Brenda Edwards



Themed Art
February 2nd, 2016 - The Daily Muse

The single hardest part about making images every day, aside from staying solvent in the process, is staying fresh. If we are, by some grace of God, allowed to indulge our own point of view for a prolonged period, there is always the danger of becoming myopic and redundant. Yet, when people hear the word “artist” they want to be able to identify a “style”. They want to look at a work and know who did it. Critics and curators alike will annihilate an artist for not having a strong and identifiable focus. So to stay consistent without stagnation is a constant goal for an artist.

For my part, I’d like to believe that switching subject matter should not diminish the impact of an artist, but rather, the switch in subject matter should give the artist a fresh approach to their given focus. I’ve said before that I’m not crazy about “themed” art shows, but that’s not wholly true – I don’t like themed shows with subjects that don’t interest me. Rarely does a juried competition come out that isn’t based around a theme. Asking for a themed piece pares down the number of viable entries in an otherwise infinite sea of artwork. Certainly abstract artists might have an easier time than a representational artist in blurring the line of “theme”, but somehow, for me, the theme has to trigger a passionate response. If I can’t call up an image quickly, it probably means I shouldn’t respond.

The piece featured here in the blog, “Rock-a-Bye Baby”,  was developed for a competition called “Jesus! A December Celebration of the Christ” at the R Pela Contemporary Art Gallery in Phoenix. I most likely would never have painted the painting had it not been for the call for art. But I knew when I heard the theme that I wanted to respond. I can thank R Pela for the inspiration of the work (because it sold), but not for the style, because the style was my own.

And that is the point of my little blog here. An artist needs inspiration. An artist who paints a flower can also paint a Baby Jesus. It is not the Baby Jesus or the flower that matters as much as the way that it was painted. So this is my little speech to myself in working through to the end of a themed piece. You should learn and be inspired by everything and everyone around you, but you’ve still got to find a way to paint it your way. That’s easier said than done.