"Too Many Too Soon" - from my series.
Recently, I flipped on the TV remote to watch a portion of the TV show “American Idol,” of which I am an intermittent viewer. Despite the average singing (my opinion) I was witnessing, something kept me fixated to the TV. It was the judges’ feedback that compelled me to stay tuned. After about the third contestant, I finally “heard” what Judge Randy was saying. His repeated criticism was, “Your song and performance is too safe.” At first, I totally agreed and then I realized these are just kids, but the real Ah-ha! came when I realized that that is exactly what I have been doing with my landscapes. What he was saying applied to me.
In the art world, we are constantly told to improve our technique and to strive towards creating the highest quality of work we can produce. (Those are always good reminders.) The other mantra we hear is to create work from the heart that will make our paintings stand out from the competition. Allowing Randy’s message to penetrate my being caused me to pause, reflect and question.
Upon reflection, I remembered and then gave myself some credit, that I have created “unsafe” works in the past. The large body of work I created commemorating 19th-Century women (entitled No Time for Idle Hands) was risky and stood out, as well as my surrealistic paintings of the past. Then I realized that those intense 6-7 years of painting the hands of 19th-Century to tell their visual story, led me to seek harmony and nature for solace. My subject changed to something that was not risky, but my visual voice also seemed to be too “safe,” because my landscape paintings do not strongly stand out from the competition. I know that I have the capability to create compelling paintings, but I am not yet there.
What is a safe painting? A safe painting is no longer exciting to view as evident when viewers keep walking by at a show or gallery, or they glance and just move on. Nothing is holding them there, be it design, color, subject, emotion, or composition. An unsafe painting is conveyed only when the artist is willing to open herself to the vision she wants to tell and to dig deep to find her inner passion that feeds her. My personal discovery is that I do have that passion and vision, but I have not yet acquired the higher level skills to satisfy my minds eye, hence to cause more viewers to stop in their tracks and want to 'finish' the painting. Time to get back to work!
How would you define unsafe landscape paintings?
Topics: Homework for Blogging Class
11 Responses to What I Learned From "American Idol!"
This painting is compelling. The drawing is excellent, especially the hands holding the child. I like also how you've placed the young girl. Continued success fellow blog triager...All the Best, Magdalena
What a stunning painting. The colors are absolutely beautiful and I too, love the hands. You can tell so much from a person's hands. I loved how you realized a aha moment by watching American Idol and applied it to your art. Fantastic!!
Dear Fellow Blogging Students;
Thanks so much for stopping in to read my blog and for your comments. It is amazing how receiving your comments has a positive impact on my willingness to continue blogging. Just knowing that my efforts are not just sitting out there in blogosphere is very helpful.
Hope to "see" you again as we travel this marvelous blogging class.
Your work is beautiful and I loved your definition of "unsafe".
I think we know in our hearts when we are playing it safe with our art.
Keep taking chances and we all benefit!
Looking forward to getting to know you and your art better during the class.
Thanks for sharing.
In my mind an unsafe landscape painting is like an unsafe life, risky and edgy and exciting. We can all recognize one when we see it. Most of us are happy to make it once in a while.
I loved your hands series. Those images evoke so many thoughts and memories. Thanks.
Thanks too for taking time to leave a comment on my blog. You are the first. It feels glorious.
We must talk about Costa Rica but not just now. My mind is turning to jelly. To sleep. Marge
I enjoyed this. You have a very nice painting with exceptional mood. The hands and feat are very well done. It just breathes a labour of love.
Denise here, Indian Hills, Colorado (I hear that the bears are out down where you are; probably here, too, but I haven't seen any) --- now about your post.
OMG, what a great reminder! I am the queen of safe. It drives me crazy. Your paintings are beautiful! They don't strike me as safe, but I know exactly what you mean and am going to make myself a banner for my studio - something like, "Does this turn heads?!"
Hi Denise; (No bear sitings as of yet, though we woke up to a freakish 4" of snow, which I am getting kind a tired of but know that we NEVER have enough moisture. Where is Indian Hills? I have not lived in CO very long.)
The sign I need to get back out into my studio is "Where is your 50 ft voice?" Which I think is similar to Does this turn heads?. Maybe I will just put the two together on the same card/banner and post it up on my wall!
Thanks for your encouraging comments, as they help keep the juices flowing.
Thank you for the photo idea, I will try that, and hopefully something will be pleasing. I love your work, your website, they are wonderful. In your last entry you mentioned the safe paintings and really figured it out. Between people walking past the work (I really remember doing that at art festivals, no zip in some pieces) and not having the skills to take the leap (I know that feeling) Thank you for the observations, I will keep them in mind when I wrestle with new work.
What skill! Your colors are so lovely, and I love your compositions.
This topic of making "safe" paintings I find very intriguing...I'm going to have to think about it for awhile.
Thanks for the food for thought, and for sharing your beautiful work. See you in class.
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