When discussing art, most people will think of artists and artworks they know from the Italian Renaissance, or the Impressionist movements of France. These were both eras during which art was kindly revered and considered to be a high-end luxury, or channel of religious or cultural communication.
Italian masters made patrons of wealthy and powerful families, and the most respected artists even attracted the attention of the church— creating works even for the pope himself. Impressionists, on the other hand reinvented the traditional concepts associated with art and reshaped the “art-world” for generations to come. In art history, these two periods are certainly some of the most important, and the artists of the day were usually lucky to be producing art in a time when it was held in such high esteem.
What most people DON’T realize when discussing art is that while people of these two periods were frequently surrounded by art culture, no other generation has ever been so exposed to artwork as the people of the present day.
Today, we see artwork everywhere we turn. Countless artists collaborate to create movies and television shows, advertisements, furniture, clothing, home décor, video games, printed media, and logos and packaging for literally everything that we buy. While artists are still producing work for gallery display, museums, and personal sale, the average American is getting most of the art they digest simply from the media around them. Art is also no longer exclusively a luxury item, but a necessity to anyone wishing to market a brand or create anything for public consumption.
This has created an interesting shift in the way people treat art. Art has become so common in our daily life that we rarely take the time to appreciate it with the same respect that Italian patrons during the Renaissance did. And there are so many different forms of art present in the world that “reinventing” art in the way the Impressionists did, has become nearly impossible.
Art must truly WOW in order to be appreciated, and even when we’re blown away by clever packaging, or beautiful architecture, we rarely consider the artists responsible for our experience.
Because of this shift, society today doesn’t tend to appreciate artists for all they do. New artists’ talents and training are often exploited, with clients offering only hollow “exposure” in lieu of payment. Young individuals with hopes of one day creating art are typically discouraged by misinformed adults who aren’t aware of art’s vast presence in the world, and the profound need that our modern society has for artists and their work.
Despite living in an era where art and artists are overwhelmingly present and necessary, art is mostly ignored and often degraded. So what can we do as a society to fix this?
Start by recognizing everything around you as artwork, and appreciating the work and time that went into it. Visit local galleries and art openings, and acquaint yourself with artists in order to better learn how to digest art. And of course, create art yourself! Learn a new art form such as embroidery, upholstery, cooking, or painting, and see how you can use your skills to express yourself creatively while also applying it practically to your life. You can even donate or support local artistic organizations. Observing these simple practices, and exposing your friends and family to art, will slowly and surely help make the world a better place by ensuring that artists are always able and encouraged to continue creating.
- The Artist's Insight - A monthly blog special by Eric Maille -
I’ve been painting my entire life, but I think you’ll agree with me that being a painter doesn’t make you an artist. An artist must be willing to explore the fascinating world that exists behind paintings- a rich history of unique talents, creative imaginations, innovative techniques, and thoughtful self-expression.
I’ve spent a long time developing that insight and learning from the insight of others, and it's helped me to become a professional painter and illustrator living and working in Norman Oklahoma, and an instructor at Pinot’s Palette Bricktown. Now, once a month, I’ll be providing tips, tricks, and stories from a polished perspective, and an artist’s insight, so that even the casual painter, can become an art-lover and artist themselves!
Sincerely yours, Eric Maille