Mian Situ: Skills in Painting and Commercial Graphic
Now I dare not say that art must need skills. But it's not too wrong to say that realistic painting must require skills. Skills are not all tricks (although some are just tricks), and more are not tricks. Skills are often difficult. Teachers can tell you all kinds of skills in only one class, but there are no shortcuts for you to really master them. Repeated practice is almost the only way. I studied at The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts for six years and became a teacher for another six years. I should say I have painted a lot of paintings. But when I went abroad, I began to draw portraits for tourists in the streets to survive. Only then did I know how stiff my hands were.Later, there were more paintings, sometimes more than ten portraits a day. After four years, the flexibility of hands was greatly improved. This is the boxer's fist must stick to its task and the singer's mouth no rest just ask. As a professional painter in the United States, I work in the studio almost every day.
Modern art starts from anti-tradition. I always think tradition is like a thread. Modern art is a kite pulled by this thread. In the process of flying high, the kite constantly struggles with the line holding it, to constantly raise itself to a new height. As artists, we all hope to make continuous progress. We are all fighting against tradition strongly or weakly. The tension generated by this struggle is also a kind of beauty. Finally, one day, tradition could no longer withstand the most fierce rebellion of modern art. The line holding the kite finally broke. The kite gained the freedom it expected, but the ending was not as beautiful as it expected. In my eyes, many modern artworks have no vitality because they have absolute freedom and get rid of all the fetters including skills.
Chinese painters in the United States are most easily criticized as commercial painters. Of course, this is true. In China, we used to work regularly and live in peace. Since we set foot on the land of the United States, everything has started from scratch. There is no organization, no salary, no housing. Relying on ourselves to earn daily bread and selling our works is the most ideal way to make a living. So I'm glad I can become a commercial painter. Before that, Chinese painters, including the masters of history we look up to, didn't most of them make a living by selling paintings?
Commercial painters have a lot of work, which leads to more mature skills. Originally, in the painting stage, the teacher told the students not to rush to pursue superficial skills and ignore in-depth observation and in-depth expression. This is right.However, I find it easy to have a bias, that is, the above practice slowly turns into another view, that is, skilled paintings are considered vulgar, on the contrary, those painted like children's paintings are regarded as top-grade. Fortunately, the public is not convinced by this "profound" view. In the traditional art market in the United States, skill is still an extremely important factor in the quality of works.Professional painters in the commercial society, like other industries, painting is what we have to do every day. I know a leading painter of Western painting in the United States. His painting price is far ahead of his peers. He is now in his eighties, but he said he still works seven days a week.