A painter’s consumerism…

July 25, 2007

Sometimes when I see other painter’s studios I frequently see the following picture:

tables and desks full of tubes, bottles, glasses, palettes and brushes, tables full of smeared paint, tubes and paint bottles open, half empty, smeared, partially dried out – the caps lost somewhere in a corner, brushes full of paint, dirty, unusuable, floor full of papers and pieces of dirty cloth, walls covered with canvases in total disorder, partially half finished, pieces of cloth that are full of paint, nothing clean, in between books and other stuff that does not belong to the work, all kinds of objects which just add to the picture of total chaos and mess.

Is this really necessary?

Is this a place where you really can create work?

Is this a place where you can show your dealer that you are serious about your work?

Is this a place where you can invite your customer to tell him/her about your ideas and the meaning of your work?

Would you go into a restaurant for a meal if you knew that the kitchen just looks the same way as your studio or would you stay overnight in a hotel where the remnants of your predecessor are still visible?

I would not.

Of course I know that people have different habits – especially artists. But please tell me is this really how you should or can work?

I know there are lots of people who have difficulties to organize themselves, whose cupboards look ground zero, who consider cleaning the house is against their values and who even consider taking a daily shower and fresh underwear is something that works against their character. Honestly – do you really feel well degrading yourself all the time? Yes – degrading!

I know that many people (and artists themselves) make the statement that chaos and disorder is part and parcel of being an artist – but that is not true! It only helps to deepen the prejudice that an artist – especially painters – are sluts, cannot be relied on, never keep appointments etc. etc.

Another prejudice says that artists are sensitive, have a sense for nature and environment but how does this fit into that behaviour towards your materials, tools and other resources in the above scenario?

Even if you could afford buying new paints and brushes each week, why would you waste all these materials only because you are too lazy to close your bottles and tubes, wash your brushes so that they can be used for a long time, re-use canvases which are never finished? All this belongs to the same awareness and sensitivity you as artist claim for yourself.

It makes me really angry when I see artists on tv “working” with such a modus operandi as above, instead of presenting a role model as it should be and showing real sensitivity towards their environment they only show another version of consumerism: there is plenty of material to be used – who cares about any additional trash for Mother Nature to digest – hey? All those half empty but dried out tubes and bottles with toxic paints have to go somewhere – don’t they? Just buy and consume, buy and consume, buy….

True sensivity starts small in your direct environment – in your studio!


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