should you have to justify your painting?…

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19/11/2010 by Sarah Ritchie

Let’s say you picked up a can of paint, tipped it over your canvas, and said “Voila!”. Done! To some viewers it is simply an amateurish blob of paint. To you, the artist, it might be a considered representation of the creation of the world. Or not.

When I talk about design and layout  – with my graphic design students – I try to impress on them that there should be thought and reason behind every single element (it’s form, size and position) that they include on each page. I tell them that they should be ready to justify every component if questioned by a peer or client.

Inevitably, if elements are included without sufficient thought or reason the composition can look imbalanced, difficult to read, or just plain ugly.

Is this principle the same for fine art? Surely a well-composed painting is more aesthetically-pleasing than one that is haphazard? Surely a painting with forethought, intent and purpose is more powerful than a random offering? Surely something that means something to you will mean something to others? Besides, wouldn’t you like to be able to explain the meaning behind your artwork if asked, rather than confess to a “happy mistake” or “I was just experimenting“?

At this stage in my creative journey I think it is important a viewer be allowed to interpret a painting in their own fashion. To facilitate a pleasant, informative and meaningful viewing experience should not an artist, then, think carefully on that which they are presenting for open interpretation…before they paint it? Just a thought…hopefully a meaningful one!

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