Monday, April 20, 2015

Floral Dames Series--Fit for Fine Art?

The first six floral dames. Each roughly 10"x10" watercolor on board.
A wonderful perk of meeting your husband in art school is being able to talk art together. When that conversation turns toward your own work, it gets extra interesting! 

Lately I've been working on a new floral series. I'm mixing flowers and succulents with patterns. I'm often taking the perspective of the popular #upshot or disregarding perspective altogether by juxtaposing angles. Depth and shadow are treated more like design elements, not necessary components in placing a setting. There's no apparent light source, and the viewer is left to choose their focal point. 

{Each dame has her name. By row, left to right: Agatha, Helen, Jane, Raquel, Joan, and Alice.}

Downplaying what is taught to be important in painting places me on a free-flying field that is perfect breeding grounds for anxiety. 

But back to our conversation. Ryan said that he liked the pieces with the most depth, which is a common response I've gotten on social media. You can guess that those aren't my favorites. The more we talked, the more he seemed to be saying that he appreciates art with a narrative, and that flat--though beautiful, (thanks hon)--florals don't suit the place of fine art hung in a home, but rather bode well as the home's decorative pillow cushions and dinnerware. 

It raises the question: does art need to communicate? Does it need to tell a story or a truth to avoid being in the great company of fluff we see every day? 

I find that if my intent is to create art that is always aiming to visually interpret something, it gets too contrived. And while the opposite of good art is boring art, trying too hard is annoying art. But the opposite--the fluff I mentioned before that offers filler merchandise at discount decor stores--can be quite annoying too. I get it. We don't need more visual junk food.

Nonetheless, speaking from the technical side, I passionately fought for flat Gauguin and Modigliani's. Their masterpieces wouldn't be served well if translated to black and white. The little contrast in their work made room for their saturated colors. I challenged Ry with Picasso's multiple perspectives and blunt focus on shape over narrative. Or perhaps they offered the viewer with the most liberty to bring their own narrative. 

Our debate was so, so fun for me... while hubby squirmed for fear of saying something that would insult my fragile creative ego. (I think that made it more fun.)

So where does this leave me? What do I walk away with from this stimulating conversation? Keep it interesting. Keep the heart. Don't paint for your art teacher's approval or for the mass's fancy. Each series is a wave of creativity that I just have to ride out. It feels like I'm exploring, literally discovering what will unfold as I ask questions while I paint. These are questions about how colors interact, would would happen if's, and questions surrounding my own ability. I wonder about the finished product. And once I discover it, I celebrate it with a few pictures and shares, and then I move on to explore new paper territories.

I'm not sure that I can process right now where these pieces could be used, I'm still waiting for the waters to calm. But the question is a revealing one, so I ask YOU: Is this series fit for fine art or better served on a throw? Why?

Keep painting!