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Is Art Relevant Anymore

Updated on November 1, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Broken
Broken | Source

Breaks Your Heart

Not long ago I asked a group of friends to answer the question “What breaks your heart about your art (visual, musical, or writing) and how people see you/see it?” I got a lot of different answers but one made me think.

Hiding from the world.
Hiding from the world. | Source

Relevance

Nancy: When you hear people tell artists they’re no longer relevant.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines relevance as a relation to the matter at hand, also practical and especially social applicability: pertinence. With that in mind is art no longer relevant? Is it no longer practical or pertinent? It leads me to think that anyone who says that artists are no longer relevant is thinking of fine art gallery paintings and not art in general.

We have art so that we shall not die of reality.

— Friedrich Nietzsche
Source

All the Arts

Art encompasses all the arts. It includes illustrations in books, product packaging design, animation, movie production, set design, video gaming design, theater sets, dramatic arts, musical arts, dance, copywriting, book writing, magazine, and newspaper layout design, photography, and yes, fine art painting. There is so much more that I didn’t mention, but you get the idea.

Photo with digital filter
Photo with digital filter | Source

Do you use digital filters for your photography?

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Portrait Photography

So let us assume that someone making the comment, “Artists are no longer relevant,” means that visual arts and in particular gallery painting is no longer relevant. I can see why they would get that mistaken impression with all the new advances in digital software and photography. Why pay an artist for a portrait when you can take a photograph and with the help of filters, digitally make it look like an oil portrait? Actually, artists rarely get portrait commissions these days. People just don’t want to pay the price for a good oil painting unless it is of their pet. They do like having gallery type art in their homes but don’t mind prints of originals that cost a fraction of the price. This means someone somewhere had to create an original to make prints from.

Charcoal portrait of my friend Lupe.
Charcoal portrait of my friend Lupe. | Source

Emotion

The art that painters create is more than photography. A truly good artist puts more into a painting than a camera can capture. They try and capture the emotion of the moment, the soul of the sitter, or the feeling of the landscape, and the deep feeling of the painter himself. They go for the impression or expression of the day and time rather than a photographic representation that the camera can capture. That alone makes art relevant and more valuable than digital manipulation of a photograph.

Passenger Pigeon

No matter how experienced you become at digital manipulation and visual software, there is nothing like the experienced painter’s work on a painted canvas; or for that matter, the experienced watercolorist’s work on paper. The digital software actions do come close but miss the mark. It just isn’t the same. Good paintings take a lifetime of dedication, devotion, and practice to master, and it should break everyone’s heart when they are demeaned and belittled. If painters and paintings ever go the way of the passenger pigeon, the world will be a poorer place.

Charcoal portrait of a sailor
Charcoal portrait of a sailor | Source

Education

When you hear artists and their work being demeaned in this way, you have to consider it is counted as of little value for education as well. When children are deprived of expressing themselves with color and shape, and presented with only the 3R’s in school, the joy goes out of education. After all, if there is no art, no music, no drama, what is there left to read and write about?

The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed… because people are changed by art—enriched, ennobled, encouraged—they then act in a way that may affect the course of events… by the way they vote, they behave, by the way they think.

— Leonard Bernstein
One of my paintings on the right at an art show reception.
One of my paintings on the right at an art show reception. | Source

Ribbons

We artists work quietly and alone. We get very few accolades for our efforts and mostly please ourselves with our product. So often we look for praise from the public and so we enter art shows and fairs to put the culmination of our labor out there for the public to see and hopefully admire. Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment but we really do want to hear what people think and often we pay for it. Entering fairs and art shows often involve paying a fee per painting. Many people don’t realize we pay for the privilege of having work included in a showing, however brief that show is.

Carol: What breaks my heart is when I work ALL summer on a painting and it doesn’t get a ribbon. Not even an Honorable Mention. Oh, that hurts.

Carol is right, that hurts. But it won’t stop her from entering it again next year and the year after that. Why? Who knows? We want to paint and we want to have our work seen. Each of my paintings is like a child I have labored over and given birth to. I’m so proud when it is done that I want to frame it pretty and display it for the entire world to see. When it isn’t loved as much as I love it, it hurts but it isn’t the end of the line for my baby. I still love it. I may make changes, dress it with a better frame or even give it a face-lift, and then display it again. I know Carol will too.

Setting up an art show display window.
Setting up an art show display window. | Source

Unloved

It is hard to put a price on and sell our babies as well. What price would you put on your son or daughter? Still, we do and hope it goes to a nice home where it will be loved and cherished. What breaks my heart is when I give one of my adored babies to a friend or family member, only to find later it is stuffed into a closet or under a bed because they didn’t care for it at all. That tears me up.

Judges scrutinizing work at an art show before the hanging.
Judges scrutinizing work at an art show before the hanging. | Source

Rejection

The rejection Carol feels doesn’t mean that the painting is no good or not relevant. It means the judges didn’t find it his/her favorite. Art is subjective. What one person loves, the next one will hate, and vice versa. There is no telling sometimes what the judges are looking for or why one painting gets ribbons and the one next to it by the same painter doesn’t. It is all about personal opinion.

Acrobats
Acrobats | Source

My father used to say opinions are like armpits. Everyone has a couple but they usually smell.

Final Thoughts

In the end, that is the answer. When someone says that artists are no longer relevant, it is personal opinion and not necessarily the truth for all of the general public. We artists have to grow a tough skin and let it roll off our backs. The truth is these artists are by nature a sensitive lot and we never really grown that tough skin. It never rolls off our backs. We take it in, internalize it, shrug and shed a tear, and keep painting.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lynne Samuel,

      I hope you found some art for your Christmas list. Buying art is so worth it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lora Hollings,

      I couldn't agree more. With that in mind, why is art the thing schools want to cut when budgets get tight? It is so relevant and necessary. What use is reading with art? Just my opinion. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Heidi Thorne,

      So true. And maybe all the rejection and struggle (though it may not give me a thick skin) does seem to make me stronger and more resolved to "show them". I'm not giving up. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Art really takes a thick skin! Actually any great endeavor, creative or otherwise, does. Good advice, as always!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Crampton,

      It is all about practice and each time you will be more and more impressed with the results. Keep it up. I was speaking of the dabbler who only uses filters to pretend to be artsy and to avoid the hard work of becoming an artist. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Shannon Henry,

      Wow, thank you. I'm glad you liked my work. Art is supposed to grab your attention and keep it. So that piece is very successful. I had my friend look at the window and let me take her photo and she had a very natural look about her. She is about 70 and has been through a car accident so she has scars on her face but I think that it makes her more interesting. I'm glad you are encouraging your children to create and express themselves in the way that speaks to them. Awesome. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love this article, Denise. Art is certainly relevant. I do use digital filters for some of my photos, not to create something that looks like art but to create and explore an imaginary world. I draw for the same reason. I'm not a very good artist, but I'm trying to improve my skills. The results are more satisfying as I become better at depicting what I see and what I imagine.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      21 months ago from Texas

      Interesting hub. I'm with you. Art is most definitely still relevant. It's everywhere! Even painting and drawing is relevant despite the digital age. I've got paintings on my wall that my children have created and some that I've done. I can already see the differences in style among them. My youngest prefers to do abstract paintings and has a natural eye for it without even understanding the basics of art yet. My daughter, on the other hand, is better at painting objects. She's never tried it, but she would probably be great at doing a still life. And then my oldest is not as into the craft as the other two are. He likes to cook and do a presentation that way, though. I can't imagine a world without art, no matter the kind.

      By the way, that charcoal drawing of your friend really grabbed my attention. It was hard to stop looking at it to read the rest of the article. It's just beautiful!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Jason,

      I'm with you. I NEED to create every day. A day without art is a sad day for me. I'm glad you like my art. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      James C Moore,

      I agree with you, James. It absolutely is a necessity. Why don't the educators realize that? Why do they keep cutting the arts instead of other things like sports? Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Nicoartz profile image

      Jason Nicolosi 

      21 months ago from AZ

      First of all, I just wanted to say your an amazing artist. I admire you, and your work. Also, I can appreciate everything you say in your articles. Your words really hit home. It truly feels like your speaking for me. I'm sure most artist that read your articles also feel the same way too.

      I feel art will always be relevant. Art sets us apart from the rest of the wild creatures that live on the planet. It makes us unique and special. I shudder to think what the world would be like without art. To me its a huge part what defines us as being human.

      I personally have had a passion for art since I was five years old. I need to create. Art for art's sake!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      William Kovacic,

      Thanks for hearing my passion and commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Photofairy,

      I'm so glad you are using your creative voice to bring beauty to the world as well. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      You are so kind so say so. I feel my work does bring a little beauty into the world. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      Oh, you said it so well. That spark is essential to all people. I thank God for artists and art. What a great art teacher you had. How it makes you feel is the key. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      21 months ago from Joliet, IL

      Your quote from Leonard Bernstein has a point to a point. Whereas art may not get anyone a job there's no doubting its relevancy. True, an example of art, like the Mona Lisa, isn't paying anyone's bills. However, at its bare bone basics art is simply the foremost expression of human imagination unto the world before it. And, we as people need this. If we didn't have that display of imaginative prowess our learning development would be limited to rote imitation of other peoples' behavior. Art is not a luxry as some would have us think. It is a necessity

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mary Norton,

      It is a beautiful affirmation when someone honors our work by hanging it. I'm glad you have such a good friend.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      21 months ago from Fresno CA

      Eric Dierker,

      I'm glad you are thinking about it. Even though we exercise it daily, what about those who don't have artsy families and don't get art in school anymore? I feel for them. It makes me sad that they won't see any artistic outlet maybe fore years. Wouldn't that break your heart if you couldn't do your art every day? Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      21 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I hear your passion in every sentence. Thanks for drawing attention to this very important topic, Denise.

    • Photofairy profile image

      Photofairy 

      21 months ago

      Art is your life. It tells a story, mine in photographs. Any type of art comes from our imagination. When someone looks at it they use their imagination that interpets it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really have no desire to live in a world where the Arts are not relevant. Thankfully I do not live there. Thank you for the beauty you bring into this world.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      21 months ago

      I think the world would be a much sadder place if artist's ever disappeared. I love art in all its forms, however, having the ability to draw and paint is a very special gift. I remember my Art Teacher many years ago made the class look outside on an Autumn day and instead of asking us to paint what she saw she asked us to write down how it made us feel. Paintings bring us joy and even on our saddest days they light a little spark in our hearts.

    • lynnes75 profile image

      Lynne Samuel 

      21 months ago from Malaysia

      I admit when it comes to art, I'm forever an amateur. But I can appreciate arts and artists, I think your works are beautiful and necessary. Quite relevant. Just today, I went to a few arts gallery to shop for early Christmas gifts for friends. Be blessed, Denise.

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      21 months ago

      I love your article, Denise. Art will always be relevant and if the day ever happens that it isn't, what a sad day it will be for all of us! Art deepens our experience of life. It also reflects life and teaches us so much about ourselves, helps us to communicate with others, helps us to see another's point of view, and changes the way we think and see the world as that beautiful quote by Leonard Bernstein so aptly puts it. Life becomes irrelevant without art! We all need art. It is essential for our growth and because we need to express ourselves and create. It is part of our very nature. Your charcoal portraits are just awesome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about art and the tremendous relevance that it has.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We are happy when people appreciate our work but tastes vary and it is personal. My friend framed one of my works and I felt supported when she sent me a message, you’re framed. She posted a picture of my art in her living room. That’s the only one I gave away. When I get better, I will give more.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      21 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey a big thank you for getting me to consciously think of this. My elder son and his mom have degrees in art. Both practice their arts daily. Song writer, sketch art, musician, poetry and painting things. My eldest is a fine floral designer and writer, my youngest daughter teaches young children art with eco-conscious material. My youngest draws and writes daily. I am a lonely writer and gardener and my sons say a fine photographer.

      I just cannot imagine life without art. Mom used to pull me out of school to go with her doing watercolor in the mountains and to learn Ice Ballet.

      They do not teach art in my 4th grader's school anymore. Fine and dandy. We live it.

      Pumpkin carving designs and arrangements for spooky. That was a blast.

      In my home it is a tradition and seems that it always has been; We ask: "I wonder what the rich people are doing today?" Hihihi

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