Art as Adventure

Shots Of Dagoba Being Built - photographed by David J. Lisle - copyright 210 David J. Lisle
Art as adventure, research, personal journey, gift to humanity - January 23, 2015

In a recent posting in Art Professionals Worldwide Click to read Mark Kulaga posted this:

Artists must not seek to be understood or accepted, but should pursue their dreams and permit it's tenancy to accentuate itself."

I tried to respond, but because of LI restrictions on the length of comments was frustrated in my attempt to do so in a timely and organized way, being forced to paste comment after comment into the conversation, I decided to forget that and just write out what I wanted to say in a Pulse article. This is that article.

Artists must not seek to be understood or accepted, but should pursue their dreams and permit it's tenancy to accentuate itself." This reads like a synopsis of a larger argument. Perhaps we are working backwards to discover the larger argument.

First of all, I agree with the statement above. But what is the initial argument?

For many the argument found in art forum after art forum and discussion after discussion of not selling copious quantities of one's production is akin to being a 'Sunday painter' or 'Amateur.' Many are reproached for this and many are denied access to membership as 'professionals.' However, I concede the attitude from a marketing perspective, and since a good many artists make a living from their art, and since commercialization and monetization of every aspect of life is integral to 'getting by,' it is no surprise that these terms become actual weapons of suppression of those who seek a different path in the arts.

Denying professionalism can have dire consequences for someone who is following their dream and not necessarily seeking acceptance on a commercial basis, but is rather more concerned with seeking acceptance, or not, on an artistic basis. Individual revelations, search results, advancement of new technologies or concepts of artistic representation, personal journeys and gifts to humanity are often times disregarded and even suffer from disrespect, disregard and condemnation. This is not new to the world of arts, but it is, if you will excuse the phrase, a modern problem. From the work of Vincent Van Gogh onward through linear time many who initialized some of the ideas I express as the title suggests have suffered the slings and arrows of the mainstream 'Art World.'

Vincent Van Gogh and his art is one of the first artists I was exposed to. Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt found in the city's main art gallery, and the ubiquitous work of Pablo Picasso. "The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple" by William Holman Hunt particularly impressed me as a youth, and for good reason, up until I started to explore the world by myself art was the religious illustrations that lacked any emotional content distributed to me through 'Christadelphianism' a cult sect of Christianity that permitted little interaction with the real world. The Holman Hunt works were a release for me from the restrictive illustrations that otherwise pervaded my conscience.

My mother and father were both creative, and both pursued arts and crafts, they also admitted me and my younger brother into the world of their art, and so writing, drawing, model making, and adventurism was not restricted in any way other than to keep it secret. However, when it came to going to an Art Grammar School they could not permit it. It was an unspoken acceptance of the rule of the 'Ecclesia' they and their children belonged to. By rule I mean that the brotherhood would have found such an activity unacceptable. There was not a single image of anything whatever in the meeting hall. My home was filled with imagery and not of religious iconography but contemporary pictures and pottery of Josiah Wedgwood with it's ubiquitous floral patterns, or imitations of Greek vases and so on.

My parents hid much from the eyeballs of the Church Brethren, including a transistor radio, television set, and other modern items that were quickly hidden away whenever the senior members came to visit.

I eventually developed a rebellious attitude and point of view, leaving my parents church and home at the age of fifteen on graduating from the English equivalent of High School. Pushed into the blue collar world of my family I chose the Merchant Navy (commercial seafaring) as an escape from what was then the dreary world of coal mines, factory work and other even less desirable employment. I took with me on each voyage my oil paints, canvas paper, brushes and turpentine. Other than high school I had no artistic training whatever. Yet I painted. And here I discovered that prevailing attitude, that exists today concerning selling, marketing, or otherwise promoting what one painted.

It would be nearly fifteen years before I could save enough to go to art school. In the meantime I left my country at age twenty and immigrated to Canada where I thought I would have more opportunity. I was so wrong, yet so right.

The really good thing that happened was I immediately fell in with young people who were at art school or recently graduated from art school and I started on a long apprenticeship that culminated in attending an art school. The employment situation was quite dire, I did not have a skill-set that translated into a life as a landlubber. Nevertheless I did engage in trying my hand at painting full time, working as a janitor, pizza cook, lumber puller in a saw mill and eventually as an apprentice electrician. I roamed the Great White North and discovered that I live in the middle of an immensely large forest that covered several states of the USA and a couple of Provinces and Territories of Canada. AKA The 'Pacific North-West.'

Although I eventually spent much of my adult life working in a craft, “Costume Design” and earned a decent living, between contracts I painted, as I painted I started to evolve a different attitude towards painting eventually losing interest in doing much in the way of 'Realism.' When I got sick and tired of chasing thespians around sometimes enormous movie sets I reverted to my 'blue collar' trade and took up computing. I came back to the very interesting interactions I had with young artists in the sixties where we incorporated machinery and electronics into their artworks. And now I am working in an experimental way and do not market my production.

Currently I am making a change to what has been my Modus Operandi of giving my art to those that are friends that express joy or enthusiasm over the images I present. That change is coming from a change in how I paint and how I intend to present my work. It is still not marketing, it is still for sale, as is everything I make, but now I wish to present an oeuvre to the world and this is my year to do that.

I have made an artist statement read it here:

that covers my past work and will cover some of my new work, and now I will frame the question to which Mark Kulaga presented a synopsis.

"Should an artist first of all seek to be understood and have acceptance by way of sales of work, or should artists simply follow their dreams and let the art grow?"

I have answered that question for myself in attempting to find the question that Mark Kulaga must have asked to write his synopsis, for Mark Kulaga writes out the answer, not the question and his answer is true and profound for at least me and possibly himself.

David Lisle

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