Thursday, June 28, 2012

Arting Other Artist's Art

While I’ve been toning my figurative painting muscles over the past year, I’ve run into an interesting problem. There is art everywhere.

Epic Cafe Painting
While clearly this is not a quality of life problem, it does pose a challenge in art. I don’t want to paint other people’s artwork. For example there is a wonderful mural on the Epic Café which I have recently made a painting of. However, I was working on a post-impressionist-esque (like that?) style which would not do the mural justice, plus someone already painted that mural. I don’t want to paint it again. So I added a few brush strokes to suggest the mural.

Epic Cafe, Tucson, AZ
Murals, tattoos and graffiti are all around and each represents other people’s art. To photograph them or to paint them in a photorealistic style could do them justice, but why paint someone else’s artwork? From a documentary point of view you could show the juxtaposition of a purely functional warehouse wall with tags on it or a beautiful tattoo on a person, but the bottom line is; I did not make that graffiti. I did not design or execute that tattoo. The graffiti/tattoo artist made that juxtaposition or that beauty themselves. They beat me to it. It is theirs.

I feel like the same goes for painting buildings. CharlesSheeler did a beautiful job showing the unintentional beauty of industrial buildings. But when an architect creates a building where beauty is an intention, why paint it?  I would be merely documenting someone else’s creation. Maybe in fifty years it would be interesting to show the atmosphere and gravity’s effect on that structure. But in the present it is a work unto itself. So, I will leave it alone. 

Before this digresses into theories on the role of photography and photorealism, I’ll leave you with this. I am learning that as a 21st century artist it is my job to paint my own reality whether figurative or abstract. It is fun to reflect or interpret what I see, but I think I must not base my work on the work of others.

Not Going to Paint This

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