I don’t enjoy being negative. I really mean that. It is sometimes too easy to cast a hipster sneer at what is unfashionable. Last week when I was thinking about Bierstadt’s paintings, it was only in the spirit of learning from them, not bashing them. While some young artists may not care for them because they are not “in” right now, I didn’t care for them because I thought they weren’t truthful (just go back and read it). I talked about how it was a similar enhancement that you may find on the cover of a magazine where the woman is photoshopped. I think I crossed a line there when I said I equated Bierstadt to fashion. Perhaps that was too strong. Obviously Bierstadt was a very skilled painter. What I meant was, as sensational as the paintings are, he often made mountains taller or water bluer, all because that’s how he thought they should be. Maybe that is okay if he named them something other than the place he claimed to represent, perhaps a mythical place. They are technically very good paintings, and the irony is that I do like looking at them even thought I already told you the reasons I don’t respect them (but hey, I do buy fashion magazines occasionally).
I would also like to say how much I appreciated the feedback I received on that post from many friends. I mean that too. Because I really want to know any changes I could make in my thinking or in the end results – my art. Starting a conversation like that and then being able to have someone reciprocate means the world to me, since I pretty much paint alone. One commenter said something that I am still trying to figure out for myself: doesn’t every artist change change or enhance the subject in some way?
(It was ideal, Pastel on Rives BFK, 22″ x 30″)
I have just finished this drawing, and this conversation still goes through my head. Obviously I have changed the place too. I have changed the colors, simplified the features (though kept the same structure). Bierstadt’s paintings probably have a greater likeness to the original landscape than my paintings do. He made more of a landscape painting than I will ever make. So what now?
I guess we are trying to say two different things with our landscape paintings. He was saying that this place is extraordinary and you should really come see it and be in awe of it. I am saying this place is amazing but you are only seeing it in your imagination or from the perspective of desire.
I am not trying to “win” here, just want to learn more with each drawing. I want to make truthful art with which a viewer can deeply connect. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, I love our conversations.