Sunday, May 16, 2010

Art vs. Art vs. Art

Acrylic on canvas
30" x 48"

I've been doing a fair amount of pondering on the ideas of  "art as psychological or emotional therapy" vs. "art as social, philosophical or political statement" vs. "art as intellectual exercise" vs. "art strictly for commercial purposes" vs. "art strictly for aesthetics," etc. etc.   And how these assorted motivations affect the artist's process of creating the art and the viewer's experience of observing and/or living with the art.  And then interwoven with these ponderings, have been ongoing conversations--both within my head and with others--pertaining to "art" vs. "craft" vs "design".   These ponderings, of course, have been made all the more interesting by the myriad of artists' blogs that I have begun to follow over the past few months, and by the blog "conversations" that I have had along the way.

Most often, my motivation for art is very simply aesthetics, and the results frequently have a graphic bent (although I have no training to speak of in that discipline).  The paintings shown here are really the only pieces that I have produced that were the result of any sort of psychological or emotional motivation.  "Transcendence" above, was painted several months after my mother passed away.  It is full of symbolism pertaining to beaches and deserts, and smooth river rocks and weakening bones; and the process of painting it was very therapeutic for me.  Likewise, "Catherine vs. Katrina"  below, is infused with symbolism; and it literally helped me to come to the decision to allow my daughter to return to New Orleans with the incoming Tulane freshmen, five months after they had evacuated ahead of Hurricane Katrina.

"Catherine vs. Katrina"
Acrylic on canvas
18" x 24"

I should note that I did not begin either of these paintings with any idea whatsoever as to what I was going to paint, and certainly without any intent of "working through issues".   I simply started painting.  But in each case, I was soon painting with a purpose.  

The other night, while catching up on my blog reading, I visited Heather's Studio, where Heather Kirtland had  posted some of her wonderful, abstract BFA paintings as well as some recent work.  And there, I encountered a painting--apparently still in progress, and accompanied by a single explanatory sentence -- that immediately brought tears to my eyes.  It was the posture of the small figure, created with a few deft brushstrokes, that struck the chord.  And so, my ponderings continue....

....and I'd be very interested to know your thoughts on the subject.

[I apologize for the quality of the images.  The horizontal and vertical lines in Transcendence truly are just that.  Also, in the process of attempting to lighten both images in PhotoShop, they became fuzzy and the collaged details of the second painting were totally lost. And...the field of that painting has undertones of yellow ochre rather than grey as appears here. :) ]


lotta said...

Gloria, these paintings are both amazing, and I think they are a perfect example of great art, art that was not conceived out of demand or assumed aesthetic value. Knowing their background makes them even more mesmerizing, but I was drawn to both images immediately, before reading the content of your post.

Thank you for bringing up the topic of art and its intent and purpose. It is a difficult question, and sometimes I think we don't know what the initial intent of a piece is. But these two paintings has convinced me that the best art is when it it speaks directly from the artist's heart. It will always shine through!

Heather Kirtland said...

What beautiful pieces. They are so strong, and yet subtle as well. Thank you so much for sharing. For me I feel It's harder to get across the emotional feelings, for myself. But both of your pieces speak volumes! This community has been so wonderful. As I've read around this weekend there is a lot of pondering in the blog - o - sphere. It's so nice not to feel alone. Thank you!

Gloria Freshley said...

Lotta and Heather,

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments on my paintings and on the topic in general. And yes, this virtual community is wonderful....and I am very happy to have encountered you both here!

betsy best-spadaro said...

hi gloria, ditto to what lotta and heather said...the two paintings you posted are beautiful, but knowing the 'story' behind them make them all the more compelling. the art vs. art vs. art question you pose is interesting indeed. my thinking is: fine art, commercial art, design, craft...the good stuff always comes from the heart and soul of the artist creating it.

Gloria Freshley said...

Hi Betsy,

So nice to find a comment from you and to read your thoughts on the topic. And thank you for commenting on my paintings! I'm hoping we'll get to see some of your newest prints soon!!

holly aka golly said...

Gloria, your paintings are so pure. Aesthetically, they are the perfect distillation of your ideas, your story, and the motivation behind the pieces and yet they stand alone as pure form. Personally, if I have a visceral reaction to a piece of art, it leaves a lasting impression on me and the artist's motivation is secondary.

Laura said...

really interesting. and the paintings are both beautiful and both
hold me and invite me to include my own experiences in their interpretation. much like holly said, my reaction to them becomes primary and is so much of the reason why i love painting and looking at paintings. once your personal intimacy with a piece of work you have made is complete it becomes something else entirely for all who view it. and i do believe that this is true regardless of whatever you are making and for whatever reason you are making it. aesthetics, personal pain, money etc... there have been many instances where i made a piece that i thought was nothing only to find another to respond with such emotion.

Gloria Freshley said...

Hi Laura,

Thank you for your thoughts. I like your thoughts about the intimacy that can exist between the artist and the piece of work while it is being created,vs. the subsequent intimacy that viewers might experience for various reasons. One thing I know for sure....your drawings and paintings have a tremendous feeling of intimacy! And they are so very intriguing. Always nice to find that you have visited....Gloria

P.s. I just discovered your other blog last night!!

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

Hi Gloria,

Your paintings are beautiful! I appreciate your ponderings and the comments of others about art, the making of it and the viewing of it! I have had so many of these same conversations with myself and others over the years. It's odd to me that there are so many divisions and territories within the arts, when for me, it's all one big open field where the delight is in all the cross-over...where are those exact lines that are sometimes drawn between high and low, art, craft, design, illustration, painting, sculpture, etc. etc. The universe is large enough to contain it all, as well as all the things not yet imagined. I am thankful to be an artist and think we are all engaged in a noble pursuit...the visual arts are one of the important markers of a civilization!

Gloria Freshley said...

Well said, Patti! Thank you very much for adding your thoughts to the discussion (and also for your kind comments about my paintings).
My apologies for my delayed response....The new photos of your recent work in your shop and on your blog are wonderful! Bingo!