Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Constitutes ART?

I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay. (Dave Matthews Band)

I have something to say...I don't mean to offend anyone...I just have to get this off my chest and I really, really want YOUR opinion on the please read and comment if you have something to add:)

There are dozens and dozens types of Art.

fantastic realism
mixed media

Every Artist sees the world around them so differently, yet growing up I was led to believe that art wasn't truly art unless you could draw and paint like Michelangelo, Da Vinci or one of my favorites Norman Rockwell. I LOVE his work and how it depicts America with such sweetness and charm. Several years ago I went to the Smithsonian Art Institute and saw most of his cheeks hurt from smiling so much!

"Couple in a Rumbleseat"

Then there is Mary Cassatt...

"Child in an Orange Dress"

Again...her work is what I grew up thinking art was supposed to be...realistic looking people in realistic settings.

It wasn't until I was a Senior in high school did I begin to understand that art could be so much more. My Humanities class took a field trip to St. Louis where we got to spend the day at the Art Museum there...oh how I LOVED it!! And I fell in LOVE with abstract art!! In recent years I have studied two of my favorites Georgia O'Keefe and Paul Klee.

"The Lake" by Georgia O'Keefe

"Southern Gardens" by Paul Klee

Another artist that some may say is unconventional is Andy Warhol. Here are two of his paintings from the 1960's.

"Eggs 2"


Honestly I am not a big fan of Warhol's but I can appreciate his work as an artist. I understand that each of us has unique talents and more importantly we each have something very different to say.

"Let each man exercise the art he knows."  -Aristophanes

What is all of this leading up to?? Last Saturday night my in-laws and I went out to dinner. My mother in-law had told me about her artist friend and was anxious for me to see her work. Not only did I get to see her work {it hangs in the restaurant we ate in} but she happened to be there. I told her how much I loved her work {she paints with oils...creating beautiful landscapes...very nice} and then proceeded to tell her about my daughter Emma. I pointed to her and shared how Emma's love of drawing and painting people has inspired her to attend art institute in Baltimore. Instead of smiling and supporting my 16 year old daughter her face became dark and she frowned. In an irritated, almost sarcastic tone she said..."Well, that's a stupid thing to do. Waste your time and money going to an art school. She'll never be successful at that!." 

I was shocked and  quickly replied..."I am proud of my daughter and she plans on going into graphic design." I then told her my passion for mixed media and teaching. Again, instead of smiling and showing support she sarcastically said {while walking away} "Good luck with that."

Girls, I was floored. I couldn't even believe it! Would you treat a fellow artist that way? Aren't we supposed to love, encourage and support one another?? I say YES!

Some of us create like Norman Rockwell, some like Henri Matisse and others, like myself, create messy art with a message...

However and WHATEVER we create is our OWN. Our art is US! Art is what's inside...we are putting our hearts on canvas!

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

Thinking about this woman still bothers me...seriously I can't believe she treated Emma and I this way. I felt like she was "dismissing" us and the ART that we create. The funny thing is...after she left I looked around at her work, hanging on every wall of the restaurant...and all of a sudden all I saw was ugly...I didn't see the beauty anymore...she had ruined that.

Girls, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and opinions on this post!! Please leave a comment here or on our FB page:)


  1. I agree with the Aristotle quote. Whatever your heart inspires, is art to me.
    It sounds like that woman needs to go by the old adage..."If you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all."
    I can totally understand you seeing her work differently after your encounter with her.
    YOU are an artist.
    EM is an artist.
    No doubt about it.
    I love you both!


  2. I personally love your messy ART, and don't care for abstract....I don't have the mind or patience to see a deeper meaning behind eggs on a canvas, it doesn't move me.

    I think art...NO MATTER what kind, if it moves me then it is art, even if it is a sidewalk chalk drawing or a spray painted image on a concrete wall.

    I went to Europe as a teenager and was able to see Michelangelo's work, up close and personal it MOVED me, and is beautiful, it almost has a spiritual reverence to it. Some other art moved me but not necessarily in a good way.....still art? I think so!

    And I think that lady was very rude and high on her own ego. Conceit, arrogance, vanity, is all ugly to me and I believe I would feel the same way viewing her paintings after that encounter.

    I think being creative IS being an artist, no matter the medium or style!

    Love ya Les, think of you often and as soon as you get a date for coming to Ut let me know and I will do my absolute best to meet up with ya!! :)

  3. Perhaps she isnt selling any of her art, and that's why she thinks it's stupid. You wouldn't buy any of it after talking to her, and probably no one else does either!

  4. That lady's reaction has nothing to do with art and everything to do with human nature. Some people feel that they must put others down to make themselves feel better, or perhaps they just don't know how to interact with people in a positive way, either way, don't be angry at her, feel sorry for her. I'm sure if she acts like this on a regular basis, her life must be miserable. Let it wash over you, you know what is best for you and your family, she was just a stranger you met in passing. "Artist" does not equal "nice". Mean people can paint, too :)

    As for yourself and your daughter, you are doing what you love, and you are encouraging your daughter to follow her heart, and I think that is amazing. Your daughter is exceptionally lucky to have that support.

    When I was 17, we lived on a farm away from any cities, but the high school I went to offered an art excursion to a capital city to view art galleries and see the best artworks completed by the top year 12 art students in the country from the year before. I saved up my own money to go and was so excited about it, then, on the morning that I was to leave, my Dad nearly stopped me from going, saying it was pointless and a waste of money. He doesn't think highly of art, and doesn't like any art that isn't realistic. The only reason he let me go was because a neighbour happened to be there that morning and she talked him around.

    After high school, I applied to do a visual arts degree at university, it was my first choice, but then I changed my mind before I even had a chance of being accepted, because all I heard in the back of my mind was "that's pointless", "Why are you wasting your time?", "You won't make any money". So instead I went on to jump from degree to degree (science, business, education), without completeing any, making no money, ending up with no degree, and having a pretty miserable experience the whole time.

    So, I'm rambling, but the point to my story is if I had felt supported to follow art, I would have done so. I would have done something I loved, I would have felt confident in myself, and, yes, I may not have made money, but I know now that it's just as easy not to make money by doing things you don't feel passionate about. If your daughter goes on to do graphic art, there is a career in that. I had a friend that did visual arts and then went on to do a teaching degree - that would have suited me to a tee. Your support will give your daughter all the strength she needs to ignore the taunts of strangers and have confidence in herself and her choices. Good on you both for following your dreams.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. I have to agree with Willit - you have no way of knowing what experiences in her life brought her to such negativity and unpleasantness. maybe she doesn't know any other way to be. Wish her the best, send healing thoughts her way, and know that what you are doing is the exact right thing for you and your daughter.

  6. Yep, let that ugly woman's ugly comments go. When people are that mean, it's usually about THEM, not about you. Kudos to you for following your heart and for encouraging your daughter to do the same. One of the things I love most about this artsy world we live in (which for me began with scrapbooking and card-making and has now expanded into mixed-media art and more) is the depth and breadth of the love and joy to be found in art that MOST of us women share with each other. So soak up all the positive love that is out there, and erase that nasty ole woman from your mind, lol.

  7. My heart just breaks for your daughter and you! Continue creating and inspiring your daugther to do the same.

  8. Wow! That just made me angry! I know it shouldn't, but what gives her the right to be such a negative nancy and speak to your daughter that way. I guess the only thing to do is put it out there, just like you did, and vent. You need to know that she is totally in the wrong. And I'm so glad you were able to speak back to her. I would have frozen and then been mad later that I didn't say something. Keep up the wonderful art that you create and for being the right kind of example for your daughter. I don't love contemporary art - I just don't get most of it. But I can appreciate it. I absolutely love that we are blessed with different gifts. And we need to be respectful of each other. Don't let it get you down. She's not worth it. Lots of love and hugs to your family. :)

  9. Some people are just ignorant. In fact she was very. I would take a trip back there and ask her why she said those things to you. I would have to have closer. But you know who you are and who your daughter is and I wish you two all the happiness and Art your heart desires, No one can define you or your daughter.

  10. This is clearly a woman with open wounds...I don't think she "saw" or "heard" you - her reaction would have been the same no matter who spoke to her. She is entitled to her opinion...but it's just not an acceptable way to express it....I would use this as an example of someone unable to deal with the pain and reframe it for Emma. You would probably be horrified if you could see her on the inside and knowing you and Emma, you would both try to save her from herself ;-)

  11. O. M. G.
    Where does one begin with a scenario like that?
    This story has been burning in my brain because it is SO LOADED for so many reasons, I just had to chime in to share my perspective...
    Firstly: Art is simply not respected or revered here in this country as it is in other countries, PERIOD. As a result, art might be looked at favorably by the people who make it, but the people who make art, ARTISTS, are rarely given much respect, except by the folks who appreciate Art.
    As a result of this view, anyone who deliberately chooses to be an artist will find themselves in a system of learning how to BE an artist, but they will not be given the support of learning how to conduct BUSINESS as an artist, thus becoming the clich├ęd struggling/starving artist...and let me point out that learning to conduct business is a SKILL, just as learning how to see and create as an artist is a SKILL, to be learned and PRACTICED daily, in order to gain mastery in such skills.
    No one wants to starve, so few people understand why anyone would choose such a path, but most of these people don't understand how Art FEEDS THE SOUL, in ways that money can't, so they look down upon those of us who are choosing the path of an Artist. However, other countries see the benefit of Art in their culture, even 'poor' countries like Mexico, where art is part and parcel of daily life, seen everywhere in the streets, because it is considered a contribution to the society at large and appreciated as such. Sadly, this country does not share this view, as evidenced by so many cuts to art budgets in our schools.
    As many here have pointed out, we don't know the back story of the painter who made such snide remarks but my theories are: she had formal art training (consider oil painting is a difficult medium to master), and, due to lack of business training, was unable to earn a living as an artist...OR, she had her artful impulses talked out of her, as so many have before her, found a local workshop and views her artistry as a 'hobby', not to be taken seriously, something to do to pass the time. In either case, she would view anyone choosing the path of Artist with bitterness or anger. I see this SO OFTEN and it doesn't have to be this way.
    And don't get me started on how museums/galleries split 'craft' from art, reinforcing views of what 'fine art' should look like =\

    I am sorry that you had to listen to such unpleasantness. It is distressing as one who is obviously happy with their art and choosing to continue on this path, to have to bear the brunt of snide, mean and bitter remarks for choosing your path, but it looks like you have many followers who are happy to cheer you on and I am happy to join the ranks!
    I would apologize for leaving a long comment, but there are so many facets to this problem, I just had to begin touching upon them, so thank you for opening up this discussion. The more we are enlightened to what barriers we will face as Artists, the more equipped we will be to face them and break them down =)

  12. I would encounter this lady the next time with loads of kindness and smiles, she will not know how to handle it!
    Oh, so many of you out there are real artits to me, because you create from your heart, what you feel end it touches me. But I can not call myself an artist, nor the things I make art. Unfortunatley I do have some people in my surroundings who have the thought that if it can not be hang on a wall and sold it is not art.
    I am very into Mixed Media and Art Journaling, that is my thing and I do not care if the things I make can only be seen in a journal...this is me!

  13. Wow, what a disappointing encounter. There's nothing saying an artist has to have people skills, I guess! It sounds like you have a good perspective, and can separate what she said from what you and Emma truly believe, which is all that matters. I think it's interesting how seeing her true personality changed your whole perspective on her work... I can definitely understand how that happens!


I appreciate your thoughts and ideas...they inspire me!! I will be visiting you soon. Have a CREATIVE day!!

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