An Artist's Lens
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
I recently had a discussion about modern and abstract paintings versus realist and naturalist paintings. The opposing side argued that abstract art is the only art that really matters today. He believes that "painting what one sees" is an outdated art form because of technological advances in photography. The world doesn't need artists to "accurately" paint because modern technology can capture our surroundings perfectly. However, I think this style of painting is now more important than ever. My reasoning stems from this concept:
In today’s day and age, people are too preoccupied by modern stressors and distractions.
Sure, you hear variations this all the time. You especially hear them from sources like scientists, therapists, or parents when they reminisce on the olden times of hitchhiking and teen drinking. And now, you're hearing it from me.
Have you been to a concert recently? Have you watched the sunset with a group of friends? Have you gone to the beach, a museum, or a quaint little lunch spot? What happens? Everyone shoots a video of the band playing the popular song, snaps a couple pics of the sunset, or does the awkward table-lean to achieve the picture of the perfectly assembled avocado toast. I suspect this happens because of a couple reasons; we feel pressure to demonstrate to others that we have “a life worth living" on whatever social media platform we can get our paws on. Modern times also comes with new pressures of efficiency. We have a mindset that certain scenarios should be appreciated, and when we feel we can't devote more time to this cause, we document it and store it for another time.
"If I document this picture on my phone, I’m showing I appreciate it. Right?"
Wrong! Scenes that are an absolute treat to our senses are now being denoted to a jpg file a couple square inches small that you carry in your pocket. Furthermore, the more often someone does this, the less value these pictures have.
This is why I paint. I have to devote time to scrutinizing over not only what I see, but how it makes me feel. I train my brain to approach life in this manner, whether I'm holding a paintbrush or not. I step into a concert and feel the instant rush of serotonin as the music vibrates and pulses through my chest, and lyrics unwrap inside me, pulling at different emotional responses. I see a sunset and marvel at the way so many colors can possibly dance across the sky, performing in a way that has never been seen before, and will never be seen again. I stand at the edge of the ocean, listening to how the earth around me inhales and exhales slaty waves, and I contemplate how the same God that created this expanse of awe-inspiring vastness also decided to create me.
I paint because it trains me to feel, smell, see, listen, and taste fully and completely. Someday, I want accurately portray this in my art. I want others to not only experience what I experience, but encourage them to view the world through this kind of lens and not the one from the corner of their phone.