The Off Switch - Perspectives No. 239

The Off Switch

Perspectives No. 239

Painting by Renee Magritte used under fair use
Clairvoyance (Self Portrait)     1936     Renee Magritte (fair use)*

   It is interesting to think about the generations younger than ours who will never have known life without the internet. We could blissfully work away in relative isolation, honing our craft and vision. Our connections with the larger world we could parse a bit at a time, visiting a gallery or museum as the need arose and sharing our work among a small circle of artist friends. Now, the interconnectedness the internet offers us is incalculable. Every day we are able to look at paintings - both historical work, museum collections and contemporary work by artists from all over the world. And, we can communicate with artists instantly anywhere, anytime, and they with us - without leaving our studios. It is amazing to see the skill, vision and diversity of artwork. Our easy access to so much art can be addicting. It can also inspire us and encourage us to take our work to higher levels.

   It can also be daunting. As we work to find our unique style and to express our particular individual vision, the internet often reveals that perhaps we are not so unique. It can easily (0.33 seconds) show us countless works of wonderful art - sometimes inspiring - sometimes deflating, depending on the mood we bring to it.

   Before internet (B.I.) we curated what we referenced to inspire us in our work, largely through books and a few magazines. After internet (A.I.) the process of curating our inspiration has become a much larger job, simply because our access to everything has grown to include almost the entire world of art, past and present. It is easy to become overwhelmed with information and images (1,130,000 for a "plein air paintings" search, for example).

   As with all new revolutionary tools, it takes awhile to understand how best to use it and when. Now that the internet has become an indispensable tool, and because we can't imagine a world without it, we're working to define how best to use it and not use it in ways that allow us to grow in our work. Here are some of the ways we are doing this:

   First - because our vision is never fresher or truer than when we first arise in the morning, we do not pick up the internet tool - we paint. This helps us stay focused on our own work and ideas.

   Second - we see all artists as part of the family and try to eliminate that competitive disposition that can separate us. We are all working to create, and by doing this noble work, we are slowly changing the world for the better. This shift in attitude allows us to see the beauty in another's vision without comparing it (better or worse) to our own.

   Third - We turn the computer off.

   Fourth - We return to books for serious reference. We find that the slow pace of turning the pages stimulates greater contemplation and appreciation. Images printed in high resolution on paper can be friendlier (and easier on the eyes).

   Speaking of art reference books, we wondered what are the favorite go-to sources of inspiration of some of the top artists we have interviewed for The Artist’s Road. Don’t miss next month’s article, Artists on Artists' Books, in which we share with you their favorites. No art library should be without these!

* (This artwork may be protected by copyright. It is posted on the site in accordance with fair use principles.)





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