More Gallery Observations

Again, I hark back to the Fall Openings in the Chicago galleries this year.

One of the most consistent issues I observed while sweeping the new shows was a distinct reliance on store-bought materials.  Of course, it is relentlessly difficult to procure more pure materials these days, but even simple things are being skipped over simply for the ease of production or more probably, simply because the artist is ignorant or following other seemingly less-ignorant peers.   I should specify a bit.  By store-bought materials, I am referring to the use of tube pigment, synthetic oils, pre-stretched canvas, pre-mixed gesso, and pre-cut stretcher bars.  I, of course, have used most of this as well while being a student learning to paint and in the more student-oriented galleries, I expected little else.  However, the more I learn about painting – as we all do our entire lives – the more I understand that anyone can make strikingly good paintings if they only used the right materials and understood the act of creating a surface as a carpentry construction is necessary as a first step towards a great painting.  Proper materials allows not only richness of the work, but longevity, value, and most importantly – the ability to more quickly, cleanly, and efficiently get your point across.  For American painters especially, I cannot fathom why anyone would walk into the corner Blicks and pick up pre-made materials.  We all know that artists are not as broke as the urban folklore tells the general public.  I can only attribute this behavior to a combination of poor instruction and laziness with a seeding of contemporary distraction.  A painting surface built from ground up gives the most individualism to a work.  Mixing your own color from dry pigment using the right type of oil that you want is the next step.  Do you even know the effect that certain oil has in certain pigments?  Is there any point of control?  Art is a science!

Well, the other side of this materials issue is the viewer, whether me or anyone.  It takes a painter all of a few tenths of a second to notice the use of store-bought materials.  I can walk through a gallery of 50 artists and identify the Winton Payne’s Gray and Gamblin Galkyd medium in every one.   This makes going to a gallery less exciting than it once was.  When I see everyone using the same materials in the same way with no care as to the content of the work, the construction of the work, nor the placement of the work, then I just don’t care about the work in any way shape and form finding them all to be mediocre to crappy student work that ought not to be up in the gallery.  But we have so many galleries lately too and these galleries must be filled.  Right?

And a final general note to painters out there…

Learn these two skills, please:  Fat over Lean & Layers

Oh and don’t research how to paint on the internet.  Find a human being in person and ask them.


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