I recently posted about an artist, Larry Cohen, a California landscape and cityscape painter painting large plein air vistas of LA and San Francisco in a painterly realist style. He has shown in some major galleries on the west and east coast. He talked to me on the phone and gave helpful background information about such things as his study with Paul Wonner and the influence of Monet’s early plein air landscape on his work. The article was positive and showed many examples and details of his work.
However, I just deleted the article and comments in response to the artist’s request to take it down. The artist (and his wife) appearently didn’t understand that comments could sometimes be negative as well as positive. The first few comments had some negative criticism in regard to his use of color. I encouraged further open discussion and critiquing in the comments and included some criticism of my own.
Many times I’m not able to actually view the work in real life so I primarily provide background information and quote where I can from the artist or other sources. I may give a positive response to the work but rarely would I write a negative review in the actual post unless I saw the work in person. Most of the artists I write about are serious, professional artists whose work have national reach and interest. Of course I like some work better than others but almost all the artists I post about I respect and admire on some level. However, this is not a blog to promote the artists work or career. It a means to let other painters (and anyone else) see and discuss work they might otherwise not get an opportunity to. The comments are a place where actual criticism can occur, everyone should understand here that comments are based on the imagery posted and not from real life. Also, people should understand that the comments are just opinions.
I decided to remove the post. I will try to figure out a way to better handle the issue of people critiquing professional artists in the comments and to make sure future artists are aware that this is a public “forum” and people are encouraged to speak their minds so we can all learn from the input from the many terrific painters who visit this blog.
Of course, being public also means that some people might say something wacko, mean or even slanderous. That’s where I will have to step in more. One person suggested if there was a questionable negative comment posted that I first send it to the artist to give them a chance to respond. That might work, depending on the artist, but I can see how that might get complicated quickly. (I certainly don’t want to stand in the middle between a famous but touchy artist and some young art student saying something like “this is just couch painting for rich old ladies”!)
However, most people who comment here are very talented professional painters who understand how difficult making a living as a painter can be and the importance of relationships and reputation in the art world. People who comment here have been almost always respectful and fair but find ways to speak their mind about the work. I want this to continue, to give a means for like minded painters to talk to each other about all the various issues central to their art. I am thinking that eventually, in the coming months, I will incorporate a true forum where discussion is far more effective and people can initiate posts on their own.