I was talking with fellow McRae art studio artist, Matthew Cornell about the nature of what we paint. We talked about why we make the choices we do. That’s nearly impossible to answer on behalf of other artists but I do have some theories. Art does one of several things; informs, documents, challenges or confronts, narrates and, finally, decorates. The latter is done really as a commercial enterprise so money would be the real motive. The art that challenges is generally considered unpopular to all but a handful of people because it goes against the norm. What we find challenging one year is not so the next. For example, the Impressionist movement was considered very controversial in it’s day, now Monet paintings hang in most halls and bathrooms around the country. The new controversial stuff is, well, controversial, and hard to like but maybe in 50 or 100 years it will be considered the norm and maybe people will have piles of salt with burned plastic babies in their bathrooms.
I’m more of a documentor, a landscape artist and painter of stuff; boats (above), interiors and the like. The still life might fall in the realm of the decorative, depending on how it’s done but there are a few artists whose work transcends that genre, Daniel Sprick is one. Winslow Homer, Sargent and Joaquin Sorolla fall into a more narrative/documentative category with work that tells a story or explains the everyday goings on at the time. The ideal is to create work that is both true to yourself and sellable but the two don’t always go together. The lesson usually is paint what you love unless of course you really need to make a buck.