Various works by Mark Rothko
There was a time just over a year ago when I painted with a lot of red. Truth be known I enjoy painting with red a great deal. This comes from my early influence by the American abstract artist Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz (September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was a Russian-American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist). Rothko thought nothing of completely covering a surface in nothing but red, done with broad strokes and soaking wet paint. That took some serious liberty as an artist. To do this and then be happy enough with it to then just release it to the world as is. Without following the temptation to "develop it" more.
Develop it more. Yes, a term I am very well acquainted with. For years as a watercolour artist I could never break that cycle. The cycle of getting more and more detailed. Yes I know it is fine to do detailed paintings, in fact many artists pride themselves in the photographic reproduction element of their unbelievable detail work. Not I. I do not hold it against such artists, no, in fact a very good friend of mine is a painfully detailed painter who's work I greatly admire and appreciate. For Robert McAffee though, I fight to rid myself of such a burden. I want to get to the broad strokes. To tell the story in as few details as possible. To say it with colour and composition but not with endless detail. I want to bring you there with passion and excitement and still give you lot's to look at over the years as you visit the piece you have acquired.
I don't imagine myself ever moving to the red only blocks of Rothko but I do greatly admire his tenacity in comiting to this and so I have allowed myself to be a bit tenacious.
I may apply the principle to other colours as well, Blue, Green, Yellow. Let's see.
Down to the Lake
30"x30" oil on canvas
It's those proverbial responses to abstract art: "They are nothing but blobs of colour on a canvas, even my five year old could do that".
I have to admit I have uttered those words of ignorance from time to time long before I came to appreciate the meaning and life behind such images by the late but never forgotten Mark Rothko.
For as long as I endeavor to paint with colour in my landscapes I am reminded of Rothkos blatant and in your face use of colour. Red on Maroon, a fine example of what I call just putting it up there and letting it live. It takes some serious guts to do that. Either guts or anger. I think Mark Rothko had both. I am not an angry artist, but I desire like fire to bring that simple and powerful colour into my work. To Simplify my paintings into colour spaces and just let them live.
This is what I take from that master; to just plain do it. To skip all the negative advice and just follow my heart. This is why when asked who my influences are I say emphatically that one of the greatest on me has and always be the late yet great Mark Rothko.
What do artists credentials do for an artist? I suggest that the right question to ask is What do an artists credentials do for the Patron? Lets look at these two questions:
If I have credentials that state that I spent 18 years of my early life as an apprentice of A.J. Casson, then I studied for four years at the Ontario College of Art, then just for credentials sake I decided to take four years at York University in Art History and Art Philosophy. Then I began to make my rounds to all the galleries I could possibly squeeze into a month of meetings. Just suppose I secure a few great representation contracts with great agents. Lets suppose I do the credential route to the max. Then, after my highly credentialled paintings get hung in some pretty impressive places where many get to view them.
Now then, the first two people to view my paintings are first a Patron of the arts and second an art critic from an established Newspaper like the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star, or even the New York Post, lets just say that the Art patron decides he dosent like the painting. Lets also say that the Art Critic hates the painting as well, and pans it in his review. It is then that the artist realizes that credntials won't save his hide. Or will they? The critic and the Patron both decide to read the artists long list of credentials and low and behold, they gain a new resepct for the painting.
"This artist has been exposed to the best teachers, the best institutions, and even an art Master as well! The reviews change and the artist begins a whole new life as a succesful and respected artist.
Now lets examine the experience of an artist who comes with no credentials. But his paintings are wonderful. Expressive, colourful, moving, etc, etc. My guess is that without an impressive CV to "Open the Door" the major Galleries and critics will not even give it a second look if even a first look.
So it is true that by doing what is neccesary to get in the door an artist will be seen by many more patrons and critics and then his work will have become respectable.
Respectable. That is where I get off the train. It is the deep rooted view of this artist that a painting, or any type of art should stand on it's own merit. It should be loved or hated by it's appearance alone. I recall the words of Milton Glaser, creator of the famous "I love New York" logo with the heart in place of the word love: I do not place a description beside my paintings, I only put up the painting because the paintings impression on the viewer should not be coloured by the description that accompanies it".
This, I belive is the essence of how I feel about credntials. I have some, but I will never post them or let them be my precuror to a viewing of my work because I do not wish for the patron to think less or more of my work based on the certificate I received.
I beleive it should speak for itself. I belive you should love it or hate it based on it and it alone. Even a painting that has a long and very important history should be judged first by its own merit as a painting. Of course the history is very significant, especially if the price is significant. History does influence price, for certain. However I suggest that such paintings are collected by collectors for monitary value and not for a love for the painting (some exceptions are well known, such as the love Ken Thompson had for Canadian art, especially the miniatures which can be seen at the Art Gallery of Ontario). That is a catagory of art that is all on it's own. Even then, though, a paintings extrordinary value likely has nothing to do with the credentials of the artist, but more so perhaps the war that it survived, or the tormented life the artist lived, etc, etc.
Judge my work by what you see on the canvas. That is my point. Do not be clouded by the other things, of less importance.
The Artists Journey
This is my blog page and it is where I get to be the opinionated man that I really am. The views are my own.
I invite your replies and comments, on my virtual welcome mat.
This sketch above became this finished painting below
The Pine Tree Painter.
How did I become known as the Pine Tree Painter? You could say I paint a lot of Pine Trees, that would be true. I paint a lot of other things too, but Pine Trees, Spruce Trees, Birch and others seem to be a continuous string in what i do. I just like the way they stand there like a custodian of the land. or a greeter to nature. So, I continue down the path with the Pine Tree Painter name on my head, It's ok.