Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

(Continuing on the ideas from yesterday's post)

As a former exhibiting artist, I've watched a lot of people look at artwork. Some look at a piece, see the literal image and stop there.
Some really look, and take in every detail, and allow themselves to respond to the piece, noting their own feelings. The goal of any piece of Art is to make you feel something. Some Art is deliberately manipulative (we call it "Advertising") some, of course, is a lot more subtle, but the ultimate goal of all Art is to make you feel something.
A lot of it requires a bit of effort on the viewer's part. You can look at something and ask yourself, "What does this make me feel?" Sometimes art is nothing more than a pretty picture, and that's OK, but pretty pictures can get pretty dull over time.

Some Art takes you to a place you know, sometimes it takes you to a new place. You have to open yourself up, though, to let it take you anywhere.
One thing I've heard a lot is the phrase, "I don't know Art but I know what I like."

Which I think is a load of crap. Most people have no idea what they like. They like what they know, because they're afraid to look stupid. When a piece of Art doesn't conform to their expectation of what Art "should" be (i.e. "realistic," "beautiful", "exquisitely detailed") then they think it's bad.

There is no right or wrong answer. Art is about as subjective as it gets.

But getting back to Mary's question, why do bother to ask opinions of some of our loved ones... the answer is easy. Because they're there.

It's not easy to find an artist to critique your work. Excuse me, let me rephrase that. It's not easy to find an artist you can trust to critique your work.

You want someone who "gets" you. (So I wouldn't ask a traditional quilter to critique my work. All those brights, the different WOWs, the wonky letters, the mismatched seams. The poor woman would have a coronary, and I'd have to physically restrain myself from throwing her out of the house.)

You don't want a "Yes Man" (or Woman, as the case may be). So asking the staff at a local quilt shop might not be the way to go. They have a vested interest in keeping you as a customer, not telling you the truth.

Ladies at your local Quilt Guild might not be right either.

Let's be very clear though, Design is a separate element from Craftsmanship. I am not a sloppy seamstress. My quilts are wonky, free pieced, and way over the top, but my seams are straight, my quilts are square and they lie flat. Technically, I'm on the money. For the technical side of things, and experienced quiltmaker is exactly what you want, regardless whether her own quilting style matches yours.

You want somebody who can treat you with respect, who isn't mean, and uses constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism.

Of course, if you ask, you have to be willing to listen. To take the heat. To hear the negative. To consider the advice.

And be willing to change.

Thanks for listening, your comments are most welcome.


Quilts and Cats said...

Excellent've made some very valid points. I love your comment on the "traditional quilter"...You crack me up!

Susan R said...

Thank you for allowing us a glimpse of who you are, as an artist, a mother, and someone who as the ability to use words to educate and inspire. I love that you are not afraid to be honest and true when creating your pieces. And I always learn something from watching and reading your blog. You are something special!


Heidi said...

oh well, this one made me think .
I love to visit museums and see art, but I belong to the group ' I know what I like '.
But do I have to study art to enjoy it ? Do I have to find its purpose ? Or its meanning ?
Don't understand me wrong, I find your post very interesting .
Do you know this scene of a movie with Steve Martin where he interprets a piece of art( btw this movie is one of my favourites )
So what I mean to say, why can't I just enjoy art ?

Millie said...

Dear Heidi, Don't be afraid to expand your concept of what you like. To do that, look at everything. When you go to an Art Museum, go to all the galleries, even the ones with the crazy Modern Art. Look at it all, expose yourself to new things. You might find stuff that delights you, that you didn't expect would delight you. Look at the Art first, and read the labels afterwards. Don't feel pressured by me or anybody else. It's a process of discovery. Of course you can enjoy it. I would tell you not to limit yourself, to be open to new things that's all.


Magpie Sue said...

{sigh} why don't you live closer to me so you can give me the type of critiques I hunger for? I haven't yet been able to find such a person, for all the reasons you listed in your post, and now I have less access to people in general than ever before. Although, to give my husband and son credit, they do a pretty good job in so far as they are able...

Heidi said...

Dear Millie,
sorry, maybe I chose the wrong words ( language issues ). Maybe I didn't understand your post quite well...
But I sure do not limit myself :-)'s just that I don't want to make a science out of viewing art ( for me personally ). I just want to say, I like this one, I don't like this one ...

Lynne (Lily's Quilts) said...

I love both these posts - this one and the one with the conversations with your son. I come from a family with no artistic talent, vision, eye anything at all but I'm going to start looking and I'm going to start asking people I know what they think and why. the internet has been hugely valuable for me and I like asking questions on it because I tend to get answers to the question I didn't know to ask and that puts everything into a completely different perspective. there are a few people out there in internetland whose opinion has been really useful to me - you of course are one and Poppyprint (Krista) has been another.