THE MOOD FACTOR
One of the aspects of art appreciation that is overlooked, is the ‘mood’ aspect.
What ? – Moody landscapes do you mean?
No. I’m referring to the emotional state of artist and viewers alike.
It is difficult nay, perhaps for some folks, we could say, almost impossible to trace the origins or cause of mood swings.
We enthusiastically buy a piece of art. “Just love it!” Is the exclaimed conclusion when the money has been paid and it hangs on the living room wall.
But a year later they have a bad day and go ‘off-it’ completely, and set about to find a way of ridding themselves of the piece.
What do you mean that never happens?
I remember sadly, that a friend of mine bought a painting I created, entitled (I think?) ‘Couple’. It was a semi-abstract of two figures hand in hand.
She bought it for her fiancee, as an engagement present, owned by both as they entered marriage.
Unfortunately she had been duped and the partner wasn’t what he presented himself to be and the marriage ended.
She could no longer appreciate the painting and gave it away. A rather extreme example of how our subjective experiences can turn our emotional appreciation away from a formerly appreciated object.
I’m only too willing to concede also, however, that some pieces of art stay in favour throughout the life of the person who possesses it/them. Their daily experiences – good or bad – high or low – do not affect their intellectual and emotional attachment to the work.
I guess that is the ideal scenario, I’m just not convinced it is always the case.
Everyone likes a change. That’s why we RE-decorate our rooms.
As a painter I have moments of joy over what I have produced but I must confess it is sometimes short lived.
Fortunately there are works I do not want to part with. But not many.
As Christians we are not meant to live by our ‘moods’, as in – only setting ourselves to please God, when we ‘feel’ like it. But to suggest we are not all subjectively motivated some of the time, would be unrealistic.
However, if The Lord Jesus had acted only on ‘nice or good feelings’, He would never have gone to the cross.
That’s where the will of God ‘kicks in’ for the Christian. Doing things because they are right, not because we feel right.
I certainly do not claim mastery in this sphere – only that The Master (Jesus), provides the help I need.
However in these considerations, and as part of this discussion is about art, we must also allow for the fluctuation of ambiguous artistic feeling.
When an artist places his next mark on the paper, guided by an inner knowing and decision making mechanism, this can be referred to as ‘intuition’.
Put simply – an example would be – illustrated by the utterance: ‘I feel it needs something red down here…’
What do you mean ‘I feel it needs…?’
Explain that one…
There is no doubt we are all subject to whimsical feelings when it comes to taste. We get tired of always looking at or listening to the same thing. It is just part of human nature.
So I realise when it comes to my own art that those who have purchased or been gifted with my paintings may get tired of them.
The artist shouldn’t get too offended by this.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is self-control.
Therefore that effects all our decision making.
In that – we are to know ourselves, and ‘collate’ our thoughts in the Presence of God.
This leads to God’s Peace being arbitrator between what is acceptable and unacceptable (Colossians 3/15).
No Christian gets this correct all of the time, but when we don’t – we run back to God for His understanding forgiveness – He understands that we are sheep that too easily go astray.
So by all means enjoy being a human being – allowed to have likes and dislikes, our own ‘taste’ buds – our individual emotional responses to the sight of the eyes.
But art dealer ‘Joe Bloggs’ having an off-day (or mood swing) and as a result rejecting your art – should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Self-control wins the day as something to aspire to. An emotional roller-coaster life, and – the car gets so out of control it heads for a crash.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Working Guitar by Ken Riddles
Did they get Dillinger?
The story behind this painting:
I held an exhibition when I finished with my day to day job as a typesetter.
The exhibition sold well.
Amongst my guests on the opening night was my elder brother.
There was eight years between us.
He suffered from a heart condition and passed in 2015.
We used to meet up once a month for lunch, and these were enjoyable times, with banter about whose turn it was to pay etc.
When we were young, he was always kind to his little brother, especially at Christmas, when I waited with anticipation to see what present he had bought me. He never disappointed (e.g. when I was 8 y.o. – he was 16).
I had two ‘not for sale’ drawings in the show. And he liked these because they were depictions of the street of our childhood upbringing.
As I would have explained – not topographical depictions. A drawing of a memory, not a drawing from memory. (Some of you might ‘get’ the difference).
But I wouldn’t let these go. So his eyes lit upon the painting above, and just before someone else wanted to buy it, he was able to stake his claim and it ended up on the living room wall of his home.
He too, like me, was ‘weaned’ on the old black and white gangster movies seen on TV.
He had three of my paintings in his home and joked about how when I was gone – they would be worth so much more. With reference to the old adage about an artist not being worth much until he was dead.
These paintings have been inherited by his son and daughter.
Be great to have my brother back – I would paint him as many ‘Dillingers’ as he wished (RIP).
Any great ambition I had to sell my paintings, and perhaps earn a living from doing so, got lost along the way somewhere over the years.
The ambition wasn’t big enough in the first place, to drive me to do all that was necessary to achieve such a goal.
The bible talks about seeking first the kingdom of God. And as far as I was concerned there was no other option, than to gladly do so. So spiritual ministry priorities were put first.
Consequently an 8 to 5 job in a newspaper office took the place of these ambitions as the responsibility of raising a family also came first.
So to sell a painting now is the result of some kind of connection with other human beings.
Whereby they see some of my work and would like to have it.
I do not spread the work around as e.g. in galleries etc. like I used to do. So I’m pretty much, an unknown – sliding into ‘oblivion’, in the background somewhere.
If someone through this blog wanted to buy a piece of work, this would entail individual email communications and financial arrangements. And gladly the forming of some kind of relationship.
I have in other words no selling mechanism of pay pal and all the rest of it, necessary, if you are running a business.
Sometimes my mind wanders to Van Gogh – a man who was on a spiritual quest and through the rocky road of life with its hurts and rejections – eventually found solace in his art.
As far as I can discern he lost his way spiritually, because in biblical language he sought God by works and not by faith.
It isn’t my intention to elaborate on such a statement in this post. I realise it is more complicated than my thesis might suggest.
But I do see in his life and can understand, why painting became his passion and means of self-absorption, and quest for achievement.
Even in his art he did not find the acceptance and praise he justly deserved.
I see life in that way, and am so thankful that I have found in Christ what I was looking for.
In the old hymn Be Thou My Vision we read these words:
Riches I need not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance through all of my days
Thou and Thou only though first in my heart
That succinctly sums up how the loss of ambition doesn’t matter, when it is replaced by the Riches of Christ. It is Christ who satisfies, not only in this world but in the one to come.
There is a place for doing things well, for creativity, and for enjoying the communication of life through the arts.
A place for someone to have goals and resolutely set out to achieve them (provided others do not get trampled-on along the way.)
But there is a fine line between seeking man’s empty praise and appreciating the love that others give, that makes us feel worthwhile and satisfied that we have something to give, through our expressed talent.
Life poses the question: ‘Are you ultimately empty?’
Perhaps – but there is a spiritual vacuum inside each one of us. That can only be filled through a relationship with Christ.
Realised ambitions will not take this vacuum away.