Artist statement – (part 5, project 4, ex 4)

Image from course materials, Studio Practice.

I was delighted to see some down-to-earth advice about this from Artquest, and some wonderful examples from The Art League:

Good statements:

  • keep it short
  • grab the reader’s interest with the first sentence
  • introduce the author’s personality and enthusiasm
  • give a hint about the why of the artwork
  • use the first person (I, me, mine — this is not a strict rule, but it does seem to help the author write a more straightforward, readable statement)

What they don’t do:

  • summarize the resume found elsewhere on the website
  • give a physical description of artwork photographed elsewhere on the website
  • sound generic
  • use “art speak”

Artquest, accessed 14th August 2021

There’s nothing here that sounds remotely like the art-speak so many of us find objectionable and which I criticised in an earlier essay (Conboy-Hill, 2021). Plain English (or your own equivalent), no fancy footwork or soaring verbals, seemingly unmoored from the real world.

So here goes, one draft, putative, exploratory, toe-in-the-water artist statement:

The first time somebody looked at one of my paintings and said, ‘That’s beautiful! and she had that look I get on my face when I see a kitten, I thought, maybe I am an artist after all.

I work in acrylics because they’re really forgiving; you can dilute them, mix them with sand, lay them on with a trowel, scrape bits off to get at layers you left underneath. And they dry quickly which is handy when you’re a bit of a sprint painter.

I’ll paint almost anything, but I follow an idea and let it develop on its own rather than having the finished thing in mind. It’s rarely abstract because I’m a storyteller, I want the work to say something and to do that inclusively. I’ll add a bit of tech if that will help – a QR to a video maybe, or to the web page where there’s a blow-by-blow account of how it was made. It’s all about the viewer, in the end.

What do we think, then? 168 words – reckon I can pitch that in an elevator as long as it’s not one of those glass boxes that go up the outside of the building. Only thing I’d be pitching in that would be my lunch.

Conboy-Hill, S. 2021. Group think in art – is this a fundamental problem for the critique? OCA Learning Log for Studio Practice. [online] Available at Downloadable as a pdf.

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