Monday, September 21, 2009

Coping with Pretty

Emerald Lake, Alberta

Don Konrad, an artist friend and I talked at length about the difficulty of painting mountains. Mountains are so formidable a presence, and so appealing to the senses that it is easy to paint them in their grandeur. But, we both chuffed with indignance at the thought of painting pretty. Its downright plebian.

Artists have been known to walk mountain trails and almost perform physical gymnastics to find the right scene - in the attempt to avoid the classic, pretty mountain against the pretty sunset scene. Is it any wonder that artists, take vast liberties with nature? A rock here, a boulder there, a pine which has long died and is about to crash into a river....anything...even an old shoe submerged along a lakeshore to grab interest. Anything but what the eye sees! it anything to enhance what the eye sees?

Why did we we both bob our heads in agreement that we didn't like painting conventional mountain scenes? The answer I suspect was found in the universal appeal of mountains. The world is awash with violet and crimson sunsets, and bold dramatic mountain peaks and emerald lakes. Prints of such pictures can be found in every bargain store and cut rate emporium throughout the land.

The problem is - there is almost a universal appeal to the beauty of mountains. Maybe this is what scares artists away. They have overdone to the point of boredom. And, artists being artists, many of us try to redefine what we see. We search for the unusual...something unique to capture the eye.

What hurts so much is that, there is a big market for kitch art. And brutal economics rears its ugly head when we pick up our paint brushes and are faced with the decision of painting ' His Majesty' as he is illuminated in the evening sky, or coming up with something, uniquely........artistic. Where's that boot along the shore I was looking for?

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