Why Do We Value Art?
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” (Martha Graham)
This month a major art heist took place in Italy. Art valued at seventeen million dollars was stolen from the Castelvecchio museum in northern Italy. Among the fifteen works stolen were paintings by Rubens and Tintoretto. In what seems like a Hollywood caper three masked robbers skillfully overpowered the guards and made off with the paintings. Nobody was injured and it was all very neatly done.
In reality these art thefts are not committed by handsome leading actors. They are the work of thugs working for organised crime. What is tragic is that these thefts deprive people like you and I of profound and great art. This strikes at the fabric of civilization. A fact easily overlooked in this digital age.
Consider that thousands of years ago a few prehistoric humans ventured into deep caves. Equipped with rude materials and fire for lighting these artists created beautiful art. Of course they did not call themselves artists like we understand the term today. Back then what they did was considered magical. The cave paintings at Lascaux in France are amazingly skilled works. Why did they go to this trouble when life was hard and precarious?
Our fascination with art to this day is a puzzle. Even though most of us have no chance of owning art worth millions we still appreciate art. Some of us will purchase art for our homes and offices. Despite these works having no utility we value them dearly. Is it because we recognise, deep down, that art is part of what makes us human. The other being our ability to love. According to Monet art is directly linked to our ability to love.
Now I know that many cynics today scoff at art. Yet art is all around us in design, architecture, music and imagery. I will never forget observing a man standing at the door of a gallery and laughingly saying that "you artists must really be suffering today". He then walked away presumably pleased with his verbal assault. Art must be powerful indeed to provoke such scorn from this disconnected fellow.
So what is the value of art? Is it the price even though some art is priceless? Is it the rarity of certain work? Is it the skill of an auctioneer pushing up prices? Perhaps the provenance of ownership by famous people? All of these influence objective and subjective values. But it goes further than this.
The quote above holds the clue. Art has a vital energy that resonates with our soul. I will not accept that our fascination with art has any other link. The prehistoric artists and Leonardo da Vinci had this in common We all have this vital energy to express ourselves in creative and abstract ways.
We also need art in our schools. We need to stop the complete focus on left-brain education. Adults too must recognise art as a healing activity.
It is critical that each person sees this. Do something creative. You need it. I am convinced that complete happiness requires artistic expression and appreciation. What value can you put on this?
What do you think? Does art still have any value in modern society?
The Simple Answer to Productivity Is?
Year end approaches and everything starts to call for attention. Productivity suffers. Maybe you have holidays in December so you have calculated how many days you have to get things done. The kids will finish school on __ so I have to get everything finished before then. So it goes.
Except is doesn't. You find that nothing gets done because you are fretting about what you did not do yesterday. The cat is still at the vet and you have rude messages on the phone from your boss. Apparently it is not okay to arrive 30 minutes late after lunch. Does he even realise how hectic the traffic is this time of year?
You may think that artists have it easy. What with painting, entertaining and contemplation in the off-peak times. Life for us is a doddle. But no. It is fraught with angst too. There are deadlines for commissions. Packing paintings for year-end exhibitions and the usual business paperwork too. Plus the courier company wants it's bill paid last week.
Then sales actually start grinding to a halt. Yes, the demands of the festive season can leave most people staring into empty wallets. This creates a severe dent in disposable income to oh, about May next year. So no joy for artists for a while then. No matter. All this is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Except for one thing.
The one thing that is important. Put aside all distractions for a moment. Simplify everything so that you can focus on the ONE THING. Which happens to be doing your art. All the running about getting frantic over nonsense does no take your life forward. Your number one focus must be creating your best work. Then sharing your work.
Not sure about this? There is a book devoted to this topic. It is well worth the read if you have time that is. There is a similar principle in economics too. The 80/20 rule which says that eighty percent of the returns come from twenty percent of the customers. The trick is knowing who that twenty percent is and what they like. Nothing that a bit of focus cannot solve.
This is also the way to peacefully live you life. Focus on the twenty percent that matters. The rest is distraction. When you get down to the real work your entire being calms down. The act of creating is a real need. You can feed the body, but you cannot ignore the soul.
But what about your business? Remember what made others join your world? It was your art. No matter what you create think of it as your art. People want this from you. It is also what makes you happy. So do more art.
Give up the rat-race. Ignore the tail-chasing madness. Keep doing the one thing that makes your life complete. Maybe all you need to do today is the one thing.
What do you think?
It started in October. I walked into the supermarket and at first I did not register that something was amiss. You know that feeling? What is wrong with this picture? What ... #$%#^&$ plastic Christmas trees in my way! Tinsel hanging in my face as if installed by tiny elves. Already! It's only October.
I procrastinated throughout October despite my wife's reminders to start looking for gifts. There is no getting away from it now though. It is November. Time to prepare for the festive season.
This means overheating my credit card until it resembles Salvador Dali's pocket watch. Never mind. A few pennies in the red is nothing compared to the beatific smiles of my little urchins on the Christmas morn. Or is it?
As I recall the yuletide past there was not peace and goodwill to all. This was due to a shortage of batteries, the incorrectly sized screwdriver, insufficient RAM and various other technical issues. So it is time to rethink gift giving. A time for radical change. A time for the ideal Christmas gift. A work of art!
Not convinced? Then have a read through this list of 14 reasons why you should give art as a gift:
So there it is. My shameless and unrepentant list of why art makes the perfect Christmas gift. If you will mind my blushes here is a handy link to paintings that may do rather well. Happy shopping everyone!
PS: Please add your reasons why you think art is a great gift. Even better - why YOU deserve art for a prezzie, then share this article with whoever needs a reminder.
The How and Why of Framing Paintings
Raise the subject of framing paintings and artists tend to get rather animated. Tempers may flare while others sign with resignation. We all agree that a frame is essential to make an occasion out of the painting. Get it wrong and the whole effect can fall flat. The frame should not steal the show either, but rather show off the painting to best effect. So why all the fuss?
Retail framing has become very expensive. It is a dilemma because without the frame the painting is difficult to display and sell. However after the artist pays for a frame it can be some time before it sells and the cost must be absorbed by the artist for all that time. Money that the artist may not wish to pay out! Add in the ruinous cost of art materials and we can see that painting does take a bit of an investment.
Still it is all worth it. Not to paint is to give up on life. Just today I was discussing this issue with another artist. The option of DIY framing is an attractive one. In a previous article I wrote about how I set up my own framing studio. That was my good fortune as it not only meant I could save costs and pass those onto collectors, but it opened up an entirely new creative process for me.
Framing is a form of creative labour that has given me another creative outlet. It is a way of finishing my paintings with the look that I think suits the painting. I am involved from start to the end and that is satisfying.
What are a few suggestions for artists to save on the expense of framing?
7 - Tips for Affordable Framing
Please add your framing ideas in the comments section!
So the possibilities for framing are many. You don't have to pay big sums to framers for the traditional approach. It is important to remember though that a good frame says a lot about the artist too. Please don't skimp of framing as it would not do you justice for your creative efforts. Rather focus on your best painting and give it an excellent frame.
I have added a video of my framing method. I still have all my fingers too!
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa