What do you have when you start with a rather ordinary cooked bird, placed on an ordinary table made pretty, and then surround with ordinary people who love each other..?
Grandma, my sister, Mom, and me...Thanksgiving, 1968
|I think you have extraordinary and "unreasonable" beauty and truth.|
Seth Godin, in his marketing blog, wrote recently about the the concept of "unreasonable" in the marketplace. He says "All that succeeds is the unreasonable. You can get my attention if your product is unreasonably well designed, if your preparation is unreasonably over the top, if your customer service is unreasonably attentive and generous and honest."
What Seth Godin does not say is that "unreasonable" is equated with shock or bad taste for attention's sake. Rather, he seems to say that "unreasonable" is equated with unrelenting excellence.
Mother Teresa said, "Do ordinary things with extraordinary love".
So let's morph the two ideas for artists. How about this: "Do/depict/create ordinary things with extraordinary or unreasonable passion/love?"
When artists fall in unreasonably and extraordinarily in love with their subjects, beauty is often the result. Let's look at a few of many artists who I admire for the ordinariness of their chosen subjects and for the way in which they approach their work.
I gasped in shock when I saw this beautiful painting at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris by the artist, Gustave Caillebotte. Ordinary elevated to beautiful....
Norman Rockwell did not consider himself a real artist and was plagued with doubts.
In a Saturday Evening Post article by Jeff Nilsson February 2010, Nilsson writes "we came across a critique of Rockwell's work on an art website which states that Rockwell's paintings "don't make you think—really think”....Rockwell was a superb painter, but the works were so obvious, and so good-natured, that Rockwell probably wouldn’t be found in an art history textbook a hundred years from now...."
"Too obvious and so good-natured....?" Sounds like Rockwell is being criticized for painting ordinary things in a cheerful way. (This sentiment ties in with the subject of my last email newsletter/blog post about how beauty for beauty's sake is dismissed.)
One of my contemporary art heroes, Rose Frantzen, painted ordinary people in her town of Maquoketa, Iowa as part of a quest to democratize the portrait. In her book, she tells of how beautiful her ordinary subjects became to her as she painted them.
Another of my art heroes, Mary Whyte, recently completed a series of paintings of people in the South...ordinary people, doing ordinary jobs...whose way of life is disappearing.
April Raber is one of my favorite landscape painters. The scenes in April's ordinary subjects are transformed into extraordinary with her unique palette and calligraphic layered brush strokes.
These artists elevated the ordinary into the realm of beautiful not only in WHAT they chose for their subjects but in the extraordinary and unreasonable WAY in which they did it.
This is the completed painting started as part of a demonstration for the United Society of Pastel Artists on November 11, 2010. The usual place for the meetings is at the El Toro library but as it was Veteran's Day, the meeting was moved to San Clemente Art Supply. As such, I had access to a few cutting from the rose garden outside the store. It is a beautiful gardent and the specimens are magnificent. The late summer blooms were fading, though. Thankfully, I was able to partake of the last of the bounty.Comment on or Share this Article →
"Cake and Lemonade, Anyone?" has received an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Web Show of the International Association of Pastel Societies!
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Lost in Thought.....
I have just finished this piece and am awaiting a critique from a well-known artist who saw my work and offered to give me some input. Such an honor! In the meantime, I debut the "draft".
The roses were at their peak when Renee first posed for me. She came over twice and is such a pleasure to work with. She participates with me in setting the mood and offers appropriate suggestions. We always have tea during her breaks...she brought some carrot cake the second time. What a treat!
I love everything about this piece. It fulfills a vision and idea that I have had for a long time. And I will look forward to making some changes when I get some expert input and let it settle for a time.
"Lost in Thought....", Pastel, 26 x 25Comment on or Share this Article →
I enjoyed painting Linda at last night's long pose session at San Clemente Art Supply! She says she thinks "happy thoughts" while posing which accounts for her nice countenance and an enjoyable painting experience for me. I also rolled the pastel stick to suggest her curly hair, a technique I learned from Gil Dellinger as he does this when suggesting thin tree branches. I stopped painting at about an hour and a half as I didn't want to overwork the piece. Needs some work on the cast shadow on her neck and chest....some softening in places. But not bad for a quick study.
"Linda" 11 x 14, Pastel on Sennelier La Carte paperComment on or Share this Article →