Artist research: Artists and their intentions

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and some content).

This is an add-on post!

25 November 2016. Since the incentives of past artists have been filtered by countless art historians into public belief, I thought it safer to concentrate in this research on contemporary artists, who are still able to speak for themselves. I guess that there as many incentives as there are artists in the world and from personal talks with many of the artists I have met (including both my parents) I know that many do not define or question incentives for themselves or if they do they allow them to drift with the changes in the world the live in. Many of them say that they gain pleasure from what they do with no added social or philosophical context.

30 November 2016. But now for those whose intentions are more structured, starting with a link providing videos produced by the Tate gallery suggested by my tutor (Tate, n.d.).

1. Grayson Perry (*1960, UK): “Think Like an Artist” (Tate, 2016a) – this was a short animated collection of disconnected basic thoughts, which I did not find too helpful. His main meassage is that “nobody can teach creativity” and that every artist is alone to “do his thing”. I do not fully agree, because I believe that there is the possibility to awaken creativity in people who were taught to believe otherwise and there is creativity in most of us. Every artist is free to choose their areas of interest and whoever feels the need will follow their inner voice anyway.

2. “Art and Language” talking about conceptual art (Tate, 2016b) – talking about the problems of grasping and defining an emerging new art development. This problem, I think, has of course a profound influence on the transporting and understanding of an artist’s intentions. If nobody has ever heard of what an artist has thought up for the first time ever, how can he or she make themselves understood? Is a misunderstood intention of an artist, who decides to want a public voice, one that failed or a beginning of a necessary discussion preceding communal understanding? I think that there is a real danger that some conceptual art may go unnoticed or underrated, however, because the intentions are not made known clearly enough to a receiving public whose members were taught that you cannot teach creativity.

3. Mary Kelly (*1941, USA) (Tate, 2015) – the conceptual artist talking about feminism informing her work after a pioneering anti-war demonstration in London in the 1960s. She explains how a whole new world of thinking was made possible by the radical questioning of what had been. Her intentions as an artist were so new at the time that she had to go and look for appropriate media and techniques to visualize her thoughts. Kelly thinks that, due to the pioneering work done by people of her generation, women are much better placed to fulfill their potentials now than in the past. So, of course, there is a much greater chance for them to make their intentions known and contribute to developments important for them. This as a consequence shifts the stakes in the art world.

2 December 2016

4. Jakob Gasteiger (*1953, Austria) – in an interview given for the Viennese newspaper “Die Presse” (Weismann, 2016) Gasteiger explains his very personal view on the nature of painting. He is absolutely convinced that there will never be an all-encompassing, universally valid answer to that question. While studying in Vienna in the 1980s he came into contact with the “Neue Wilde” group (Ketterer Kunst, n.d.), but he know then that for his own intentions (in the tradition of Josef Albers or Mark Rothko) their neo-expressionist approach aiming at strengthening the figurative was unsuitable: “If you want to be a serious artist, you listen to your inner voice and do not follow trends.” He has not changed his techniques and subjects in 30 years, which he interprets as an advantage – the self-chosen limits allow the development of a great confidence in his work inside the boundaries. He does not want to give answers in his paintings, he sees his task in providing an area of discussion.

References:

Ketterer Kunst (n.d.) Dictionary: New Wild Artists [online]. Ketterer Kunst, Munich. http://www.kettererkunst.com/dict/neue-wilde.php [Accessed 30 November 2016]

Tate (2015) Mary Kelly | TateShots [online]. Tate, London, 18 March. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/mary-kelly-tateshots [Accessed 30 November 2016]

Tate (2016a) Grayson Perry | Think Like an Artist | TateShots  [online]. Tate, London, 18 March. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/grayson-perry-think-artist-tateshots [Accessed 30 November 2016]

Tate (2016b) Art & Language | Studio Visit | TateShots [online]. Tate, London, 28 April. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/art-language-studio-visit-tateshots [Accessed 30 November 2016]

Weismann, R. (2016) Jakob Gasteiger: Malen als Prozess [online]. Die Presse, Wien, 23 November. Available at: http://diepresse.com/home/kultur/kunst/5123003/Jakob-Gasteiger_Malen-als-Prozess [Accessed 30 November 2016]

Assignment 4: Self-evaluation

Updated on 24 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

29 November 2016. In this post follows my self-assessment for the painting produced for Assignment 4, “Claustrophobia”, of Painting 1 (Lacher-Bryk, 2016a):

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I believe that in the course of this part of Painting 1 I was able to make use of most of the skills acquired in the course up to now. For the assignment piece “Claustrophobia” I used the experience gained in planning paintings including subject choice, subject and artist research, testing compositional ideas using sketches on paper and in my sketchbook in the appropriate way as well as drawing on the experience gained in a previous exercise (the river gorge painted for the exercise on aerial perspective, (Lacher-Bryk, 2016b)). Again I tried to transport a message by translating an emotion into a visual language, this time the agonizing feeling of claustrophobia and not being able to breathe due to a trauma left from an own childhood experience (ether narcosis).

2. Quality of outcome

My second charcoal sketch made in preparation for Assignment 4 appeared to me quite strong at transporting my message, whereas the final painting did loose somewhat in this respect. The properties of charcoal are probably much better suited to create the intended atmosphere, because it allows the blending of crisp strong messages and vage suggestions. Also, it could well be that my technical skills regarding the use of acrylic paint are not reliable enough yet. Still I think that I was able to translate my original idea into a working painting. There are some weak points concerning the composition, but I believe that I was able to produce some interesting and beautiful effects using a palette knife throughout (apart from the blue of the sky, which I wanted to be in strong contrast to the rocks of the cave, and the sunrays and haze added).
In this assignment I tried to address a subject, which I believe might be difficult to express to a wider public. If a viewer never experienced the sensation of claustrophobia and/or the feeling of not being able to breathe ever before, I guess that they might not be able to comprehend the strength of the associated emotion to its full extent. However, I believe that nobody is totally free from it, so I hope that my approach might allow them to reproduce what I felt.

3. Demonstration of creativity

I think that I was able to include a large amount of experimentation in Part 4 of the course, both regarding the choice of subject and the use of paint. The assignment piece itself was an extention to the exercise mentioned in 1. above (which I did with the assignment in mind) and so in itself not a totally new approach. However, the choice of subject with regard to the set task of painting a landscape might qualify as being creative.

4. Context reflection

Before embarking on this assignment, I did some intense research on the chosen subject, both regarding the medical and psychological aspects of claustrophobia, the work of spelaeologists (cave explorers), the interplay of light and dust in air and the effect of ether narcoses on patients, as well as on a number of visual artists, who produce(d) work described as claustrophobic and/or addressing the subject of claustrophobia. I think that in this way I was properly prepared to carry out the intended work. I do not think that I was influenced by any named artist, but noticed how references from past and present research came to my mind and help at points when the direction of the next step was unclear.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016a) Assignment 4: Claustrophobia [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 29 November. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/assignment-4-claustrophobia/ [Accessed 29 November 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016b) Part 4, project 3, exercise 1: Expressive landscape – creating mood and atmosphere [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 17 November. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/part-4-project-3-exercise-1-expressive-landscape-creating-mood-and-atmosphere/ [Accessed 29 November 2016]

Assignment 2: Self-evaluation

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

26 June 2016. This time I did not forget to provide my tutor with large-size images of my blog photos on my Dropbox account and therefore, hopefully, she will be able to see better the details.
27 June 2016. I have just been informed that I will be assigned a new tutor, since my previous tutor has resigned from her job. I can only hope that my work so far meets with the expectations of my new tutor.

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I think that I have made some progress in my approach to planning exercises and assignments. After a lot of guesswork from the start of Drawing 1 until about now I think that finally I have understood the principles of using a sketchbook for the work preceding a larger painting. Also, I can understand now why many fellow students will only reluctantly add a blog to their sketchbook logs. The latter are so much easier to keep, straightforward to use and will take any sort of awkward stuff and notes without producing any error messages. They are wonderful things to flick though and provide instantaneous reference. And since my handwriting is something only I can read a lot of the time I can put in all sorts of stupid ideas and side thoughts without having to feel embarrassed.

After a few disasters with using acrylic medium for dilution purposes I think that I am now using my acrylic paint with more confidence. I know now how important it is to keep paint not just moist but wet at all times and to take care to mix water and paint thoroughly before applying it to canvas. I am also, after an incredibly long time in the dark, getting more familiar with my brushes, so not all mark-making results are accidental any more.

At the same time I find that I become increasingly familiar with the requirements of a (more or less) successful setup. I find that my sketching and watercolour abilities are much better developed than my abilities in painting with acrylics, so my preliminary sketches appear much more interesting and probably better than my socalled finished work.

I am also becoming more familiar with the work of some artists, whose ideas and style have started to influence my own work. In this assignment, for example, I produced a background reminding me of Mark Rothko in order to exploit the mutual influence colours have so as to create the illusion of force or movement in an otherwise static setup.

2. Quality of outcome

I think that I prepared thoroughly for this task, having produced a large amount of research both on the meaning of colours and still life artists, as well as several preliminary studies during the exercises leading up to this assignment. Still I am not convinced that the quality of the outcome is what I would have liked to see. Problems occurring during the preparatory work showed me the importance of being absolutely clear about my intentions especially if my task extends beyond a purely representational painting. In planning the assignment piece I was quite convinced about the feasibility of my idea, but my grasp of colour relationships is not yet reliable enough to guide me safely through the development stage of a painting. In this assignment I think that my very small preparatory watercolour sketch has a higher quality than the finished piece. Despite all this I am happy to be able now to somehow communicate with a developing painting and overcome my fear of destroying something I may not be able to recreate in case the new idea was worse than the one from which it emerged.

3. Demonstration of creativity

As in most of my works I think it essential that they contain a message. The idea for painting poisonous cocktails occurred to me while describing another hair-raising point in the endless story about our son, us and the hospital. As a caricaturist I am used to playing with the meaning of words and one of my long-term goals is to be able one day to do a similar thing by painting alone. I think that my message coming with this assignment might be called creative, but not so the actual painting. I still have not arrived at a point where I think my acrylic painting skills are sufficiently developed to allow a more adventurous approach regarding the use of painting media and techniques. Still I was able to use insights taken from all exercises in Part 2 of the course to apply them in a useful and hopefully believable way (colour relationships, contrast, negative space etc.)

4. Context reflection

I have become increasingly aware of the immense value of researching the work of other artists in preparing my own. Since I am clearer now with my intentions it has become easier to take aboard the respective messages of the artists I have come across so far in the course of my studies. As with any field of knowledge I find that the more I know, the more readily and easily my mind will form bridges and associations, which will then increasingly allow me to find informed solutions for a given problem. Hopefully these will, one day, replace the guesswork I find myself struggling with at the moment, since only when my work stops being arbitrary it will start being truly creative.

Assignment 1: Self-evaluation

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

1 April 2016. Thank God I browsed the blog of another Painting 1 student to remind me that I might be required to go through self assessment with each assignment. Since in Drawing 1 a reminder came with each assignment, I wasn’t sure whether the same was true for Painting 1. So, just in case, here it is:

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I tried to include in this work the experience gained both during Drawing 1 and the first part of Painting 1. The chosen view from slightly above was comparatively difficult, but I think that background, bouquet and shadows work together in a believable and interesting way. What I will need to work on is, as always, my weak point of not doing enough research concerning both the work of other artists and following a consistent approach to a painting using a series of sketchbook studies. My problem is that I always have a finished painting in my mind ready to be transferred to the canvas and I have yet to find a way to navigate around this aspect.

2. Quality of outcome

While I think that the general layout and the systematic realisation of my idea are not too bad, my use of materials and techniques has ample scope for improvement. In particular, my use of a layering technique using both opaque and transparent layers is still very inconsistent and I will need to do more research in this respect.

3. Demonstration of creativity

Other than with Drawing 1 I am not sure yet whether we are expected to push our limits in Painting 1. Since also the instructions for this assignment included the remark “Don’t be too ambitious at this stage” I decided, for once, not to run wild and stay with something manageable. I still think that, within limits, the idea of having a black flower-head with a bouquet of bright tulips, whose shadow on the other hand is the only one that is colourful, reflects my attitude towards life: Even if something looks quite bleak, it may come with an extraordinary characteristic helping to compensate for the more obvious “deficits”.
Since my grasp of acrylics is not yet well grounded I decided that I did not to want to experiment too much with materials and techniques yet. For the next assignment, however, I am planning to go ahead with a more inventive approach.

4. Context reflection

I think that my choice of materials and techniques support the message included with the painting. The bouquet is not simply a representation of a real world object, but hopefully allows a viewer to interact with the depicted situation in a more intense way, allowing the symbols used to deduce a generalized view of the world.