Possibly some people would consider I have some strong views about art and I guess I do. For one, I think there is a very old school approach to art that has shifted the subject off its true purpose and value to where, somewhere along the line, the idea formed that art was more for a minority, cultured or select group of people rather than for the benefit and enjoyment of all people. 

Another is that the teaching/educating of art shifted off the sensible approach of learning the tools of the subject, styles, techniques, materials etc, over to becoming more important on knowing the names of past “important” artists, what years they lived and died, what they ate for breakfast and other irrelevant information. In order to pass an art class exam you had to parrot back those and only those facts. I certainly experienced this as a student in my own high school art classes and it never made sense to me. There is nothing wrong with knowing the history or background of a subject and you should, but that is different from it becoming the only real criteria for passing or failing on a given subject. And don’t get me wrong; not every school, college, university etc, taught this way as there are always individual teachers who observed the same flaws and rose above the dictated norm to actually educate their students and others in the subject. My hat goes off to those people.

Another piece of misinformation that crept its way into the subject of art was that for an artist to be recognised or successful they had to be to a somewhat eccentric, crazy, or live a weird sort of life. Really? I know many artists who are not and do just fine and I am sure you know such artists too.

I saw a great example of this some years ago when I was in a framing shop in Los Angeles. I was talking to the owner of the business when a guy walked in wearing a greasy cape around his shoulders and a shower cap on his head. He looked like he had just stepped off the set of a weird Hollywood movie and smelled like he had not showered or changed his clothes for a week. The shop owner immediately stopped mid sentence with me to tell me how this was a “great artist” that had just walked into his shop. I covered my nose and felt pity for this misinformed and miseducated artist and the shop owner. Maybe he was a very skilled artist but here he was playing the role of an eccentric or crazy person as he believed that this was part of being a great artist.

You also see this manifest quite often in current times when reading an artist’s description of the art piece with some quite obscure or incomprehensive statements about their artwork. I think it’s unfortunate because the actual artwork is usually very good but I find myself being distracted from the piece itself trying to understand the artist’s statement of it. The fault lies not with the artist but with the misinformation such artists have been educated into believing is true and necessary in order to succeed.

Vincent van Gogh lived in the 1800’s and is touted as one of the great artists but I fail to see how cutting off his ear and sending it to his lady friend had anything at all to do with his ability to paint. It was interesting to note that per one article I read, van Gogh had not yet sold one painting up until the time he cut off his ear and only sold after this point.  Here was a guy who had great ability to paint yet had to be as nutty as a fruitcake to do such a thing. Right after this incident with his ear he very quickly wound up in a mental institution where he spent some time. 

The ideas that to be a great artist you must starve, be eccentric or somewhat crazy are simply untrue yet they have made their way into and through the art world for many years. 

The population of earth back in van Gogh’s days was probably in the order of millions. Now it’s in the billions and there are more individuals with creative abilities than ever before.  I believe many creative talents have been wasted or squashed simply because of false information or placing a wrong emphasis on what an artist is, how they are supposed to act, what they are supposed to wear or how they would portray themselves to the public.  

I feel art should be judged by the good and positive qualities it imparts to an individual, not because of the name of the artist, where they studied or how eccentric they were. Sifting out and removing some of the misinformation in the art world would be helpful to aspiring artists so they don’t derail or give up on their passion. And that would benefit everyone as there would be more art available for all to choose from. 

I believe that having some form of artwork physically displayed in your house and workplace can create a more enjoyable atmosphere, bring about a better mood and thus a greater acceptance, tolerance and ability to deal with the challenges of day-to-day living. 

One of the goals I have with my art form is to help people to relax, relieve stress, make them feel calmer, appreciate and enjoy life more.  I feel that art is a powerful tool to help override the negativity and bring about more positivity in peoples’ lives. 

I would be interested to hear any myths or misinformation you have come across on the subject of art and welcome your comments on this blog.

Zeph