Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Being a "Cop Out"

I started this painting yesterday and what do you notice?
Yup, them there are eyes!
Recently I was talking to my art assistant about art, as we tend to do while working in the studio. He mentioned that his teacher had seen my work at the SF Fine Art Fair and they were discussing my paintings in his art class. There was some mixed reactions about the bars over the eyes, which is not surprising. Some people felt they were creepy and, while good, could not see my work in an average person's home. People have different tastes in art and that is okay so these comments did not bother me. But what stuck in my head was the comment one student said. He said he thought I was a "cop out" for putting bars over the eyes because that meant I couldn't paint the eyes. Of course I immediately defended myself to my art assistant and said that EVERY painting I do has the eyes painted in. In fact, I always start with eyes because that was my favorite part. (One may ask why I then cover the eyes if they are my favorite part, but that's another bog post.)

I've been rolling that comment around in my head since Sunday and part of me wants to email the student and tell him I do know how to paint eyes or refer him to my blog where he can see my works in progress. In the end, I decided it was just one kid's opinion. It did make me think about what it means to be a "cop out".

This one is almost done. I did a lot of work on her hair
"Cop out": Choosing not to do something out of fear of failing. How many times have we looked at someone else's work and heard those words? How many times have we thought this ourselves? I have heard people say this about abstract work stating that abstract artists paint this way because they can't paint figuratively. I've heard people use these words on people who use projectors or any other tool that makes our jobs as artists easier. Anytime a body part is consistently missing or blurred in a body a work, I have heard someone say the artist must not be able to paint that body part and is also a "cop out". Once I had an artist tell me I was a "cop out" because I used photos from Flickr as references instead of using my imagination and painting the images in my head or shooting the images myself.

I have a little work to do on the woman's hands, but otherwise
I think this is pretty much done.
Everybody seems to have an opinion about other people's artwork, and it's not always a positive one. That's okay. We are allowed our opinions and we all have different tastes in art. But why do people feel the need to make judgement calls on the artist's ability instead of saying they just don't care for the work? Why must we label artists as "cop outs"? The question most people don't ask themselves is are the artists really "copping out" or are they just making artistic, stylistic choices? Perhaps they are just playing up to their strengths and choosing to paint this way for a reason. I have seen art where every person in the painting is facing away from the viewer. Does the person hate painting faces and is avoiding them or is this their intent for other reasons? Does it really matter? If I enjoyed the work would it even matter if the artist couldn't paint faces? I'd like to think that it doesn't but maybe that's just me.

No comments:

Post a Comment