I recently finished up a 6-week acrylic painting class with instructor and painter, Bert Seabourn. I’ve loved his work since being introduced to it about a year ago, and my husband thought it was high time I take his class at City Arts in OKC. Bert is awesome. A color and composition genius. He works really hard at his craft – working at least 8 hours a day. He’s 82 years old now and he will tell you the best thing about this point in his career, is that 9 out of 10 paintings he creates are good. His skill is so consistent, that you can bet on a masterpiece every time he’s put down the last brush stroke of paint.
Awhile ago I was reading an interview with a very well-known and talented artist whose work I really admire. I won’t quote his name out of respect for him, but something he said really bugged me. The question was, “What does art do for the world?” His answer was puzzling. He said, “I don’t believe that art does anything for the world, just consume resources like every other human activity.” What??! I wholeheartedly disagree. Art can transcend cultural barriers. Art can move and inspire. Art can convey truth that sometimes words alone fail to do. Art is just as much a journey of discovery for the artist as it is for the viewer. How can that be in vain?
While I’m sure many can argue the practicality of art, for me personally it is an essential tool for discovering the world and the Creator. Without art, I would shrivel up, the world would seem dull and lonely. Without encountering and engaging beauty, I’m not sure that my faith would be so strong. This is why I’m seeking to improve my skills – so maybe I can communicate the holy creativity of God that much better. I may not be able to put in the hours that Bert does, but I’m certainly going to be disciplined to put in more than I have in the past.
Bert is someone that will contend for art and the practicality of it. Through his example, my love for art has grown even more. After ending the course, in between meeting so many new friends while talking and drinking wine and sangria, there was definitely a confirmation in the discovery that I love painting portraits. I have always been drawn to portraits. Actually, painting anything else feels like mundane work, but painting people – there is something so intimate, raw, familiar and spiritual about painting a human that keeps me coming back to it again and again.
An interest in the subject; something you want to say definitely about the subject; this is the first condition of a portrait. Completion does not depend on material representation. The work is done when that special thing has been said.
-Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
Anyway, these are a couple of mine that came out of the class. I hope to be painting while on the road this fall. I’m sure I will encounter plenty of beautiful subjects while on our travels. My hope is that our lives and stories will intertwine with many along the way, and much “impractical” art will come out of it.
4 thoughts on “Art & Practicality”
There are dozens and dozens of studies showing that arts have a proven economic impact on any area where they are promoted; from schools to communities. Communities with active arts programs tend to draw higher educated, and higher paid individuals. Here is one such article about the effect of arts on students: http://www.nea.gov/news/news12/Arts-At-Risk-Youth.html
I completely agree with you, I don’t understand that quote either. Art (all forms) is the greatest gift to humans from God in my opinion.
And I love your paintings; that second one is so amazing; something about the dark negative space creates such depth of emotion!
such important words… thank you!
I don’t think the world could exist without art. It’s been my life and love for 82 years and I’m am glad she thought of me as a good artist and teacher.