Your comment about being in the “public’s eye” has me intrigued. Who is actually seeing your work? According to LeRoy Neiman, “The people who love my paintings, that respond to them the most, they're spectators, they're not viewers.” Are spectators or viewers stopping by your studio or coming to gallery openings?
I imagine it is both, but let’s discuss the two. The spectator sees things and often wants to express what he has witnessed. Just the other day one fellow was telling me, “Come here!” Then walking forward pointing at the sky he practically shouted, “See? This painting changes from this view—to this view!” He spoke to me as if I wasn’t the person who created it, but as if I was someone who could appreciate the wonder of it. His enthusiasm was contagious and it was obvious he was having an experience with my art.
Viewers are less vocal and often say nothing at all. They are thinking about dinner plans, unsettled arguments, or some type of other disjointed thought. A powerful art piece right in front of them is usually not unwrapped due to goggled eyes and fog-filled minds. Viewers can suck the life out of artists.
Imagine having a room full of spectators, however. Wouldn’t that be glorious, to interact with people who are open and want to interact with the interesting artwork right in front of them?
Before you discard the viewer know that they are not a lost hope. Many viewers can be changed in the twinkling of an eye if their attention is caught in a way that can block out the distractions that are keeping them from truly seeing the art.
Here is a little exercise for you, this week see if you can change a viewer into a spectator. To be successful at this one must ask questions that can lead the viewer into having an actual experience with the art piece. Here are a few examples that might help create the change:
Where does your eye go first when you look at this painting?
Do you feel an emotion while viewing this piece? If so, may I ask what it is?
Which piece do you prefer to look at most? What about that piece stands out to you?
Because these questions are leading the viewer into having an experience with the art piece it is important that the art can speak on its own as well. Wise words from Van Waldron advises artists to be original with, “Painters who simply copy their subject will never give the spectator a living sensation of the object.”
To ensure that my art is working I listen to the spectators and gage their involvement. When only viewers are seeing my work I realize it’s the art may need more grit, and I may need to reassess my work.
Want to see if your art is ready to engage real spectators? Send me a photo to Instagram @ Uncle5star_studioselfie4 and I will give you a quick 5 ★ rating. It’s free and an easy assessment to offer simple feedback.
Spectators are an artist’s lifeline,