Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dancer's Daydream

"The Dancer's Daydream." Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. ©2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hot day help

We can learn a lot by observing nature. Today's lesson is about how to survive in the desert on sweltering summer days.
1. Find a shady spot near water.

2. Drink a lot of that water.

3. Dig down to the cooler earth and stretch out.

4. Get as low as possible and try not to move.

5. And no matter what, don't let the heat turn you into an a**.

Happy August, my lovelies, from the jackrabbits, the cottontails, a roadrunner and myself!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sketches and studies

It's August in the desert. Yes, hot. And oddly humid. Rain clouds build, sometimes even thunder is heard, but so far, not a drop of rain has been seen. Perhaps one fell and evaporated on the way down.

All of the animals come to drink from the water I put out. I make sure to keep it full. I love to watch who comes for a drink - jackrabbits, cottontails, the little ground squirrels, birds, and, ...AND a BOBCAT!! The bobcat liked it here so much, he/she stayed for the better part of one afternoon. He/she spent most of the time here hunkered down behind a clump of Mormon tea, which means not too many sketching/photo opportunities presented themselves. I did get a few photos, and I have begun to do small studies with ink and brush.

I just want to get a feel for the shapes that make up this creature. I need to study how it moves. Only then will I begin to try to paint it. I still hope to see it once more, but I am thrilled with the visit.

I am still working on the smaller studies in acrylic. They aren't as satisfying to me now, but I think sometimes when life is challenging, the work reflects that. Or maybe I just need to push them further. One must sometimes work through frustration to come out with a painting that satisfies.

"No Postage Necessary." Acrylic, collage, graphite and ink on paper. 12 x 9 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson

Friday, August 3, 2012

Good Art/ Bad Art

"Matters of Security." Oil, graphite and envelope on canvas. 18 x 24 inches. ©Karine M Swenson 2012

I can't take it any more. I won't sit back and read this crap about how realism is the only GOOD art, and modernism (in any form) is BAD art. Because you know what? It is crap. People who write that are stating an opinion and they must think there is only one correct opinion in the whole world. Those kind of judgments should be made only in one's own mind, in regard to reinforcing one's own taste; they have no place in real dialogue about art.

If I said to you "the only good music is classical music," would you suddenly stop buying or listening to jazz, reggae, rock n roll, country, bluegrass, hip hop, Hawaiian, or ....whatever? No. And musicians aren't going to stop playing the music that is in their hearts, any more than I will stop painting the paintings that are in my heart. If you don't like "modernism" or "abstraction" or whatever, I really don't care. I truly don't. There are plenty of us out there who do like it. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, I can say a lot more painting without recognizable imagery than I ever could with it. And no matter how much might be written about how Picasso, Warhol, and Rothko made "bad" art, I will never agree. There is an infinite variety in the world of taste. Just as there is infinite variety in nature. We are part of nature. We are as individual and unique as snowflakes. Art and tastes in art reflect that variety.

Art isn't just about conveying ideas. It is also about conveying emotion. It is also a way to understand the world. A place to explore ideas. Sometimes, exploration takes us into places we've not seen before. For me, that is what abstraction* is: Exploration. Imagining things beyond the physical, beyond what we can see, touch, feel, and even understand. The notion that human beings understand everything about this world is a fallacy. We most certainly do not understand everything about the world, and at times, we don't even understand everything about each other or even ourselves. Assumptions have been made that art with recognizable imagery ("good" art) is more easily interpreted than "modern" art ("bad" art). I don't believe that is true. Plenty of paintings with recognizable images have been painted with an intended meaning that was misinterpreted. I have studied art my whole life and I have seen it happen again and again.

Like the kind of art you like. Paint the way you want. Listen to the music you want to listen to. But please don't sit up on some high horse and bash what others do just because you don't like it. There is merit in the work of others, even if it is different from one's own. I know how to draw, and I can paint a portrait. I have explored both painting with recognizable images and abstraction, and I can tell you with all honesty that abstraction is challenging. It involves not only a mastery of the medium, but also the courage to strike out on your own into uncharted territory of form, line, composition and color. It doesn't come with a set of formulas or rules. Often, it is about questioning rules, or long-held beliefs. Perhaps that is what bothers some. I don't really know.

I could write more, but I don't really plan to change any minds. I just couldn't sit here anymore, saying nothing to those who, for years, have been criticizing the art I most love. All of this leads me to ask, if we can't agree to disagree about art, what hope is there for acceptance in other aspects of life? Why are we so incapable of loving or even accepting that which is different?

*I use the term "abstraction" loosely here. I am referring to art without recognizable imagery. If you are more comfortable replacing the word "abstraction" with "non-representational," then do so.