Okay, you can stop laughing and get up off the floor. I’m not really going to try to define “art.” In fact, I’ve almost reached the point where I dislike the word, “art,” because people use it without defining what they mean and have the chutzpa to assume that -- of course -- I know what they mean. Yes, art is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re talking about gallery-style “fine art” it’s also often in the hope of the buyer for monetary appreciation and in the, well, sometimes, cupidity of the seller.
But I bring up the term, “art,” because, whatever it is, I think it’s something we’re all trying to produce if we post or critique on this forum.
I don’t know how many on the forum are interested in or familiar with the story of the birth of Impressionism, but it’s an interesting story. In the mid nineteenth century there was a place not far from Paris called La Grenouillère (The Frog Pond) where Monet and Renoir used to go to paint what I like to think of as “street paintings.” The Frog Pond was a very relaxed establishment and most of its patrons came there to drink, engage in bawdy exchanges with the girls, and, sometimes engage in activities best not mentioned in a family thread.
But Monet and Renoir came to La Grenouillère to produce art. They’d set up their easels side by side, paint, and critique each others’ work. But the work of Monet is very, very different from the work of Renoir, so the critiquing wasn’t the kind of thing where Renoir would say to Monet, “I think that would be much better if you’d crop out those two boats and maybe darken the sky a bit.” Instead, their critiques dealt with the extent to which the paintings reflected the soul of the scene they were painting. These guys learned from each other and both profited from the learning.
It seems to me that the people who take the trouble to post on this forum don’t come here to drink, engage in bawdy exchanges with the girls, or engage in activities best not mentioned in a family thread. I think we’re all trying to create art – whatever our personal definition of art happens to be.
I’m very sorry that the “What’s the Idea” thread got vandalized. It seemed to me we were getting closer and closer to a reasonable definition of what constitutes valid criticism. I especially liked Mike’s approach: “If the image doesn't appeal to me personally (and nowhere is it written that every image posted here must do that!), and if I have nothing constructive to add, i.e. 'have you considered...' or 'if it was my image...' then I keep my mouth shut and move on.” Keeping your mouth shut and moving on leads, finally, to Jason’s comment: “…sometimes ‘silence’ is the best critique of all, dreaded though it is.” Makes me wonder if I really need absolution and remission for failing to comment on posts I find of no value.
But I still think it’s fair to ask, “Why did you shoot that?” The question shouldn’t be interpreted as an insult.