I was reminded this week of an encounter I had a while ago with an artist I had just met.
She was admiring my abstract paintings at a show.
When she asked if I had any other pieces, I pointed to one of my floral paintings that was more realistic.
She glanced for a hot second and said, “That one, not so much.”
Because art is so subjective, I like to think I have fairly thick armor where opinion of my work is concerned.
Then she said, “Since the invention of photography we really don’t need to copy nature anymore. It’s completely unnecessary.”
My armor crumbled like a good pie crust.
She continued her lecture, not realizing that the vast majority of my work was “copying nature.”
I didn’t retain much more of her argument beyond the repeated use of “unnecessary.”
I even found myself politely agreeing, not sure of what I was agreeing with.
But on my drive home, my blood boiled as I composed my rebuttal and some really good stingers:
“When you’re done bludgeoning me with YOUR opinion, may I share mine?”
Why did the negative comments of a stranger eclipse the numerous compliments I received that night?
I’ve heard 'Life Teachers' described as truth speakers.
A description I agree with.
But more often they seem to be speaking THEIR truth as opposed to THE truth.
And like the mark of a good teacher, the lesson is not obvious.
In the midst of building my defense for naturalism I found myself examining why I “copy nature.”
Why naturalism is necessary.
To me it’s not a copy. It’s an interpretation. No matter how realistic, it bears my compositional fingerprint. It tells the story from my point of view. And it’s created by me one brush stroke at a time.
But the biggest ‘why’ is that it nourishes me and occasionally nourishes someone else.
And nourishment IS necessary.
But so was that Life Teacher.