The Middle Ground

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“A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” George Edward Moore (from Brainyquote)

Are most artists before the times or behind the times? Many art schools push students to explore new avenues, try new and different ways of creating art. Or they push students to seek new and different ways to say what’s been said before. Artists are striving to keep moving either backwards or forwards. No matter which way an artist is moving, the point is to keep moving.

Suppose an artist is fascinated with a particular time or place in history but currently most other artists are working to break new ground, make new history. Going backwards is one way of separating from the pack. The artist going backwards may break new ground, as well. A subject may be explored in ways it hasn’t been explored before. An artist may choose to paint in the style of previous artists but with a modern twist. Or perhaps, an artist is drawn to paint today exactly as it was done in past eras, recreating that style for the modern audience.

Artists seeking to break new ground can be moving fast toward new goals, doing new things. Artists behind the times are moving fast in the other direction. Art lovers of both directions are close on the heels of the artists. What of the people in the middle? They are standing still, not moving in either direction, stuck in their ways.

Whether an artist is ahead of the times, or behind the times, is a good thing. To live in the middle is to stagnate. Celebrate either direction. Just stay out of the middle ground mud or you may get stuck.

Photo by Sacha Goldberger. See more of his Rembrandt inspired photography here and here.

Weekend Inspiration–Seeking Kindred Spirits

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“As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight.”  James McNeil Whistler (from skinnyartist.com)

Art inspires literature.  Literature inspires art.  Music inspires both art and literature, and vice versa. There is an emotional connection that is felt, one for the other on a deep level.  It has been going on for as long as humans have communicated with each other.

The evidence is there. Blog.ted.com has an article by Kate Torgovnik on Ten Books Inspired By Paintings.  Redbubble.com has a group devoted entirely to art inspired by literature.  A Current Under Sea has a post by Angie about literature inspired art.  Flavorwire.com has an article titled Great Works of Art Inspired by Great Works of Literature.  The list goes on.  Examples abound of the arts inspiring the arts.

Artists, writers, and musicians create from a place within that speaks to inherent creativity.  It is a special language heard and recognized one in the other.  Spirit recognizes kindred spirit and is inspired. It is a mystical place.  Those times when blocks happen, a moment to seek the place of the kindred spirit may be in order. Check in with your writer and/or musician friends.  Take time out to read a meaningful work of literature.  Read poetry.  Listen to a piece of personally inspiring music.  Perhaps in the shared language of creation fresh inspiration will be seen or heard.

Vermeer’s painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired the book of the same name.

Voices

It takes courage to paint, to express yourself that way and put it out there for others to see and comment on.”Carla NeggersThe Rapids, pg 361-62Image

Occasionally, a statement in an unlikely place can jump out and grab your attention.  The above quote, in a suspense fiction novel, provoked such a response.  It does take courage for an artist to put art out there for others to comment on.  Comments can warm the heart. Comments can hurt.  Sometimes, comments just baffle.  Yet artists continue to put art out there exposing themselves to the various opinions of others.

At a large gallery opening several years ago, a friend and I wandered around picking up on the conversations of others about the exhibited art.  Many times it was difficult to understand what the heck people were talking about!  Some of what we heard was down right funny.  Other comments were very interesting, good and bad.  We heard a full range.

When artists hear these comments, what are they feeling?  It may depend on the artist.  A film on Georgia O’Keeffe late in her life asked her how she felt when critics wrote about her work.  Her response, “I never read what critics say.”  It takes courage for artists to continue to express themselves in their work regardless of what others say, even though it might stick in your thoughts.  Perhaps, it’s better to ignore the voices in your head, in this case.  The rest of the time you’re on your own!