Sunday 7 August 2016

Isabelle Michaud: l'art c'est vachement amusant

thoughts and cows by
Isabelle Michaud

This is the village in China I told you about where replicas of famous artist's works are being hand painted, replicated for cheap. This does not bother me as much as the fake "Canadian artist canvas" bin I saw at Rome's a few months ago. For 39.99$ you could buy a 36" X 36" photograph of daisies printed on vinyl and stretched over a plastic frame.  Two weeks later, hey, it was on clearance for 50% off. The box was almost empty. I guess it doesn't really matter, people can like whatever the heck they want...

Plus, when you don't have much money, to begin with, this 20$ big vinyl canvas will make a nice decoration. I get it, it's still pretty. But what if you took a piece of paper and drew flowers yourself or asked a friend to draw them for you instead? For free! Wouldn't (that) be better? What if you bought painted flowers at a craft show? It might be a bit more money, like 40$ or 50$ and it might be smaller but...
someone you know who lives in your neighbourhood might have made it,
but nooooo... Not good enough. People want that crisp, perfectly manufactured, photoshopped stuff. Not uneven weird stuff that an actual human being made!!! Those pesky humans. I get it, art is all relative and subjective. What's good for me is not necessarily good for the next guy/gal/person/blob with eyes.

 My profs always say that whatever will make people think about art or engage with art is probably a good thing. So ok, if people want to buy that cheap stuff, let them and mind *your own business*... Sure, fine. However, I would say, one gains way more by either engaging in art oneself or in buying artwork made by an actual person and not a machine. It's good to see a person's hand in the work, to see their engagement with the media. You get an emotional response from it. It warms your living place by filling it with the expression of an actual autonomously thinking human being.

Of course, it you want to have a picture of the Queen on your wall, cut out from a magazine and placed inside a frame you bought at Dollorama....  that's your thing and it's fine. At least you took the time to cut the photo and place it inside a frame and put it on your wall. That beats the clearance "Canadian artist canvas" box at Rome's, in my view. Now... Artwork might be a luxury, maybe you live in a very small place and you don't have a dime to yourself. Still... Even when I was the poorest in my life, I drew on cardboard, I painted/drew with whatever I found, markers, chalk. The important part for me is the engagement with artmaking. Making it yourself rather than thinking "commercial."

Recently, the Machine Shop hosted a Paint Nite. What the hell is wrong with people that they think it's fun to sit in a row, all making the same painting of a flat hot air balloon or an outline of a bird on a branch, with cheap paint? But people do! They like it! They're out with friends, enjoying painting, having a drink and someone tells them what to do. No stress and they are still enjoying paint... "What's wrong with that", I hear people say to me... So much is wrong with that!!! Why not make your own thing? See what you can do? Ok, maybe the first thing you make might not be anything wonderful but what if you tried again? Wouldn't you get so much more from having independent thought and expression? Creating something that exists only once? That is one of a kind? And that you made for someone else maybe? As a present? A little bit of time and effort goes a long way.

Art is a way to unwind, to produce, to help you heal. By sharing your artwork, you are helping people make sense of life, you are sharing a friendship with them. People think," I can't draw anything", so I prefer "paint by number." Ok, I say, that's still a step better than the box at Rome's. Because at least you are actually figuring out about different colours, about viscosity, about paintbrushes, and the application of paint.

What's the difference between paint by number and Paint Nite? Not much, true. Is that art? If you ask me, it is whatever you want it to be, for yourself. For me, no, it's not really art... Because it's more about mindlessly filling the pattern than making artwork. But art is in the eye of the beholder, so, it's all subjective and it is whatever one wishes to call it, truly.  But it bugs me how people prefer buying manufactured paintings rather than buying from an actual painter/artist.

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