Saturday, May 30, 2009

Daily Painting in the New Millennium By Hall Groat II

The tradition of daily painting began long before modern day oil paint was invented, and many speculate that the first paintings were created 32,000 years ago within the cave walls of Grotte Chauvet in France. These early paintings depicted men hunting animals and were conceived using natural Red ochre pigments. Painting as an expressive art medium has been embraced and revered by millions of people throughout the centuries as a form of visual communication intended to be physically experienced. If the theatrical culture of Ancient Greece only knew that we modern day people now watch drama on televisions, computers and Ipods, "What would they say?" In what ways have these new digital mediums altered the expressive nature and messages of traditional theatre?

The new millennium has brought with it an exponential growth in cutting edge Internet technologies, such as the blog, message board and video sharing web sites that have required people to learn how to communicate with one another in new and challenging ways. In 2004, within the context of the "blogosphere" (opportunities for people to experience and learn from others around the globe), American artist Duane Keiser was among the first to chronicle the tradition of daily painting and the inherent creative processes. This innovation inspired thousands of other artists to do the same, which has lead to the emergence of what may be deemed as a cyberspace culture of artists that embrace fine art painting.

What is daily painting? For many artists it is the discipline of completing a single painting each day in solitude. The painter must designate a specified time to complete a painting, regardless of whether or not there is an ideal amount of inspiration; it is an essential time span each day that the painter both embraces and savors. Many regard this time as a meditative expression of the moment and or enlightenment. Others regard the completion of the painting in a single session as a means of chronicling their spiritual diary; the "Enso." There are those artists who perceive this process as an artistic obsession (or welcomed daily struggle) that forces them to complete a painting capable of being placed in a "virtual exhibition." Why does this motivate artists? There are various possible reasons, but perhaps the desire to be socially interconnected with like-minded artists and art connoisseurs from diverse backgrounds and cultures is a driving force. It appears that admiration and validation for a painter's work contributes to their maturing as an artist and has a positive influence on honing their skills.

A new and refreshing ethos seems to be emerging among painters. The traditional art museum, gallery, and critic are of less concern to the painter who independently exhibits work a on daily basis to a global audience. Painters now are able to discuss their works with other artists residing throughout the world, and have developed extensive e-mail lists that enable them to both expose and teach people about art through sharing images and written commentaries. Quite often the people who receive the daily images are geographically or socially marginalized, and have never been granted the opportunity to learn about art or cross paths with an artist. This also holds true for the beginning artist in many instances, especially the ones who reside within countries that impose restrictions on the public exhibition of art.

The modern day blog, coupled with video sharing technologies has broadened the tradition of painting into a new communicative virtual reality world. Cyberspace is rapidly evolving and its potential social ramifications are not easily understood. What we do know, however, is that artists are strategically working together globally to use these new technologies in a manner that is promoting constructive dialogue about art and life. The conversations about paintings often function as important vehicles for dialogue that may inspire others to join in the discussions.

At this point in time, various on-line organizations collectively exhibit daily works by painters, and also serve as platforms for discussion. The Daily Painter's Art Gallery at, however, is the largest of these organizations and the first to curate an exhibition revolving around a central theme. Frequently, artists have painted and written about their perceptions of the natural environment, as well as initiated meaningful global discussions regarding the current state of the earth.

The paintings being produced by the artists affiliated with networks such as the Daily Painter's Art Gallery are prolific and reflect the current pluralistic tone of the art world. It appears that the predominant mood of expression, however, is rooted in "ala-prima" representational painting that strives to reveal extraordinary perceptions of daily life. The works often are both humble in nature and scale and reflect the genuine perception of the artist. "Daily painters" seem to embrace an aesthetic that, along with a mastery of their craft and truth of form, are tenets that provide them a unique identity. Their works do not echo the often disingenuous nature of contemporary "shock and sensationalist art" that is directed toward provoking political debate.

The daily painting Internet phenomenon, or social movement, along with the burgeoning Daily Painter's Art Gallery, have touched the lives of thousands of individuals throughout the world and are currently challenging the viewpoints of conventional artistic establishments. The movement is both liberating the painter and democratizing the manner in which art is exhibited and being deemed critically noteworthy. A global view of fine art painting is emerging at a time in history when we must reevaluate the infrastructures of our societies.

Perhaps what noted Art Historian Albert Boime professes is now emerging: "An understanding of imagery will show that we are not yet too fallen and depraved to be able to reform the world in the name of suffering humanity."

Hall Groat II,
Fine and Media Arts Department,
Broome Community College

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