A Real Artist

One of my first Streaming pieces

The other day, one of the Real Estate agents who was showing our house made a comment about a painting we have hanging on our wall.  When she found out who the artist was she went on a 10 minute rant about how the painter was just coping what she had learned from her teacher (a well known and established artist).  She said her teacher had been doing the same type of paintings in the 90’s and had moved on while his student was still doing the same thing over and over.  She said real artists are changing all the time, not doing the same thing over and over again.  She made declarative statements about how the artist who painted our picture was not a real artist and how her teacher was.   Apparently, the real estate agent is also an artist, but  I didn’t get to find out what kind of work she does, because by the time she was done talking, I just wanted to get away from her.

But it did get me thinking about all the ideas  and judgements that people have about artists and their work. Probably some of them come from anger and jealousy and some from experience and being thoughtful.  As this woman was ranting about being original and real, I was thinking of all the artists who’ve painted or sculpted the same subject again and again, (take the Madonna and child for instance).  I thought of  photographer Cindy Sherman’s self portraits  and how Nancy Grossman made her sculpted leather covered head for over 20 years and how many times did Monet paint haystacks.

Then I thought of my own work.  How from the outside it may seem like I’m doing the same thing over and over.  But I know I learn something new with each piece.  I get better at what I’m doing  and make changes constantly, some subtle, some more obvious.  When I look at some of my first steaming pieces compared to the ones I’m doing now, they are very different.   From the images to the words to the process.  They’ve also led to other work,  my collage pillows, wall hangings and potholders.  Sure there’s repetition, that’s how you work out ideas, by exploring them again and again.  I think art is a practice.  You don’t “get there”  you just keep doing it.

And maybe this is what the Real Estate agent meant.  Maybe we agree on part of what she was saying after all.  The part I have trouble with is the if the painter who painted the picture in our living room  isn’t a real artist, what is she?  A fake artist?  I would think a fake artist is someone who calls themselves an artist but doesn’t make art.

I don’t know what the intentions are of the artist who painted the picture on our wall. And I don’t know that her work isn’t changing and growing all the time, even if she has been painting barns for 20 years.  And although I don’t know how intimate the real estate agent is with this artist and her work, I can’t imagine why she might want to go around condemning her for not being a real artist.

Probably, as it often is, it’s more about the Real Estate agent than the Artist.  She seemed angry and opinionated and judgmental, maybe she’s rather be making  more art instead of selling Real Estate.

My latest Streaming Pillow

15 thoughts on “A Real Artist

  1. What an interesting encounter! Certainly thought provoking and one that immediately could put ones hackles up, but I love how you are thinking it through. Our art is as evolutionary as we are. Each time we conceive of a project we have a different thought process, we may apply the same techniques but, at least, with me, it is always for a different reason, and affects so much more than that immediate creation. Were anyone deign to cast judgement on my little squares of fabric, I am not sure how I would react, but I am happy you shared this experience, thus leading me to think it out.
    I just love the apron project, Maria! Just think of the evocative nature of that gift. Truly amazing.

  2. Hmm… this got me thinking,what makes people decide that one is an artist and one isn’t. Could it have anything to do with money? If it is really expensive it is art? If the artist is famous;it is art? If you make a living of art it is art?
    In a time of sadness I found satisfaction in making paper collages. They are all made in the same way with pictures from newspapers and magazines and the collages sort of told its own story during the process of making them. Each are one of a kind but it has no meaning to others but me. A waste of time in the eyes of many.If somebody else;famous; called artist had done them they would be called art? So what makes art art and an artist an artist?

  3. Oh Maria have you read One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer? It is a novel about a woman who spent her life painting chairs. Her family learns about their value (both literally and metaphorically) only after her death. She was just their goofy aunt who painted chairs until others offered them a new way of seeing.
    This book was made for you. It is all about the importance of beauty in our lives and how in the end everyone defines it in their own way.
    (Home of so many potholders in Dorset)

  4. Beautifully and thoughtfully expressed, Maria – I think you honed in on the real issue there – the real estate agent sounds angry and envious/resentful and not happy in her life. Rather toxic to be around.

    Art seems to me to be such an internal process – your two streaming pieces are both beautiful to my observing eye, look as if they might involve slightly different technical skills, and only you know the experiences of creating each one!

    Thank you for this thought-filled posting!

  5. You most definitely are a real artist. While I was reading, all I could think of was how angry the agent sounded. It sounds like she has a pretty big chip on her shoulder. Good for you, for getting away from her as soon as possible.

  6. That real estate agent sounds really angry. She would probably be mad if she knew that there are art instructors who asked their students to copy a painting as a part of a class assignment. This was 1973, and I copied several Modigliani paintings. I went on a real tare over them. But then later, when I took painting and drawing I was inspired to do several modern abstract fantasy art versions of the Mona Lisa.

  7. Poison darts! She isn’t angry with the artist, she’s angry with herself, for the choices she has made but instead of taking responsibility, it’s just that much easier to lob darts at those who are living the life she feels she should live.

  8. Maria, you’ve brought an interesting subject into the foreground. When I applied for and was accepted at Art College, I was ‘just’ a quilter. I’m still a quilter, without the ‘just’. I’ve moved beyond that but I, too, wonder about my designwork. People can recognize it as mine, now. I wonder that I shouldn’t change my basic style of loving clean curves, simpler shapes and more structured designwork. A younger friend at Art College called me tight a**ed and said: you probably wear flannel nightgowns to bed, too. I guess to her, that meant something. I did; I do…but I cannot for the life of me change what I do in my designwork. I try but it often isn’t me. It doesn’t feel right nor does it feel good to me. I loose the heart and feeling of a design if I can’t feel it. So, I don’t know where you go with the realestate’s comment…like someone else said: sounds more like she’s referencing her own stuff…especially since she was so vehement about her comments. Yes, she has a good point but you know, I’ve seen artists paint wonderfully appealing pictures, ‘grow’ in their work and their work after that, is not as appealing. Sure they’ve ‘moved on’ but somehow, some of what I see doesn’t have the heart and soul of the creator in it. No easy answer to that issue, is there.
    Sandy Proudfoot

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