking about it, am a paintholic so where is the little niche for people like me, yes I strive and yearn to improve, to push and challenge myself, to try different things but I really don't want this feeling of not being worthy and never quite making it to stop my love of what I am doing because that is the most important part, the sheer love and thrill of holding the brush and slapping the paint on. Just because I may not achieve great heights of meaning and emotion in my work to fit on with the "establishments" view of what is worthy, doesn't mean I don't have a place and even a right to have my work assessed with regard to my abilities and level of development.

    I am working on the principle that as I learn more technically about how to paint and the handling becomes second nature, it will free part of part of my brain to then allow the creativity to surface ... I also play music as I paint again in the hope of activating that elusive right side of my brain. The other thing I recognise is that my level of development, emotionally and technically only allows me to assimilate information at that level and a little beyond, and so patience is the key... to know that it is a journey we are on, a journey which may take lots of twists and turns as we explore different areas, a journey which if we're lucky will never end and which will enrich our lives along the way at whatever level we find ourselves. My only two goals are that I continue to grow and enjoy!!

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    1. You echo my sentiments exactly. I just love the act of painting itself. And like you when I am not painting I am thinking about it. I am so addicted. I will take what you say to heart, keep it simple - grow and enjoy. I will try to be patient, I will. Thanks!

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  24. Don't ever be afraid of knowledge!
    Hope to see you soon!
    Lark

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    1. Thanks, Lark, for visiting - I hope you enjoyed all of these comments as much as I did. You started it all! lol. I am never afraid of knowledge. I want to learn, well, everything! My fear is more of not utilizing my knowledge in the best possible way. I have to concentrate on the joy I get from drawing and painting, and set any such fear aside. I need to trust that the exploration will take me where I need to go. Thank you for helping to expand my mind. It's been so great to see what other artists are doing and thinking. I will see you at the next meeting for sure!

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