I was having a pleasant conversation with a couple of clients at a small local show when a young couple approached and said hello. The clients excused themselves and moved on browsing my display while the youthful pair took their place and began chatting me up. I knew the young lady from one of my recent workshops. She had since enrolled in the Fine Arts program at a small university and was anxious to introduce me to her boyfriend, who’d been in the same program for… well… several years. He shook my hand with what I can only describe as disinterest and avoided eye contact with me. We all made small talk for a bit and I was ready to move on to some potential new clients who had just entered the gallery when he finally looked me in the eye and offered this little gem…
“Realism is so easy. It’s really not much of a challenge. That’s why I work in abstract.”
Huh wha? Did he really just say that? Okay, I’ve dealt with know-it-alls before. He’s just testing me, so I tried to remain diplomatic.
“It’s nice that realism comes so easily for you. That doesn’t happen to be the case for me, but it’s not rocket science either. The challenge is taking realism and making it fine art. Not many seem to be able to make that connection. Since I’m working with recognizable subjects, the challenge then becomes making the painting both believable and pleasing to the eye.”
Which is pretty much my artistic philosophy in a nutshell.
“Only someone with an advanced knowledge of art and the complexities of abstraction can do what I do.”
Now he was pushing his luck.
“I’m sure your art is very nice.”
Yes, that was probably a little condescending, but I was really trying to end this conversation.
“I’m sure you don’t understand the complexities of true fine art.”
Okay, now he was just being a little prick.
“So you’re saying it takes a degree to fine art to bullshit people? Maybe it just takes a degree in bullshit. I think I understand that just fine. Enjoy your career asking people if they’d like fries with that.”