Monday, April 24, 2017

Shouting Above the Waves

Chris Polson, who makes my excellent canvas stretchers- has been telling me to try Instagram. The New York Times says that Instagram is de rigueur for artists- in a previous editorial however, they had said too much social media is bad and a waste of time. You can get lost in the weeds as it were. Eh!
My 20 something model says blogs are out, Instagram is in -young people don't read blogs anymore, so in total terror of being even more obscure than I am I took the plunge.

I know the internet is saturated with artists but after opening the Pandora's box of Instagram I feel bludgeoned by "art": rich artists, starving artists, bold artists, figurative artists, animal artists. landscape artists, abstract artists, post everything artists and artists who do things with doilies that would never have occurred to me. Much of the work I see, at first bite looks inviting, though after some consideration becomes as tasteless and artificial as a Twinkie. Instagram is like digging through a landfill, now and again you find treasures and reconnect with artists you admire and share an affinity,

People have been urging me to put more stuff , more 'drama" into my painting. More bits flying about.I see succesful young artists painting mountains of flowers and butterflies surrounding their figures, compositions so complex they rival the historical paintings of the French Academy. I am not that clever. I do feel drowned, submerged, but the thought of attempting one of these "masterpieces" fills me with - oh well- boredom. I do not like painting acres of flowers, plastered on butterflies ( the pictorial glop du jour). I can get through maybe a posey or two, maybe a bouquet but you have to strap the brushes to my hands. I love faces, I love figures , I love hands and feet. I know I have to occasionally put something between those extremities and around them. I love color. I like good design and simplicity.

It our fractious times it seems to me so many artist find the need to shout, louder and louder, to try more and more extreme measures to get attention. This does not condone timidity, the willingness to try something that is not stale, to go out on the limb of failure. I have always in retrospect found that there is power in the seemingly effortless and simple. Both John and Twachtman share a delicious delicacy of design and color. Delicacy, oh delicacy!

Gwen John are John Twachtman are two examples. Gwen John was overshadowed in her lifetime by her bombastic and famous brother Augustus John. Today she is more highly regarded- even though she died in obscurity. I could live with either painter's work on my wall.

This is actually Carl Fabritius' wonderful painting of a yellow finch, what power in a tiny painting.


Jim Serrett said...

I read somewhere that once you hear about a trend it is already over, the herd mentality has stampeded many art bloggers over to Instagram. There they can snap a photo from their phone add a snazzy snippet of text and be done. I like Instagram for that reason, I like to be lazy too. However, I also like to hear what artist are actually thinking, those struggles and insights into what a artist does.
Keep blogging.

Sharon Knettell said...

Thanks! Both are useful. We just have to use filters.


I really liked your blog, whenever we can, we'll be back.

meabh warburton said...

Hi Sharon,

The title might fit the book I am reading at the moment. This fight is our fight. Elizabeth Warren. You probably know it.
We are stumbling headlong into something which feels so wrong in Britain but here I am in France and for the moment a degree of sanity prevails.

You mentioned Instagram to me and I forgot to mention that I don't have a smartphone. There you are; lost in the weeds, shouting above the waves, not drowning but waving.

Sharon Knettell said...

Thanks Ian, Newton!