Bad Balance issue 8 is now available for download or purchase, y’all.

Bad Balance Magazine

Bad Balance: A magazine of interest.

So You Wanna Be An Abstract Painter
By James "That Guy You Love To Hate" Liposmacko

So you wanna be an abstract painter, you stupid, stupid bastard. I don't mean to offend you, or sound as if I am not sympathetic to your bad habit of making horrid art constantly. I have bad habits as well, and I understand. For example, I pick my nose quite a bit and I try not to, but it's so easy to do and I do it so well. Really, the two habits are quite closely related in that way.

Let's talk about all this, though, in a much more diplomatic sense. Let's talk about the element of craft. Craft is synonymous with art. Craft is entirely necessary and important. if a painter is a bad craftsman, there is an immediate block between the artist's intended message and the one received. Take Vermeer, for instance. Had he not painstakingly painted his pieces with such care, had he just globbed on the paint anywhere, his paintings would never communicate the tranquil, hopeful tone sent by this master. Craft starts with the making of the canvas, the kind of wood used, the kind of canvas, panel, linen, etcetera, and continues through to the final brush stroke. Craft is a conscious decision an artist makes. Artists need to be aware of how every mark is working in a piece—an artist can do good unintentional things, but at some point the artist must notice this decision and accept or reject it. Craft can be found in abstract work—DeKooning had excellent craft, but craft can easily be lost in abstract art as well. I am most definitely aware that many representational painters have poor craft as well, but there seems to be an intention of good craft present, while there doesn't always seem to be an awareness of this word existing at all to a lot of you silly abstract guys and gals.

Most often I quarrel with people about this craft issue under their false pretense that craft takes away from the immediate intensity of the work. Or perhaps more accurately stated, "If you have to think too much about the mark, you lose that important instinctive, intuitive gesture." Well, young lady or man, I never said to be an academic, but art is not therapy. Art is art, paint for painting, not for your soap box. Rembrandt didn't paint slow and slower, he just had a long process and good craft. You don't get that feeling from thinking constantly, nor do you get it from globbing on the paint in a fury. You get it from days of observing and painting freely, thinking of craft, and laughin' at all the silly concept painters.

Get off the bandwagon and get some craft.