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Notes & Advice 8

Updated: May 7, 2021

If you’re into oil painting or realism and somehow not already a fan of Jeremy Geddes, do yourself a favor and check him out. He is a modern master of the fantastic realism genre. When I found an interview about his process and thoughts on realism art, I eagerly read it and found some pearls of wisdom in his humble and deftly concise responses. Although the website this interview was featured on is no longer active, here are some choice excerpts and wise words:

Especially helpful to me as a painter were a few choice reminders about the process of completing larger or more ambitious works, including this advice:

One mistake I often catch myself in is launching into a full sized painting before I have addressed and resolved all the potential problems in small scale studies. It means I can spend days or weeks in rework for an issue that could have been sorted out in hours if I had followed the correct procedure. Tampering down enthusiasm with pragmatism can be a tricky thing to hold onto sometimes, but it is almost always worth it.

And then there’s this insight regarding the public perception of “fine art” and the communicative power, which is a timely reinforcement of some of the conclusions about modern art I described in my “What Is Art?” essay:

…the disconnect between the intended meaning of a conceptual work and the meaning that ‘Joe Public’ will take from it is obviously huge, the work is most likely buried in decades of obscure theory that the public has no knowledge of or participation in.

I think this quote also brings up the old tree-falling-in-the-woods cliché--if no one heard it, did it even make a sound? And applied to this discussion about art's intended meaning: does it matter, though, if anyone heard it in the first place? Is it not still meaningful, significant, valuable in its own right?

My thoughts on visual art as a communication medium are always evolving but lately I'm of the mind that an artist shouldn't "dumb down" their content or symbolism in order to pander to an audience--or an assumption about an audience. But I feel they should have an awareness and acknowledgement that their art's intended communication could fall on deaf ears or be construed in a myriad of unintended ways by whomever...and that's kind of the cool thing about humans, and consciousness, and life...we are, or it is, so vast and so varied and so unpredictable, that when another human sees what you've made and truly gets it, it is a moment to be cherished.

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