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Remodernist Painters' Group - 2/CALENDAR MONTH

Remodernism is an alternative to the established High Art hegemony, known as Post-Modernism.

My Original Purpose for Creating This Forum

Carson Collins Carson Collins 639 posts

Was that I hoped that our member artists would post images of their works here, together with a statement (perhaps leading to a discussion) of their intent for creating that specific work.

That doesn’t seem to be happening. But hope springs eternal; is anyone interested in this type of thing, or am I just jerking off here?

Michele Meister Michele Meister 70 posts

It seems to me that now short after all the festivities everything has just slowed down here at RB…and in MY case …. : I am not familiar enough yet with the forums in general ! But in general interested in talking to other artists :-) thank you for all your work Carson …

bobart bobart 11 posts

I think it is a great idea to have some intellectual discussion on here. Will do asap. Maybe one reason why people are not tuned in is because of limitation on the amount of work. Not saying you should change it but maybe that is why. I think what your trying to do is honorable.
Cheers, Bob.

Niki Hilsabeck Niki Hilsabeck 310 posts

For me, unless I am actively watching forum topics, I forget or haven’t discovered they exist… maybe a message inviting everyone to stop by the forum again and hit “watch this topic” would help?

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

Sorry, I am not really all that up to date with the whole forum thing, I never noticed you where doing this, lol, I would find it quite interesting to do and will do so right now, lol.
Bear with my limited ability’s on the computer though, I am no wizz!!!!!

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

One Eye Shut- a stylised self portrait.

Ok, so my intent with creating this was compleatly personal, this painting was done for myself with no intetion or consideration given to making a sale.
The image reprisents how I personly feal about myself, my art and about showing my art in a public arena.
Hands are raised because they are “tools” the inside out quality represents showing the ideas inside me, one eye is shut, closing out the world, ignoring everything so I can create, the other is open, inviting people in, asking for critique, the blank expression states that in the end I will keep to my own road regardless, the crazy colours, just because I love colours! Every one of them!!
So you see, its a compleatly selfish work!
I am happy enough to sell it to any one who likes it as much as I do but in truth it was “a flight of fancy” (alot of my art proberly is!)
Unfortunatly its a reality that I have to sell work or I simply cant afford to keep creating!
And I cant fathom the idea of not being able to paint, it would drive me insane!
And to be honest, there is a addictive edge to selling work for me now.
Its kind of got muddled up in my head with being valued for what I do. If that makes sense?
But I have to admit to having a “Let them eat cake” sort of attitude about my art.
Ok, enough already, wouldnt want to go on and on and on……………

I hope this is what you had in mind Carson, please let me know if I am way off the mark here!

Carson Collins Carson Collins 639 posts

Thank you, Bonnie, for such a perfect example of exactly what I was hoping for.

Niki Hilsabeck Niki Hilsabeck 310 posts

What a great piece! I think it’s true that artists ultimately paint for that self-satisfaction, and that comes through in the strongest artwork. There’s something that leaves me cold about a work that was obviously painted with an audience in mind, it’s so much more fun to see work that is purely between the artist and subject. Your paintings are beautiful, Bonnie!

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

Thankyou Niki, I no what you mean about work thats generated just for a sale, its like its got no soul or something, you can sense the detachment the artist must have felt while painting it.

Carson Collins Carson Collins 639 posts

I know that I’ve posted this essay in many other places, for more than 3 years now, but I think it might be worthwhile to post it one more time again here, just in case some of you missed it:

The Question of Intentionality, an Investigation:

The whole notion of intent is one that fascinates me almost to the point of obsession; when looking at or making artwork I always wonder, what is the artist’s intent for this thing that they are making?; what effect, exactly, is it supposed by the artist to have on others?… what effect does making it have on the artist?… and so on.

This question of intentionality is strangely absent from most of what is considered to be critical thinking about Art. Probably the various art objects could even be meaningfully classified according to the various intentions and effects, but somehow this is never done.

It can be quite enlightening to try and arrive at a more specific sort of clarity about what our intentions for, and suppositions about, the specific things that we create actually are. Not in the sense of why do artists make Art and what is the purpose of Art?, but rather what are my intentions for this specific thing that I have made, and what effect do I suppose that it will have on others?

My personal opinion is that ambiguity is an essential quality of all really great Art.

I’m not taking the position that one should read words like “intent”, “understanding”, and “meaning” as if any piece of visual Art shouldn’t be just Art for Art’s sake, as opposed to Art with a message.

Speaking only for myself, and the intentionality vs. ambiguity question, my thesis is not contra ars gratia artis; rather, I’m saying that, on close examination, artists actually do have purposes and goals for these things that they make (whether they’re capable of articulating and/or admitting them or not), and these things that they make are worthy of being examined in terms of the artist’s own intentions.

_“An unexamined life is not worth living.” _ – Socrates

Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding:

intent

Law:

the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.

Adjective:

1.firmly or steadfastly fixed or directed. 2.having the attention sharply focused or fixed on something. 3.determined or resolved; having the mind or will fixed on some goal. 4.earnest; intense.

- The American Heritage Dictionary

(A propos: P.D. Ouspensky, and others, would argue that most of us only imagine that we have intent.)

It strikes me that Art making may be the only organized human activity in which a lack of purposes or goals is considered by anyone to be a virtue.

Why is this important? Well, for example, try to imagine a major business, charitable, or government organization with no stated purpose or “core values”. No such thing exists. There’s a reason for that: an organization so completely rudderless wouldn’t survive for 15 minutes in the real world.

Recently I have initiated some discussions on the topic of “The Question of Intentionality”in a few artists’ forums on the Internet.

The Surrealists, as a group, are the ones that get the most upset at the very notion that artists (like everyone else) exhibit goal-directed behavior. Here are some typical responses:

*“Sorry, don’t have time to think, I just paint because I like it. Don’t want to know the reasons, I prefer mystery, as an open space for imagination.”

”…a drawing with the intention of creating images without having any intentions about what those images will be… the intention to create something unintentionally…”*

Certainly one can do this, Surrealists, in particular, often do. Nothing wrong with that.

However this only brings up other questions of intentionality, as if one were peeling an onion. First, one might ask, what was the artist’s motive (intent) for wanting to “create something unintentionally” in the first place? What result, exactly, did the artist hope to achieve via this method?

”…to connect with deeper psychological and emotional levels.”

And then, what is the purpose of that? Self-knowledge? If so, then why show it to anyone else?

Because if one makes something with the intent to show it to other people, it seems that there is implied an intent on the part of the artist to produce some effect on the viewer.

Artists working within the Abstract paradigm tended to have a different set of objections to the notion of art being intentional. Here’s a particularly articulate example:

*”…a reason for someone to dabble in the the arts has been called an addiction and the reason they do it (some artists) is to seek a particular state of being (mind) while in this process of mark making. This is the primary motive or intention of some artists and by using this method it may have been achieved, or not. The actual image, or images, created evolved as an accident. There was no intent to draw, let’s say, eyeballs but when the artist steps back and takes a look all she sees are eyeballs staring back at her.

The artist can’t decide whether to show anyone her art… Eventually… she decides to show it to her mom.

No matter what the artist does… her mom always says after looking at the daughter’s marks, “That’s nice dear, but why so many nipples.”

…Curiously the observer of the art sees images that are different than what the artist sees. There was no intention to create eyes nor was there any intention to create nipples.

After a while the artist gets up enough nerve and shows her work to many people. Each individual sees something different in this abstract piece of art. It appears that each viewer interprets the drawing differently. Perhaps that is another of the artist’s intent, a secondary intent to create mystery and the result was that she succeeded.

Bottom line, there was no intention to create eyes, nipples or toes or whatever one might see. The intent was to create ambiguity. Each viewer was allowed to interpret the marks without being told what they should see. The drawing becomes a sort of mirror and reflects back more about the viewer than the artist.

Abstract art is curious in this way and perhaps why it leaves many people baffled as to the artist’s intent. They want to see the artist’s intentions, they want to know what it means. Are they being put-on? They may feel that way but few artists apply their art just to make fools of people, maybe.”*

That’s a chain of events that I find plausible, although I find it disturbing.

Not the part about the artist’s intention to “seek a particular state of being (mind) while in this process of mark making.” – that’s something that I’m intimately aware of, and it’s certainly one of a multiplicity of intentions that I ascribe to myself.

What disturbs me about this hypothetical anecdote is that it seems to imply that important Art can somehow be made by accident, or, even more disturbingly, that the critic’s rationalization after the fact is somehow more important than the artist’s original act.

This was precisely the initial point of contention, reflecting back to a seminal conversation that I had with David Cohen in the September, 2003 issue of Art Critical .

Assigning meaning or value to such an object beyond the intentions of its maker seems to me a rather questionable idea.

”…”If a herd of pigs knocked over a table of paints and smeared a canvas, and you liked it, then you’d have to call it art…”

*We do often find beauty or significance in the chance arrangement of things, whether done by an artist or an accident; an historical accident, in the case of some museum pieces.

And, as Carl Jung pointed out with his concept of Synchronicity, this is far from trivial – it tells us something important about ourselves (and nothing in particular about the object).*

”…do you think people need to know what your intentions are to understand your paintings? Do you not think something is lost by explaining it? If they don’t get it without it being explained to them, have you failed?”

I don’t think there’s anything to “understand”; I’m more interested in having the viewer experience a certain state of mind, of emotion, a profound and lucid calm. If they don’t experience that state when looking at my paintings , I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by “explaining” my intentions; insofar as that particular viewer is concerned, my work has failed utterly.

To quote David Cohen, ”…I wouldn’t want to participate in a criticism the function of which would be to award brownie points for good intentions.”

One’s paintings might work for some people and not for most people, regardless of any intentions. The fact that some viewers understand and appreciate and others do not has absolutely nothing to do with the question of Intentionality.

Intentionality is about one’s own purposes and goals, not about the reactions of others.

An artist of a mystical/Symbolist bent had this to say:

”…consciousness reflects reality, thus if you alter consciousness, you alter reality… Intent is simply a concentrated, intense energy that we apply—to whatever. As bodies of energy ourselves, we certainly can manifest many things. It is the same with prayer, per se, or meditation. It’s all energy.”

And a very pragmatic artist shared this point of view:

”…Intent has to do more with Preparation. Even Improvisation requires some sort of preparation. Spontaneity requires also preparation.

The very ability to approach a blank page, a blank canvas or a computer screen is contingent on our inner preparations… contingent on the alignment of our heart, mind, and hands… in the direction of the task.”

In conclusion, here is an interesting area of thought: i.e., the historical relationship between Art and ceremonial magick.* Arguably this may have been the original (prehistorical) reason for the invention of representational Art.*

Perhaps Art is something that exists in a realm beyond intentionality, more akin to instinct. It seems to me that the impulse to make Art is both necessary and inevitable, an inextricable part of human nature.

I refer again to P. D. Ouspensky:

“Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine which, in the right circumstances, and with the right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and, having fully realized this, he may find ways to cease to be a machine.

First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable “I” or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without an end…

In reality there is no oneness in man and there is no controlling center, no permanent “I” or Ego.

Every thought, every feeling, every sensation, every desire, every like and dislike is an “I”. These “I’s” are not connected and are not co-ordinated in any way. Each of them depends on the change in external circumstances…”

(from “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution”, Chapter 1)

Finally, it occurrs to me that Intent plays no role in “evolution” as defined by Charles Darwin; evolution is the result of environmental factors acting on random mutations. In other words, blind chance.

Does Art “evolve” in an analogous manner?

Or is it, more properly, the intentional product of work done by sentient beings?

Heartfelt thanks to all of the thoughtful artists who have taken the time to participate in my ongoing investigation of the Question of Intentionality, and to David Cohen, art critic for the New York Sun, who started me down this path back in 2003.

I sincerely hope that readers of this essay will contribute their thoughts to my investigation.

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

Very interesting Musing’s Carson. I have spent sometime myself wondering on what causes me to create what I create, its worth, why I do it, why I cant stand the idea of not doing it etc.
Its a chain of thought I could drown in I think, if I am not careful. There seem to be as many explanations as there are different personalitys and perhaps that is the crux of it in the end. How on earth do I begin to explain and rationalize something as irrational as the art I create?
At the end of the day if I am compleatly honest with you, I dont realy understand what drives me or what I intend for people to feel about my work…………. I just create and try not to frustrate myself any more by asking why………..

Christine Clarke Christine Clarke 833 posts

I love all of your discussions regarding this topic Carson. Can I make this little addition here all about me? Appologies in advance to all who read, but I feel compelled to share with you.
I am a person who suffers minor anxieties which seem to come to the fore in my paintings, some obvious,others not. I am much like Bonnie Coad in her post above, I am absolutely compelled to paint, I get very cranky if I can’t paint. To say that i am inspired by the “beauty of the landscape, or colours in nature” sounds so trite, but it would probably make the viewer more able to relate to what I paint. However, I really paint my anxieties onto the canvas and the colour and patterns are the vehicle of my feelings.
For instance, my painting “Surge”, yes a pretty good painting of a wave, but behind it is the feeling I had as a small child, being swept into the huge wave whilst surfing, and never knowing if I had enough breath to make it, or maybe being dumped onto the sand by the pure force of the wave.
Another instance is in my “poppy” paintings, a tribute to the fallen troups in WW1 who died in battle in the now beautiful poppy fields in Flanders, Belgium. The idea that the irony of such a muderous war campaign could take place in such a fantastically beautiful place. Another of hydrangeas is about remembering my Grandmother. A painting of a “Red Chair with Chrysanthemums” is about lonliness. “Cruising Whitsundays” about the beauty of nature, but lurking in those beautiful waters is the danger of Crocodile, shark, and marine stingers!
I feel so very deeply about so many things, that I hide my passion as it would be exhausting to communicate or lets say “express” in any other way.
I have been painting for 10 years now, but because I am mostly self-taught, I decided to go to an art class, just last week. You know what? I’m not going back simply because the teacher painted beautiful pictures of wildlife or similar, but he just did not understand my style, even though I also admired his work, he was more interested in subject matter that looked like photographs, there’s more to it, but that is another topic again. I will find another tutor with a more open mind though:)

Niki Hilsabeck Niki Hilsabeck 310 posts

Christine, I found your last paragraph interesting because I had similar experiences in my first few classes (I went home in tears after my first “real” art class). I kept going, though, because I was learning to look at my work from a different perspective. One of my teachers was a wildlife artist, and he told me that I painted like his ex-wife (I don’t think he thought much of her!). He admitted that my painting worked, though he couldn’t say why. I think your works are powerful because they show your unique touch.

One of the best classes I ever took was centered on finding artistic style. I had a lot more experience than the other people in the class, but I enjoyed myself, because the teacher gave us time to play with different mediums and he shared what he saw in our pieces as we worked. If you could find a class like that, I think you would enjoy it.

It is funny how much conformity emerges once you get a group of artists in a room together. I’m seeing this as I enter shows and participate in contests. My work never seems to fit completely in the shows, but what’s more important: painting what you love and expressing yourself, or following a bunch of guidelines and getting a gold star from a judge? I say paint what is your passion, and take what you want from teachers and colleagues to use as you please. Use some of the technical tips and tricks if they help you achieve your vision, but in the end your own satisfaction with your work is what matters most.

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

I was so annoyed with your teacher after reading about your art class Christine! You definitely need to find a better tutor! It is far better to retain your unique style than it is to learn how to paint just like some one else, if that makes sense. Yes learning about technique is good and can save you a lot of time and trouble but it can also lead to the artist feeling trapped in the technique process and unable to really let go and experiment.
We have to find a balance that works for us and gives us the freedom to try new things.
Vincent Vangough would never have created his amazing work if he had listened to the critiques, he was ignored and laughed at by the art world of his day and famously only ever sold one work during his life time. He was also quite possibly totally bonkers. (Just watched a very interesting doco on him the other day)
Samuel Dali often didn’t know what it was he was painting until he had painted it.
I hope you find a better tutor.

Christine Clarke Christine Clarke 833 posts

Niki and Bonnie, thank you for your supportive comments. I was a little taken back by the attitude of this teacher, as my original teacher was the most amazing person, she encouraged experimenting, she painted in a conservative style herself, but one thing she told me was (as a beginner) that I had a great imagination, and that was something that could never be learned!!! I want to learn more, one can never stop learning and also I wanted to be mixing with like-minded artists as painting can be a lonely process. You are both right! I will continue to look for classes and find a tutor who embraces CREATIVITY, not teaching to paint to a formula. I feel gratified that you both share my views, and thanks again.

Carson Collins Carson Collins 639 posts


Pretty f’n awesome painting, IMHO!

Bonnie coad Bonnie coad 56 posts

Very nice! Makes me want summer!! We are in the depths of winter here in NZ.

Christine Clarke Christine Clarke 833 posts

Gee, thanks guys. I donated this painting to a charity auction for the kids ward at Gold Coast hospital. Although people turned up for free booze and gourmet finger food, most punters had short arms and long pockets which the auctioneer referred to as “donor fatigue” after our Summer floods and cyclones. Anyway it got the top price on the night and I was very proud to have donated to a great cause. Have a peep at my “Yellow Rose” and see how my new direction sits with you. ;). Love you