Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I love to see the face of an artist creating. Whether it’s painting, animating or writing, the expression is the same. Some would say it’s concentration and it is, but it's more than that. Accountants concentrate, but they don’t look like artists do, with all due respect. Artists creating have the look of someone in another world, their body is present, but their mind is elsewhere, on the page, in the stone, the paint, looking at something we can’t see until we get the finished creation. See the eyes of Rembrandt van Rijn and Michelangelo above and Vincent van Gogh below? Artist eyes. Eyes that say I-see-you instead of Do-you-see-me?
And when I say "artist", I include: musicians, writers, sculptors, dancers etc., although I resent that they can call themselves "artists" but artists can't call themselves dancers, musicians or writers etc.. 

What sometimes transports us, is the medium itself, the toothy texture of the paper, the feel of the pencil, its angles and the smell of soft graphite flowing smoothly on to the paper leaving a slight indentation. Or watching the brush wetly pull the color along just the way you want it, just where you want it. Or the glistening thickness of oil paint plumped up with linseed oil that looks so delicious you want to lick it. Or finding the exact word that conveys a mood or a whole phrase that jumps out under your fingers, full of rhythm and life. But mostly, it's the idea, the concept, the vision that carries us away.

From my own experience, I know the finished piece is not always what I had in mind when I started. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s not as good, mostly it’s different. So, whenever I see a painting or a sculpture or read a book, I wonder how different it is from the artist’s original idea and wish I could also see the original idea. But no matter the medium or the intent, the end result is the same for all creators: showing the world how to see things from your perspective.


Sunday, August 9, 2009


I’ve noticed that many people think appreciating excellence has something to do with snobbery. While the meaning of APPRECIATION is clear, the meaning of SNOBBERY seems to be a little more vague. My favorite definition of a snob is one who foolishly follows fashion and looks down on those who don’t. The OED gives several definitions of a snob and I’m mashing two together because I think it’s what most people mean when they say snob: One who admires and seeks to imitate or associate with those of superior rank or wealth and who despises those who are considered inferior in rank, attainment or taste. 
A thing can be appreciated for its quality, the value we attach to it, the amount of pleasure it gives us. Nothing to do with despising other things, everything to do with appreciating excellent things. Perhaps it’s admiring one thing more than another that leads people to talk of snobbery. And when a lot of people appreciate the same thing, it wins prizes, becomes famous and fashionable and its price goes up. That's usually where snobbery comes in.  
    We’re accused of being snobs for liking well-made books, clothes, shoes, art, music, food, wine, you name it, if it’s excellent and we like it, we’re snobs. Or worse yet, √©litists. Appreciating something excellent is a matter of pleasure and passion. Feeling passionate about something is never snobbery or √©litist. It’s only when you sneer at other people’s idea of excellence that you become a snob. Snobbery is foolish imitation and not worth much. The snobbery label applied to appreciation diminishes admiration and wonder.
    Appreciation of all forms of excellence should be respected and celebrated without apology or labels 
of snobbery