To Artists

Posted: January 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

BY: Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

(This post is dedicated to all of the faculty and students in RMU’s Institute of Art & Design.)

There are lots of things I can’t do. For example, I played basketball for years, but I could never dunk. I’m not confused or dumbfounded by how someone could possibly dunk. I know how it’s done; I just couldn’t do it.

But there is something that I can’t do and I don’t even understand how it’s done.

Let me start with where this thought came from:

In the news recently, there was the story about the unveiling of Kate Middleton’s first official Imageportrait. The criticism of the portrait was that it did not look entirely flattering. This, of course, is contrary to how the beautiful Dutchess of Cambridge is eminently photogenic; she looks pretty in every photo. As the news coverage discussed the criticism, I couldn’t help but agree with the noted flaws, especially that it seemed to age her.

 However, despite the criticism, I was awestruck by the attention to details in the painting: the shadows, the angles, even the precise layout of individual hairs in her eyebrows.

I have no idea how any visual artist creates art. My brain can’t wrap around it.

And I say this despite the fact that I minored in Art in college. I took lots of classes like life drawing, painting, computer graphic design, 3D modeling. I learned the basics and perhaps honed a skill set, but still I couldn’t understand how artists do it.

 I had many of those classes with my friend Kari. She was the opposite of me – an Art major with a minor in English. Just as I loved writing and dabbled in art, she loved art and dabbled in writing. Sometimes when we had art projects to complete, I would hang out with her in the painting studio and watch her go. She mixed oil paints with precision and the colors always came out perfect, and she could replicate colors over and over. (I couldn’t replicate a color unless it came straight out of the tube.) And every brushstroke was placed without hesitation. It seemed like every blank canvas was just a paint-by-numbers to her, as if there was no doubt as to how it would fill out. (I, on the other hand, would just put colors on the canvas, and whatever it kind of looked like after a while, I’d go with it.)

 When I see a basketball player dunk, I understand how it happened; I just could never get high enough to do it myself. But when watching Kari, it was like she was born with a different set of eyes and a different mind that I couldn’t even understand. It was all completely alien to me. And I still feel that way whenever I see great visual art. I don’t know how artists decide on the contours of lines, or the placement of shadows, or the gradients of colors. I don’t understand it. At all.

But it amazes me. Artists amaze me.

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Comments
  1. iangoldsmith says:

    it is very impressive, I don’t like it, but it is impressive. Nice post 🙂

  2. Yabbi says:

    There’s no great mystery in painting once someone learns the mechanics of light and shadow using shades of colors. A ‘from life’ portrait is not supposed to be an ‘artistic interpretation’, it must be photo-realistic. That this artist flubbed the realistic representation is what upsets people. Sure, he made it appear to be the likeness of a human being, but he bollixed the job of making it properly looking like Kate. He is a skilled technician but not skilled enough to make it properly represent her. So, no glory here for him.

  3. meagain2 says:

    There’s no great mystery in the ‘craft’ of painting once one learns the mechanics of light and shadow using shades of paint. A ‘from life’ portrait is not an ‘artistic interpretation’, it must be photo-realistic. That this artist flubbed the realistic representation is what upsets people. He made it appear to be the likeness of a human being, but he bollixed the job of making it properly resemble Kate. The artist is a skilled craftsman in providing ‘detail’, but NOT sufficiently skilled as an ‘artist’ to make it properly represent her. Thus, no glory here for him.

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