California Art Club Winter Symposium Day Two

I want to finish covering the Symposium while the fantastic information I got yesterday is still fresh in my mind. Mongolia Monday will return next week.

Day Two started with an amazing talk on “Creativity and Authenticity” by painter Joseph Paquet, who studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and was mentored by artist John P. Osborne. Although he considers Osborne as his greatest influence, he also cited George Inness, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, George Bellows and Russian painter Isaac Levitan as inspirations.

He then did a demo painting “out of his head” with no reference, observing in answer to a question that “When you paint out of your head, you find out what you don’t know. It’s staring you right in the face.”

I spent a good part of his 90 minute talk frantically taking notes since his topic is an extremely important one…the necessity of finding our own voice as artists. As he pointed out, there is a lot of derivative work out there today, partly due to an almost unprecedented availability of ateliers and teachers for people to study with.

Too many artists think that their goal is to find out how the teacher does the work, believing if they do the same things that that is what will make them successful. In reality, it only makes them a second-rate version of their teacher.

Joseph also spoke about what he sees in the art world today, saying that there has been a shift from what he calls “heart” to ideas and that too many artists aren’t willing to risk expressing what they love, but instead only try to be clever, which is ultimately unsatisfying. He gave the example of Jeff Koons, one of the most financially successful artists in history, whose work is clever, but really nothing more, and who, for himself, collects artists like Bouguereau.

If you have an opportunity to go hear Joseph Paquet speak, I highly recommend that you do so. If you live in the St. Paul, Minnesota area, you can take his classes. He also teaches workshops at various locations around the country.

Joseph made many extremely pithy comments and I would like to share my favorites with you:

-Everyone has a story.

-Don’t drink your own kool-aid.

-Craft is the language of what we do.

-The true master is the perpetual student. (Preceded this by saying that if someone tells you they are a master, they aren’t.)

-Go up against what you don’t know how to do

-Great art is intimate

-The American idea that making money=success is a load of shit. (applause)

-The hardest thing is to say something profound in common language.

-Surround yourself with people who are truthful.

-If you don’t love the damn apple, don’t paint the apple (possibly the most important thing he said all day.)

-Stay sensitive.

-Talking about art students: Student: Teach me how to paint a tree. Joseph: Which tree? They’re all different. (applause)

-The world doesn’t need 300 Richard Schmids.

– There is a crappy period between when you find your skills and when you find your voice. (Boy, did that one resonate with me personally since that period took me almost ten years.)

– Originality and authenticity is a choice.

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