Thursday, September 28, 2006

I have updated this blog post to include the link (click on Emily Keyes' name) for her Memorial Fund.

The world can be pretty depressing. It's hard not to be effected when we turn on the TV and hear about a hostage situation in a high school in Colorado. We're even more saddened to hear that the 16 year old young lady Emily Keyes has died. What a terrible and senseless tragedy. Keep watching a little longer and within minutes you'll hear about war deaths, hatred, murders, gangs, the economy, gas prices, people starving in the world...really the list could go on and on of all the bad things that after awhile, seem like too much to handle. I have to turn off the news to protect my health. I try to remember that for everything bad we hear about, there are good people and good things going on in the world, but the media knows that although we hate to hear these bad things, it's mainly those bad things that intrigue us.

I recently re-read an article by Virgil Elliott, an artist and teacher from California. The article is in The Portrait Signature,[Volume 4, 2000] the publication by the American Society of Portrait Artists, and is about Artemisia Gentileschi, (1593-1652) one of the first women of portraiture who had a lot of trauma from her teenage years to overcome. She was raped as a teenager by a painting teacher. She cut her attacker with a knife in her effort to escape and the perpetrator dragged her good name through the mud. Her artwork shows strong emotions, many depicting themes of historic and Biblical stories with female heroes, such as Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. I think you can figure out why there is no body mentioned attached to the head. "Excuse me, ma'am, but there's a severed head in your basket." (gulp!)

The reason I went into all of this is so I could quote an extremely powerful paragraph in the article. (see, I did have a point LOL)

"The emotional content is precisely what makes the difference between a competently painted picture by a well-trained painter, and a masterpiece. The best artists have always, and will always, put something of their own psyche, their own personal intensity, into their work, and it is that quality, strongly expressed, which connects with the sensibilities of the viewer and registers its impression indelibly and unmistakably upon them. These experiences, both positive and negative, serve to bring out that instensity and give great artists their unique identity, and their work its power. Thus the most trying ordeals, and the effects of these trials and struggles will inevitably have on the artist, can be the genesis of something postive, and perhaps something great, when channeled into art."

This might just be the greatest paragraph I've ever read. It is certainly true with me, I think that my Memorial Eagle artwork has an even greater intensity because I was so utterly shocked and enraged while I was creating it. I drew it while watching CNN's reporting of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. You'll probably notice that the American Eagle looks like he's going to avenge the deaths of innocent Americans, because those were my emotions at the time.

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