Another Critic Hates Francis Bacon, and is Clueless

I just happened across a 2015 article –  “Francis Bacon and the Masters review – a cruel exposure of a con artist” – by Jonathan Jones of The Guardian fame, about how he can no longer take Bacon seriously, in which case I can no longer take Jonathan Jones seriously. It very well may be that people are keyed so differently that one of my absolute favorite all-time artists is completely shit on by someone who loves Matisse and Cubism and probably Duchamp’s piss pot. Let me just do a search for that.

Jonathan Jones, myopic art fuck-wit for The Guardian.

Yup, a complete and utter BELIEVER in the legacy of Duchamp. Allow me to quote another painfull article by him:

His big idea – that any ordinary “readymade” object can be chosen by the artist as a work of art – has sunk so deep into modern culture that he is imagined almost as a biblical prophet, a remote figure of authority. It’s as if contemporary art history begins with him. Art is steeped in tradition – today, there is a tradition of the readymade – and to make a painting, a film, a photograph is to know you are contributing to a form that has been shaped and defined by predecessors. ~ Jonathan Jones.

Shiiiiit. He does indeed imagine Duchamp as a biblical prophet. It gets worse:

Duchamp’s idea of the readymade is the final, triumphant endgame in western art’s long campaign to establish the intellectual status of the artist (Duchamp, who officially gave up art to play tournament chess, was an authority on endgames). In this, his predecessors are not just Leonardo, but Sir Joshua Reynolds and all those academicians who insisted that theirs was a mental calling. ~ Jonathan Jones.

Ah, Duchamp is not just the heir of Leonardo da Vinci (you’ve just gotta’ be F’ing kidding!), but anyone that insisted art was a mental calling. As opposed to what?! And so what, he played Chess. My father was an internationally ranked Chess player with a bookshelf devoted to “The End Game” and several Chess computers he’d exhausted, triumphed over. He was a Chess hustler at the beach. It didn’t make him an artist.

Come to think of it, I used to play a bit of Chess myself, and when I found out that a computer could beat the best players, I realized that I couldn’t use ingenuity or imagination or feeling or intuition to win, and that sheer power of calculation was the only necessity. This killed the game for me. Thus, the sheer absence of artistry is held up by many critics and teachers as the pinnacle of artistic inspiration. FAIL!

Let me guess, if he hates bacon and loves Duchamp, he’s going to orgasm over Jeff Koons. Be right back. Yup. And it couldn’t be more vomitose. This sentence from an article championing Koon’s line of hand bags for Louis Vuitton is about as concise a self-condemnation as an art cretin critic could make:

In championing the likes of Fragonard, Rubens and Titian, Jeff Koons’ line of Louis Vuitton accessories brings high art to the high street – and shows off his sincere passion for painting. ~ Jonathan Jones.

This bag by Koons is “high art” and shows his “passion for painting” according to Jonathan Jones.

The above handbag is ‘high art” but Francis Bacon, and not Marcel Duchamp, is a “con artist”. There are two litmus tests I would give to an art critic I was considering reading. 1) What’s their take on Francis Bacon? 2) If they hate him, what art do they actually like? In my much longer piece In Defense of Artist, Francis Bacon I examined the vicious criticisms of the like of hackers Jed Perl and Jerry Salz, and then shared the art they actually liked. What uninspired, unskilled, insipid dreck! And Jones is just as bad, heralding a designer hand bag as great painting while taking enormous craps on a truly great painter.

A lot of this may just be a matter of taste, or so I’d think, perplexed, if I were feeling generous, but when you put Duchamp in the same category as da Vinci, and your idea of a passion for oil paintings is a print of a famous painting on a lady’s handbag, you probably are yourself a cruel con artist, wittingly or just stupidly.

His article revolves around a show that presented works by some old masters and some moderns, such as Bacon and Matisse. A dreadful painting by Matisse, in my estimation, apparently knocked the socks off of Jones.

“Matisse’s raw and savage painting Nymph and Satyr (1908-90)”, according to Jones.

Matisse paintings like the above strike me as so cerebral and crude at the same time that they neither express anything nor are beautiful. Gotta love the rectangular river, and the woman’s left arm. Is she lying lying on her side or crawling, supporting her weight on the back of the wrist of her shorter, turkey leg of arm. Look at their faces and line mouths. Ouch! Gonna’ tell me they are expressive? Here’s what Jones had to say about this prize painting:

Matisse’s raw and savage painting Nymph and Satyr (1908-9) hangs near rollicking terracotta nudes by the 17th-century genius Gianlorenzo Bernini. The sensuality of Bernini’s shaping of clay, as fast and soft as water, brilliantly sets off the primitive lurch of Matisse’s sex-crazed satyr as it creeps up on a nymph whose body is all pink curves vibrating against green. ~ Jonathan Jones.

The “satyr” doesn’t even have goat body parts: no hoof, horn, or beard. It’s just a lurching man with one foot recently pulled out of a vice and still looking as angular as a brick. My favorite part though is probably her right breast which she can tuck under her head and use as a pillow. That’s what I call a proper DIU hack.

I went in a Bacon fan, and left wondering how he conned so many people, not least the Sainsbury family. For this show not only reveals an aesthetic failure, but a moral one. Bacon seems painfully contrived and insincere. He looks like an overblown poseur, with no real heart. ~ Jonathan Jones

This tells me that he was never a real Bacon fan, never understood the art, but assumed his superficial familiarity was the same thing as liking art, which calls into question his much greater appreciation for handbags, urinals, and hastily sketched, blocky, painterly abominations.

Here he compares a portrait by Bacon with one by Picasso:

Left: Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne,1966, by Francis Bacon. Right A Young Lady, 1909, by Pablo Picasso.

The same jarring silliness is exposed when Bacon’s smashed-up face of Isabel Rawsthorne is set beside Picasso’s 1909 painting A Young Lady, which strips away layers of illusion to glimpse a multifaceted cubist truth under the skin. Picasso’s dismantling of the human form is precise, it is convincing, and it makes you see with new eyes. It is true modernism. Bacon’s attacks on faces, by comparison, just look pointlessly morbid. ~ Jonathan Jones.

It’s so odd to see two images side by side and have the diametrically opposed view from someone else. What is a multi-faceted cubist truth? Answer: it is a multi-faceted cubist truth. Allow me to retort. Picasso’s portrait is a study in the concept of looking at an object from faux-multiple perspectives, which somehow results in the sitter being so angular she looks more like origami than a human. If it says anything at all about a real person, and is not an abstract composition all about form, I can’t see it. It’s mostly formal quasi-geometry, and the identity of the blocky person is incidental at best. Her boobs look like the cardboard they stuff in men’s shoes to hold their shape.

By contrast, Bacon’s portrait is of a real person, and personal friend of his. He refused to merely illustrate the natural appearance of someone and instead sought to capture their essence through painterly suggestion. Perhaps you can notice an uncanny resemblance in a photo of Isabel Rawsthorne:

Isabel Rawsthorne

I would like my picture to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail leaving its trail of the human presence… as a snail leaves its slime. ~ Francis Bacon.

I think Bacon succeeded here. While Picasso used a generalized woman as a prop for formal experimentation in line with concepts about painting, Bacon captures the quality of a specific person without resorting to merely copying her outward appearance. True, he always emphasizes the vulnerable, mortal flesh of the subject, but you just can’t leave out the ghost in the machine: the ethereal, incorporeal, subjectivity of  the subject.

It may be that some people prefer academic, formal abstraction, sketchy nude abominations, mind games, and designer accessories to more personal, genuine, and substantive art. Or maybe Jones and I are just at opposite sides of the spectrum. Quite possibly I’m missing something in the ghastly Matisse or the drab experiment by Picasso (I’m much more a fan of some of his other work). On the other hand, I never thought that I really liked Matisse, and Jones believed that he liked and understood Bacon, when he only scratched  the surface. How great is your art appreciation when you are already a published critic, and you suddenly realized that what you thought was great art is con art?

Bacon’s paintings, whether the subject matter and handling of paint is to ones personal tastes or not, are sumptuous and gorgeous if you have an eye for color, impasto paint, and, well, the art of PAINTING in general. Or maybe it is the more visceral, expressive, gooey side of painting.

But then Jones ends his hasty condemnation with a most peculiar conclusion:

Quite soon, I found I could barely look at his art. It seemed such a redundant imposture. Don’t even ask what a Bacon looks like beside a Rembrandt, or a Van Gogh, or a touching portrait by Chaim Soutine.

The problem here is that Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Soutine all belong in the same general territory as Bacon, and nowhere near Duchamp or Koons. They all use impasto, expressive brushwork, and there is an obvious love of the viscosity and texture of paint in their work. Picasso and Matisse use thinner washes of paint, and the pattern or general design in more emphasized. Not only is Jones not a true connoisseur of painting or visual art, he apparently can’t be arsed to do his research, otherwise he’d know Bacon has done some wonderful tributes to Van Gogh which unquestionably show a strong link between the two artists.

Here is Painter on the Road to Tarascon, by Van Gogh:

Painter-on-the-Road-to-Tarascon,-August-1888,-Vincent-van-Gogh

Painter on the Road to Tarascon, August 1888,

And here are five Bacon paintings based on this painting:

bacon-paintings-of-Van-gogh

Bacon-Van-Goghs

I am surely a bigger fan of Van Gogh than is Jones, who may wake up tomorrow to discover that Van Gogh was a con artist all along when compared to William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and I think Bacon’s paintings look quite good adjacent to Van Gogh, even if he thought they were failures.

While Jones accuses Bacon of being a redundant imposture, we must consider the source is himself a redundant imposter, merely echoing the popular anti-Bacon, pro-Koons/Duchamp paradigm of other more formidable, but perhaps equally visually stunted art critics – Jed Perl, Jerry Salz, Peter Schjeldahl – who hate Bacon because they can’t fathom him. To read my evisceration of their criticism, go here.

Francis Bacon: Lying Figure (1966).

For me the painting above is an obvious masterpiece in the long tradition of fine art painting, but for Jones Warhol’s Billos boxes are “mystical” and his silk-screen copies of Marilyn Monroe “reveal human vulnerability”. Naturally the critic who hates Bacon and loves Duchamp and Koons loves Warhol. He has an article titled, Andy Warhol should be made a saint – he makes every day sacred. No, it’s not ironic:

Of course, not every good Catholic or every moral person deserves to be made a saint. Yet Warhol was much more than this. He was a martyr who let himself be vilified, hated and even shot while making art whose compassion was rarely acknowledged in his lifetime. ~ Jonathan Jones.

and

I am not joking about Warhol becoming a saint. The Vatican should start by considering his Last Supper paintings. ~ Jonathan Jones.

and finally

Look again at those soup cans and Brillo boxes. Their clean lines and simple shapes are ethereal, pure. The ordinary is sacred. Like a still life by Zurbaran, these everyday objects are transfigured by mysticism. Warhol painted Campbell’s soup for the soul.~ Jonathan Jones.

Behold! Ethereal, pure, mystical art for the soul!

Andy Warhol, Brillo Box

In one of Bacon’s interviews I read decades ago he scoffed at various people who didn’t like his art, even saying that he didn’t want them to like it. He might have called them “cows”. I rather think if he knew who Jonathan Jones was, he wouldn’t want his art to be trivialized by accolades issued from that source. He would be happy to know that the guy who thinks that Andy Warhol is a saint, Brillo boxes are mystical emanations for the soul, and Duchamp is da Vinci reincarnated with a third testicle, thinks he’s shit.

I’m pretty damned sure Jones would hate my work as well, and under the circumstances I would be flattered. And I do believe that Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Soutine would tell him he’s blind, but is pretty good at playing with words without understanding the meanings (I refer you back to the mystical Brillo Boxes created by a Christian Saint).

~ Be back soon with another baboon.


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11 thoughts on “Another Critic Hates Francis Bacon, and is Clueless

  1. Bacon is unquestionably one of the greatest painters of all time. I can see how people think some of his paintings are grotesque, but that doesn’t mean they are not painted with the skill of Rembrandt or creativity and color genius of Van Gogh. People whe have actually painted in their lifetime understand his genius.

    Or, maybe all of us artist don’t know anything about art and this guy is right on. I bet he’s just laughing at how stupid we are as he spends the afternoon at the hardware store looking at row after row of masterpieces. And it’s free! Shit, museums might be in trouble if everyone realizes they can walk around the local hardware store for free.

    This guy is inspiring me to go out and do some things I’m totally unqualified for. Who knows maybe I’ll be a pro football coach!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dunno really, I’m not really into art as a topic for rumination in the media, I mean, what can you say? I like this… I don’t like that… hate x, love y, none of it really means anything. The contemporary scene is just medium for people with budgets to spend and no mind of their own to attempt to purchase a soul, give some meaning to their existence — “Oh look it’s art, tell me now there’s more to life than thieving, fucking and death”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric,
    This is off topic but, are you familiar with Chris Mars? He was the drummer of the replacements. Now he’s a painter. Just wondering what you think of his stuff.

    Like

    1. Hi Matt:

      Feel free to be off topic.

      Chris Mars? I just looked him up. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of work by him here and there, but I never bothered to look him up before and try to evaluate his work.

      First off, he’s got skills and is prolific, which is admirable. His style even has some overlap with some of my work, at least in that he seems to work from the imagination in a similar way in which forms evolve organically. It’s obvious to me in his intersecting forms. But he always works in the same distinct style, and I gather people are either going to love it or not or be indifferent. His style and content are consistent, so, yeah, he’s got his signature style.

      I don’t wanna’ categorize him exactly, but, his style is quite popular among the general populace, and I suppose it would belong in the Pop-Surrealist/low-brow genre. It reminds me a little of Ivan Albright, who did the famous Portrait of Dorian Gray, or among contemporaries, Chet Zar (if you don’t know him look him up and you’ll instantly see what I mean).

      I think an artist who works in this kind of style, preferably in oils, will have an audience and will sell. It’s a combo of being a bit weird, using horror, and having some conventional illustration and painting skills down pat. So, they are distinct, but yet within a popular framework as regards style and content. There’s a Tattoo artist who does somewhat similar digital paintings. If he does a real tutorial where he explains his technique in detail I can pick up the skills and maybe knock out some popular work as well. Anything any of these guys does gets wild hits.

      So, how can I express my opinion. Well, you are replying one of my Bacon threads, so I can say that I like Bacon far more. If I were to go with an analogy, I’d say these guys are more like genre artists, and Bacon is a straight up “Fine Artist”. It’s like the difference between “literature” and, say, “sci=fi”. If we were going with a Rock analogy, Bacon would be more like Zeppelin, and Mars or Zar like Black Sabbath.

      But I do like these guys quite a lot, and also Sabbath. I don’t wanna’ dump on them at all. I just prefer my Bacon and Van Gogh.

      I’ve been talking a lot with another artist who I interview here, Dean Reynolds, and I’ve been discussing the matter of “taste” with him a bit. Maybe you can help me by throwing in your two cents. How much of all this is just what is or isn’t someone’s cup of tea?

      When I was a kid I remember people asking, “Beatles of Stones”. For me, obviously, it’s the Beatles, though the Stones could have been in the running if they did more songs like “Paint if Black”. But if someone prefers “The Who” or “Cream” or “Jimi Hendrix” or “The Doors” or whomever in the realm of classic rock, how much is really just a question of taste and not a reflection of actual quality? All those bands are solid, and yet I could rank them according to my preferences, with a huge caveat that there’s a lot of comparing apples and oranges in there. “The Doors” and “Hendrix” are not even really in the same category.

      I also like my own art quite a lot, and better than Mars or Zar, and I’m not even a blip on the radar. Though, obviously, when you make your own art, you are making a very particular blend of tea that is catered precisely to your tastes. And with ones own art one is also always seeing the hidden potential, and, of course, you get your own material. I also don’t work in a signature style, which is shooting myself in both feet and the nads, but may produce better work in the long run than if I stuck to just one thing.

      Now I’m kicking myself in the ass a bit. But, I think it’s the way to get better, which is to do different things and combine them to create hybrids, combine skills, and zero in like a shark circles its prey. I even work in markedly different styles at the same time, if I have the time to do so, which may be getting scarce in the near future.

      Oh well. I got a new piece I started last night that shows some promise. Art, for me, is a bit like stepping up to the plate in a baseball game (I used to play Little league): you got a new chance to try to hit the ball, and maybe hit a home-run. Though sometimes you need to load the bases first.

      Cheers

      Like

  4. Eric,
    I just looked up Zar, and your spot on. If you’ve seen one Zar or Mars you’ve pretty much seen em all. I like Albright a little better. With Mars, and me being a huge Replacements guy I check out his work from time to time. I just noticed, like you said, that you have a little cross over.

    As far as taste goes I think yes for the average person it’s all about taste. They give a painting one second and if it doesn’t hook them they move on. I think that’s why a lot of painters stick with something that works. They find the right formula and repeat it. Only a few hit the sweet spot and then say what else can I do. For me that’s one of the things I appreciate about your work, I never know what to expect next. I work the same way. If I’ve done somewhere around 20 paintings that are similar I’m ready to change things up. I don’t think I could even do a signature style because I would get bored and just quit painting all together.

    I read your interview with Dean and looked at his work and the picture of his studio. He’s seems very interesting, but his work is not my taste. I know with his art you can’t judge a book by its cover, but isn’t that what most people do with paintings. So I think his audience will be small.

    For me with a lot of your work your able to pull off the subtle things that people don’t pick up at first because I’m drawn into the overall painting by some unquantifiable thing that holds my attention long enough to get there. One of the most obvious examples is that I didn’t even notice the swell in the background about to engulf everyone.

    I do think it’s possible to be an ever evolving artist and enjoy painting all your life. The journey is the reward. Sure it would be great to get some recognition but that’s unlikely for 99 percent of artists. Then add on that we’re white males and the chances are about zero, so we really better be doing it for ourselves.

    One other thing, It’s kind of wired how much we think alike about art but a while back I noticed we have the same signature. mine is just turned on its side. Your EW for me is an MB. I always liked Kandinskys K and wanted it to be similar as a tribute to him.

    Like

    1. Yeah, with Mars and Zar, I think the thing is that they are kinda’ within the mold of the familiar, but I think both of them sometimes push the edges. And I have to give them credit for becoming successful (at least compared to you or I) doing what they want.

      Give Dean another chance later on. I have a lot of conversations with him on FB messenger, and have looked at all his work. He has as much to say about art as I do, and he has more range than I shared in that post. I see a lot of potential there. He’s really struggling and keeps trying while working various jobs, and he managed to get funding to participate in a show in Germany. I think he used “kickstarter” and actually raised a few thousand. So, I’ve gotta’ give him a lot of credit for putting himself out there and making some headway. He showed me it’s possible.

      As far a signature style is concerned, I had a thought a while back that for me making art is like riding a wild horse. I can’t really control it all that much, not for too long. So, if I try to do a coherent body of work in the same style, well, it will kick me off and gallop away in a different direction out of pure spite. Analogies aside, I’m an experimenter, and I’m often motivated by curiosity. I also tend to go back and forth. Right now I’m most comfortable making those B&W drawings from my imagination. But I might force myself to do something more illustrational just to break it up, or do a one off thing perhaps to increase my skill. I still have a fantasy of taking a weekend plein air oil painting class somewhere.

      So, even if I want ot stick to one thing, I really don’t know if I can. Maybe when I was younger and had less range, but since I’ve been forced through art school to do all sorts of things way outside my comfort zone, I don’t think I could stick to one style like Mars or Zar for as long as they had. Like you, I might be able to do 2-3 dozen before needing to mix things up big time.

      Also, Oskar Kokoschka had that initial thing down first. And Eric Wayne is my pseudonym, because my last name is “Kuns”, pronounced just like, you guessed it, “Koons”, and because I usually have to work regular jobs, I like to create some distance between my personal and more (though mildly) public life. Some people might think my art is a bit disturbing or whatever when they are hiring me to be Joe Average. So, if you look at my early work it’s signed EK, which is very close to OK (Oskar Kokoschka). Wayne is my middle name, so I just use first and middle. Funny thing is I use my real name so infrequently I forget what it is.

      Oh, are you a Kandinsky fan. I’m not a huge fan, but, he was way ahead of the game of non-representational painting, and while we credit the Abstract Expressionists for revolutionizing painting, Kandinsky did a lot of the same sort of thing a lot sooner.

      Cheers

      Like

  5. Eric,
    Kokoschka is another of my favorites. Kandinsky has a lot of paintings I like. Not the late stuff but got to give him credit for changing his style up after already being successful. I’ll keep my eye on Dean, I’ve only seen what you had in the post and some stuff on google.

    Here’s another thing to ponder. If making art is so enjoyable why do so many artists kill themselves? Is it spending all of your time working at being the best artist you can be and no one cares at all? Maybe fame? For that you need to already need some fame or no one will ever know. But if your already known then it would seem like doing more paintings would be a better option.

    Gotta run, my wife says she’s going to kill me if I don’t help her clean. I could write more but that would be suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matt:

      You rose the question: if art is so enjoyable, why do so many artists commit suicide. And then you pretty much answered it, “Is it spending all of your time working at being the best artist you can be and no one cares at all?”

      But let’s first tackle if it is enjoyable. I remember reading an article about writers, and that some really did NOT enjoy the process of writing, but were motivated to do it anyway. And I can say with my own work that some processes are a lot more fun than others. Sculpture, I think, can be a lot of fun, because you are working with objects and your hands, but I’m not really into sculpture. Doing a photo-realist painting would probably not be much fun for me.

      Have you noticed on Instagram how many painters share pics of themselves with a big painting and a tiny, tiny brush? First off, it’s misleading, because you know they didn’t paint the whole thing with that brush, but the effect is to imply that their painting was some Sisyphean struggle: the equivalent of painting your house with a toothbrush. It impresses people who don’t know much about painting and need to think the artist invested dozens or hundreds of hours is mind-numbing tedious labor. But it backfires for me for the same reason. Who wants to do that kind of labor?

      But, let’s say that making art is enjoyable on some level, so that even if the execution is a pain in the ass for the artist, the overall process or just engaging with art is worthwhile. Then we do have the problem of what anyone else thinks of ones art. For you and me, this is secondary to what we think for ourselves, and that’s a good thing. I don’t think artists who are any good, really, should be too vulnerable to what critics think (like Jackson Pollock taking bad advice from Clement Greenberg), because you should be following your own ideas, convictions, inclinations, obsessions, interests, and so on.

      Nevertheless, to make some money one needs to get recognition. We only need to think of Van Gogh to see what happens when an artist really gives it his all and gets nothing in return. People where he lived, I think in Arles, signed a petition to have him removed from the community as a dangerous freak. 80 people signed that petition. Meanwhile his gallery-owning brother didn’t believe in his work enough to peddle it, and just humored him out of familial responsibility. I mean, the guy had some other problems, to be sure. But, things like poverty, ignominy, and bitter irony could really drag someone down. Do you know the musician, Nick Drake? Cut some great albums with classic songs, nobody gave a flying crap about it, ended up killing himself, and then, years later, people realized how great some of his music was. But he was already susceptible to depression and so on.

      Now, if one is financially stable and has free time to do her or his work, than that other stuff doesn’t matter as much. We can all have hobbies we do for our personal satisfaction. But if the artist isn’t financially stable, and can’t make art in his or her free time, which is most cases, than there’s a conflict where one persists in making art at ones own peril, which is perilous, obviously, or has to more or less quit in order to throw themselves into another career, or some commercial application of art.

      And then, regarding fame, at least a few of the top Abstract Expressionists killed themselves, Rothko and Pollack being the most notable (if you consider recklessly driving into a tree at high speed while drunk suicidal). And that might have to do with the fall from fame, or rather prominence in the art world. The Abstract Expressionists were considered the top artists in the world at one time, but then were sidelined by the next wave of revolutionary artists, including the Pop artists and Minimalists.

      So, in short, artists are vulnerable to the same stresses as everyone else, and being an artist can greatly increase those stresses.

      On the bright side, it can also be what holds one together, makes life meaningful, and helps one get through hard times. For me there’s always that carrot of another image I will make in the future, which has a certain optimism built into it. There’s a chance I will express something meaningful that is also central to my being. And once one has a bit of an oeuvre, whether anyone else appreciates it or not, you can look back on your creations and see you’ve already done that a bunch of times.

      Did you know the fastest increasing group for suicides is middle aged white men, and as I recall without college degrees? I think it has to do with major cultural and economic changes. These guys aren’t able to make ends meet, and society is telling them they were born evil and nobody gives a shit about them. It’s a lethal brew.

      So, one has to have a bit of pluck, perseverance, a grain of faith, secret optimism, and resilience. Not all artists have that kind of makeup or strength to endure the long cold winters of public indifference, which may be cruelly and stupidly myopic. As you mentioned, making painting and being a white male already is 2 strikes against you in the art world. I’ve got two more: being over 50 and working digitally. I already struck out and got a kick in the balls for the forth strike. Ah, but then I also live overseas in Asia. Strike 5. That’s a nugget of shit hurled my way. But I persist anyway because I find making art inherently fulfilling, and I think the winds may change sooner or later. Plus I just believe my stuff is good and if others can’t see it, well, that might be their limitation (not surprising and the whole populace becomes visually illiterate as regards art history and the fundamentals of understanding a still image), not mine. And it can also be an advantage to not have a limitation that most others are plagued with. It gives one a certain edge.

      Related to that, while the art world is busy trying to remove painting and the imagination from art, like it’s a malignant tumor and not the core of art, and this is most evidend in college programs where painting is shunned upon, derided, or prohibited (my graduate art education is a prime example), that also means there’s really a lot less competition. For a musical analogy, if you play your own instruments today, and write your own songs, well, you are most likely not going to have a chance in hell in pop music. You’d better work on your dancing skills, and if you are a woman, it might be worthwhile to train your booty at twerking. But, again, that just means there’s so much less competition for making your own music according to your own ear, and not following some external formula like you are just the employee of some CEO, and are the mere laborer for his or her vision, which would be most of the biggest musical acts that get all the attention.

      So, there is reason to be depressed and reason to rejoice in the current era of anti-painting and anti-imagination.

      Cheers.

      Like

  6. Eric
    That’s a lot to mull over. On the thought about art creating being enjoyable, I think the paintings that I struggle with the most but persevere and finally pull it out are the most rewarding. Maybe not the best, but very satisfying. Also I love when I get an idea for a painting and can sort of picture it in my mind. The thought of what the blank canvas is going to look like in the end is intoxicating. I find I don’t even look at most of the that long after they are done. It’s more the planning and execution I love. Once it’s done I’m moving on to the next one.

    I was not aware of the suicide rate for white middle aged men, but it’s not surprising. We are pretty much not able to express ourselves right now. It’s hard to go around and hear how terrible we are and not be able to say anything for fear of being tarred and feathered. Even when what your saying is totally reasonable. The propaganda that is being taught to kids in schools about white men today is unnerving. Most likely only going to get worse. I’m not sure why it’s going that way. It didn’t seem like things were too bad. We had a black president and most people seemed to be doing good. Then Trump wins and look out the sky is falling. Michelle said when they go low we go high, but no one followed her example.

    I do know Nick Drake, I used to listen to him while painting once in a while. He’s been out of the rotation for a few years. Might be time to put him back in.

    Less competition doesn’t really matter to me. I kind of wish we had a few more great artists going right now. The best always inspire me to do better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. Agreed. I think there are some great artists now, but they are not necessarily to my tastes. There are a lot of artists on Instagram that I like. You should get on there and share you work. Just add a new piece every fews days or so. Get a following. I’ve got maybe 30 people that actually look at my work, but that’s 30 more than I’d have if I weren’t on IG. Also, I get $70 a mo. from Patreon. Better than a sharp stick in the eye. It’s paying for upgrading my copy of ArtRage (a cheapish digital painting program that’s fun and can do a lot of stuff. You might try it.).

      Anyway, I like you talk about how you come up with images and your process.

      I’ll have to do a post about my favorite artists right now. And you know, nobody comes to mind like Bacon or Van Gogh, or even Max Ernst. I gotta do that post, but an easier one is to share some of my favorite Instagram artists.

      Like

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