Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who Am I?

Being an artist is a freaky thing. Honestly, I don't like to think too much about what I do when it comes to the art part. I like to think about technical things, and feel the rest. and that is the way it should be according to Harold Speed, in The Practice and Science of Drawing, a beautiful book. Harold Speed says a lot of profound things on art in this little book. I think it's so true when he says that you must work as hard as possible as a student, be disciplined, be relentless in study of nature and then as an artist, stop thinking about that so much and feel more. Art is about the spark of life, about truth, about the human condition, about the subject with all it's implications. Art is not about technical accuracy; technical skills give artists more options, and it's a pleasure for an artist to come closer to reaching a technical goal, and for many viewers a pleasure to admire a technically excellent work.

I like art to be intense, have a presence and communicate a lot of complex things. There's a great case to be made for art to be a documentary tool too. a record of humanity. Ruskin said the most truthful and revealing area to study when looking at civilizations is their art, not their papers, politics or wars. And Chris Johnson, my neighbor (dear reader, do you love how I reference my neighbor in the same paragraph as John Ruskin), my neighbor pointed out to me that paintings will last longer than this computer, than photos, than anything scanned to a disc etc. This documentary value to art has several implications for artists, one being the issue of choosing materials. Good materials are vital if we are serious. Aside from the technical, what do I want to document? That is the question for me. Who am I? What do I care about?

Now I ask that not to show that I'm lost. I'm not. I care about a lot of things, and I rely on my reason and intuition and curiousity to lead me to subject matters for capture in paintings. I look for the universal in the personal and specific. I am simple, I like being a farm kid, that kind of thing. I'm also practical, I want to sell paintings, not just make them. I've noticed that artists who sell stick most often stick to one "thing", landscape or still life with birds or whatever. I hate that branding business. My former teacher put a less disgusting spin on this subject when he said that to get really good at anything, an artist must choose what they care about and get deeply involved in that. So the point I'm trying to get to is this, in asking who am I, I really ask what am I willing to stick to and develop for years? What is the defining thread for me? Is there anything that can be my "brand" that allows me to paint whatever subject I like? I'm willing to create albums in a sense, meaning cohesive groups, but I'm stall at the notion of giving any aspect of art up. Perhaps that's ok. Perhaps I lack maturity (for sure).

So who am I? For now I am a classically trained painter and draftswoman, I record moods, I'm representational, perhaps literal, but I feel and communicate a feeling. If I can get people to freeze and feel, then I'm successful. If I can catch your attention and hold you for a few minutes, then we've connected and we're united, we're together in this universal human condition. That's what I want to do is link arms and experience life with you. That is who I am.

4 comments:

jerry sumpter said...

I think that you are on the right track. Asking questions is a way to start off.. and to keep going. You are really asking some good questions too. I think that its the best way to start a new painting or any creation. I really like your origami butterfly painting, by the way. i'd love to see where you could take that.
Best, Jerry

sarahfburns said...

Thanks for the comments, and for reading through it. I admit I took inspiration from your blog in writing a longer passage, and in thinking a thought through.

Nance said...

Sarah, you reached some satisfying conclusions - at least that there is no part of art that you want to eliminate in favor of others. So it will take an eternity of lifetimes to work on them all, right?


"That's what I want to do is link arms and experience life with you. That is who I am." Sounds like You Are A Friend! Love, Nancy

sarahfburns said...

Aw Nancy, you're so dear.