Picturemaking is an old artist's phrase used by some of the elderly painters I knew when I was younger.It is a way of looking at the artists goals that is very different from the reigning ideas common to most of today's art world.
Picturemaking means that the artist is deliberately making art to be enjoyed by an owner. The artist is painting pictures. The artist is making exalted possessions intended to be lived with and savored by their owners for a lifetime, if not for generations. The object itself, and what it looks like, is whats important. Generally picturemakers intend to make valuable objects.
I was very strongly effected when I first learned the term and I think of myself as a picturemaker.In fact if you ask me what I do for a living I will answer "I paint pictures" I like the way that both explains exactly how I spend my time, and implies a certain attitude about what kind of art I make. Besides, I always dislike calling myself an "artist" that sounds so pretentious and there are too many wankers calling themselves that. It is certainly not the only way to think about what you are making, but it is a good way, and one that generations of of artists before us routinely espoused. It is an idea that is part of our historic artistic culture.Because I am little interested in contemporary painting and very interested in the work of the generations before they changed the water, I pay a lot of attention to how the painters of our culture historically thought about what they did. How much further before the early 20th century this idea goes it would be an interesting research project for someone who didn't have to paint for a living. Here are some things that a picturemaker would NOT intend his art to be.
- An in your face, a graphic and brutal depiction rodent sexuality
- A political message depicting the hideous plight of the daytime television audience or anyone who simply needs more government programs.
- A philosophical statement by the artist. Usually those begin with the artist saying "My work explores the..................."
- Enormous works made for consumption for museums. These are often made to be shocking or challenging to those who disagree with the often obscure opinion of the artists and not something many people would want in their home. This is art as entertainment. You go to the museum and this painting is a display item in a PT Barnum freak show.
- Copies of literal nature, whether made with a photograph or mindless perseverance.
- Work that is schlocky or cheaply sentimental, because in the long run those aren't easy to live with for a lifetime either. Their appeal is quickly exhausted or the owners taste outgrows them. Besides, I don't want to make dumb pictures.
- Works that base their charm on a clever or wry twist of the viewers expectation, because they become quickly like clever one liners that are funny the first few times, but pale if you hear them every day, the fun evaporates, unless there is so much more there that can always overpower the immediacy of the opening gimmick
- Works made of dirt, feathers, animal feces or the discarded genitals of the transgendered, because one of the objects of picturemaking is the intention of creating something valuable and these fleeting materials are non archival and generally not viewed as precious.
- Works made to rely on their subjects for their value and appeal, such as ducks, boats etc, rather than their appearance, and quality of their worksmanship.
- Works made whose primary goal is the expression of the artists own psyche that would be too personal to appeal to many other people on their living room wall for the rest of their lives.
- Work that is timely or so current that its appeal will be lost rapidly as interest in that particular subject idea or gimmick fades to be replaced by a new "latest thing". That is fashion not art.