Creativity and concept development in the visual arts has become even more daunting than it has ever been before.  Innovations in digital photography have raised the bar significantly and have made photography one of the major players in the visual arts.  While mechanical copying of digital photographs has become commonplace among Sunday painters, professional artists, especially figurative artists, need to figure out what exactly their role is going to be going forward.  While many painters of this genre seem to be stuck in a holding pattern somewhere in the mid-eighteen hundreds, many veteran figurative artists are looking to develop something new in their work. What professional figurative artists are all aware of is that there are great artists since Bouguereau, and most of them are photographers.

If all we are marvelling at is the trick of the brush, we need to ask ourselves if it is enough? Painting something that looks like a photograph is so commonplace, so deja vu, so amateur that anyone serious about their art needs to look at the direction their art is taking.  Why “paint” a photograph when the photograph already exists as art? There needs to be more content in painting.  There needs to be something that will connect the viewer with the work of art.

I have been aware of these and other issues facing figurative art for some time now. While the development of skill and manual ability is essential for the survival of “good art,” there also needs to be a concerted effort made to encourage innovation in ideas and concepts.

As visual artists, we need to find stories, tell stories, impart ideas and participate in the dialogues all around us.  Painting has to transform itself once again.

Painting is not dead.

Featured Artwork: Luminous Nude. Mixed media on paper. 22 x 30 inches © Stewart Fletcher

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