No Masterpiece: A Writer Wednesday Post

June 13th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Uncategorized

Fuchsia Vessel iPad art & all text (c) 2012 Irene O'Garden

Note: For fans of my play Women On Fire, I am happy to say that my story “Off The Grid” will appear in July in the respected online journal Green Hills Literary Lantern. The narrator of this story would fit right into Women On Fire.  I’ll post the link as soon as it’s live.

To listen to the post, please click here NO MASTERPIECE


Had the privilege of seeing a David Hockney exhibit earlier this year.  I was eager to see his work, because when I read last year that Hockney was creating art on the iPad, it cinched my decision to buy one. (Above, a bit of my own playful iPad exploration.)

It was deeply nourishing to see an artist creating so exuberantly at 70—though it’s silly to say, since I’ll be there myself in ten short ones and I intend to do same.

Gallery after gallery,  Hockney’s bright, affirmative spirit emerged in dashing forms: trees, leaves, flowers, hillsides– a feast of shape and color. Giant paintings made of six or nine or thirty-two joined canvases.  Big exclamations.

In one densely hung room, among dozens of watercolor sketches and corresponding oils, my eye singled out a small painting  On closer examination, I was surprised to discover it was not a particularly strong composition. No outstandingly deft use of color. A middling painting. Nice enough, but not breathtaking. No masterpiece.

Hockney has sustained some criticism for the varying quality of his work. But as I looked and questioned, I realized that what drew me to the painting was an awaiting insight: creating a masterpiece was not Hockney’s intention here. He was responding to what he felt about what he saw. Seeing such a quantity of his art, such a multitude of his responses made that clear to me.

We as artists, as humans, are not called on to create masterpieces. We are called on to respond and to record our responses as honestly, thoroughly and exuberantly as we can. Whatever form our responses take, each time we do this, we get better at  it.

To make a masterpiece,  we must first be a master anyway. If we do ”master” an art, it is because we return to it again and again, asking more of it and of ourselves, in service of what we are trying to express, not of what we are trying to become, or how we are hoping to be regarded.

We can all become masters of expressing ourselves.

What absorbs you again and again? What would you say you have mastered? For me, it’s spontaneity.


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