The thing that I’ve realised after revisiting my art theory and history notes is that there are no longer any Rules of Art.  There are Techniques, Skills, Styles, Genres, and Subjective Perceptions of Art.

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Feeling Free L2 – Peter Nottrott – Saatchi Art

Techniques:  are multiple, some recognised, others a mystery to the viewers and other yet-to-be-enlightened artists.  These are creations, experiments, accidental images discovered in and teased out of the initial foundation or background, intentional explorations with single or mixed media, and expressionism gone rampant.  Now I realise that this may not sound like Techniques – brushwork, carving, palette knife work, colour mixing, sculpting, impasto, washes, and so on – but they all involve and are extensions of these, resulting in some incredible artworks.

Skills:  are obviously still really valuable.  It is obvious that the degree of Art Skills applied in different works vary hugely.  Some appear not to be applied at all, yet behind every artwork is the intent of the artist.  What may appear to the viewer as just a single coloured canvas may be a deliberate exercise in colour intensity, or transparency, or variation of hue, brushwork, density, or the creation of optical afterimage on the retina of the prospective viewer.  Other artworks display every skill necessary to depict near photographic figurative work – sound drawing skills, chiaroscuro, tiny brushwork, perspective, volume, use of light, colour contrasts and complements, balanced composition, underlying structure etc.  Both are valid.  Both are Art as creations of the artists.

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Sir Ian McKellan – Christian Hook

Styles:  are not quite the same thing as Genres.  I perceive Style as being the recognisable work of a specific artist, or group of artists – their signature.  Van Gogh’s work is recognisably his, as is Renoir’s, Matisse’s, Gauguin’s, and an interminable list of artists of all genres.  Today, thanks to the exposure via the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year television program, the Styles of Christian Hook and Nick Lord, and also to a lesser degree that of the other contestants, are recognised instantly, world wide via social media.  The Style ‘Schools’ created within groups still show variations.  Collaborative works encompass the participants’ differences, producing a Style-Meld or Multi-Style. That is the astonishing thing about Art – that there can be so many Styles, such variety, a seemingly infinite degree of uniqueness that can be produced.  And what a gift that is to an artist – to develop, discover, create a unique Style!

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Lance Sergeant Johnson Gideon Beharry VC – Nick Lord

Genres:  are the designations of the trends that occurred, and continue to occur, in the development of Art, and thanks to the Impressionists (a Genre) its freedom from rigid constraints in Techniques, Skills, Styles and Subject Matter.  The work can be Figurative, Impressionist, Cubist, Post-Impressionist, Expressionist, Modern, Post-Modern, DaDa, Surrealist, Digital Figurative and Fantasy, Art Wallpapers (computer screens) and so on to the undesignated, yet-to-be-labelled latest trends of dribbling, slashing, scratching, blurring, wiping, texturing, collaging, mixing and constructing that artists can dream up.  Do they need labels?  Is the Genre important any more?

Subjective perceptions of Art:  And so I come to this.  I have been surprised and dismayed to find how much the subjective perceptions  – their artistic preferences, their personal baggage – of those judging the various television art competition programs, inform their comments on the contestants’ artworks.  It is a competition, so there must be judgements, and of course the judges’ fields of expertise will affect their points of view.  But in this artistic era, where freedom of expression is not just encouraged but expected, the denigration of artwork that is pleasing to look at, that is pretty, or illustrative, is unacceptable.

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Illustration – Double Exposure – Pat Perry 

Illustrative art is still Art.  It is a form of Figurative Art.  It’s place is not only in magazines or books  -it can hang on walls beside painterly works, or cubist works, or expressive works on an equal footing. The PUNCH magazine illustrations are still Art that hang proudly in galleries, and homes.  Paintings that are pretty, Watercolours of gorgeous light effects on colourful landscapes, are just as valid as a Portrait of a prominent person.  It feeds the emotions  of the viewer, producing happiness, a sense of serenity.  Art can be evocative, be about feelings.  In these days of stress, that is not a bad thing.  Art does not always have to carry a Message.  It doesn’t have to be about Issues.  Constable’s landscapes were about the landscapes, and the use of paint to capture the light and colours and shapes.

Artists, on the whole, are vulnerable people, exposing their work to the public hoping for understanding, comprehension, and validation, rather than negative criticism.  Consideration should be tantamount in the delivery of judgements – good points made followed by suggestions for tightening of skills needed for the specific style chosen by the contestant – as many judges do – rather than telling them it is dreadful , laughable, or lacking in skills – as a few judges do.  The ridiculing of contestants needs to stop.  It is unpleasant for all concerned, including the program viewers.  The audience want to see how the artists paint; how they can create their own versions of the designated subject matter.  They choose their favourites subjectively, and want to see them do well.  They do not want to watch people being humiliated and upset.  The shows should be about the Art and the Artists Styles.

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Landscape Abstract Digital Painting – Simon Boxer

Do the Rules of Art still apply?  Or are Artists truly free to create,with acceptance and respect?

Jud House  4/11/2016

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