Let me show you my best painting secret!
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I choose to paint beauty.
It takes courage to purchase art. No matter the price. It is all relative anyway. To stump up with your money and and say "I want that painting". Then to hand over your card, cash or click through the purchase takes a certain belief in something other than utility. Something bigger than a mere necessity.
What is the elusive quality that makes us stop and stare at a work of art. The great pieces compel us to look countless times and still we get something back. A buzz of pleasure, nostalgia perhaps or serenity. There is no begrudging the purchase then. What is obtained is a not merely tangible. It is simply more and in this case more is good.
It is said that artists should know what their collectors want. Well lets say that in market-speak one should know what your customer wants or you will not have a clue what to sell. Does this apply to art? Should an artist ponder what collectors are looking for and trim and tuck the work to meet this belief? It is easy to answer in the affirmative, but what then? Creativity must run free.
Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God.
I recently watched the movie Amadeus. You may remember this Oscar winning movie from 1984 about Mozart and his nemesis, Salieri. I saw the film back then, but wanted to see it again after all these years. It is still superb. Mozart is of course a genius and an artist in the true sense of the word.
Mozart was consumed by a passion for creating profoundly beatiful music. He was also driven to live life fully. Despite being surrounded by ugliness such as poverty and war he sought out every opportunity to compose music and to live his life with joy. Did his music solve the problems of the day? Did his music boost the economy and lead to peace in Europe? No.
What about becoming rich? Money was never Mozart's motivation. Music was his purpose and he shared his gift wholeheartedly.
How does this help us understand what collectors want from art? I suspect that it comes down to beauty and escape. The more we are confronted by a world gone mad the more we need to be reminded of it's beauty, creativity and the human potential for good. Art is part of the evidence that humans can do good work. Collectors share this communion with artists.
So what is art good for? For reminding us that creating something beautiful is a divine gift that must be shared with the world. It takes courage and understanding to acknowledge this. Only fear and ignorance can stop us.