Monday, December 14, 2009

A non-negative photo, the 1st of 10.

From Steven Taylor: "Ah, mi amigo, not just "pretty" (as we ALL know what that means). I want to see something arty yet not pretty and not about death.

No creepy voodoo dolls need apply."

A little background. Steven and I spent a day together in Alabama recently visiting the Birmingham Art Museum and walking around botanical gardens. Your average garden-variety Alabama-style heterosexual male activity, if you ask me.

But I digress. Or was I in the story deep enough to digress? Perhaps I'm still prefacing.

In either case, when Steven and I were touring the museum, I called an art piece "pretty" as a pretentious art slam, noting how in the art world "pretty" is a derisive term. Art need not be beautiful, though it's lovely if it is. But if the best you can say of it is that it's pretty, then, wow, you might as well as be saying that the artist may some day be ready to apprentice for Thomas Kinkade. You may as well give the artist the cyanide capsule and be done with it.

So that's why Steven is teasing me about pretty.

But I'm not anti-pretty, though I generally think art should be more than pretty. And I'm certainly pro-beauty.

So here's my challenge for the remainder of 2009. I want to see whether I can find (or take!) ten generally uplifting or nice photos.

My non-negative photos must meet the following criteria:

1. They can't be depressing--no dark themes. "Contemplative" is okay. "Haunted" is not.
2. They can't be gloomy.
3. They can't be foreboding.
4. They can't be creepy.
5. They can't be revolting.
6. They can't be ugly, though they need not be pretty.
7. That being said, pretty is acceptable. (I'm not going to be making art here. Sorry, Steven, for changing your rules a bit. I like pretty photos; I just don't think it's something real artists need aspire to.)
8. They can be arty (i.e. something striking and interesting that causes a moment of thought).
9. I can't cheat and show photos of my smiling kids, who make every picture happy.
10. No voo-doo dolls, creepy or otherwise. (Y'all will see a creepy doll in 2010. So you got that to look forward to.)

Okay, to summarize. I need to post ten pictures that are either pretty OR arty but no depressing, gloomy, foreboding, creepy, revolting, or ugly.

Readers, I think this is going to be VERY challenging for me.

I'm serious.

This is my first attempt. Not bad, eh?

What's that you say? I broke rule nine??! D'OH! Okay, so let's try this.

What? No good? Sororicide isn't funny. Right. You're right. Okay, so let me try this.

Sigh....this is challenging. I like this as a fun shot of my sis-in-law, Kristin. (Yep. I'm outing everyone by name, baby.) But it's not especially pretty, though that's not Kristin's fault. (You know what I'm saying, people!) The shot wasn't meant to be pretty but zany. And it's not that arty.

Oh, bother. What have I done to myself?!

My last try for the day.

This is pretty, right?

It''''s Thomas Kinkadean!!



Julie said...

Monet,Renoir,Degas,...their work was "pretty". It seems like your challenge may be to find beauty in unusual places or in your own unique way. The lighthouse as a subject is so overdone that unless your point of view is so completely new and different, it will bore the viewer instantly.

Kinkade is obviously crap for many reasons. If that is what the idea of "pretty" is, then maybe a better word for your goal should be beauty...or aesthetically pleasing (without use of morbid content).

Mike Bailey said...


I think Renoir did pretty better than anyone before or after.

Yeah, I make a distinction between pretty and beauty, though I can't define it. And so do we all, though we may not know we are making the distinction. But Renoir's work was also beautiful. I think of Monet's and Degas' work as beautiful, surely, but I think of Renoir as also pretty. I'm not being dogmatic or making claims about how things are; I'm just describing my own thoughts here.

The lighthouse. Ouch. You weren't supposed to notice. But of course you're right. I do think that some some subjects are done and overdone because they just beg to be overdone. So the key, then, is to do something new different--just as you say.

Technoprairie said...

I think that the lighthouse picture is like a glass of cool water. Not sparkling water, but just plain old cool water. Something that makes you say, "Ahh" and feel better. It probably isn't art, but it is pleasing.

Squish said...

Hey I bet if you sent that pic in to Thomas he would paint it...;)

Steven Taylor said...

Now I feel like I need a challenge.

Mike Bailey said...

Technoprairie: nice. I like that. Like I said, I'm not at all anti-pretty. Seriously. The world would be a horrid place without pretty.

Squish: Get on it. Contact him, negotiate the deal, and we'll split the earnings. 99% for him. .5% for you. .5% for me.

(And we'd probably both feel rich!)

Steven: so what's your challenge going to be. Let a brother know.

Steven Taylor said...

I dunno--something to ruminate about.