JOHN POTOTSCHNIK FINE ART

Art training and communication

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As I’ve stated a few times, I am fortunate to have available to me some great articles from the American Artist magazine of 50-75 years ago. It was a time that abstract expressionism had a stronghold upon American art, but there were some that stood their ground against all odds and produced work of profound quality.

I was just graduating from college in 1968 and know firsthand the division that existed in the art department between those that were producing “modern” work and those producing, what was termed “trite”…that is, representational painting.

Richard Vernon Goetz (1915-1991), a figurative, landscape, and still life painter, was featured in the March 1969 issue of American Artist. I want to share with you his thoughtful comments regarding how solid art training informs our ability to effectively communicate visually. I have taught my students this for years, so it’s always nice to see it confirmed by others.

Here are some excerpts from that interview…and the videos are excellent.

“To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication. However, to express and to communicate to the fullest extent one should equip himself with adequate technical knowledge. To a great extent, too many artists do not, and so lack the ability to convey their artistic ideas. Thus, leaning on the use of bizarre and unorthodox materials and forms, instead of a solid technical background, many contemporary painters fails to take full advantage of the communicative value of art.

“The situation has tended to rob the art world of its standards and prompted the viewer to mistake works that are merely different for authentic examples of creativity. Unfortunately, the artist who uses a realistic technical proficiency is often thought to be uncreative, and only artists of the past are excused for doing realistic work based on correct technical principles.”

 

‘To me, painting is one of the highest forms of aesthetic self expression, and can be a most meaningful mode of communication.’

 

“To re-establish these standards we must first see that students are well-grounded in a knowledge of drawing, design, and color, as were the great artists of the past.

“No matter how much technical ability one might possess, this alone does not make an artist. What one has to say aesthetically is really all that counts. However, one can express these emotions only to the degree that his technical and mechanical knowledge will allow. If one could not read or write, he certainly could not produce a great novel, no matter what his other qualifications might be.”

 

‘What one has to say aesthetically is all that counts.’

 

“The art schools of today, especially university art departments (my emphasis), have had great success in teaching and stimulating the creative aspects of art, but many have failed to equip the student with the technical ability to express himself in an intelligible way. Therefore, art has gone from one ridiculous extreme to another, and now we have many painters with great ideas, who lack the ability to execute them by comprehensible means.”

 

“I believe that the purpose of the painter is not to render a two-dimensional illustration of his subject, but to observe the aesthetic qualities of nature, and interpret and arrange these elements in an understandable, yet artistic, way.

“The purpose of painting should be of an abstract nature, enabling the artist to use elements of the subject that create patterns and shapes of color that convey a message beyond prettiness or cheap sentiment.

“I believe that composition is the most important element in painting.”

What do you think? I’d be interested in your comments.

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John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE

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