Thursday, September 10, 2020

Thinking about art

 Not much happens around here from day to day.  I go nowhere and do nothing.  Nevertheless, I am content.  I spend my days doing a little housework, painting, reading, doing puzzles, writing, etc....all with the companionship of my puppy.  Elliot is always in my sight, his life being so very small and confined, yet he amuses himself with toys and with Leah, the cat. While I read, he sleeps by my feet or in my lap. I have been reading my old journals off and on, amazingly entertained by the old me.  There I am......wife, mother, social worker, needlepoint designer, art teacher, Art Society president, photo retoucher, courtroom artist, portrait painter, probably more I won't bother to drag out of my memory bank right now.  For most of those many years I was also an art student at the University of Maine.  I had a degree in Modern Languages from when I was a traditional student, but in the early 70's I went back to the University to study art.  My husband had just moved out, I had two small children.  My life was in turmoil.......but hasn't my life always been in turmoil?........up until now of course.  The only real problem I have now is lack of money.  Money is a small thing and my poverty does not bother me in the least.

The years I have spent since my marriage ended were at first tumultuous .  As an art student I worked out all my demons with the help of a wonderful art teacher and mentor.  Yesterday I was reading some of the notebooks and journals I kept then (an activity I enjoy several times a year) and looking at pictures of the rather shocking and bizarre paintings, prints, and sculptures I produced then.  It's quite obvious that I was in great turmoil and used art to manage my emotions as best I could.   My paintings are calm now.....I strive for technique, composition, color, beauty.  Nevertheless, I think of these paintings as a craft more than an art.  I am a designer of canvas rectangles that remind viewers of something in their own psyches....a place they once visited, a pet they loved, an event in their own lives.  They evaluate them using their own values, their own ideas of beauty, their own emotions.  They steal my work.

I hear the voices of those who sneer at the phrase "art for art's sake."  But I also hear the applause of the abstract expressionists, searching for the meaning of art once the camera was invented.