21 April 2012

Modern Expression 2 Workshop with Verdiano Marzi - Day 4

There is so much to say about being a student in one of Verdiano's workshops. I'm not going to write about it this morning, mainly because I don't have the time to do it justice...

So here's the photos from the end of the day yesterday:

19 April 2012

Modern Expression 2 Workshop with Verdiano Marzi

I'm taking the 6-day Modern Expression II workshop at the Chicago Mosaic School with Verdiano Marzi. We're three days into it and it's been absolutely amazing. Verdiano is a powerful teacher. Matteo Randi is translating for Verdiano this time. Last year I took the Modern Expression I workshop and it transformed my practice... I feel like this workshop is going to result in an even greater understanding of mosaic and what I can do as an artist.

Just wanted to post a few photos of yesterday's and today's mosaic work. I'm working in petrified wood, travertine (a type of limestone), marble and glass, along with some assorted undefined rocks that I've collected here and there.

At the end of the day yesterday:

Today's progress:

Verdiano likes all that I've done so far, except for one small area. He said we'd talk about it tomorrow...

07 April 2012

Thomas Kinkade

Well... not a fan, but you most certainly mastered your craft. Even so, I would never have named you The Painter of Light... but rest in peace, Thomas Kinkade. The world is lessened by your passing.

Thomas Kinkade dies at 54; artist was called the 'Painter of Light' - latimes.com

Still... the idea of selling reproductions as art disturbs me.

About a month ago I had the "reproductions vs. art" discussion with some friends. We were sitting in a local diner that had Kinkade-ish prints spectacularly framed and hung on the walls. Like a fool, I mentioned my disdain for the practice of treating prints of paintings as paintings... I then had to try to put hours and hours of thinking about this into a coherent statement during the 25 minutes our meal would take. I wasn't eating, so at least I didn't have to give up chewing time.

One of my companions said that he was in favor of "Kinkadeing" since it put art in the hands of people who couldn't ordinarily have art (of that quality). He thought it was perfectly fine for an artist to create originals and photograph/scan them to create printed reproductions AND call those reproductions art.

Leaving alone the fact that Kinkade prints weren't cheap enough for the people he was referring to to purchase, I tried to explain my view on the whole idea...

I believe that for most artists selling reproductions of their work do so purely for a financial reasons, not for some altruistic desire to put art in the hands of less-affluent patrons (an exception to that, I suppose, is the ego boost of having your "art" purchased by people and the warm glow that it creates deep down inside you).

For the most part, I have no issues with the practice of selling reproductions. It's hard to make a living doing art. But I believe that the artists who sell reproductions as if they are art are making a mistake. In fact, I think it's the biggest mistake we make - plus it's a bit like snake-oil... 

The primary reason it is hard to make a living making art is that we have a predominantly ill-informed/under-informed audience. They already don't see making art or being an artist as a realistic career. Unless they are among those who idolize artists (and this group is just as likely to be ill-informed), they tend to think we're all dreamers and misfits who have yet to "grow up and find a real job." They don't recognize the validity of an art career or the benefits of having art in their life. They don't know how to determine the amount of work that goes into creating art or the monetary value of that work.

So we have an audience, a client base, a market, that has no method for determining the value of the work we want to sell (for me, being unsure about the cost/value of something makes me less likely to purchase it). Selling reproductions as art compounds the problem by cultivating the point of view that art should be inexpensive. 

Someone said to me that I only felt this way since my work (they meant mosaics and sculptures) do not work as prints (no one is confused thinking a photograph of a sculpture is a sculpture or even art). While I will concede their point, my argument is not a sour-grapes point of view... I do make art that could be sold as reproductions - my encaustic abstract art would make fabulous giclee prints...

I guess I just think that the only visual artists that should be selling prints as art are the printmakers...