What Defines Good Art?

What Defines Good Art?

It’s a question we discuss at Blackstone Valley Art Association events all the time. Even amongst experienced artists, the question seems to have no easy answers. Many members hold diametrically opposed points of view on some aspects of this.

Oscar Wilde: “The mark of all good art is not that the thing done is done exactly or finely, for machinery may do as much, but that it is worked out with the head and the workman’s heart.”

Many view good art as being art which entices you to stay, contemplate, and think about its layers and meanings.

Nile Rodgers: “Art, well good art at least, takes you to a place you go during the experience of it, and then after you experience it you are different.”

Amitava Kumar: “The thing about good art is that it makes you look at things in a new way.”

Many feel it’s the artist’s talent which brings this experience to life.

Edgar Degas: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Marc Chagall: “Great art picks up where nature ends.”

Francis Bacon: “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”

We’ve heard from members who have gone to an art show and stared at a specific piece for a half hour, marveling at the impression the piece creates. The person goes away feeling changed and wanting to tell people about that experience. That would seem to be a hallmark of good art.

Here are just a few views from our own BVAA members. The views are all presented anonymously. I’ve used some images from BVAA members to illustrate some points. The artwork I chose to help clarify a comment isn’t by the commenter – it’s just a helpful way to show what the commenter means. We’d love to have more comments in the mix to present all angles to this issue. Please email us in with your own thoughts!

Note that you’ll probably disagree with some of these statements. That’s the point :).

* * *

“All art – photography, painting, etc. – can be judged by the same overall artistic criteria. They all need a good, balanced design. They need a pleasing range of light-to-dark ratio. Attention should be paid to how the eye flows through the work. Skill in execution and time invested in the creation should be taken into account.”

Images by Al Weems (left) and Bev Tinkelenberg (right)

. . .

“Photography and non-photography cannot be judged together. They have entirely different skill sets. A photographer poses the scene, carefully explores the angles, sets the lighting, adjusts the exposure, sensitivity, speed, and other settings. Then once the photo is taken, hours of work are invested in post-processing to bring the image’s beauty out. If just one thing is off with the composition, the photograph cannot be brought to its full expression. There might be no opportunity at all for a second chance. In comparison, a non-photography artist can just slap on paint or scrunch an image and be done. If they spot a flaw, they just repaint.”

Images by Bob See (left) and Lisa Shea (right)

. . .

“Photography and non-photography cannot be judged together. They have entirely different skill sets. A photographer simply finds an existing scene, perhaps turns a dial, and presses a button. A painter must create from scratch a scene, draw it, mix each color, and use proper painting techniques with layers upon layers, all timed to the paint’s drying time. It can take months for the work to be complete.”

Images by Bob See (left) and Deb Bottomley (right)

. . .

“A photograph which is manipulated in any way is not art. The image should be taken on “auto” mode, so the camera most clearly represents the scene before it in full focus. That image should be presented without any alteration or change.”


Image by Bob See

. . .

“A photographer’s camera should be attentively adjusted by the artist via use of the aperture setting (depth of field), time setting (shutter speed), and ISO (sensor sensitivity). This allows the artist to showcase the scene before the user in a way a human would see it. Too often, just using “auto” on a camera creates an artificial, mechanical view of the scene. “Auto” does not represent the way human beings actually view scenes with their eyes.”


Image by Bob See
(This image showcases how changing the camera’s aperture opening size can allow the focus to be on a particular item, which is what the human eye does. When our human eyes point at something, the remaining items in our field of vision go into a softer focus.)


Image by Lisa Shea
(This image showcases how changing the camera’s time setting can allow blurred water which is how the human eye would see it. In comparison, cameras, being mechanical, tend to freeze motion. In sunny conditions, a camera would tend to show this waterfall with frozen-in-time water.)

. . .

“A photographer who simply makes a ‘snapshot’ of a scene is not creating art. They are just documenting nature’s layout and therefore fifty people standing in that spot with similar cameras would all create duplicate images. It’s mechanical, not artistic. The true artistry is when an artist works with that image to bring out their own unique vision of the scene.”


Image by Bob Evans

. . .

“An artwork must be in a classic style and medium in order to be judged properly. That way there is an established set of rules, such as composition, balance, color values, use of perspective, to do the judging.”


Image by Bonnie Frederico

. . .

“An artwork which explores new media and presents creativity in expression should get credit for that excursion of the imagination. The artist invested inspiration into the process which is not necessarily evident in an artist who is daily churning out nearly-identical, although pretty, landscapes.”


Image by Libia Goncalves – a 3D mixed media created with foam and other items

. . .

“Artwork needs a full range of values (light to dark range) in order to be good. Great art showcases that range fully.”


Image by James Hunt

. . .

“Artwork can elicit different emotions by focusing on just one area of a range. For example, just focusing on the midrange can provide a serene, gentle feel which an addition of darker colors might impact.”


Image by Lisa Shea

. . .

“Good art (one which wins a prize) should be the result of explicit effort. An item which wins should represent the artist’s investment of time, energy, and perfected skill.”


Image by Carol Arnold

. . .

“Good art is independent on the amount of time spent by the artist or the degree of training or experience. It is solely about the end result presented to the viewer. If viewers are enraptured by a piece of art for a half hour, it is that experience which defines of good art, wholly separate from the creation process up until that point.”


Image by Lisa Shea

. . .

“Good art must be technically proficient. It should showcase a knowledge of proper technique, whatever the medium. There should be minimal visible flaws.”


Image by Gary Cunningham

. . .

“Good art should intrigue the viewer. Many times, what might seem to be a ‘flaw’ is a way of drawing the eye or emphasizing something in an unusual manner.”


Image by Mike McCool
(Mike’s original photo has been brought out of focus and the sky altered to create an artistic impact which might have been lacking in the basic “snapshot” of this sculpture).

. . .

“Good art is art which, all other things being equal, sells. It needs to be something which most visitors to the gallery would be drawn to buy for their living room. Well-executed flowers and serene landscapes would rate higher than a creepy doll face. After all, the gallery needs money if it’s going to remain in business to have more shows and to help more artists.”


Image by Bob See

. . .

“Good art is art which, all other things being equal, is memorable and provokes a reaction. Art should move and change you. If the art shows the eightieth sunflower you’ve seen in the month, the reaction might be an extremely mild ‘That’s nice.’ If the art is a powerful, gritty exploration of your feelings on an issue, which stays with you for years afterwards, that would be worthy of showcasing. One can see sunflowers anywhere. Something new and unusual will make people think and remember. Even if it wouldn’t tend to sell.”


Image by Bob Evans

Please let us know what other thoughts you would add into this mix!

Also, I used a lot of Lisa Shea / Bob See images because a few of these comments could be read to reflect negatively on the artist. If someone wants to volunteer their art for one of the Lisa / Bob images instead, let me know! I suppose, conversely, if I’m using someone as an example and you’d rather I swap you out, that’s fine too :).

Join in the conversation! Share your thoughts!

Andy Warhol: “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”


Open Paint – Sat Oct 13 2018

If you’re interested in painting, drawing, and illustrating, we have the perfect Saturday lined up! It’ll be a great time with laughter, conversation, creativity, and the space to stretch out! It’s an open paint! All are welcome, including the public, family, and friends! It’s free!

If the weather is nice out, visitors can also embark on an Uxbridge sketch walk. We have the maps all ready. We just need some sunshine!

When:
Saturday, Oct 13, 2018
10am – 3pm

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

This is an open paint session where all styles of art are warmly welcome. Whether you’re 12 or 102, whether you’re a new beginner or a seasoned artist, we would love to have you. It’s completely free to participate in the open paint. You can bring your own paints or we’ll have watercolors and brushes to share.

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

Feel free to show up for some or all of the day to paint. Some come for just the morning, some for the afternoon, and some for the entire time. There are several options on the same block to grab lunch if you’d like. We also bring in a pizza and those who want slices chip in a few dollars.

Ask with any questions – we’d love to have you join us!


BVAA 2018 Fall Show Reception

It’s the annual Blackstone Valley Art Association Fantastic Fall Show! Our autumnal show presents photography and painting, drawing and illustration and mixed media and everything else.

The show runs from October 12th to November 17, 2018.

The reception is on Friday, October 12th from 5-7pm! All are welcome! Come on out and meet the artists!

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

Share the news!


4th Annual BVAA Macabre Pop-Up Art Show

It’s creepy and it’s kooky! Mysterious and spooky! For one night and one day only, the BVAA will hold a pop-up show and Halloween costume party at our Alternatives Uxbridge location!

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

About the Show
Spooky. Unsettling. Wisps of mists and dark shadows. Macabre brings out the fascination with the off-beat side of life.

Submissions
The submission deadline for the Macabre show is Monday, October 23rd, 2017. You can submit up to three works which can hang on our panels or sit in or on a case. Because this is a pop-up show on panels within the gallery, we’re limited to what fits on those panels. It’s open to all BVAA members. This is not a judged show so you CAN enter things you’ve entered in previous shows.

Drop-Off
If you can come to Milford TV on Thu 10/25, Lisa Shea can take your items from you there to then bring to Uxbridge. You can also bring your works with you Friday at 4pm to help us with the hanging and setup of the panels. Note that we can’t set up the panels before 4pm because this room is in use by Alternatives before this point. If neither work, contact Lisa and she’ll arrange an alternative!

Reception
We’ll have our pop-up celebration on Friday, October 27th from 5-7pm.

Pick-Up
We will take down the show Sunday afternoon at 2pm so that visitors on Saturday can enjoy it. If you can’t make it Sunday, that’s fine, we’ll figure something out :). If you come by Saturday end-of-day (2:30-3pm) you could take your items then, too.

Theme
This show is Halloween. Spooky. Shadowy. Here are photos from a previous year – Macabre Show 2016

Use the BVAA online submission form to submit for this show.

We’d love to see your spooky work!


Open Paint – Sat Oct 6 2018

A reminder that today is the drop-off for the upcoming Fall Show! Cash prizes! Get those entries in. It’s also the pickup for the Show of Hands show, the Canal show, and the Sunflower show – all of that art has been brought to the gallery. The featured artists today are the multi-talented Bob Evans from 10-12 and then Betty Havens the amazing watercolor painter from 12-3! Come on out!

If you’re interested in painting, drawing, and illustrating, we have the perfect Saturday lined up! It’ll be a great time with laughter, conversation, creativity, and the space to stretch out! It’s an open paint! All are welcome, including the public, family, and friends! It’s free!

If the weather is nice out, visitors can also embark on an Uxbridge sketch walk. We have the maps all ready. We just need some sunshine!

When:
Saturday, Oct 6, 2018
10am – 3pm

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

This is an open paint session where all styles of art are warmly welcome. Whether you’re 12 or 102, whether you’re a new beginner or a seasoned artist, we would love to have you. It’s completely free to participate in the open paint. You can bring your own paints or we’ll have watercolors and brushes to share.

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

Feel free to show up for some or all of the day to paint. Some come for just the morning, some for the afternoon, and some for the entire time. There are several options on the same block to grab lunch if you’d like. We also bring in a pizza and those who want slices chip in a few dollars.

Ask with any questions – we’d love to have you join us!


October 2018 Monthly Meeting – Golden Acrylic

We have an awesome workshop / demo lined up for our October meeting!

Carol Frieswick has lined up Adria Arch to provide a demonstration of Golden Acrylics for us. We’ll get to watch a demo and then will get samples to try out ourselves.

Our October 2018 monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 16th from 6:30-9pm.

Location:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA

This meeting and workshop is free and open to the public. No experience is necessary. The fun of our workshops is that we all try new things we’ve never done before.

Our meetings cover BVAA organization business from 6:30-7:00pm and then go into the workshop part of the evening. Feel free to come for whichever half interests you the most.

All are welcome – this workshop is open to members and non-members. Feel free to bring along a friend! We’d love to see you there to try some new things and explore your creativity!

Ask with any questions!

Our meetings are supported in part by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


Open Paint – Sat Sept 22 2018

If you’re interested in painting, drawing, and illustrating, we have the perfect Saturday lined up! It’ll be a great time with laughter, conversation, creativity, and the space to stretch out! It’s an open paint! All are welcome, including the public, family, and friends! It’s free!

If the weather is nice out, visitors can also embark on an Uxbridge sketch walk. We have the maps all ready. We just need some sunshine!

When:
Saturday, Sept 22, 2018
10am – 3pm

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

This is an open paint session where all styles of art are warmly welcome. Whether you’re 12 or 102, whether you’re a new beginner or a seasoned artist, we would love to have you. It’s completely free to participate in the open paint. You can bring your own paints or we’ll have watercolors and brushes to share.

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

Feel free to show up for some or all of the day to paint. Some come for just the morning, some for the afternoon, and some for the entire time. There are several options on the same block to grab lunch if you’d like. We also bring in a pizza and those who want slices chip in a few dollars.

Ask with any questions – we’d love to have you join us!


Carol Arnold Oil Painting Class – October 2018

We apologize, but Carol’s monthly painting class for October has been cancelled. Please contact Carol if you wish for more details about rescheduling. Thank you!

NOTE: This class will focus on still life. Bring what you’d like to paint and your light and Carol will see you there!

Oil paint has been the medium of choice for a wealth of famous painters. Leonardo da Vinci. Claude Monet. Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Paul Cezanne. There is just something spectacular about the beauty of oil paint which captures the eye and the imagination.

Whether you’re a raw beginner or an experienced painter, this oil painting class will take you to the next level. It’s full of personal hands-on advice and a warm, welcoming atmosphere!

Talented painter Carol Arnold teaches a monthly oil painting class at the BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery! Carol is a member of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik’s Putney Painters! All levels of painters are welcomed with open arms. The focus will be on drawing, edges, values and color. These are areas which a beginner can practice and an advanced student can hone to perfection.

Carol makes these classes fun and inspiring, while supporting you to the next level of your growth!

This monthly class meets on the first Thursday of every month from 6-9 pm.

Cost:
The maximum class size will be 10 students, to ensure plenty of hands-on time for each one.
If there are only 1 or 2 students registered for a class, the class will be cancelled.
If there are 3 or 4 students, each student pays $20/hr for the class = $60 total.
If there are 5-10 students, each student pays $15/hr for the class = $45 total.

Invite your friends! Share the news! The more students which attend, the less you pay and the more fun it is to learn from each other.

When:
Thursday, October 4, 2018
6pm – 9pm

Where:
BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Gallery
5 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

There is a TON of free parking immediately next to this building. It is fully and easily handicapped accessible.

BVAA Alternatives Uxbridge Community Art Gallery Information

This class is open to the public. It is open to all ages and to all levels of painting ability.

Please make sure you register beforehand so we know how many to expect. Carol will send you a supply list to get you started.

To register, please make sure you email: carol@carolarnoldfineart.com

To learn more about Carol Arnold and to view her painting gallery:

http://carolarnoldfineart.com/

Follow Carol on Facebook!

Carol Arnold Fine Art on Facebook