Just finished up a blog post for fineartamerica.com on what makes good art and I thought I’d put it here for any who don’t make it over there.
Here it goes!:
I’m going to take a minute and look over what makes a great painting as opposed to a good painting. The same could apply to photographs or a lot of art forms for that matter.
One of the key ingredients that a lot of artists miss is the emotional connection to people. Let’s face it, there are many great technical skills out there. Personally, I’ve done my share of landscapes, flowers, etc. and those things make great studies, but when you make the emotional attachment to the viewer, you’re connecting at a whole different level.
It’s not to say that landscapes and pots of flowers can’t evoke an emotion of some sort, but the majority of artists don’t do that.
Another piece of ‘what makes great art’ is art that tells a story rather than art that’s a snapshot in time. When the viewer can imagine the events that took place before and after the depicted piece you create an attachment to the viewer.
It’s art as a verb rather than a noun. It’s art that spans time rather than a split second in time.
A couple of examples come to mind.
Thomas Kinkade was known for his treatment of light in the paintings that he did. What that treatment of light did, however was create an emotion about the subjects that he painted. Rather than the viewer seeing a beautiful cottage in the woods they were left with a mysterious feeling about was was going on in that candle lit cottage or sunlit path.
Another example would be Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World”. While Andrew could have simply painted a nice painting of a familiar house on a hill, adding Christina to the painting gave it so much more depth and turned it into, as Wikipedia describes, “one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina%27s_World) It’s a remarkable painting that captures more than a specific moment in time.
Of course the technical skills are important but the story that we can get across to the viewer and the emotion bring our art to a whole new level and make it memorable.