Thursday, July 7, 2011

It is Paint and Can We be Friends?

When I was young I didn't understand the phrase artistic license. I thought that it was an excuse for the inability to reasonably reproduce things. Like many young artists I was working on my drawing and painting skills and had no idea what artists that understood the phrase meant by it. When a teacher would try to explain to me that all art is an abstraction from life I would smile politely and think the teacher was either nuts or making up some nonsense.

Now I talk exactly the same way to students and I don't think I have flipped. When critics of Manet's portrait of Emile Zola said the pants didn't look like pants he said in so many words they are not pants. It's paint! Regardless of whether the painting looks like something or not it is an arrangement by the artist that is in some way an abstraction from life. My work is a visual arrangement of my feelings for the natural world and I am thrilled when people understand the "license" in my paintings.

My old dog was running back and forth at our fence while the very small dogs next door chased back and forth barking like mad. Now our dog, Frances, likes to just go to the fence and walk around a little. The dogs still bark like mad and bare their teeth. Frances just looks at them and never barks. If she could talk I'll bet she would say, "Can't we just be friends?"

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