Please note: I dislike writing blogs that are public online for a class assignment that seems largely unrelated to content here, but I must so please know this article is written for class. In future publications, I will place the same warning as if it is paid content.
Art appreciation will be a mainstay topic on this blog for at least the next several months and should things go relatively well it is my hope that it will stay long past the semester’s end. That said however, this post will act as the orienting compass in respect to my opinions and understanding of art. Here I will depict three pieces that for me were profound, enjoyable, and that inspired me, but more importantly, they embody my approach to the process of making art, and how I communicate with the art I see:
1. My Repainting of a painting from an artist in Manitou Springs; Artist Unknown (internet help me!)
I really didn’t have any luck finding the original name of the artist whose painting this is. Unfortunately as an international student in Wellington right now my bookshelf of sketchbooks is a resource I am unable to tap so I can’t look it up in any way. It pains me that I don’t remember, but I think it was Terry Brooks or something and I’m sure that isn’t right because that’s also the name of an author I like.
Regardless this painting by a man in Manitou Springs impacted my life as an artist quite a lot. I remember this was the first time I had spoken to the original artist of a piece that was not in my class. Someone hugely successful selling classical work in a gallery in a tourist town. The piece was fairly large and it was so free of its expression, unhindered by any of the logistical concerns I had in my own art at the time. The layers of red and blue were enough to swallow me whole. I first laid eyes on the piece around the age of 14 and decided that being a fine artist would make my world broad, unique, and worthwhile. This was the first time I realized that art could be used to make powerful emotional appeals across contexts and for a kid who had been taught that skill at rendering an image was all there was to being a successful artist, it was like someone had removed my blinders.
I am not and have never been a patriot or a fan of war or armies, but this painting showed me what it was like for him – a veteran and an artist in a way no conversation and no amount of shared coffees over weeks at a cafe could have. I really hope that I can track down his name some day. If you know it please post it in the comments!!!
2. Lipstick, by Wayne Thiebaud
While a lot of my work in the past was done with little degree of physical accuracy and with little attention to detail in practice, the second I saw this piece by Wayne Thiebaud it became my prerogative that my being “good” at art was based on how interested I was in taking my time, paying attention to what I was doing, and how much I learned to apply theoretical and practical methods of visual design to my pieces (Thiebaud). My being good stopped being a matter of “getting better” and became a matter of “learning to do better”.
Thiebaud’s demand and control over color theory was obvious and profound. Even though his landscapes were terribly out of sync for me his command of color and medium showed to me that he paid attention and that his art was born out of a careful understanding of what he was doing.
The Molting series of comic books by Terrance Zdunich and three other artists hit me in the worst of times in my life. During high school I was a young, impressionable, depressed aspiring artist from a small town with little self-esteem and a lot of gender dysphoria. I was into narrative art, but not sure I would be able to make it in a world of narrative artists. I was scared and worried for my future because I was not progressing as an artist as fast or as well as those peers around me (turns out in hindsight this was stupid and I never should have stopped drawing, but that is another story).
Around the time I began reading the Molting I had a border-line unhealthy interest in Repo! the Genetic Opera and an admiration of Terrance Zdunich that was almost cultish. And when I opened the first comic, Guilty Susie what I saw was someone who couldn’t care less about whether the art was perfect. Terrance was no Jhonen Vasquez. Instead there was a raw untapped story that Terrance put his soul into. His art told a horror story in the same way one might expect the victim of a horror story to tell it – from the gut wrenching, reality punching, seat of his pants. His artwork’s unsteady ink, thick lines, frame-breaking visuals, and full format pages reflected that, but still with a complete full bodied and stylistic professionalism I loved.
Course there is more to this story that should be saved for another blog, but before moving on I still want to publicly thank Terrance for basically saving my life, and spurring me to decide life and transition was worth it. For bringing Repo! to me and for seeing The Molting through, and for showing me what it means to get by in the world with the Devil’s Carnival and it’s long track to a sequel he is and always will be an inspiration in my heart.
Regardless all three of the artistic works I have detailed have had a lasting impression on me and getting back to those impressions has spurred me back into this community. I hope they will continue to be a driving compass for me and I will likely refer to them often when discussing art in the future. Narrative art and storytelling, be it in one image, with the use of theoretical prowess, or raw desire to tell a story, is beautiful.
Citations (read more):
“Jhonen Vasquez.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
Thiebaud, Wayne. Eight Lipsticks. Digital image. Artnet.com. Art Net, 1988. Web. 8 Mar. 2017. <http://www.artnet.com/artists/wayne-thiebaud/eight-lipsticks-QY_AmUp3s-V4MT8U_fQDVw2>.
Zdunich, Terrance. “The Molting Comic: An Independent Comic Book Series by Terrance Zdunich.” The Molting Comic: An Independent Comic Book Series by Terrance Zdunich. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017. <http://www.themoltingcomic.com/chapters.html>.