Artist Statements

Does anyone else have difficulty with artist statements? I hate artist statements. At least I hate writing them. If the statement actually pertains to the work; like the location, medium, how long it took, or the subject then OK. Otherwise there are a number of Web sites that generate wonderful sounding statements. They are gobbledegook but they sound great.

I find artists statements difficult to understand. Not what the artist wrote but why write anything at all. An observer looks at the painting and either likes it or doesn’t. Knowing how it’s painted, with what medium and on what surface isn’t going to change how someone likes the work. If I were buying a painting I’d like to know if the artist thought about its archival attributes but that’s one artist to another. I can’t look at a painting as if I’m not an artist. If the work is painted using coloured mashed potatoes I would question its longevity. Don’t laugh.

There may be some underlying message that the artist is trying to convey. If you don’t get it right away you can argue that the work isn’t very good but it might take a month or more of living with a painting before you stumble upon its underlying meaning. My paintings have no underlying meaning that I am aware of. I liked the subject so I painted it. Sometimes there is some other stuff that comes up. Like the die-off of sea stars or the salmon run problems. But that is not why I painted the scene. It’s an add-on that came later while I was painting the image. That tells you something about me but I don’t know why a particular scene attracted me so I can’t enlighten anyone.

I can understand a buyer wanting more. Why should they have to puzzle over the meaning of a painting if it doesn’t speak to them right away? For me buying a painting when it means nothing to you would be the height of folly. Particularly if it were costly. I question whether it has to mean anything. If you like it, you like it and that should be the end of it. If I owned a gallery I probably wouldn’t sell much.

Many people buy art because it appreciates in value, and it often does. Unfortunately like stocks, I haven’t heard of anyone being able to predict this accurately. If I sell a painting it’s gone and I don’t think of it again. It’s an interesting feeling when I come upon a painting that I did years ago; although I remember the painting I sometimes have the opportunity, for a short time, to see it as someone else sees it.

I am rebuilding my Website and I’m planning to add some description for each painting. I hesitate to call them statements. I’m going to do it because the search engines need it for indexing. The search engines don’t read metadata; they are just looking for text on the pages. I still don’t believe the paintings need any description. A potential buyer either likes the painting or not.