Big or Red? Art

January 24, 2007

Red Painting

 copyright 2007 RED PAINTING & Thoughts by Shanart

Darin and I had a conversation with some local artists the other day about how to promote our art better, the changing economy of art and its place in society, especially in our local community, and how to incorporate our art better into our daily lives. “Really, why don’t paintings sell as well as they used to sell?” and ” Why don’t people buy from the local galleries more than they do when our city is so rich in the arts?” we asked. “What are potential art buyers and galleries looking for?”

We talked about ways to make the right kind of art, meet the right people, etc… including subscribing to an artdeadline service and submitting work to three places a day, the popularity of photos and new technology in art, being published in books, attending conferences where an artist might be noticed, knowing “people”. We were in the print room, and started discussing multiples and size of work. T said her professor always said, “If you can’t make it good, make it large; and if you can’t make it large, make it red.” We all laughed…

Why is that so true? Maybe when you make a huge piece of artwork, it takes conviction, space, supplies, time, a larger potential for failure. And why is there so much power in the color red? It symbolizes passions of all sorts, blood, love, sometimes rage to me, life. Maybe people are attracted to the aesthetic of “large” or “red” because it carries a strength of life that is desirable. There is a kind of transcendant truth of conviction that we all desire. We all want to experience the fullest life possible and have the biggest impact.

We may not have reached a formula for instant success in the arts, but we connected, we laughed, we brainstormed. That in itself is an impact. We are in this together. Hopefully, we can make this thing bigger, better and more meaningful when we do it together.It takes guts and conviction and passion to be an artist or to do anything we dream of… Why take the time to make art when so few artists make it as artists? It’s what we love. And to keep on doing it,

we have to have conviction about something, or else we wouldn’t consider putting ourselves, our egos or our work on the line all the time. As we do, we grow as artists and look to each other and those before us who made it! We examine who we are and why we make art what we want to say with our art to the world, and whether to say it in bold red swaths,  larger than life or in a myriad of other ways that don’t hit people over the head all at once.


  1. The following was e mailed to me by Debra, today, to post as a response to the BIG OR RED? ART particle: “Yesterday, as I was painting and basically making a huge mess, nothing was laying down correctly, the paint seemed to go where it did not “belong”. I thought why do some days things flow like honey and other days the only thing accomplished is a mess. As I looked as this sad excuse of a painting, I realized I had no passion for it, I was merely practicing my craft. When I look back over years of art work, the most successful is when I become so lost in the piece that I am out of the way. The work takes on its own life, meaning and communication and that is what emits beauty. When I try to create beauty, it is superficial and has such little meaning. When I have something to say, and focus on that, the work speaks volumes on many levels: visually, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally (even if it is not big and red). It seems when I try the least, by becoming less self conscience, less of me and just pour what is inside this vessel of mine, then the most lovely things are accomplished. People recognize it and want to own it. When I just make a “product” it shows, it does not speak to people and usually just calls for a nice fresh coat of gesso.”

  2. The following comments were made on the other blogsite http://balmorg.blogspot.com . This allows us to see these comments if you are only on wordpress. Eventually we will have this hosted on one site only. Till then, here are the posts…thanks, balm

    f o r r e s t said…

    Good thoughts…

    Big is impressive, important. I know it is not necessarily true, but it seems that size can seperate the amatuer/lay from the skill/artist.

    When does one stop taking pictures of their kids and develop 4×6 prints and start composing objects, with light and dark, and develop large prints for display. The size all of a sudden seems to make it art worthy. I don’t know if that is true or not, but…

    9:52 PM

    dwhitey said…

    big seems better 🙂 but if it is just big and bad – as in not so great – then it is just plan sad. thanks forrest, hope to see you saturday, d

    8:41 PM

    Life is art said…

    I was thinking about the big idea this morning and a few thoughts wander into my head (hopefully out just as quickly). Anyway have you noticed that in a museum there are theses massive paintings and a sole figure standing there before it reflecting and then there is this small “Vermeer” and 30 people are crowded around it. It seems that size does not make the painting more accessible. I have been reading “Judgement By Paris” and you find in the late 1800’s that this question of large and samll is quite important. Artist like Manet (the master of Small suddenly begins to paint huge paintings. The book suggest that market forces were imporatnt. The way paintings were shown at the Paris Salon impacted their viewability.r winder if yor art professor was on to sommething when she says artist paint larger or red to be noticed. It seems that the Impressionist were dancing around that idea. What I see today is a different trend. There seems to be confusion about what narrative is informing todays art. As a result there is a tendency to simplyfy to the extreme or to cartoonize (my word) figures so that one wonders what is here to say? Perhaps with no narrative to inform we can expect little in art that will transform and inform.

    6:19 AM
    dwhitey said…

    life is art…your comments are appreciated! to me creativity is amazing. certain people have said that everything has been done that can be done. NO WAY! there is too much creativity abounding. it is more difficult to produce something that isn’t similar to something else though! i agree some art today doesn’t speak to me either. it is boring, been there done that, copycat, shock art etc. BUT…when i look at certain work being created i am inspired. the kind of inspiration that requires you to go work, think act on this creativeness that is being shown. If Vermeer inspires someone because he is famous, then we missed the point. if he inspires you because of what he is trying to say, or the esthetics…then we are on to something! as far as one person standing in front of the big painting…i guess i am glad that they were actually viewing the piece. big compared to small to me…it doesn’t matter. i think that a piece will scream out for what size it requires. for example…my son (and daughter) love to come into my studio while i am working and make their own sculptures. mr. c (my son) produced this amazing piece using left over cutoffs off of a frame i was making for my wife and other pieces of wood around the studio. it is awesome (and i display it with pride), but it looks like a machete. it should be 10′ high and 30′ wide. it should be a large piece. size effects response and if it is small it will effect one way and if it is large then another. either way make it well, so that people will want to respond! maybe if it is red then you get a response because of the emotion of color. i do love red (especially cadmium red medium)!

    2:08 PM

    balm said…

    by the way, on the previous post dwhitey said that machete was not picked up in spell check as it should have been spelled and it was supposed to be maquette. So the Mr. C’s work looked like a maquette. dwhitey appologizes that he didn’t pay better attention in that part of English class, and the fact that his French is most atrocious. 😉 much appreciated,

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