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  • Pastel Drawing - Izzy Yorkie
  • Pastel Drawing - Banjo
  • Pastel Drawing - Molly
  • Pastel Painting - Beau
  • Pastel Painting - Baylor & Lu
  • Pastel Painting - Salut
  • Pastel Painting - Beautiful Bea
  • Charcoal Drawing - Grace
  • Oil Painting - Sheltie Izzie
  • Oil Painting - Woody & Bruce
  • Oil Painting - The Morins
  • Pastel Drawing - Greg & Lexi

Communicating through Art

Written by Ellie on . Posted in Ellie's Blog

Artists need to talk too!

 Writers write and Artists create works of art.  Both are ways of telling a story, telling the reader and viewer what life is like.  Yes, not just non-fiction but fiction too – all types of fiction need to connect and seem plausible.  If not, we the reader soon lose interest and put the book aside.  The same is for art, whether realistic or abstract it needs to connect to us the viewer.  It needs to tell a story of us. 

I recently came across a discussion on LinkedIn about art and communication, and why it was important for Artists to communicate.  Too often we just want people to know what we have done is good and say the work of art speaks for itself.  But, we forget, art speaks to different people in diverse ways.  Thus, it is important for Artists to converse and listen.  We need to hear how our artwork is speaking to other people and is it telling the story we want to tell?  The other question we need to ask – is it creating meaning? Meaning is evoking feelings, a memory, and a sense of place connecting to the viewer that is personal for them.  Maybe in a way that we did not expect.

Dr. Ivan Tirado-Cordero said it so well in his article “Artists are Communicators” – There is misunderstood belief that artists have to be isolated from society instead of being connected to it. Some artists believe that art should speak on its own and if people don’t connect with their art there should be no need to provide explanations. As artists we speak through art. People should connect and find meaning in the content of an art piece on their own. However, we can provide insights in our source of inspiration, our creative process, our artistic influences, methods, and techniques. That gives us power to be communicators. Not everyone is educated in the arts. We have the power to be influential and an inspiration to others.

That being said we artists need to be careful not just paint or create what is popular just to give to people what is trendy.  Trends and styles come and go out of favor.  At one point color field paintings were all the rage and were very much part of the abstract expressionists movement.  Many people thought because they had a good sense of color that was all that was needed to be an artist.  But, if it only about what is popular, what is the current trend, what colors are all the rage, it will soon lose its appeal and be soon stored in the attic. In other words, if all you know how to put together complementary colors on canvas, you soon are out of style and have lost any artistic edge. 

Artists know that color is one component of the composition, whether it is realism or abstract.  It is not just about making colors look good together or putting pretty shapes together, or putting marks on paper, canvas because that is the trend and because it matches current décor trends.  It is about something more than what is the trend of the day.  This does not mean that we cannot paint or draw what people want or like.  It just means that we need to be careful of not fallen into the trap of only doing what is popular; what is trendy. 

I have been able to bridge what people like and do what I love.  In addition to landscapes, I love painting and drawing animals and children – thus I am able to market pet and children’s portraits.  People love their pets and their children, and grandchildren.  I do not have to compromise my artistic integrity to give people what they want and love.

This is why it is important as Artists to communicate what and how we create artwork.  What are we trying to say; what story are we telling; what was the inspiration; how did we put it all together.  It is important that we talk about our art.  It is important that we communicate why and how line, shape, form and color are interconnected.  It is important that we tell how we use all these elements to tell a story or evoke feelings and memories.

The best way to do this and learn how to communicate is teach.  Now teaching in a classroom is not for everyone, but when in public instead of shutting down, letting ego take over and saying to yourself “my art speaks for itself” consider it a teaching moment.  Consider what the person is saying and use that time to explain why you paint or draw, how you get your subject matter, what inspires you and why you enjoy doing it?  Ask them questions about what they like, why and what speaks to them. 

However, during this dialogue – do not get upset when a non-artist says something that to you is totally off the wall.  For example many years ago I was in an open market art fair and a lady said she really liked my work, especially one painting, but she wondered if I would paint the grass red to match her walls. To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  But, I took a deep breath and explained that painting the grass red would take away the feeling of looking at a vista and lose the depth of field.  I also explained that green was the complementary color to red and her red wall would complement the painting and vice versa.  That she could change to color of her walls and there would always be complementary colors in the painting – each balancing out the other.  In the end, she did not buy the painting – but she did buy a color-field painting of a person next to me as it would work decoratively for what she wanted.  But, I did not get upset and stood my ground as an artist that artwork must stand on its own within any decorative design.  Just as you may not sell them a painting, but you have given them something to think about.  You have shared something about art that they did not know. In time they will know that you gave them the best information.

What is important is that you shared that good artwork is timeless.  That a good realistic piece of art complements a good abstract work of art and vice versa.  That a good work of art looks good in any décor style.  I encourage people to buy what they love, not buy because it will match their curtains, wall color or sofa.  Décor styles become dated, but good artwork never looks dated.  Good artwork is protean – ever changing, fluid, versatile, adaptable, flexible, multifaceted, and many-sided.  That is the nature of art and that is how art communicates and artists need connect to people. 

Happy Creating

Ellie Tryon


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