Well I suppose first and foremost congraulations are in order on the imminent arrival of your new brother or sister, I know it will be a while yet but it is nice to have something good to look forward to. Me , I have almost ended my labours on this part of the course and am just filling in the bit I was not enthused with first time around, so here goes;
Reflection on time spent by the viewer and how it relates to what you do as an artist.
In the Modern era with the constant surge of images that bombard out vision and the speed of modern life it is difficult for a viewer to invest time in a particular work.
In past times when images were much rarer in comparison they were used as devotional aids and were placed in contemplational places such as cathedrals and churches and monasteries where time naturally moves as a slower pace. Still today such places maintain a reverential timeless quality and it is much more fulfilling to view an altar piece in its natural setting than in a gallery, it seems to gain something from the leisurely pace of the atmosphere of the building. I have particularly enjoyed my trips to Venice and Florence in this regard and would recommend rising early avoiding the more crowded parts of the day.
The gallery is a different kettle of fish, the blockbuster exhibitions with their timed entry and exits are not conducive to spending time contemplation the work on show. I deal with this in several ways, before visiting I have a copy of the exhibition catalogue delivered by Amazon. With a little pre-study you save the time spent reading the walls of the museum and can concentrate more on the artwork. Another excellent strategy I have found is to become a member of the gallery. Living close to London this works well for me as I can visit at off peak times or make several trips to the same exhibition spending more time in front of what I find most interesting. The one thing that that never ceases to amaze me is that you can be standing in a room with untold millions of pounds worth of images on the walls and the one that gets the most attention is the stencilled words by the door that was done by a painter and decorator.
I find that because the galleries are quite local, a better way to deal with them is to browse their permanent collection and just wander and stop as you will in time you will get to know more artworks intimately and if you need to read, read a book or the internet not walls.
Another thing about time and the viewer is that no viewer ever spends as long as the artist looking at a work so an artist needs to distil all his looking into a wham factor that can impress in 45 seconds, the average viewing time of a work of art.
A further factor in the viewer spending time looking at a work of art is the commission. In olden times most artworks were commissioned and thus the commissioner would hang the piece in his home or chapel where he could grow accustomed to it over a number of years. Artists began painting what took their fancy around the time of Turner or Constable and about this time it became possible to buy viewing time with money but this of course gave rise to the artist as superstar. Once you are established as a star people will hang all sorts of your rubbish on their wall just for your name’s sake.
In my limited experience of selling paintings, people buy a painting because they are interested in the subject so a tiger which you could knock off in a day is worth more to a tiger lover who will look at it more often over the years than you masterwork next to it that took over year to complete and that you are still enjoying.
If someone feels the need to hang one of my works on their wall, I am pleased but I realise my influence is limited in determining the amount of time any specific viewer invests in my work. I enjoy the time spent doing, the process, the viewing of the record of the process and the length of that viewing is the prerogative of others over which I have little influence. However, if someone takes the time to like or comment on one of my works on the internet, I tend to be proud and think that the viewing lasted longer than a click and a millisecond.
When I see you at the weekend I want to talk to you a bit about knitting, I never knitted any thing for you or Auburn so maybe this is my chance to make good.
My love as allways