Thinking more about why we do art and what, if anything we are trying to say. It strikes me that there are times when I am just looking for something to paint for the sole reason that I feel like painting. In that situation any interesting object will do. Other times the sketch is driven by the moment, capturing it is a means of experiencing the time and place more fully, as well as a memento for the future. Neither of these would fall under the category of having a message, other than revealing my tastes.
Here are two sketches I did this week that captured a moment. One was at the Red Cork in Mukilteo. I was waiting to pick Tricia up at her bus stop so we could go to Cabernets & IPA’s for dinner. The other is of turtles sunning themselves on a log at Golden Gardens Park on Shilshoe Bay in Seattle. (Check out Tricia’s Travels Through My Lens)
Often though an artist is a revealer, an illustrator, illuminator, or they cast a spotlight on the world. We put thoughts and events into pictures that do in fact have a message in them by the emphasis we make.
If you look at the classic painters they illuminate an event in a way that is introspective, causing us to react to the scene. Here are two very different styles, both stir very different emotions.
The first is Rembrandt’s “The Prodigal Son.” The sensitive forgiveness is clear in the fathers face, the skeptical onlookers, all challenge us to consider how forgiving we are to others. The son himself reminds us of the times we need forgiveness and acceptance.
Picasso was so angered by the destruction of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War that he painted “Guernica.” He said of the painting, “Painting is not done to decorate apartments, it is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.” Even today it is hard to look at the painting and not be moved by the evil of war.
The horrible destruction of our forests through fires and the clear-cut logging of old growth forests has been on my mind of late. That was the motivation behind two pieces I did this week. My goal was to create an image that would move people to grasp a bit of what we are doing to the planet as we move at a snails pace to address global warming, a pace that ensures its destruction
So I have adjusted my thinking: yes artists may have a message, or they may just be capturing a moment.