by Arnie Fenner

Greg’s post about talent—which he and I have discussed and debated for some years now—got me thinking a little bit about, well, all kinds of stuff. The nature of being an artist. The struggle an artist faces to not only achieve skills but to find an original voice. Exploring what it takes to communicate with an audience; to create works that resonate, that last. Technical skills can be taught, but what about empathy? Can you teach artists to “see” and then be able to translate what’s seen into a work that others can identify with and remember? Questions, questions, and more questions—which is precisely what an exchange of ideas should prompt. I don’t know if there are ever any absolute answers when we talk about art—but it’s always fun to look for them.

I’ve also been thinking about the late Andrew Wyeth [1917-2009] for some reason…and who better to talk about the nature of art and artists than he? So… I’ll share some of my favorite Wyeth quotes.

“To be interested solely in technique would be a very superficial thing to me.”

“I’m a secretive bastard. I would never let anybody watch me painting…it would be like somebody watching you have sex—painting is that personal to me.”

“Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing—then a work of art may happen.”

“I can’t work completely out of my imagination—I must put my foot in a bit of truth—and then I can fly free.”

“One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.”

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”

“I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.”