Saturday, May 06, 2017


Thoughts on the Art of Art

By Donovan Baldwin

Okay, I know this is not perfect, but, I was trying to clarify my thoughts about the "meaning" of artistic expression and the making of "good" or "bad" art.

I have always been ot the opinion that technical "goodness" or "badness" of a piece of art, a painting, a poem, whatever, is not the key issue in evaluating something as "art". Sure, it plays a role in assessing the artistic endeavor, just as height, weight, eye color, and so on are part of a human being, but, the humanity is more than just the technical attributes.

FOR ME, there had to be something of value in what the artist/writer had intended and how well they conveyed the idea, the dream, the image, the emotion, the message. That's one reason I like to read poetry written in English by people for whom English is NOT their native language. Quite often they convey, in incorrect English, not only an emotion or meaning, but, they often do it in ways that show novel uses or interpretations for the words they use.

In my thoughts, it's what the artist puts into the work, and what can be gotten from it, that matters, not the technical ability to perform the poetic or artistic act.

Kind of like making love to someone you really love. There may be people more skilled in the arts of love, but, being with this person, doing what you, and they, can do for one another can make it great sex.

But, I was still searching for an image or a story to explain how I felt.
Well, after coffee this morning, while looking out the window, it came to me as a story. A fable-like story, but, one that captured for me what I was thinking and wanting to say:

Death of An Artist

Artists and writers have often been involved in socially reforming movements. Many have used their skills to advance and enhance these movements, and many have died in the process.

I imagined an artist, a painter, who was trying to use his skills and vision to assist in the overthrow of a vicious and tyrannical government.

He is in his studio, prepared to paint a portrait which will arouse the people to the cause, but, before he can begin, troops of the state break in. He is warned not to touch anything, but, knowing he is going to be left with a blank canvas, he grabs a brush and begins painting rapidly.
The troops fire, and the painter falls dead, his brush leaving a bloody red trail down the canvas.

After his body is carried away, his compatriots enter his studio and see the white canvas with the few slashing marks of color, and the blood-red streak left as he fell to the floor.

They take the canvas, and it becomes a symbol of defiance and resistance which helps push the populace to overthrow the oppressive regime.

Technically, the "painting" is not a painting at all. However, to me, it IS a work of art, a work of an artist. His message is boldly and obviously visible for those who can see beyond the technicalities and into the soul of the work and its creator.

I don't know if this clarifies anything for you, but, it does for me. If you stayed with me this long, thanks for reading.

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