Sunday, August 1, 2004

Artists don't have to be crazy

I have been interested in art most of my life. My Dad is an artist. That is not to say that he has made his living in art but still he is an artist. When I was growing up our home was like an art factory. Daddy painted, sculpted, and whittled in his spare time. (when he wasn't making a living)
Occasionally he accepted commissions but preferred to just create for the sake of creating. When we had snowy winters my Dad built beautiful snowmen. One was a replica of the Lincoln Memorial, one was a shapely girl in a bikini. (my mother wasn't as pleased with that one)
Every Christmas there was a Christmas lighting competition and Daddy always created something unique and beautiful. He usually painted them outside because our house just didn't have enough room for his large projects. I remember following in his footsteps and always wanting to help him.
One winter when I was in high school he did let me help him. I was able to paint some of the folds in the robe of Christ. (I think later he touched up some of the faulty shadows)
Art enhanced our lives giving them special meaning and memories. Only once do I remember my Dad having an art tantrum. He was dissatisfied with a painting he was working on and took it outside throwing it off the porch.
The canvas and paint landed in the front yard. That miffed me so I took the canvas and paint and took it in the backyard, setting it up on an old easel. I decided to do a painting with the oil paint and my fingers. No brushes. The painting ended up winning an art competition. My Dad was proud but a little chastened.

So art in our family provided a wonderful outlet and inspiration.
Now that I am an art teacher I read many art publications. Most don't really touch on creating art for arts' sake. Instead they are about "Protest art" or funding for art or teaching art to inner-city kids by painting ugly graffiti.
These publications never touch upon the great art of the past because most of it was religiously inspired. None of the art promoted by the art world these days touches the spirit. Mediocity seems to reign throughout but that is not how I teach my students.