Thursday, April 28, 2016

What You See and Paint is not Always What Your Viewer “Gets”!

Blue Vase
This past week I've had some interesting interactions with people who have viewed my art.

This is the last week of my art show at the Logan County Library in Russellville KY. Various librarians have remarked that they've had a few comments on the artwork. One that was repeated was: “Isn't that painting of the blue vase hung upside down??”

On the one hand I'm pleased that people are looking at my artwork close enough to wonder what's going on with each painting. BUT I'm also confused with the question. In MY mind I know that I painted this vase laying abandoned in the melting snow, with the sun glowing thru the glass. I believed that I had included enough “visual info” to say that to a viewer. That question leaves me wondering if I did my job as an illustrator......


This is one of my business cards I designed a while back. It's also the basis for the blog logo at the top of the page and my FB banner.

The other day I handed this card to a person so's they could email me some info. He looked at the card and then shot me a quizzical look.....and asked me if I did local CLEANING jobs!! Not hearing him totally because of the background noise I replied, that I did picture book illustrations along with house/people/pet portraits.

As you can tell from this exchange.....we were BOTH talking past each other!

Later, Frank pointed out the “disconnect” in the exchange. I have to assume that in a context that had nothing to do with children's picture books, or artwork the term “illustrator” just did not register with this person. Sorta kinda like when Charlie Brown is talked to by a teacher.....all the audience “hears” is “Blah, blah, blah”
On the card the only visual to give a clue is my little girl carrying a huge brush, a pail of paint and walking in her stocking feet. This was my visual for “Walk Softly and Carry a BIG Brush”.
An adaptation to Teddy Roosevelt's quote: “Walk softly and carry a big stick”

Again out of context, I can see where this visual could be construed as someone carrying a washing bucket and mop.

My take away for all this is that an artist can't have too many “eyes on the artwork” prior to a show or publication of the art. The more critiques or editorial advice a illustrator gets, the more likely a lot of these opinions (misguided or not) can be addressed. After all, in the case of a picture book, the illustrator is hoping that THOUSANDS of eyes will eventually “see” the artwork.....and that most of those little eyes will “read” into that artwork exactly what the artist intended.

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