Alright so maybe I am overthinking things lately, and maybe not...but I recently have been coming back to the question of "Why? why paint?".
Before I had always been satisfied with my answer of "to make a pretty picture", that is, I always was interested in the aesthetic side of things, the technical (and I still am greatly interested in this). There was no such thing as emotion in artwork, since it was all composed of patches of light and colour (emotion itself cannot exist within a pigment), so painting is just that, making blobs of paint or pixels. End of story. All I was interested in was the technique, studying light and anatomy and so forth.
Now I am questioning this, it seems to me like a very closeminded view. I remember Andrew Wyeth said "to be interested solely in technique would be very superficial to me", and I never got that until recently. I am beginning to see that brushwork and technical skill are not ends but rather means to ends. Art is about conveying an emotion or expression or idea...it is a mere vehicle. Emotion in art is very real, though not always a tangible thing that can be identified clearly (sometime certain things like soft edges will convey certain moods, and other times no technical thing can be identified as setting that emotion). And it is more important than technical things. Why is it that so often a perfectly executed painting is less interesting or feels dead, and another painting lacking technical skills (or at least not at a full mastery of everything there such as anatomy or something) will be more interesting and have a strong impact, despite its perfections? So this brings me to my question--what am I trying to say or get across? And I cannot answer this. I have nothing to say. So why speak? Why paint?
Maybe I am misunderstanding all of this too, I don't know really. Even in those rare artists who do project pure emotion through their artwork (there are not many who I feel this from, Andrew Wyeth and Jeff Jones are two examples, though I strain to think of more off the top of my head), how much of that can be understood beyond just a feeling of raw emotion? How much of it is intentional? Is there a specific thing they are trying to convey, or is it incidental, and they are just making pictures? How do I get this in my work? What should I be trying to say? What is all of this anyways (Harold Speed talks of "dither" in The Practice and Science of Drawing, though it is hard to define and discuss given how elusive it is and how subtle and changing)? Does illustration need to say anything anyways, or is this thought process limited to fine art? Is there such thing as an "artist" vs an "Artist", if so, what separates them? Is it enough to be just satisfied with making pictures, and enjoying the process? SHOULD I be satisfied with just that?
Despite all of this, I am still very attracted to the technical, though my tastes are shifting away from the Bouguereau and Gerome look towards the Zorn and Sargent and Cecilia Beau look (and some even looser things, such as Richard Schmid or Tibor Nagy). It seems that it is still the brushwork and technical that attracts me to these artists though (and perhaps I feel guilty for this?). Or maybe I am misinterpreting other things as mere technical brushwork, when there is more really going on...
Sorry for the ramble, it is a bit of stream of consciousness thing running through my mind at 4am and I doubt it is very coherent...I'm not even sure how you guys would respond to this...but any thoughts on the matter would be interesting to hear and try to digest. I have a feeling that I will look back on this thread in a few years and really have a good laugh at the way of thinking presented here.