Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thoughts on Visual Art for the Artist Appreciation Month

My friends at Patience Brewster recently reminded me that August is the Month of Artist Appreciation and asks me to write something about the artists who have inspired me.

Looking back all the years since I seriously started learning art , I realize it could be too long a list which includes classic, modern, and contemporary artists. At the beginning, I was crazy about Russian realist artist Ilya Repin's expressive power and landscape master Isaac Levitan's sentimentality. Then came the classic masters of Rembrandt's and Rubens's exquisiteness. My exposure to Impressionists made me feel totally carried away by Monet's perception of light and color. Shortly after that, I became a spellbound admirer of Klimt. My passion about sunshine made Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida a god for me to worship. Of course, I owe any of my recent improved techniques to contemporary American artist such as Kim English, Marc Dalessio, Jeremy Lipking, Richard Schmid, etc.

Interestingly, the more I study it, the more questions I have about art. I believe a theory in my teaching, that is, there is no art history but only artists in history. Why should we lump up very different artists under the name of Impressionism simply because they happened to hold a show together and the only thing they had in common was they were sick and tired of the traditional academician way of painting? What is great art? Why does good art appeal to so many viewers. In other words, good art must please aesthetically human eyes, right? Then I believe that good art is just a magic combination of art elements, including line, shape, color, value, etc., as much as the reason why some songs appeal to us because of a magic combination of music elements. In that sense, I think, realism and abstract art are only two extremes of a continuum. If you go to MoMA to see Monet's lily pond paintings, you know what I mean. Because he naturally slid to the other end of the continuum and doesn't care for the form of objects.

The conception of art is constantly expanding including its expressive form. I am often amazed by some creative expressions in street art. Like the fast-developing technological world, no one can anticipate what will become of tomorrow's art. As far as I am concerned, like a beach walker, I am happy and satisfied if I happen to pick up a few small colorful shells in the sea of art.

To me, painting is a personal thing. I don't have much interest in participating art competition or exhibitions. I enjoy more the process of painting than the product of it. Mainly, I am a self-taught artist. If I have to name a contemporary artist whom I am indebted to, it is Marc Dalessio, an American artist teaching at Florence Academy of Art, Italy. He is so generous with teaching of skills in his website that I have stolen a lot of creative ideas from him. Besides, he is a fast painter and can even paint in his car during a traffic jam.

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Patience, she is the founder of a one-artist company which specializes in hand painted ornaments Patience herself designs. Here is her company's site:  http://www.patiencebrewster.com/ornaments.html.

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