This is something my mum used to say to me all the time. She also often said: ‘Why are all your pictures so wonky and distorted?’ At the time I was into painting ordinary objects and distorting them, such as this ketchup bottle.
She wanted me to paint the sea, or flowers. I like painting the sea (I’m rubbish at flowers). I went through a phase of painting nothing but the sea. I now have a house full of sea paintings.
However, generally I’ve resisted the urge to paint pretty things (I don’t think I do pretty things justice). But whenever I try to paint pretty things, people seem to react and they seem to react positively. Take this chick painting.
The comments I had on Facebook (and the 37 ‘likes’) in response to this painting (which incidentally, took me an hour to paint), were very flattering and positive. They gave me a warm glow (and still do).
The comments included: ‘love’, ‘brilliant’, ‘I’ve just showed this to Niel and he thought it was real’, ‘wow’, ‘its beautiful’, ‘I think it is brilliant’.
These comments were overwhelming, and really much welcomed. Comments such as this make me realise that painting and drawing are my ‘bag’ and I shouldn’t give up despite times of great doubt.
However, when I post art on Facebook that I feel more passionate about or that I’ve put more sweat into, such as a painting or a video I’ve been working on for a bigger project, I don’t seem to receive the same level of response. Sometimes I don’t get any response. I don’t understand why. I want my art to touch people. The whole point of me working on bigger projects is to have some sort of impact and provoke an emotional response. This differentiation in response from the world makes me question my subject matter and my passion for meaningful art. Should I stick to realistic art, pretty art, and the art that people seem to like the best?
A few months ago, a tutor at college gave a demonstration on landscape painting using gouache. After he had finished, we were encourage to have a go. I created a rough painting in response. This piece took me half an hour to create. I posted this to Facebook.
This picture gathered 25 likes and comments such as: ‘Gorgeous’, ‘Brilliant’, ‘Love it’, OMG that’s amazing’, ‘1/2 hour??’
When, a few months after this, I posted another painting on Facebook. The audience didn’t respond at all. I like this piece much more than the landscape painting. It took a lot longer to create, it has more meaning for me (it relates to my response to a very rare, historic First World War medal) and I think it shows more technical skill. It is part of a much bigger project. So why was the half-hour sketchy landscape appreciated more?
My heart is more in my odd, distorted, object paintings and drawings and my videos about people and things than it is in pretty art. I strive to get more likes for the odd paintings and projects. I will still dabble in pretty art now and then (everyone needs the odd boost to the self-esteem) but I hope that I get equal responses for both one day.