Photo Credit: Lorie Klahn
There has been a strong case put forth against excellence in art. The whole Postmodern Art movement declares that "dominant paradigms" need upturning, like beauty and skill.
My contemporary hero, Wolf Kahn, wrote that he regrets his latter-day skills in technique, because formerly, without his expertise as an oil painter, he was freer to "overwork" his images. Our current subject, Henri Matisse, worked years to undo his formal art training in order to create his Modern Art statement of pure, "over-wrought" and sensational color.
Because of Wolf Kahn's influence, I frequently take a pastel work and bring it well past any coherent finished point. I literally ruin the artwork, over-filling the tooth of the paper and muddying the colors. In the process, many wonderful discoveries occur! New color combinations and compositions come about. New possibilities with the medium are revealed.
In the dock for excellence, one can argue that the very definition of the word "artist" includes the idea of skill. And as my prime exhibit, I refer you to the high quality of current art. Evidence of Postmodernism's faults is everywhere present.
How to reconcile my personal beliefs about rudimentary values in art versus excellent technique? Maybe there doesn't need to be a reconciliation when one considers that there is a continuity to the artist's progress from his early to his late works. The unity of an artist's corpus is undeniable in the fact that both his early works and his later works are created by the same hand.
I feel that many more paintings await me with greater powers as a pastelist. I'll be thinking about the finer use of my medium as my studio life progresses this year.