I think a still life painting can be one of the most boring things to look at in the art world. Why? Because a bowl of fruit is kind of boring to look at in real life. Everyone has seen a bowl of fruit, not everyone has seen a photo of a crucifix in a glass of urine ***(if you are offended by an artist’s right to expression, don’t click on the link).
Okay, the last example is truly one of the most controversial in the artistic spectrum, I’d say. A bowl of fruit is, well, not controversial. It doesn’t tell a story, it doesn’t evoke an emotion (unless you want to evoke hunger). It just lies there, on the table.
Despite this, I think a bowl of fruit is almost PIVOTAL to the art world. Why? It keeps an artist working, and it can be a serious means to sharpening one’s technical skills. Painting and drawing are skills that should be honed – like a musician practices scales, a bowl of fruit still-life is a painter’s scales.
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Now, we can talk about art, and what constitutes art, ’til we’re blue in the face, but I truly believe that, as an artist, you NEED to always improve–and your technical and compositional skills should be on that list, in my humble opinion.
I wrote a post last week about needing to have creative heroes, and perhaps I should have added Picasso into the post (FYI, I think I will be adding more heroes as we go). Do I enjoy Picasso? I can’t say I always enjoy his style, but what I DO appreciate about Picasso is that he had solid technical and classical skills BEFORE he moved into exploring his style–his brand of art. I specifically remember a pitcher of pears that he did.
I saw it when my lovely aunt took me to see a Picasso exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As I looked at his work (I was a teen), trying hard to appreciate his expression, his motives, his style, his message, I found some of his earliest works and was amazed at how close to traditional artists’ stuff it was– and something clicked.
Picasso had mastered the skills and he had consciously moved into exploring his vehicle for expression. He didn’t just draw weird because he couldn’t draw! Wow, what a revelation that was to my teen mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think you or I need to MASTER our technical skills to explore our expression. But, sometimes having skills helps you to fully understand that you are extending yourself past, and freeing yourself of it on a conscious level. I think this is why it’s important to paint a bowl of fruit (how’s that for a long route to “paint an apple a day”).