The Absurdity of Art Jargon

There’s an epidemic going around among artists. It has been a problem for centuries but is worse than ever today due to the fact that it feeds on itself and grows exponentially over time.

This disease is deadly but not (unfortunately) fatal. It infects the part of the brain that is able to put rational thought onto paper (although in some sad cases it carries over into the spoken word as well). This pervasive illness causes otherwise capable, intelligent people, who speak clearly and plainly in their daily lives, to babble unintelligibly when writing about their art.
Here is a typical example:
My work explores the boundaries between subsistence and extinction in critical practice. With influences as diverse as the pre-raphaelite brotherhood and Frank Gehry, new combinations are generated from both constructed and discovered forms.
What starts out as yearning soon becomes manipulated into a dominion of ineffectuality, leaving only a sense of dissolution and the hybridizing possibilities of a new reality. As temporal derivatives become frozen through emergent and diverse practice, the viewer is left with a glimpse of the synthetic landscape of our era.
Ok I made that one up.  But I guarantee every artist with a website or a blog will have some kind of silly statement like this on it. I have one – and it’s pretty darn impressive if I do say so myself…
But here’s the thing: I know artists. Many artists. Most of them are just regular people who speak plainly and can discuss their work in clear, straightforward, honest language. Why then, when we write about our work, do we spew out nonsensical bullshit?  Do people think this sounds cool? Because let’s be honest, most of these people have no idea what they’re saying.
Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE discussing art.  I can talk about it in depth for hours. I can get philosophical: is it subjective or objective? I can wax poetic on historical references and influences in an artist’s work. But even I have my limits, and there is a level of pretentiousness that I just can’t tolerate when I’m sober.  If a representational artist paints fruit, I tend to think his paintings are probably about fruit. Do we really need to say that they explore the divorce of the cruel scrutiny of the modern world from the romantic sensibilities that pervade the hierarchies of the past? It’s a freakin apple and two pears.
Abstract painters are some of the worst perpetrators and I, sadly, am not blameless. I have to admit I have written some crazy shit in applications for art shows and painting competitions. Though I have tried to block it out, I can’t deny a recent application I submitted that included some primo mumblings about line, form, and the expression of tension through the metaphor of invisibility. The truth is more like this:
 
I take paint, put it on some wood, and then take some more paint and put it on top of the paint that is already on the wood. I use colours I happen to like that day, and I build up layers with stuff I find interesting. I have design ideas, deep feelings and songs in my heart -and I use paint to express them.
What do you think?
Sounds stupid.
So I guess I will have to continue to keep the illusion alive…the holier than thou artist persona I’m supposed to maintain on paper so I can officially call myself an artiste. (I prefer to refer to myself as a painter but then people ask me how much to paint their kitchen…)
Oops!  Gotta go…my beret just fell off, but first I will leave you with a selection from the excellent artist bio of my good friend and fellow painter Marc Cooper.
I was born on a pirate ship.   I’m a husband, daddy, son, brother and friend.  My parents never met.  And I was brought up by a litter of Goldendoodles. I’m man’s best friend. The only formal training I’ve had is crate training. I love to ruin a painting only to create something better, I hope you enjoy my art as much as I enjoy creating it.
 
What a delightful thing is the conversation of specialists!
One understands absolutely nothing and it’s charming. 
(Edgar Degas)

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Why You Shouldn’t Buy Art at Homesense…

Welcome to my art blog. I have some things to say about the subjects of making, buying and selling art.  For my first post, I thought I would start with some basic feelings about art collecting that hold true for me. These ideas have grown from years of knowing that most people understand why humans need to create art, but have no understanding of why buying and collecting art is equally important to the evolution of humanity.

So here are some of the things I believe about buying art:
    • I believe original art always retains the energy and passion the artist put into creating it.
    • I believe everyone should buy products that were handmade with care.
    • I believe quality and originality matters.
    • I believe acquiring original art teaches my children that there is great value in things that are unique, quirky, imperfect and unexpected.
We found this guy in a gallery in Quebec City
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    My sister bought me this ceramic box at an art fair
  • I believe supporting local artists will inspire my children to follow their dreams and to find value and inspiration in the creation of something magical that comes from hard work, knowledge and passion.
  • I believe my money is better served in the hands of a working artist or craftsperson, than padding the pockets of a huge corporation.
  • I believe mass produced items hurt our environment and dull our senses to what is truly unique and beautiful.
  • I believe original art can make us think, feel and appreciate in a way that mass produced art never will.
  • I believe buying original art promotes mindfulness and personal connection between human beings.
  • I believe buying original art promotes the kind of excellence, craftsmanship, creativity and quality our society is sorely lacking.
  • I believe something made by hand is always worth more and will usually last longer than something that is not.
  • I believe that supporting artists and other small businesses is good for the economy, and supporting Homesense and Amazon is not.
  • I believe there is great joy in discovering an artist or piece of art you connect with.
  • I believe in supporting the people who do not pander to mass sensibilities and are not willing to compromise on what they find real, meaningful or beautiful.
  • I believe in encouraging and celebrating the cultural, personal and creative diversity that is humanity.
  • I believe in the value of maintaining a visceral connection to the earth by remaining connected to where things come from.
  • I believe my life is richer since I began collecting original works of art.
  • I believe it doesn’t have to cost much to begin a meaningful art collection.
  • I believe that art can be far more accessible and affordable than many people think.
  • I believe the benefits of owning meaningful art outweigh the costs.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry,
and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that
worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful
which God has implanted in the human soul.”
(Goethe)