The death of painting

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Renate M. Reuter, founder, president and executive director of the Portrait and Figure Painters Society of SW Florida, Inc. wrote, “What is the future of oil paintings? Are they going out of style? Are they going to be done by computers? What about the classic type of oils versus all the modern forms? I’d like to have the right answers from you for the people who ask me these questions.” Thanks, Renate. I don’t know if I can give you the “right” answers, but I’ll give you mine. Oil painters currently fill entire mountain passes, French barnyards and Las Vegas casinos. Some California beaches are so burdened with oil painters a local kid who wants to build sandcastles has to bring his own sand. It’s got so bad in our area that the other day when I went out to one of my favourite spots, other painters were already using up my view. Fact is, more paintings are being produced today than at any time in history. Basements and attics groan with them. With the current democratization of art and lots of folks with time on their hands, painting has become a mainline avocation, second only to photography and tropical fish. Art instruction and workshops are big business — take a look at our Workshop Calendar. The problem lies in the quality of the art. Let’s face it, some genres, like portraiture, are time-consuming to learn and difficult to pull off. John Singer Sargent took eight years studying with Carolus Duran to achieve a degree of proficiency. Becoming a truly fine artist requires a lifetime of studenthood and dedication. Fine art is a “doing thing,” and therein lies its main appeal. Painting, like fishing and hunting, is not going to be taken over any time soon by computers. The art of painting will survive and thrive because it is easy to do and difficult to do well. Humankind loves challenges, and traditional painting has more challenges than a new Greek government. But just as you can be assured that the Parthenon will still be there, painting will go on. In my opinion, reports on the death of painting have been greatly exaggerated. I’d be interested in hearing what you think. Best regards, Robert PS: “Within the act of painting there is a history, a continuum of alchemy through the ages that lives on in paint.” (Lori Agostino) Esoterica: Intellectuals and others have enthused about modern forms of art that seem more significant in today’s problem-loaded world. These pundits are the ones most frequently announcing the death of painting. The forms of art they espouse have the advantage of not being so arduous to teach and have more shock, social, and entertainment value than old-fashioned representational forms. People will line up around the block to be shocked, socialized or entertained, whereas traditional forms tend to attract a quieter crowd. While the public entertainment artist serves a valuable purpose, the private traditional painter continues to labour in her modest studio or mountain pass. Winslow Homer said it well: “Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems.”   Ready availability of courses and materials by Polonca Kocjancic, Slovenia   My attention was attracted most by your statement: “With the current democratization of art and lots of folks with time on their hands, painting has become a mainline avocation.” Very true. But it is not only the democratization and time that people have — there is, besides, this huge difference compared to the situation in the past: in many places, a lot more is available. Not only Web information that anybody can browse. In my opinion, two factors are not to be missed: — the availability of painters and art tutors who give high-quality courses at a reasonable price and adapted to various levels of the people attending, and — the wealth of available materials and tutorials that years ago were not there for anybody to buy at the closest art shop. There is 1 comment for Ready availability of courses and materials by Polonca Kocjancic
From: Anonymous — May 29, 2012

That is so true. And although most traditionally schooled artists dismiss this, the millions of people catching the “late train to the art career” are bound to turn up many exceptional talents. The competition just got a lot tougher! But also the company got a lot merrier!

  Painting on the human level by Andrew Judd, Toronto, ON, Canada  

oil painting by Andrew Judd


ipad painting by Andrew Judd

            Considering the possibility of painting being taken over by computers is like considering the possibility of golf being taken over by robots. Machines can hit a ball much further and more consistently than any human hand so why not let machines do all the work? Because the human hand at work gives us the “resonance” we appreciate and understand on a “human” level. I use an ipad to “paint” with sometimes but it is my experience with painting in oil that taught me the effect I hope to achieve. Here are two images as an example…. the first one is traditional oil on a panel and the second one is “painted” with my ipad. There are 3 comments for Painting on the human level by Andrew Judd
From: Diane Overmyer — May 29, 2012

I’ve read about plein air painters who are now using ipads to “capture the moment” outdoors and then using the ipad painting for reference in the studio. If it trips someone’s trigger to do that, that is fine with me, but to me, that is missing the whole point of plein air painting. I do think technology will continue to effect the way some artists produce work, but your example of golf is a great illustration as to why a lot artists will continue to stick to the “human” elements of producing art.

From: Liz Reday — May 29, 2012

I love the Ipad painting! Am totally in awe at your ability in this medium. If I could do it with that kind of technique, I’d give up all the oil on panel out in the woods. Sadly, I’m still a klutz on the Ipad, so I stick to acrylics & oils. But if I could, i would. But for larger studio work, i prefer the texture and unpredictability of all of the above plus collage and spray. Bring it on.

From: Robyn Rinehart — May 29, 2012

I love digital painting! It is an acquired skill, like normal artwork, and takes practice, practice and more practice to get it up and running. I have bought a slightly larger notebook that turns into a tablet, and am having a ball. The problems with plein air painting on them is that you need shade to be able to see the screen. Shady days are great. I have also bought a quality A3 printer to put them onto Archival paper.

  Robert Henri’s sign posts by Judy A. Crowe, Spring, TX, USA  

oil painting
by Judy A. Crowe

Computers will never take over the art world in my opinion. As Robert Henri put it in The Art Spirit, “There are moments in a day and in our lives when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall this vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign posts on the way to what may be. Sign posts toward greater knowledge.” Mr. Henri also said in the same book that it is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. When the artist is alive in a person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, enlightens, and opens the way for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he is trying to open it and show that there are still more pages possible. I don’t think that even my smart phone can do that! Now I need to go to the studio. There is 1 comment for Robert Henri’s sign posts by Judy A. Crowe
From: Marvin Humphrey — May 30, 2012
  Academies carrying the flag by John Unbehend, Seattle, WA, USA  

“Still life”
pastel painting
by John Unbehend

With the world awash in ‘painters’ using oil, watercolor, or software, to produce less than memorable work, it is easy to be concerned with the future of painting. However, when quality and skill are worked into the equation, one only has to look at the outstanding work being produced by students coming out of the newly rejuvenated Atelier system. I have just viewed shows of work done by students finishing the programs at Gage Academy and Georgetown Atelier here in Seattle — please be reassured, quality oil painting done by skilled artists is alive and well.   Don’t trivialize computer art by Dr. Patricia Hartman   I am a digital artist and do enjoy your letters, but have to say that the process of creating paintings using the computer is more difficult and time consuming than if I just picked up brush and canvas and went at it. I used to paint in watercolor, oil and acrylic. I could finish a painting in a few hours, and sometimes it would turn out pretty well. Now, using the computer applications like 3D modeling, Corel Painter, Photoshop etc., I can spend upwards of 100 hours on just one effort. I have won consistently in local shows and also in the San Diego County Fair. I had to take several courses at the local community college to gain even some small proficiency in these applications. Also, currently the most feasible career path for artists is in digital art (3D modeling and animation). So, I want to make sure that the idea of “computer art” isn’t trivializing the efforts of many fine digital artists. There are 4 comments for Don’t trivialize computer art by Dr. Patricia Hartman
From: Lindsay Bradley — May 28, 2012

Patricia it would have been nice to see a sample of your work done on the computer.

From: Andrea — May 29, 2012

You are right. Artists can use so many different tools to make art today and that is what makes it so exciting.

From: Diane Overmyer — May 29, 2012

Even though I sell traditional work, my second harddrive is full of projects I have done on my own using Photoshop. I fully agree that it is much more difficult in some ways to do a computer generated painting, if a person is actually using something like the paintbrush tool. (of course I am left handed and I control my mouse with my right hand, so that may be one of the reasons why I can’t seem to paint as well on the computer as I can with oils…)There have been so many advances in software, that I know even my computer generated creations might now be considered out-of-date by experts in the field. I 100% agree that 3D modeling and amimation is one of the best career paths that artists can take to actually make a decent living! Best wishes for your success, I hope to see some of your work someday!

From: Dean Taylor Drewyer — May 29, 2012

Art lives in the marrying of human perception and the imperfect human touch – to further or enhance the struggle along this razor’s edge between possibility and actuality, any tools are legitimate as long as these tools don’t dull the edge. Technology can make us fall in love with perfection and perfection can be the enemy of art as it removes the human touch. This is simply something to be alert to, not a prohibition.

  The love of play by Alan Soffer, Wallingford, PA, USA  

“Solar Splash 1”
encaustic painting
by Alan Soffer

Yes, the art world continues to expand in unfamiliar and exciting new ways, which can be thought provoking and sickening at times. But getting into the meat of creating a visual expression through paint, dirtying your hands and digging in to the seductive and sensuous oil and acrylic media will forever thrill us. People, it is the process which captivates us. Even if someday artists can conjure a painting better via other technologies, even through some spiritual or telepathic route, many will love to play with the lush colors floating in a syrupy concoction.   There is 1 comment for The love of play by Alan Soffer
From: Mishcka — May 29, 2012

Excellent painting Alan. Enjoyed your website.

  Wishing painting was dead by Anders Knutsson, Brooklyn, NY, USA  

“Bristlecone Pine 1”
original painting
by Anders Knutsson

Between British “spot” paintings and Chinese factories with rows of hundreds of artists toiling away at paintings of the Canadian Rockies and Sacré Coeur, even a seasoned Brooklyn painter might have some vivid nightmares. And those mountain passes seem to have more Christo oil cloth than The Metropolitan Museum! And yes, the tattoo artists on the California beaches are now sporting Swedish cold-pressed organic linseed oil. But if we put all that, and all the “3-B school” (a Vermont expression for barns, bridges and birches) painters over there and (pardon the expression, it’s just a short-cut) over here and the “here” is where painters who have gone deeply into oil painting, like yourself and I like to point out Tad Spurgeon, Tad’s website is like a Treasure Island for oil painters! Gold is found there! In some ways, I wish that painting was dead — crap-painting, that is. Like bad jazz, scripts, sermons, manuscripts, inventions, gas-guzzlers — And, God knows, I have held on to many of those old works! It was hard to “see” at the time. There is 1 comment for Wishing painting was dead by Anders Knutsson
From: Jackie Knott — May 29, 2012

Lovely painting.

  Not any time soon by Carl Purcell, Manti, UT, USA  

“Mercato San Lorenzo”
watercolour painting
by Carl Purcell

I am principally a watercolor artist but do about 8 oil paintings a year. I also teach 10-12 workshops each year, and from my perspective the traditional painting is far from the intensive care unit. Years ago when the first version of Photoshop was emerging, an associate at the college where I taught warned me that my job as artist was heading for extinction. Soon, he said everyone will be able to do what I do on their computers. I told him that he was dead wrong, and that people had said the same thing when the camera came on the scene. Yet the camera had turned out to be one more tool in the hands of artists. People still wanted paintings because they could see it came from someone’s heart. The same has happened with the computer. It is a valuable tool in the hands of an artist. The functions that the camera and the computer cannot perform are the things that make us human: the ability to feel something from the things we see, the ability to link what we see to our past experiences and to forge pictures from the visual, mental and emotional stuff in our heads. Painting reflects the artist’s soul, and neither of these mechanical devices has a soul. Traditional painting as we know it is a part of who we are; it will not be replaced by the computer any more than it will be replaced by the vacuum. There are 2 comments for Not any time soon by Carl Purcell
From: Marilyn Bowles — May 28, 2012

Where is this Mercado San Lorenzo? Some of us are not familiar with a great many places. I know quite a lot about the U.S. but can still get lost.

From: Liz Schamehorn — May 29, 2012

Mercato San Lorenzo is in Florence, my favourite city in the world. I think Carl has played with the composition a little, since I remember that statue on the left (of the last of the Medicis)is tucked in behind an iron fence right beside the church wall. Inside that church are the Michelangelo marble statues of Dawn and Dusk and Day and Night. I used to walk by there every day. Thanks for posting that image, Carl!

  The synthesis of old and new by John DeCuir, La Crescenta, CA, USA  

watercolour painting
by John DeCuir

I couldn’t agree more about “the death of oil painting being highly exaggerated.” But as you know better than I, technology throughout the ages has had a major impact on the evolutionary path of our art from that fifth leg on the bison on the cave wall (to depict the concept of motion) to “pictures” that hang on our walls today that offer 3d Plasma images that move through space and time at the speed of light. (By the way that fifth leg on the bison was probably just a mistake and just before the invention of the eraser.) We used to build film sets with hammer and nails and now we use air guns, the difference is that the significant construction time and money we save can be moved into a better quality product. I am sure the crude tools of the cave man when compared to Michelangelo fresco painting techniques were light years apart while, I think, the results are both history making. So I don’t think it is as much an issue of one technology replacing another as it is a synthesis of techniques old and new. So I applaud that we are living through a period in time when the new digital technology is pushing and shoving itself into the room, giving birth, I hope, to new formats in art.   The human tribe by Nicoletta Baumeister, Vancouver, BC, Canada  

acrylic painting
by Nicoletta Baumeister

I paint because I learn by looking and doing. It has so little to do with producing a painting, a product. If that were the aim, I have produced enough. I am human, and I know that I am human, and know how I am a human by painting. I use my senses to mediate my environment, I use my brain to make sense of the information my senses deliver to my neural net and I rely on my gut to feel my way through all the bigger stuff that has no specific name, but is encompassed by words like values and ethics, truth, harmony and balance. The drawing, the painting is map making. As for the form the expression of this being human takes, will oil paintings be done by computer? Well, maybe. But surely that is a result of mediating the environment, surely that is being a human caught in a specific space and time, trying to understand. As for why share these forms of expression? When I hear a song, watch a dance, see a work of art, read a book, I am sharing the maker’s ears, the dancer’s muscles, the artist’s eyes, and the writer’s brain. It is what confirms for me that they are human, like me, made of the same flesh and bone. It confirms to me that no matter how different, we belong to the same tribe, and that our experience of being human has universal reverberations through heck of a lot of time.   The arc of cheap reproductions by Edna Rappaport, Greenwood Village, CO, USA  

“Equine’s world”
acrylic painting
by Edna Rappaport

I agree with Mr. Renate M Reuter, and especially with the “computer” mention. First, the fact that the whole world of artists can use the Internet to show their wares and thus minimize the uniqueness and importance of original art. Second, I hear many art gallery owners lamenting the fact that selling original art is becoming more and more difficult because so many people are opting these days to buy reproductions made on canvas (for cheap) and computer generated art. As an artist, I know this to be a fact. I can see that I no longer can hope to sell any of my originals, unless I am willing to sell them for the same price as my canvas reproductions. Trying to rely on selling my originals for my livelihood almost brought me to the brink of bankruptcy. I also think that there is either corruption, some sort of craziness, or self-importance, in the “upper echelons” of the art world which has catapulted some artists to the obscene heights of success — unjustifiably so — while other artists — more talented in my humble opinion — continue to be ignored and “starving.” For me, this is the “right” answer about art today; I love art, I love being an artist, but I don’t want Art to become the death of me. (RG note) Thanks, Edna. Two decades ago French painters jumped on the reproduction bandwagon. Between the sale of cheap repros and even cheaper posters they succeeded in ruining the market for their originals. This market is just now in the process of recovering and French artists are the wiser. While there are still some geographical areas holding out for reproductions, in most areas original work seems to be back in full force. In the meantime in many areas repros never show up in upscale auctions and to be seen with one in social circles is to identify oneself as degenerate. And so it goes. There is 1 comment for The arc of cheap reproductions by Edna Rappaport
From: Tatjana — May 29, 2012

Bob, you said it so well a while back and I keep repeating it – the problem is in the noodles.

  Questions about ‘Portrait Society’ by Marguerite Larmand, Simcoe, ON, Canada  

“Butterfly plates”
ceramic artwork
by Marguerite Larmand

It would make sense to me that the Portrait and Figure Painters Society existed first and foremost to discuss questions such as the ones asked by Founder, President and Executive Director Renate M Reuter. Before these questions are asked, however, others take precedence. What exactly has been “founded” by PFPS? What does the Executive Director “direct”? What is being “incorporated”? Further, what are the benefits of forming a society as opposed to carrying on individual pursuits? What kind of criteria is used for membership in the society? Who determines membership? What are the actual member benefits? Do members gather for the rigor of real criticism and discussion? Do they consider the relevance of what they do to the region of SW Florida? To the wider world of painting? In what field or domain is their work meaningful? Do they see any responsibility for keeping painting alive? There are a number of rationales for painting and each painter must at least know what it is that they are keeping alive. Be it the act, the object, the standards, the psychological benefits, the grit, whatever it may be, the reason for painting needs to be clear in the painter’s mind. I personally think everyone could paint or sing or dance for all the benefits to optimum health. Growth in every industry including the art industry is now in a state of excess. The ratio of product to purchaser is no different for painting than for shoes. The question comes down to this; in a world of such excess, how do we hold on to our passion for painting without adding to that excess? Try removing the “painted for product” criteria and see if the remaining criteria can maintain passion. There is 1 comment for Questions about ‘Portrait Society’ by Marguerite Larmand
From: Jackie Knott — May 29, 2012
  American Impressionism by Ann Trusty, The Artist’s Road, Lawrence, Kansas, USA  

“Concurrence II”
oil painting
by Ann Trusty

In your recent interview with John Hulsey reproduced on The Artist’s Road you mentioned that the new excitement for American Impressionism was improving standards. What you observed was that the success of the plein air movement seems to have increased the quality of artwork being produced — taken it to a higher level, but that there seems to be less diversity of styles being seen. I think it is such an interesting observation. (John Hulsey) What do you think about the tremendous, sudden popularity of plein air painting? (Robert Genn) “It looks like a lot of folks have jumped on the same style. A lot of the artists that are painting in that particular style — American Impressionism, or whatever you want to call it — are doing pretty good work. It is better work, on average, than what was going on a few years ago when other styles were more predominant. A while back I was invited to jury a show in Indianapolis. I had never been to Indianapolis before and I wanted to go to the raceway anyway, so I accepted. Thirty Indiana artists had been chosen to exhibit two paintings each. The main body of the jurying had been done and all I had to do was pick out one, two, three, and three honorable mentions. I walked into this show and swore it was painted by the same person — 30 different artists, 60 paintings. With a couple of exceptions, it was nearly all in the American Impressionism style. Recently I was jurying a show in Winnipeg, Manitoba where the AI isn’t a factor. Every painting was different. They were all over the place, primitive, abstract, modern, realism, tight, loose. At least with the American Impressionists, there is a fair degree of consistency of quality and rather nice brushwork. It looks to me as if Richard Schmid and others have been somewhat responsible for getting the ball rolling. But now there are hundreds — California is chock-a-block with them. A lot of it has got to do with the environment and the type of subject matter people choose. There are many, many painters doing really well in Arizona and New Mexico — wonderful stuff — hot warm lights and rich purple shadows, etc.”   Loving the journey by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA  

oil painting, 18 x 24 inches
by Diane Overmyer

When I owned an art gallery I found it was much easier to sell quality 3-D art such as hand blown glass, turned wood vessels and large pieces of fine thrown pottery, than any 2-D work. The reason: houses are being built with open concepts and have less wall space than they once had. Also original oil paintings normally have a higher price point than most other mediums. I also think that the public is not well educated in art, so many people only purchase what catches their eye rather than considering how accomplished the artist might be. Most people have no idea how much time it takes to produce any unique quality piece of art, much less an original oil painting. There are so many decisions that are made by a well trained oil painter that most people, including novice artists have no idea about. Take value or color temperature, (just to name two of the many considerations that go into each painting I produce). I might spend hours tweaking a painting to get just the right emphasis on a focal point or to down play the supporting areas of that same painting. Regardless of what the public thinks, I will continue to work in oils because, as Robert said, it is all about the process. I love the journey I travel as each painting comes to fruition! There are 2 comments for Loving the journey by Diane Overmyer
From: Faith — May 28, 2012

Surely the time taken to complete an artwork is totally irrelevant to the eventual buyer. He or she is looking for something to match the room it’s meant for (or for other equally justifiable reasons) and in normal cases is also affordable. On a higher level – controlled in the main by agents, galleries and museums, or when art becomes a private investment, buyers often aren’t even looking at the artwork, but at the name of its maker (or perpetrator). Or is the way forward to label every artwork with the time taken and issue a list of what time costs – depending on how precious the artist’s time is, of course? With that equation, we are already in fantasy. You simply can’t add time as a value factor to art. It doesn’t make sense!

From: Diane Overmyer — May 29, 2012

Thank you for your comment Faith. While I totally understand your point, I would like to further explain myself. One artist wrote that she was a real artist, trying to make a real living… I am also dependent on my art sales to be able to continue working as a full time artist. Therefore I have to be practical…wish that wasn’t the case…wish I had big name and could get put any price I want onto a canvas, or that I could add a normal hourly wage onto my work, but neither is the case. I have a set price point, but it varies somewhat based on time. I can’t sell a quick 2 hour 11 x 14 for the same amount that I can sell a detailed 12 hour 11 x 14 (I’m generalizing here, because I don’t actually time myself!) The fact is, for me, I have clients who do often comment on the amount of hours it took me to do a detailed painting. Do they purchase the painting because of the time I took? Of course not, but it does play into the general equation. My main point in writing about the time, was to compare it to other processes that are more production based. I.e. I am a friend of Dick Lehman’s who well known in the world of ceramic art. Look at his website. His unique gallery pieces sell for much more money than his production line pieces (i.e. mugs, casserole dishes…). The difference, is often not even the amount of time it might take to throw a practical piece, but the decision making process and uniqueness of each of his gallery pieces. Where his production pieces all have a set price point, his gallery pieces varie quite a bit in price points. When I am dead and gone, I’m sure no one will care about the amount of time it took me to do my work, but while I am alive, I need to factor those hours in, to a degree, because I only have a limited amount left! !0) Best wishes Faith!

  The decline of quality by Sharon Knettell, Woonsocket, RI, USA  

“Pink corset”
pastel drawing
by Sharon Knettell

Many years ago, I was at the Air and Space museum in Washington. I was struck by the first robot moon-lander. It was not that it was clever, but even though it was a robot, it was handmade. It was actually quite endearing as it looked lovingly constructed. It had uniqueness and a rarity about it. We are swamped by paintings. I am increasingly loathed to mention I am an artist as so many people will unleash their iPhone gallery on me. Most of them are of the school, “If I say I am an artist, it must me so.” Rarely if ever do I see work that requires more effort or knowledge than reading a how-to book on magic markers. There is no depth or, God forbid, refinement. This, of course, is an old saw of mine. There is so much figurative and portrait work done from photography, there is sameness to most of it. You do not get the quirkiness or originality of a Gauguin or a Van Gogh simply by pinning a photo to your easel. Yes I know Degas worked from photos — but he had at least 4 years of atelier training, something I wish was a requirement today. Most of his paintings were constructed by piecing together an extensive collection of drawings done from life. We value speed more than quality. Even though Sargent’s paintings look as if they were carried out in a New York minute, he redid heads over and over again. One of his very rich subjects fainted after months of posing. We ask nothing of our subjects, fearing the loss of the commission. We assure them that they will be as little inconvenienced as possible. I would posit that we have not had a really great portrait painter since perhaps 1930 when the last of the atelier painters were still eking out a living. We may have had competent, realistic painters — but not breathtaking ones. There is 1 comment for The decline of quality by Sharon Knettell
From: Faith — May 28, 2012

I think it’s easier to mention that one paints – is a painter (??? already a borderline claim). The label “artist” can be awarded by others. It always irritates me that the word “artist” is mostly associated with the visual arts, whereas it is actually an umbrella term for ALL the creative activities human beings indulge in!


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The death of painting

From: Damar Minyak — May 24, 2012

If you want to make money in the arts, sell art supplies. It’s a multi-gazillion (name your currency) per year cash flow. Out of the pockets of artists, professional, amateur and wannabe. Into the coffers of the suppliers. “Art”, however you define it, has fat years and lean. Not so much, the supply houses. Artists and crafters always need more supplies and tools.  I’ve done no research on it, but I’m willing to believe the suppliers have as good or better years, when the economy slows.

From: Susan Holland — May 24, 2012

I can vouch for at least my own contorted set of oils, since I have recently gathered all together preparing for a move. They still itch to be uncapped. Or if they cannot easily be uncapped, they burst out at the bottom just to be put on canvas! If painting dies, it will be when human beings are extinct. “The market” was not there when Igluk painted his dinner on a cave wall. Nor was Christies, nor were MOMA or the Louvre. Painting as product? Well it may die out if it becomes more chic to hang something else (maybe plastic spoons or old tires) for a while. But eventually the cycle will move and there we will be, rummaging through our stacks of paintings to sell to revivalists.

From: Kathryn H. — May 25, 2012

Yes yes yes, Painting is dead. I think I posted these exact words somewhere else years ago. It is dead because as an art form it is not taken seriously by “THE ART WORLD.” If you want to impact the world today, film is the best way to achieve these results. The days of a Guernica have passed. This is good news to us. It means we are free to express ourselves any way we would like. Paint diary journal entries, paint realism, abstraction, paint poorly, paint like Sargent. With the internet you can find you audience anywhere. The challenge to oil painting (or at least realistic painting) is– first, many artists have nothing to say so they say what has been said already. They may paint in a manner – ala anachronistic Renaissance – and the painting, though well executed is boring and dated. They paint still life objects that no one would choose as their decor to put in their home. That vase might pose an interesting artistic challenge, but the painting is old before the brush hits the canvas. The same goes for artists dressing up models in costume. It’s OK to do this if you like, painting is dead afterall, but realize that this choice does not reflect today and no one will see it as fresh and new. Which is irrelevant personally, but as a “movement” oil painting will not gain a resurgence in “THE ART WORLD.” (If that is important to you. I agree that skill seems to be overlooked. A wealthy retiree could take a dozen workshops with well-known artists and then hang a shingle to teach painting. Most people will agree on his talent, but when I checked out his website, he looked as if he was still in the intermediate stages artistically. At least on American Idol someone who is not top notched eventually gets sent home. In our circle, they hang around and give advice. Which so much inferior art out in the world, people see the overall picture of mediocrity and it’s pretty dead.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — May 25, 2012

I think what Renate says is true. In the minds of the public, there is little difference between an original piece of art and a print or a poster. I sold a painting to a friend once and overheard her discussing it with a mutual acquaintance, referring to it as “a print”. She didn’t even know what she bought. My daughter has several of my paintings in her home and tells me that her friends are amazed she has original art. These experiences are not unusual. Many people may take up art as a hobby and produce substandard art in the World today, but I believe most people have no idea what real original art is, have never been in an art museum, and certainly would never go in an art gallery. They think those prints you see in Bed Bath and Beyond is art.

From: Gordon France — May 25, 2012

If you’re concerned about selling your paintings here’s an interesting (unofficial) statistic. 4% of the population makes “art”. 2% of the population buys it. You are competing with professionals in a shrinking market. Little wonder why they’re conducting so many workshops.

From: John C — May 25, 2012

Kathryn H, you hit on many good points; I particularly agree with the sentiments about quality and relevance. Ours is a world in which “social Darwinism” is active and supreme. I suspect that if one wants the smallest chance of success, he/she must make art that is both compelling and well-marketed.

From: Marilyn Smith — May 25, 2012

I have been quietly painting and selling for over 40 years. It is still a passion. I will never give it up. I am able to only do small paintings now and most people and galleries want big. I have a downtown studio, work when I am able and nothing else matters. Creating will remain a passion until the day I die. It does not matter what anyone else is doing or not doing.

From: Dwight — May 25, 2012

Too much “art” is the problem and, ironically, maybe the solution. When many find they really are not good at it, they quit but retain an appreciation for those who have it. Nina Allen Freeman (above) hits a part of the problem I’ve heard over and over. That is, the confusion in the minds of many between originals and prints. “Print” seems to be the generic word and the value difference between the two is missed.

From: Marvin Humphrey — May 25, 2012

Those who can’t handle the challenges of painting declare it to be obsolete.

From: Sue Favinger Smith — May 25, 2012

Perhaps the question should be why do you create art? if it is driven by the ambition to sell and become famous, then yes, there are too many artists and not enough collectors from your perspective, and you – if your work is merely average – will find it more and more challenging to carry on when it seems so difficult to find success. But if you create art for some other reason, then perhaps you don’t give a whit for the fact that every retiree and their grandmother are out there chasing some dream of their own. You applaud their courage to try, no matter what the quality of their output. You identify more with the Winslow Homer quote above, and see your work as an extension of how you see the world, and as Robert says, experience it as a “doing thing.”

From: Tatjana M-P — May 25, 2012

Marilyn Smith, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really enjoyed them. Good for you!

From: Not an artist, some say. — May 25, 2012

Awwww, Bunkies ! Too many painters in the world for some of you to compete ? Think, perhaps only those who have been to school, and learned the “rules” of how to do it like everyone else ought to be allowed into the “guild” ? That, if it’s not being done your way, it’s not valid art ? The population in 1950 was under 2.6 billion. The growth rate was 1.47%. The population in 2011 was over 6.9 billion. The growth rate was down to 1.09%. Cuyrrent projection for 2020 is just under 8 billion, with a growth rate of 0.9% However, the lower growth rate is outdone by the larger base numbers, so the population is growing at almost three times the numbers that it was in 1950. (Mid year figures.) Yea, there are more “artists” alive and working. There are more of everyone and everything. I guess, if you want to be of a smaller production group, you could return to forging metal wagon parts. Not so many blacksmiths required, these days. Some of you seem to be fondly missing those long-dead long ago’s. Or maybe, you aspire to the globalist solution. A bunch of us must die, and soon. Think I’ll go out to the back yard this afternoon, and open some cans of leftover house paints and stains, and throw the contents at a few scraps of plywood, or sheetrock. Or, whatever is in the shed. See you at the galleries and the seasonal exhibits.

From: Tina Phelps-Turnage — May 25, 2012

Certainly painting does not have the position it previously held among the arts prior to the advent of photography. Neither does it hold the same position it held prior to digital manipulation. However, any craft pursued with diligence, can speak to a viewer. There will always be those who appreciate painting, as there are those who buy ceramics not to hold oil, but to appreciate visually.

From: siobhanmdempsey — May 25, 2012

Like God, I believe art is receiving the last rites. Too much, too many,everybody,anybody, everywhere, anywhere,anything, overloaded, over, nothing.

From: Bethany Jaques — May 25, 2012

This evening I go to a seasonal gallery opening where a few of my pieces are shown. Each year the work being shown in a coop section of the gallery is increasingly photographic. It has seemed that anyone who can take a clear crisp photograph with decent composition feels that they should be a professional art photographer. Almost invariably these pictures are in black and white. However, we are an extremely mediated society, and people see pictures constantly. After a couple shows, without much in the way of sales, the erstwhile art photographers go back to the drawing board (not really, but I couldn’t help myself). Some of them realize that there is more to art than technical proficiency, and more to technical proficiency than clear reportage. That’s the third big hurdle for a photographer, the first being cost of gear, the second being technical acumen. It’s that last hurdle where the big cut is often made. That third hurdle is the leveler for painters as well. However, as an impractical craft– painting no longer being needed for visual reporting–painting will remain the carrier of whatever communciation it is that we call art. This is true for most of the plastic arts. Painting will never be dead, it will merely be more specialized.

From: Claire — May 25, 2012

I have nothing against a good photograph, but I continue to be annoyed by photo artwork that is digitally filtered to look like a painting. I’m even more annoyed by the photographer who is plumb tickled with him/herself for pulling off such a feat, but most highly annoyed by the art customer who is impressed more than by an actual original painting. I hope not all art buyers are this shallow, but I see too many of them who are.

From: Janet Summers-Tembeli — May 25, 2012

Painting is very much alive in oils, watercolors, acrylics and other mediums. The entire matter rests on WHAT is being painted and you are right everyone is a painter these days. A while back someone sent me an e-mail about some new technique that will turn anyone into a realist painter. I didn’t check it out but it involved copying your subject onto graph paper square by square and then painting it. Then I saw a lot of paintings that not only had the same subject but were so similar they could have been painted by robots. Painting requires a love of subject, an intimacy with the forms, colors, light, shadow and feel of the subject and eye-hand coordination, sense of composition and space and an underlying of hard won knowledge that requires years to acquire. And if after acquiring all this you wake up one day and think you know all there is to know about painting then your painting is DEAD! Painting is an on-going creative process, artists continually challenge their abilities that’s what painting is to me.

From: Carol Dayton — May 25, 2012

Having recently at age 65 finally started oil painting (Studio Art degree 1970) I agree that painting is NOT dead, even though lots of bad art abounds. We are all learning -and being willing to suffer less than admirable results is the price for heartily enjoying the medium.

From: Aleta Karstad — May 25, 2012

I slog away at my plein air painting, fulfill my membership in a backwaters artists’ cooperative gallery, post images and journals on my blog, where people who’ve met me go to buy it….. and if I can live/paint until I die, perhaps after that, more than my personal clients, friends, and family will call my life’s work “art”.

From: Penny Duncklee — May 25, 2012

So many times I see work that makes me wonder why I should learn to draw and why should I keep trying to learn about the wonderful medium of watercolor. I am glad I did not go to art school, or got to take art classes many years ago in school, because that keeps me remembering that I am still learning.

From: oliver — May 25, 2012

With the advent of photography, the death of painting has been predicted. I choose to say it will/has become an alternative media in the larger world of two dimensional visual art. For a very long while it kept pace because photography didn’t have color or good ways to manipulate the images. With the advent of widespread digital this is no longer true. (Note analog photography is considered by most an alternative process now too.) Painting used to be the way to preserve history, tell a story and etc. While it can still do so, everyone has a camera now – they are common in cell phones. Magazines newspapers and the web, all hit us with hundreds of photographs each day, and then there are the moving photographs like movies and television. Do I believe painting will die? No! Do I believe it is or will become a rich and valued alternative process of two dimensional visual communication? Yes.

From: Susan Varo — May 25, 2012

I feel oil painting is part of our visual landscape and history and gives a graphic guideline to our very existence through images.

From: Shari Jones — May 25, 2012

Personally, I find that the computer sucks the life out of me. Now that I am retired, I have returned to fine art doing plein air and portrait. I cannot imagine sitting in front of my computer doing a landscape instead of being outside actually experiencing the beauty and inspiration of nature. I cannot imagine not being involved with a real person when painting a portrait. A lot of the new painters are in my age range. They have a different outlook on work than many younger people. We expect to take time to develop our skills (even though our time may be limited). We do not expect instant gratification, we except failures, we embrace the process. The computer can be a tool, a means to the end, but it is not a beginning. It is a great place for exposure of work. I just hope the standards don’t go down because one can “do it yourself” in an hour or two sitting in front of a monitor. I question the on-line competitions where paintings are only seen digitally, is the work as painted or is it “enhanced” electronically? I also see a lot of craft painting, match-the-sofa painting, and painting without depth or emotion. It will be interesting to see what the next couple of generations can do; if they will have the fortitude and passion to do some great work. Meanwhile I will continue to struggle and grow in my own work and wonder at the skill of the masters.

From: Doris Osbahr — May 25, 2012

Painting is not photography and it will always go through the brain of the artist before it reaches his hand. Therefore it will benefit from the artist’s inspiration, perception, experience and imagination. It is the artist’s intervention that makes a painting attractive or poor. Perhaps some day computers will be programmed to have these capabilities… but then, they will exhibit the perception, experience and imagination the programmers choose to incorporate.

From: Kaye Guerin Marks — May 25, 2012

What I have noticed also is the amateurization (if that is a word) of oil painting and a repetition of motifs ad nauseum. I can see immediately what master has been emulated….sometimes verbatim. So my great ennui with oil painting is just that…and maybe it’s just me….can we have something fresh and exciting please?

From: Ortrud K. Tyler — May 25, 2012

Those who want to paint are going to go on painting. I think the question really went into the direction of, will paintings stop selling. As you hinted, a lot of the people you see painting are interested in only does it sell, and hopefully does everything they do sell. They are not willing to edit out, do some stuff over or just accept that sometimes what you do is not that great. Also a huge percent of the buying public wants essentially something cheap, that doesn’t challenge the brain to much and is easy on the eye. I think that market will be taken over by computer generated products and other mechanically generated pictures. Hopefully, like most cycles, this will be one too and in the end painting as done for centuries will regain lost ground.

From: Claudio Ghirardo — May 25, 2012

I have heard time and time again how “painting is dead” then someone comes along, in the 70″s it was Julian Schnabel and Jean Michel Basquiat then Susan Rothenberg in the 80’s, and suddenly the critics are praising painting. In my opinion, as long as there are artists with imagination and buyers who marvel at how someone can create a work of art with skill and creativity, painting will always be around.

From: John Fitzsimmons — May 25, 2012

In regards to “the death of painting: ever notice that the death of painting is announced by non-painters?

From: Linda Blondheim — May 25, 2012

The key phrase in your letter is “easy to do, difficult to do well”. Painting, in all media will survive because we all get sucked in by its charm and we all think we can learn to be painters. Most of my students are retired or near retirement. Some hope to have a second career with painting while others just love the challenge. After 30+ years in my own career, I am constantly challenged by painting and if anything, often feel like a beginner. Painting is the fun drug of choice.

From: Linda Klenczar — May 25, 2012

What is painting. As a pastelist, is it pastel painting? What about colored pencil? Art fairs consider pastels, colored pencil and charcoal and graphite, drawing. A fine distinction. But in my art center the artists in those mediums want to join the painters guild. The oil, watercolor and acrylic artists say no way. What is a painting? Does it count if you trace a photo, or project a photo, or paint over a photo?

From: Fleta Monaghan — May 25, 2012

Since humans have been painting since the times of living in caves, it seems unlikely that small things such as computers will alter this activity that is in our genetic memory. We are like dogs that are born with instincts specific to their breed. Holding a paint brush is in our genetic material, we just have to do it. As Andy Warhol answered when asked if painting was dead, the answer is “NO”.

From: Adele Gordon — May 25, 2012

Painting is very much alive and kicking in South Africa at the moment. If any readers are interested let them Google to read about the controversy raging – and I mean raging – over the Brett Murray’s painting “the Spear of the Nation’. I think it supports your statement that painting will survive and thrive.

From: Scott Kahn — May 25, 2012

I have heard that “painting is dead” or “painting is dying” for several decades now. Obviously it is not. What troubles me is the general decline in quality because of the explosion of practitioners. Add to that the alternative techniques which undermine what art is, and you end up with an atmosphere of confusion, doubt, and standards. It’s not so much the death of painting, but the death of standards and a consensus about what art truly is.

From: Janet Carew — May 25, 2012

I believe in our society of ‘instant gratification’ this can pale eventually and there is nothing quite so good for the soul as ‘self expression’. Just as you can have too much chocolate – yes – there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so one can experience fatigue from getting the quick easy fix with other things. You don’t get the ‘buzz’ from self expression from having something given to you … you can only delight in self expression / achievement when you have done it yourself. So, I agree,… painting will live on.

From: Pat Sharp — May 25, 2012

And then there is painting from the spirit! I don’t do portraiture of anyone over 12, because I penetrate to the very soul and adults want to be flattered, not analyzed. My perception, comes from the unconscious. My best paintings from nature are in collaboration with spirit.

From: Aleta Pippin — May 25, 2012

Painting will continue because there is so much more to the act than simply painting. There is a feeling of challenge in the learning, a feeling of satisfaction in the accomplishment, a great deal of introspection and expression of feelings. There is the opportunity to create something beautiful, to be appreciated by the viewer; an opportunity to create something that evokes an emotion in the viewer. To suggest that painting will end is to suggest that making music will end. Do you believe that?

From: Judith Jewer — May 25, 2012

Computers will be the death of painting like cars are the death of walking and running… Cars and computers are fine tools to get somewhere quickly – but can never replace the joy and health benefits of the simple physical acts that define us as humans…

From: Rick Rotante — May 25, 2012

Oil painting isn’t dead…yet! What is dying are buyers. There are so many would-be painters trying to paint there is practically no one willing to buy paintings anymore. Or at the very least buyers want to buy it cheap. We have done this to ourselves. We have shot ourselves in the foot and keep doing it. My answer to Renate is Painting isn’t dead, quality painting is dying.

From: Benita R. VanWinkle — May 25, 2012

EVERYONE with a point and shoot is now a photographer – and the same goes for a paintbrush. Hurray for those who pursue art long enough to determine it isn’t as easy as it looks, and it is worth the years of training to get it right.

From: Sandy Bonney — May 25, 2012

As a portrait painter I agree with you 100% regarding quick fix versus long, hard work. I remember when desktop publishing first came out. Everyone was doing their own graphic design and it was pretty terrible. It was years before I saw more than a couple menus or ads without at least one misspelled word. Of course you can take shortcuts, like changing a photo to look like a painting. But something is always missing. The essence of the subject is gone. It is a sterile representation of the living being. With a hand-drawn portrait you can catch that gamin smile, that mischievous sparkle in the eye, the ‘perfect’ blend of light and shadow that running a photo through one of the many filters doesn’t accomplish. On the other hand, there are some that can use the tools of Photoshop type programs and create true works of art, wielding the mouse and tablet pen as we wield our brushes. But to do that, don’t you also have to be an artist?

From: Lillian Walsh — May 25, 2012

Painting is in a rebirth every day. Many people are encouraged to pick up a pencil or brush now more than ever. For some it is relaxing, for others, they need something to do. Painting can be a skill revived or it can be a new way for expression, rather than being a difficult exhibitionist. Art is in the eye of the beholder, not just the artist adding form and texture to a paper or canvas. The methods used are never-ending, hence the term NEW ART! Art is not dead, nor is it dying….. If anything, ART is alive and well — 2012 style.

From: Barbara Callow — May 25, 2012

I really believe that the only people would think that the profusion of artists would be the “death of painting” would be those that would be threatened by their own inadequacies.. Many striving painters make a great environment for a serious painter to improve. The lazy or indifferent would not be likely to succeed in the professional field right now, but for a happy would be painter, there will never be a better time for learning from more accomplished artists and immersing oneself in the world of art. I don’t believe that the profusion of painters would hurt an accomplished painter. The difference always shows in the work of someone who spends their life painting and someone who enjoys weekend painting, no matter how gifted. The time spent honing the various skills and mindset for painting full time, shows over a body of work, even if the beginner may have an inspired painting or two. As an artist only into 10 years of daily painting, I find the established artists in my area have a lot of time for helping me. The art community here is very compassionate and willingly mentoring.

From: Anon — May 25, 2012

Well played, Barbara Callow! Yes,yes,yes. It’s the “technicians” who are threatened by the competition of numbers. And by the way, it seems to me that many of the responses here imply that “realism” is the only valid purpose for painting. Long hours and many years do not always improve the result, once you have “learned” to do it only one way. Some of the “TV instructors”, for instance seem to be doing only one painting over and over, week after week. Some actors play only one role, as many characters. (It’s called “type casting”.) Grab your fears, and try something new. Maybe a different medium would improve your outlooks, and persuade some of you to allow for the growth and pleasure some of the less technical, less “educated” people are trying. Maybe the “poor painters” are having more fun than some of you. Is that really what’s getting to you? If there’s not room for all, maybe there should be no room left for anyone. If that’s the case, maybe painting should die. Remember the impressionists? They were doing it it all wrong. Now, look how many there are…

From: DM — May 25, 2012

Let me tell you what I find particularly annoying about many “professional” artists. It’s their unwillingness to give the slightest bit of encouragement or helpful hint to someone who wants to learn, or expand his or her own horizons. Ex: I recently decided to try my luck at some very large panels (6 ft x 10-15 ft). I decided it might be useful to ask some of the practicing muralists about the potential problems — or benefits — of moving into such an expanded size. Out of far more than a dozen, not one painter had even the courtesy to reply to my request for “any suggestions?” Finally, went to a local university, and asked a professor, who is also a very accomplished painter, and who often works on large panels. His response was quite simplistic, and more than a bit obvious. But at least it was courteous, and saved me some money on tuition expense. That response? “Bigger brushes — more paint.” But, the real lesson for me was the apparent lack of something in the hearts of the “professionals”. Their big hidden secret just might be “any sign painter can do them”. My response to them? “Get off the scaffold. I’m on my way!”

From: Tom MacLaughlin — May 26, 2012

Many of those announcing the death of painting are those who cannot or do not paint. They are like eunuchs in the harem–the see it done, they know more or less how it its done, but they themselves cannot do it, so they are bitter.

From: Jackie Knott — May 26, 2012

Painting is not dead – quality is. Whether you establish planned obsolescence in manufacturing electronics or appliances the earlier death of a product is desirable: the underlying causation is there was little quality in the product in the first place. Beyond that, the “newest thing” applies in art or electronics. “Art” today is produced cheaply and quickly for a mass consumer base. That will never be the market niche for quality work … if you paint for that market and price it accordingly, you will sell to it. But if you reach for a higher plane, strive deeper within your artistic soul for quality, your work will elevate itself. Some interested parties nod their head knowingly when I present my portrait work to them. Others express shock and get family photography portraits snapped in minutes at the local discount store. Sorry, not my market.

From: Phelps Conway — May 27, 2012

Painting is dead, y’all. Morte! Finis! So, you might as well send me all your old and extra gear, panels, tubes, and brushes. I’ll take them off your hands and save you the effort of recycling them.

From: Menno Travestre — May 27, 2012

If painting is dead, can books and music be far behind? Then blogs and rap? What’s the next big wave on the cultural horizon?

From: Connie Wicklund — May 27, 2012

It takes a lot of time to become “good” at what you are painting in any medium. My dad painted in oils since he was a child and still struggled as an adult to become a GOOD/GREAT at what he loved to do. “Go to your room” and that’s what I am doing. NEVER GIVE UP! My motto is to have FAITH / COURAGE and ENTHUSIASM in everything you do.

From: Ann Leonard — May 27, 2012

Mr. Reuter should be obliged to read the issues of Art of the West, a magazine devoted to western art, and his question will seem highly unsupported. Good oil paintings, particularly when the subject matter is of animals, western scenery, cowboys, or related subjects, will always maintain their value and have interested buyers from all over the world. Again, I wish to emphasize the importance of “subject matter,” a visual scene or object we can relate to. Thank you for asking for comments about his unfounded statements.

From: JR — May 27, 2012

I have lived in the Bay Area (Oakland,Berkeley Cal.area for 40 adult years now.And participated in the local art scene from Alameda to Fremont.And never have I seen the number of open studio tours and proliferation of art workshops and classes that are currently offered.Now whether this is because the economy has been so bad and people are trying anything to make a buck or there is truly a Renaissance occurring or not I do not know but the bigger art supply stores seem to be doing okay.And I for one am still at 68 constantly striving to learn and develop new techniques. Yours truly, J.R.

From: Tony Angell — May 27, 2012

Frankly, there’s the other side of the question that has to do with the art respondent/patron. Can they tell the difference between fine art and horse shit? When the celebration/recognition of an art piece is based on what it brings in the market place rather than it’s merit as art, the entire word art begins to lose meaning. Now it’s the multi million transaction that gets the headlines (The Scream sketch most recently) and the subject is at best second rate. As an artist who seeks expression in both two and three dimensional materials I marvel at the the level ignorance some of the public trots out in response to junk. Sculpture by machine and paintings by the numbers now decorate our public places devoid of any originality, design or conviction.

From: Harriet Campbell — May 27, 2012

One might as well ask if there will be a death to passion! Knoxville, Tennessee

From: Nikolay Semyonov — May 27, 2012

There were times even farmers could afford their own portraits in oil, painted by some emerging artists for a dish of soup and a bed. It’s obvious, such artists tended to work as slowly as possible. Such portraits were not intended for any other purposes except for being handed down to the next generation. No art for art sake here. Photography put a huge stop to this business. There are times we buy a painting of a couple of swans on a pond amid water lilies against a medieval castle or a meadow in dew at sunrise. I mean landscapes, real or imaginary good or bad. I am almost certain digital photography will put an end to this one fine day, which is not that far. Especially with the development of printing technologies and holography. Having said that, I can’t help quoting your words I fully support: “The art of painting will survive and thrive because it is easy to do and difficult to do well.” And “The problem lies in the quality of the art.” In my opinion, these are the basic of art survival, any art at all. There are masters and there are craftsmen, and the balance between them would hardly change. – My mommy gave me a box of acrylic paints and brushes for my birthday. Now I am an artist. – Really? But my dad gave me a professional camera on my birthday. Now I am a professional photographer. Art dies. Good art remains.

From: Mona Youssef — May 27, 2012

It took me lifetime to reach my style but will take me after life to perfect my style. Tradition/realism paintings will never die even though I’ve faced many harsh criticism from different ones for different reasons, while received other positive comments from professionals, I remained dedicated to my style I have chosen to adapt since childhood with no wavering. The result was that I just sold 11 original paintings to an art collector who is also a collector of Disney artist Carl Barks and Don Rosa. My paintings will be in his famous Villa where movies are filmed, he will write about my paintings in his luxurious magazine and they will end up in his museum. What else can I ask for after spending my lifetime investing on my art since childhood! This is one of his expressions: “Neben Carl Barks sowie Don Rosa verehre ich die ausgezeichnete Künstlerin Mona Youssef – ihre Gemälde sind fantastisch! Besides Carl Barks and Don Rosa I worship the brilliant paintress Mona Youssef – her paintings are fantastic!” Can anyone call himself /herself a fine artist, wait and see the result. By the way my “ Blue shadows” painting has been sold as well for $17,000.00 Do I smell Champaign!

From: M. K. Mann, Germany — May 27, 2012

As Lori Agostino says, “It’s the continuum of alchemy throughout the ages,” that keeps painting going. What a valuable resource are all these varying responses. Thank you. By far the best art forum on the Internet.

From: Peter Muzyka — May 28, 2012

I have been inspired by your writing for well over a year now and feel that the Painters Keys has helped me to grow as an artist and a person.

From: Michael Bingham — May 28, 2012

I am working on creating a web site that is intended to show the need for and importance of imagination. I would also appreciate your thoughts and ideas on how this site could become a useful resource for parents, educators, students, businesses or anyone who wants to make the world a better place through the power of creativity. I am looking for examples of good things people have done using imagination and creativity. Also, links to companies and organizations who appreciate and value innovation and would like to see our education system produce more problem solvers and innovative thinkers. I would like to know about services and products that are designed to promote creative thinking and strengthen our kids imaginations. I would like to showcase and celebrate people who are highly creative, so we can learn from them. Please send me contact info for the most creative people you have ever known. This topic has remained the focal point of my work and my life for many years. Over the past 4 years as a High school teacher, I have gained many valuable insights into how we can improve our education system so that it increases rather than destroys the precious gift we call imagination. The site will be: I hope you will take a minute to realize that the success of our future depends on our ability to solve problems and our ability to solve problems, depends on our ability to tap our imaginations. Please find a way to help me build this web site and develop ways to strengthen this valuable resource. I would also welcome any opportunities to speak to groups of people who are interested in this topic. Thanks so much for your time.

From: Gail Ingis Claus — May 28, 2012

Truth has been spoken in your letter Robert. It takes a lifetime of study to become an accomplished artist. Studying portraiture, the most difficult of subjects, is a critical study in order to have a true understanding of raising up a painting. In any work of art there are big shapes and small shapes and tone and value. A good painting is well drawn. Do you understand perspective? Color is a complete study in itself. All this is fascinating, fun and challenging. All mediums have their own way. Learning how to use your chosen medium takes the time worth doing. The art process is an adventure that deserves the time in study and experimentation. Each painting is a victory.

From: Edith Schroon — May 28, 2012

Those that claim the death of art, especially painting, due to technological advances fail to acknowledge the human factor. Where you create using an app,c omputer key board, paint brush, or pencil, etc., the human mind and hand are still guiding the creation. Tools of the trade may change but human creation goes on. Viva art and the creative spirit!.

From: Fawa Conradie — May 28, 2012

Painting will never die. Generations of screenagers will come and go; they will master the computer programmes and make stunning creations. They will have 15 seconds of fame on fb or Twitter or some cyberblog, but they will forever hover in that huge, grey space reserved for “Almosts”. To paint is not just a hand-eye technique; it is a process. This process starts with some acknowledgement of “talent” in your youth, some of your own sense of achievement, years of persistence and times of agony. But once you call yourself a painter, you have risen out of the Land of Almost and transcended onto a higher, better cloud. Give a random class of students (any subject) a pencil and a piece of paper. Ask them to draw a tree. Out of a class of forty, only one or two drawings will leap out of the page at you. They will tug at your trousers and you will recognize them like your children. You will face this thing that painters have that millions of computer boffins will never have. Next time someone baffles you with bullshit about pixel-painting, give them a piece of charcoal and some paper and ask them to draw a tree. Then you and everyone present will differentiate between “Cool!” and “Wow!” I owned an digital animation and special effects company and sourced my artists from a young age by simply looking at their drawings. Rough sketches, especially. It did not matter to me if they were computer literate; it is a medium that anybody can master. But to be able to DRAW: therein lies art. Stellenbosch, South Africa

From: Liz Schamehorn — May 29, 2012
From: misspeggyartist — May 29, 2012

While I don’t carry my easel & paints with me, I make it a point to go for a run whenever I visit a new place . . . it allows me to stop and explore at every whim. I do usually take a camera for these tours, allowing some reference when I do return to my easel. Even the old-visited-before places have new surprises.

From: Inez Hudson — May 29, 2012

Our Arts Center held a week long workshop by classical realism master, Frank Covino. We only had 8 take the course. When we held a lecture in advance, with film and speakers, we had 2 attend. They were clearly fascinated and in awe. However, when we saw how many notes they were taking, we ended the film, as it was just meant to be a “look” into the process. Neither of them took the workshop, just lots of notes. Those who were in the workshop will be taking it again, as they immediately could see how much they didn’t know about painting. One of the individuals was a retired art teacher. She said she learned more during the workshop than she learned in all of her art classes in college! What a shame. Our area is a resort, seasonal one. The interest in taking workshops is, as I see it, for hobby. As a studio and plein air oil painter, I put a lot of time and soul into my pieces. I could never be a “daily painter” as seems to be a big trend. I realize that perhaps that process is simply meant to perhaps get the artist “warmed up” for serious painting, but how many of these daily paintings are good art? I’m simply curious and don’t mean to be critical of those who participate. I merely know that I’m unable to do it.

From: Patty Oates — May 29, 2012

Carl Purcell said it all better than I can. My thoughts exactly. PattyO.

From: Jan Bennicoff — May 29, 2012

I paint because … I’m not a nice person if I do not. When I was in art school our watercolor teacher made us attend a lecture ” Why Painting is dead”. This was in the 1980’s. It seems to me every so often someone crops up who mentions this. I figure we should all just roll our eyes ( my teenagers did this) and go back to our painting.

From: Patrick Lauziere — Jun 05, 2012

I strongly believe that painting is an art that will remain. Not for the same reasons as others though. Painting is the integration of a person’s experience, skills, thoughts, combined with and limited by available resources, including time. As such, the resulting object can never authentically be reproduced, which makes it unique. Wether it is judged by peers afterwards to be of value or not, and regardless of the efforts the painter has put in, it remains one of the strongest forms of communication available to humans. It is a riddle without a definite answer, and to me its beauty lies in all the thoughts it has the power to generate in each viewer’s mind. Painting is like writing one page of history straight from your brainand coded as such that it will remain to be discovered and interpreted by future generations.

     Featured Workshop: Donald Jurney
052912_robert-genn Donald Jurney workshops On 22-29 September 2012, Donald Jurney will be holding a Plein Air workshop in the Scottish Highlands.   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Parkview 3

mixed media painting, 24 x 24 inches by Carol Nelson, CO, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Mary Susan Vaughn of Weddington, NC, USA, who wrote, “I believe the ones who are spreading hogwash about the death of painting are those — and those alone — who have had a death of their own passion.” And also Rob Corsetti of Farmington, Utah, USA, who wrote, “There is nothing like slapping down real paint. It just feels good; mixing colors, happy accidents and having a final piece, and original work of art you can touch and hold and feel.” And also >Deborah Elmquist of Port Orange, Florida, USA, who wrote, “In this culture of every kid gets a trophy mentality, anyone painting is told their work is good.”    

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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