Archive for the ‘Open Debates’ Category

Constructive Criticism?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

One of the toughest parts of being an artist is facing critics, whoever they be.  However, this is something that is extremely necessary and beneficial to you as an artist.  Regardless of whether you agree with them or not, whether they are constructive or just, down-right mean, you can learn from them.  If you agree, then you can better your work, take the piece to the next level.  If you disagree then, you know something you don’t want to do to your piece, but who knows, that could spark some new creativity.  It often seems that many feel “It doesn’t matter what others say, I make my work for myself.  I’m the only one who needs to like it!”.  Now while this is true in the basic sense (even Monet felt this way, “Lots of people will protest that it’s quite unreal and that I’m out of my mind, but that’s just too bad”), you are also making art for the art world.  Isn’t the whole point of being an artist to create something both different and unique, that will affect others?  As an artist, you want your work to be appreciated and put out there.  Criticism will happen whether you want it to or not, its part of the wonderful thing called having an opinion.  As Elbert Hubbard best said, “To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”  Embracing criticisms, whether positive or negative, will without a doubt bring your artwork to a whole new level.  Maybe this is what Mary Wash art students need to do to have those critiques Mr. Ernst was talking about?


Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Flow is defined as the mental state of operation in which a person is completely immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of full involvement, energized focus, and success in the process of the activity. This theory was originally proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and he identifies nine criteria that often accompany a flow experience:

  1. Clear Goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities).
  2. Concentrating and Focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of productive control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to that activity itself, action awareness merging.

However according to Csíkszentmihályi not all of these are needed for flow to be experienced.

This concept of flow parallels the pure creative action that many artists strive to channel as they work. The idea of creating art while solely focused on the act itself is perhaps the thing that most artists attempt to achieve through their work. This “pure” art is made without concern of what professors, classmates, or critics will think but is created only because it needs to be. By removing analytical thought from art making, we can in turn make art which has no agenda other than the necessity of its existence.

Shit Crits?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Many students and professors at Mary Washington will agree that the feedback given to students by students during critiques in studio courses is almost always positive and rarely challanging. Though everyone likes hearing positive comments during critique as a source of artistic affirmation, I contend that more constructive criticism in the classroom helps students identify the weak aspects of their work and improve. If that’s so, then why aren’t students helping each other by being tough on each other? Is this behavior compromising the quality of our education? Do people feel unsafe in our classrooms? Is it because too few students plan on pursuing careers in art after they graduate? Have professors done enough to encourage this kind of challanging discourse in our classes? Are people just lazy? What would it take to change things?

Let’s talk about it.

A question about being politically correct

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Alright, so tonight I’m angry about something and that something is having to be politically correct.  I hate always worrying about being politically correct.  Our society ingrains in us at an early stage of development that we must always consider and pander to others feelings and beliefs and oftentimes hold them above our own.  Now, I believe in the Golden Rule just as much as the next girl, and I’m not saying that we should completely disregard the thoughts and feelings of others and purposely put them down. I’m not saying that at all.  My main gripe however is when this constant fear of offending someone actually becomes so restrictive that it starts to suffocate personal expression.  Now talking mainly in the context of art, should we as artists disregard this political correctness spider web our society is caught in? Or should we break free from it? How free should we break? All the way out or just a little so as not to offend anyone TOO much?  I feel that this is a legitimate problem for artists.  Should an artist express their opinion at the risk of both offending someone and/or recieving a public backlash?  My personal opinion is that we can’t please everyone and if we’re constantly worrying about how others will perceive our actions and censoring ourselves to make sure we don’t offend then what’s the point of having an opinion in the first place?  I realize that this is a sensitive issue with a fine line between freedom of speech and just being ugly to people for the sake of being ugly, which is why I’m posing this question for others to respond to.  So, what’s your opinion, which should we hold higher? Personal expression or political correctness?  You tell me.

Recipe for an Artist

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Here’s the dealio y’all.  All these recipes for pancakes and not a durned one for an artist! Now Uncle Lumpy may be wrinkled and his teeth count now somewhere in the single digits but, by lordy loooohoo, he still knows a thing or too about creatin’ an artist!  So all you youngins out there hear this! The recipe is clear and simple.  Step one: Go on an adventure.  The adventure need not be all crazy and money gobblin’ and such, just a simple old fashioned adventure through a stream or through your closet, or through the neighbors trash.  Step two: record your adventure.  This step is dang easy as a pumpkin fritter!  Alls ya have to do is somehow translate yer adventure into a legible/tactile/etc. expression!  Draw your reactions, paint what you see, compose what you hear, heck, roll around and bring into class what yer smellin’!!  Just remember to get out there and expose yourself to the entire world!!!!! You know what I mean.

Inviting the Disgusting Into Your Life

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Here’s the deal.  When standing above a clogged kitchen sink, reach down and pick out the smushy, mushy food remnants creating the problem.  However, instead of the usual “this is frickin’ gross!” stop and go with the flow.  Ah, what lovely texture and variety this new substance offers- a completely uninhibited tactile experience!  Feast your eyes on the delights of roadkill and keep that old banana peel in your room just one day longer.  And after awhile the sight of teeth and bones or the smell of old fruit may appear a little more intriguing.

Drawing vs. Painting

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

In the art world, drawing used to be seen as only a preliminary for other artistic mediums such as painting. In time drawing came into its own as an established and legitimate medium and now the real question is, which one is better?

Well, let’s face it. You just can’t do art without getting dirty. I know I sure can’t. Part of getting into your art is really getting into it… literally… which tends to lead to whatever medium you’re using ending up all over you. You leave from sculpture and your classmates all think you don’t wash your clothes because you have plaster all over your pants from sitting on the floor. In Drawing you’re washing your hands, make that arms, all the way up to your shoulders because the charcoal drawing you’re working on is slowly covering you in a grey fog. After painting you realize that despite how careful you were, you still managed to paint splotches all over your shirt.

Sure you can rush over to the sink and rub some soap on the oil paint stain to prevent it from drying until you throw it in the wash, but sometimes that doesn’t always work now does it? Most often the stain is at the very least still partially there and pretty soon you can’t find one piece of clothing in your closet with out a bothersome paint stain on it. What on earth is going on with these oil paints? Are they trying to be spiteful? Do they have a grudge against us? A grudge that makes them seek revenge by taking as long as possible to dry thus preventing our inevitable procrastination as college students? Unfortunately I doubt we will ever know their true intentions.

So if oils are a pain just switch to acrylic, you say? Yes! Brilliant! What a great idea! They will wash out of your clothes and they’ll even dry faster! Except wait, what is this? A brushstroke I did a minute ago and it’s ALREADY DRY?!! How did this happen? I know you wanted to beat oils in the drying time race, but now it’s impossible to blend you! Le sigh.

By now I think you can see where I’m going with this.  So far it’s: Drawing: 2, Painting: 0.

However that score isn’t final, so let me know your thoughts and I’ll keep this tally going!