It is funny, in a way, that you should make reference to that, the concept of the preference for "The personalised work". It is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, and it is a bit of a recurring theme.
I am, I confess a contemporary and classically trained painter. A recent graduate of Goldsmiths. London. And amongst many of the old techniques learned, including even the mortar and pestle construction of pigment. I still don't know, if it is even appropriate that there should be a hierarchy of technique or medium as such.
However, the comment regarding the preference for "human-generated, personalised work" Yes, I know what you mean, but I think to myself, where then does that sort of thinking stop. Well, I have perhaps the answer to that, it reminds me a little, of the way in which my drawing tutors, bear in mind I graduated literally only a couple of years ago, would similarly regard the practitioners of illustration. I remember looking on with interest as one quite notorious (contemporary fine artist/tutor) who would divide his spare time between the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths, was quite fond (look away now) of describing illustrators rather disparagingly as the "Photocopiers", "Soulless", "Mercenaries." Disparaging terms indeed. Though which perhaps replicate for the classical illustrator a semblance at least, of the resonance of the criticism often used to describe the modern forms/use of the computer for some quite wonderful CAD and Illustration work?
The point, I think, is this, "There is always a bigger fish". And I've never really been comfortable with elitism, especially working the 'other way' round, particularly since many illustrators, either do end up, or aspire to be, at some stage, Fine Artists. That is why I am always cautious in deciding whether or not to embrace or revel in any kind of natural 'artistic' food chain, as it were.
Perhaps there is a parallel in the attitude of classical musicians to the world of rock 'n' roll! Some years ago George Martin recorded 'proper' musicians playing Beatles numbers - when David Williams tried to play one of George Harrisons solos he was completely flummoxed, just couldn't get it, so George H was asked to help. His response was that it was simple, just re-tune the guitar like so... There was once a series of programmes featuring Stephane Grappelli and Yehudi Menuhin, YM enthusiastically fiddling gipsy-influenced jazz. Embarrassing. Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias, anyone? I'm not a Willie Nelson fan but please!
It's different, it's not better.
Most modern art leaves me cold, not because it is 'difficult', 'intellectual' or 'not what I like', but because mostly it is pretentious rubbish, part of a scam to make a lot of money by flogging the Emporor's Clothes to death. Artists, dealers and critics work hand-in-hand to milk the easily-impressed wealthy who wish, in turn, to impress. How many times do you hear that stock phrase from art critics - "I think what the artist is trying to say...". Well, try a bit harder, chum. David Hockney is one of the few current artists that I really like, his approach is invigorating, the finished work captivating and, for me, moving. Lucien Freud is more than competent, and has produced some terrific work - but he's a one-trick poney.
The point is that there are many illustrators who are better at drawing and painting than many 'artists', and who are not concerened that their work is commissioned for commercial purposes. Quite how that is different from a crude, multi-million pound/dollar sculpture commissioned by a large bank to erect on their fore-court I cannot see. I appreciate that drawing and painting skills do not have much bearing on what is art, and art, or Art, has moved on from a mix of skill and imagination to more pure intellectualising, but it doesn't prevent a lot of it being grim.
I have some sympathy with the view that grinding your own pigments may have little to do with the intended profesional career path, but surely it doesn't hurt to know, it doesn't waste years of your life, and if similar groundwork is left out of other courses there is an outcry. Like the measuring-point perspective, you'll probably never use it, but it doesn't hurt, in fact it can help, to have learned it.
I want to paint, not because I want to be known as, or think of myself as, a Fine Artist - I just want to paint, probably landscapes more than anything, because if you have an artistic, creative temperament that is not given some freedom, I don't think you can ever be truly happy. Well, happy is probably not the right word, but happier
than otherwise. To my mind true
artists appreciate artistic endevour in every walk of life, not just their own narrow field.
Edited by Tony Matthews, 22 March 2011 - 17:09.