Fine Art - what, how and even… why
Welcome to my fine art blog, written by me, a practicing professional fine artist, inbetween painting, making prints and all the rest of what an artist does.
Hence there's not a lot here at the moment. I'm only just starting to develop this blog – it's a relatively new addition to my website. I hope what is here is of value.
Three kinds of print you're most likely to find for sale
Updated: July 2018
An easy to understand guide to…
The most common kinds of print that are offered for sale. Includes questions to ask in order to be sure which kind of print you're looking at if in doubt, and a little bit about hand made and machine made art prints.
A modern landscape artist's fine art space
Updated: September 2017
A creative space: kit, light and walls that work; plus more skills and web
A bit about what I'm doing to rebuild my art practice after a ‘temporary’ pause which ended up being several years. These unavoidable set-backs life throws at us can be an opportunity however, and I describe the practical steps I've taken recently to get productive again, as a result of taking a fresh look at my creative space (artist studio).
Some of my fineart
What is Fine Art?
Updated: January 2019 (v2)
There's a lot of slightly different definitions of 'fine art'. Fine art is said to be:
“(1) Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content. (2) An activity requiring great skill or accomplishment.” There are some definitions which state clearly fine art is not useful: [objects] “ produced that are beautiful rather than useful, can be referred to as fine art or as the fine arts” Some add meaningfulness to the mix “created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness”
So if we combine the above, we get Fine art: its reason for existing is to be beautiful and/or imaginative, and/or intellectual; it's also meaningful and making it requires great skill.
I think the idea that fine art is meant to be beautiful and imaginative does not need explaining. Parking 'great skill' for a moment, the other two words occurring – meaningfulness and intellectual – do need exploring…
Meaningful fine art?
To put it really-really simply: meaningless useless things end up in the bin! Something meaningful, however, is worth hanging on to.
This is why fine art has to be meaningful. If something makes you smile every time you look at it, then it adds something to your day and that means a lot when it's raining and everything seems to go wrong – so it's definitely worth keeping.
You can tell if a thing means something to people, because they generally have stories to tell about it. For example "It was my mothers and I always think of her when I wear/see/hold/look at it" or "I just love snowdrops, so it always cheers me up". Those are little stories and they're all about meaningfulness.
So when a thing is meaningful, there's usually a story about it.
Can something be meaningful just because it's beautiful? Well, yes. That can be story enough: “I just love this artist's way of painting, it's just so lovely I love just gazing at it”. That happens to be exactly why there are paintings that I long to buy, which would be meaningful to me.
Since first writing this, I've had to update the definitions above – which has given me a headache. So much so I nearly deleted this altogether. Originally, there was the phrase 'intellectual exercise' in the last definition and I felt happy translating it into plain English – I decided intellectual exercise was a fancy way of saying 'thinking', rightly or wrongly. What is 'intellectual content' and what are 'intellectual purposes' exactly? I don't feel I completely understand these phrases, and they're everything I dislike about art writing: they're not Plain English. Definitions too… are supposed to make things easier to understand! So that's a fail.
Phrases like that muddle Fine Art with Philosophy in my view. Is the term 'Fine Art' really just another name for the practice of 'Philosophy'? Artist, printmaker and maker of artists books, Clifton Meador, explains it very well; as does Dr Adam Geczy, artist, writer and lecturer:
I want to be explicit here: I believe that the central practice in art is the making of things. Art is not philosophy, in fact it is a bad, sloppy place to do philosophy. (Meador, 2006)
The simple truth is that art is not philosophy, which is why it's art. (Geczy, 2014)
Making beautiful useless things IS an intellectual exercise, one that is different and specific to art I suggest. In plain English: making good art takes an awful lot of thinking about – an artist has to think carefully about what they're making, how they're making it and why, exactly, the subject they've picked whispered/shouted: "Make me into art!" to/at them. There's a lot of problems need solving in order to make art, like figuring out how to paint grass, for example. There are approaches too numerous to comprehend to choose from, few rules if any at all, and no usablility design limits, to help guide an artist trying to paint grass. Even choosing a colour to use is harder than you might think – grass does not always appear to be green, even if it is: green!
Altogether, there's a lot of interesting brain work involved in making fine art! So it's definitely an intellectual activity. I suggest, there might also be 'a something' involved in the brain work needed to make art which is not yet understood (or appreciated). It's often difficult to explain why an artist solved a problem the way they did and if you ask someone to explain exactly how 'creativity' happens, they'll probably be stumped. Afterall, think about this…
…we only understand about 10 percent of how [the brain] functions. (Boyd, 2008)
Fine Art[Accessed December. 2018]
- Meador, C. (2006)
- Geczy, A (2014)
- Boyd, R (2008)
The eagle-eyed will have noted the use of the phrase 'good art'. Thinking a lot about making art does not guarantee it will be good. Not thinking about it at all, however, surely guarantees it will be bad?