Monday, January 28, 2008

Art: Speak wisdom with every word. One must have something to say


Art is a Language
Part 3
by Keith Bond

"As an artist, when an idea or scene inspires me, I must decide which elements are essential to convey the message that I wish to convey."

Dear Michael Orwick
A few years ago I read a quote by the late Paul Strisik. I don’t remember it verbatim, but it goes something like this:

A man fluent in the English language and having a large vocabulary can have nothing interesting to say, while on the other hand a foreigner with broken English and a small vocabulary can speak wisdom with every word.

He used this analogy illustrate a point. Proficiency in art is not enough. One must have something to say (the debate on self expression vs. traditional art instruction will be saved for a future issue). I have seen many pieces of art which were masterfully executed, yet had no life to them. The level of skill was there, yet there was no emotion. The works seemed nothing more than a record of the artists’ labors - and often one could emphasize ‘LABOR’. I have also seen work by artists who are still ... (oh, how does one be politically correct?)...beginners. However, the works were very moving and had a lot of strength. I could feel something in the art. What is the difference? The sincerity of the artists’ message(s).

A work of art, deeply felt by the artist - even if the work is technically lacking - is a much stronger and more powerful work of art than a masterfully crafted piece in which the artist had no emotional connection to the subject. For a work of art to be truly meaningful, the artist must have something to say. The artist must mean what they say. The artist must be sincere.

I will admit, there have been times when I painted what I thought the market wanted. I painted what I thought would sell. Every time I did such a painting, it was a failure. I look at those paintings and there is no life to them (even if well executed). They were merely burdensome tasks to be completed. There was no joy nor magic.

On the other hand, my favorite paintings are the ones that I paint strictly for myself. Those paintings stem from ideas that I am excited about. As I paint them, I am excited. And I am proud of them when I am finished. I am also excited to display them. They are the paintings that resonate most with viewers. (Duh!)

In the last issue, I asked you to close your eyes and think of your favorite place. If you did the little experiment (I hope you did), you would have seen only the most essential elements of the scene in your mind’s eye. As an artist, when an idea or scene inspires me, I must decide which elements are essential to convey the message that I wish to convey. I must choose what is important to me. I then leave everything out that is not critical. That is how I communicate through art.

Best Wishes,
Keith Bond

This article is reproduced with permission. Copyright 2007 -Keith Bond.To get more of Keith Bond insights into the life of an artist, or to see his beautiful oil paintings, visit his web site at:

All the best,
Michael Orwick

Orwick ArtsSign up for my daily paintings, art related musings and tips and techniques. new store, items added all the time.

My art hints at a story and then invites you to finish the narrative. My style has been called Inspired Expressionism, which combines impressionistic brush strokes and a touch of realism to create the atmosphere and lighting woven into my work.

The easiest way to see my work is at

Post a Comment