In my monthly newsletter I have featured authors and artists whose work I enjoy. The list of these people would be all over the map; from famous to unknown. The only common element is that I like their stuff. Personal preference is a fascinating human characteristic. Why does one person think an artist is the greatest in the world, and someone else can describe the art as trash? This can often be people who, on most matters, agree; but when it comes to art or writing see the world through different lenses.
For no reason, other than not to dwell on covid-19 or politics, I was giving thought to my favorite painters. With only scant thought, I came up with a list of eight. What I immediately saw was a common theme of bold colors. The one exception was Monet; with his softer tones but engaging imagery. I like abstract, I like somewhat realistic, I like color, I like daring images with bold hues. Not sure what this pattern is or isn’t? The famous quote “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” is a way of saying that the best art is just personal preference. The fact that a list of the top fifty artists would have mostly the same names has to do with who compiles those lists and their native biases.
My list has famous names not because they are famous, but because I like their stuff. But, also, it’s because those are the artists I know. Many, many artists never become known outside a very small following (thanks, mom!). In that “who the hell is that list,” I’m sure there are artists who could replace Picasso as my favorite—but only if I know they exist.
Painters and indie-authors share this lost in the crowd problem.
My list of favorite artists (at this moment):
Vincent Van Gogh
O’Keeffe and Van Gogh probably had the most influence over my attempts at art. O’Keeffe in particular, due to our shared fascination with the landscapes of New Mexico. While Van Gogh was a Dutch painter, many of his paintings had the same sense of space and color as O’Keeffe.
Art and fiction writing are two distinct areas of expression, but for me they have a lot in common. The stories in art are usually less obvious, but the stories exist just the same. Fictional murder mysteries are not art in the sense of a Diego Rivera painting but the attempt to tell a story in words has a lot in common with painting. Some stories are bold and jump out at you with a sudden explosion of emotion; while others build a story layer by layer until the picture becomes clear and meaningful.
Okay, my favorite, favorite artist of the unknown variety.
New book by one of my favorite authors. His “The Devil in the White City” is one of my all-time favorites. Have not read this new book but I would bet it is terrific.