I have developed a little theory and it goes like this:
I believe that dishonest people can’t do good art. Their artworks will unavoidably get stuck into superficiality and perhaps in sentimentality. Because if you want to tell a good story, you will have to dig deeper. And in order to dig deeper, you’ll need honesty about yourself and about how you view the world. Whereas being dishonest about who you really are demands superficiality, because you will never be able to keep up the lies of living an honest and complicated emotional life. So, best keep things simple! When someone isn’t honest, their actions can only be based upon a conscious effort. They can never spontaneous or intuitive. And that is exactly what an artist needs.
People who fear honesty about themselves will also have trouble developing their own style, skill and story. Again, in order to do this, you need to do some serious character research and … life experience will come in handy too. How can you develop your own recognisable marks and scratches when you don’t feel them? How can you develop your own colour palet when you don’t know what you want to say? How can you recognise what part of this inner and outer world you want to mirror if you have nothing inside that is your own?
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people say that artists need to suffer. I am not entirely sure that this is always true, but I do think that suffering is almost always an honest state of being. Most people rather keep up appearances for being happy than show off their misery.
I often distrust artist’s claims that they’re always happy when they paint. To me that seems almost impossible. To paint is to bare your soul, to pull yourself inside out, to show the world that bit that you cannot put into words. Then a balance between good and bad is unavoidable. So when people claim that they’re always filled with glee when painting, I immediately get suspicious. ‘Not much going on there then!’ is my first thought and often I’m right. Not always, of course. Perhaps there is just not much stirring going on. Or perhaps this person just really is happy. But artworks that only depict happy pictures just don’t cut it for me. To me it’s like they’re hiding the essentials. Because easily likeable images of flowers and sunsets don’t tell much about what stirs the human soul when no one is looking.
Happiness exists. And so do honest happy artworks. Perhaps I’m just a gloomy and grumpy soul, who needs to see something I recognise. I will get off my soap box and try to keep my opinions to myself from now on.
No, I won’t! 😛
Comments very welcome!
Kind regards, Eva Mout, Ursus Art