This question has been plaguing me recently and, I in turn, have tortured my students with it: What is the painting ABOUT? This piece at the right, I did at the class paint out last week in Alamosa and I hope will still hold up after you read my thoughts:
A few weeks back at the PAAC Show (Plein Air Artists of Colorado) in Denver (great show by the way), Sue McCullough and I had the chance to talk at length with Karen Vance about how she judged the show. She told us her first criteria was that very thing: What is the painting about? - brushwork, imagery, color. . .
A week later, at the SPACe Gallery in LaVeta, I spoke with Tim Deiber who judged the Paint Colorado show and our conversation about the work focused on that same topic.
Now, this is not rocket science, if you have painted for any length of time the idea is not a foreign one. We have been schooled to have a "center of attention" at least, but why is the concept so elusive or more to the point - how do so many accomplished artists seem to miss it. Those of us who should know better?
I would site a wonderful example of this idea, as it emerged in a painting demo done by Eldon Warren showing the choices that must be made, to make the point oh-so-clear - THIS is what it is ABOUT.
Click on Eldon's name to see his BLOG and when you get there scroll down a bit to - "Why Did the People Cross the Road?".
This seemingly innocuous demo of a beautiful landscape just hit me over the head. Why? Because it illustrates (we artists need pictures) so well, what happens to almost all of us, at some point. Eldon is a friend and master painter - and I don't think it happens to him as often, as the blog will show.
I encourage you to check it out - and if you are scratching your head - ask yourself this: what is the painting ABOUT? - this, that, what?
In the end I hope it is clear "Why The People Crossed the Road".