Anyone that knows me, knows also that there are some forms of art that I am a pompous overblown ass about and feel that any artist who partakes in them is doing nothing but showing their lack of creative imagination.
These include (in no particular order), still life paintings of fruit and flowers, paintings of well known personages (notably Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix and that horrible fellow from Breaking Bad) and lastly tiny babbling brooks, forests, beach scenes, overused nature locations.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the artists that work in these areas are not good artists. In fact I think the opposite is true. I think in most cases they are incredibly talents artists who for whatever reasons aren't ready to branch out to truly creative pieces of work. Some seem afraid to try areas of art that are risky. For some its a financial reason because they make a bit of money off this tripe. For others its because "they feel" they have no ideas other than reproducing the things that artists have always produced. It worked for the artists of the sixteenth century, so it has to work for me.
But the fact is that artists working with still life paintings of pears and apples in the sixteenth century were just breaking into something new. The challenge of creating reality and learning about lighting in that age were crucial to the future development of many artists. Today though, its overused.
I am not saying that students should not focus on these things when they are learning. Indeed they should. You can learn more about lighting and shadows and perspective from a bowl of broccoli than most realize. But this article isn't written for the new emerging artist. Its written for those of you who have now painted 43 images of Hendrix and sold them for $20.00 each. Its time to move on...please.
You probably think that I am exaggerating. But I look at anywhere from 50-400 artists profiles a day and I run across Marilyn and her ilk in at least 35% of those profiles.
Its like we can't stop ourselves. Its an addiction.
It is a simple fact that the more creative you are as an artist, the more risks you are willing to take to create that one unique piece, the more successful you will ultimately be. Artists must have the ability to look at their careers from a broad perspective. If you look at only what you will sell tomorrow then Marilyn and that cute pathway through the woods will always be what you create. Instead if you look at your career through the eyes of an old man or woman looking back at what you've created, do you really want to see a path of cliche art stretching back through your life?
We rarely take the long view of what we do. We get locked into each brush stroke and we forget to look past the canvas at our careers. We think "well what if they don't like it? What if it doesn't sell? What if I look like the fool because I created something that people think is pure trash?"
Well that's part of the risk of being an artist. We didn't choose a safe career path. We chose one that is fraught with peril because we chose to express ourselves. So why would you wish to express yourself in variations of the same bowl of fruit for the rest of your life?
Take a risk! Try something new! And please... NO MORE MARILYN!