Hi guys! Today I am super excited to welcome a trio of fabulous authors to Joyfully Jay! We have Dev Bentham, Jordan Castillo-Price and Clare London with us here today. They have joined together for an Art Appreciation mini-blog tour and are here to talk to us about art and their new books. In addition, they are each offering up a copy of their book in a giveaway, so one lucky winner will get their hands on all three books. So please join me in giving them all a big welcome!
Clare: One topic I’m always fascinated by is the immediate, visceral response to visual art in contrast with the slower burn of response to reading a book i.e. also a creative product, but connecting with the consumer in a very different way.
Jordan: I wonder how much more a reader has to bring to a story as opposed to what a viewer must bring to a painting. In a way it seems like the visual of a painting would be a more didactic thing with fewer shades of meaning that can be misinterpreted. But then I visited some of the Smithsonian museums it was clear I’d been really shaped by my years in art school. (I had a minor in art history so I took lots of extra art history classes instead of blowoff classes.)
So, for instance, I got more out of the modern art than the people I was with did. They wanted to look at visually attractive things and realistic things. When we were in the national portrait gallery, there was a nude, full-sized portrait of an old woman that was very visually striking, it drew me right in. I read the plaque and it explained it was an artist’s self-portrait and it was about age and gender and societal expectations. Anyway, I got a lot out of it. I heard someone nearby say, “Ugh, that’s disgusting,” and that’s what they took from it.
I guess I’m saying that just because something is visual doesn’t mean people don’t bring their own worlds of experience to it.
Dev: I think you’re right. I’m always amazed at how personal taste is. To frame our discussion of taste, I found a couple out of copyright images from the Smithsonian. The more classical drawing is The Muse of Painting by John La Farge and the other is Head by Alfred H. Maurer. They’re both good enough to end up in the Smithsonian but I’m much more attracted to the moreabstract woman in Head (I tried to find an interesting contrast with male figures but got tired of scrolling).
I’m really not sure how relevant this is to the discussion, except that I see the same kind of difference in gut response when it comes to how people relate to stories. We all bring our whole past to the appreciation of both visual art and fiction. There are technical aspects that we can appreciate if we’re trained to, but how certain elements resonate probably depends as much on our history as on the writer or artist’s skill.
Jordan: These two images are interesting because I could see someone who didn’t like the abstract woman saying it was too crude, or it hardly took any talent, or even “I could’ve painted that myself” which is something people who know nothing about art tend to exclaim whenever they see abstract work.
I’m also attracted to the more modern piece even though I think it probably took a lot less time to create and probably even less technical skill than the traditional image (is it a lithograph?), because it’s a livelier piece with more personality and quirk and soul. It speaks to me more across the years than the other piece, which just feels dated and which I can’t really relate to.
Clare: I like both! Though I’m drawn to the prettiness of the first one. I can’t say either says “better” to me, because I have a huge appreciation of the skill involved in painting of any kind, and have no talent of my own (apart from cartooning!) to help measure. I confess I’m also a bit of an inverted snob – I can admire the craft or talent in a painting, but I refuse (privately) to like something just because someone tells me it’s masterful or a masterpiece. I like it because I like it, because it stimulates emotion in me. And I suppose that can be hate or love emotion. El Greco’s another good example of that, I’m v fond of his stuff. And Reubens, who has so much going on! And the pre-Raphaelites who are just darned pretty.
Maybe it’s a throwback to studying English, where I thought it was such a pity that critical investigation of a play or book – while it’s meant to bring added appreciation and a depth of understanding and context – so often bred contempt from too much familiarity. And honestly, did Shakespeare or Dickens actually have all that stuff in mind when they wrote the damn thing? Or were they just out for a lark and to make some money??
Books I tend to give more leeway to. I think there’s time to get to love a book, time to attune to an author’s style. The characters can “grow” on you, the plot can draw you in. I think resonance comes at a base level for me – I can be fascinated or attracted to a writer’s style, then secondly to the topic – but I will give it chance to enchant me.
So should I give that same attention and patience to art? I admit that some art I’ve “come around to”, maybe because I’ve spent more time with it, seen it in another context, seen a whole body of work rather than an isolated painting.
And maybe then, confusingly, I may give art *more* attention than a book! Because if I dislike a book on first reading, assuming I’ve given plenty of time to it, to make a measured decision – then I wouldn’t look out more of the author’s work.
So maybe at the end of the day, my love of a book will equate to love of a painting, I just took different routes. Or not. Whoa, deep LOL.
Dev: I actually think I give more space to an artist than to a writer. I’m very picky with stories, maybe because I know something about the technical aspects that I don’t know anything about with visual art.
Jordan: This idea interests me because I think I do too. I wonder if it’s because it can be so much quicker and more immediate to get the overall feel of a piece of visual art, sometimes as little as a glance, whereas you might need to devote hours or days to a story to determine if it works for you or not. This is assuming everyone has a level of basic competence, and you don’t see a lame first page of a story or a cliche blurb that will rule it out for you. But what if it’s a competent writer and a subject matter you could potentially like…except somehow this author just doesn’t work for you.
I’d tend to be more “forgiving” of the art form that only takes a second or two to make that initial “is it for me?” judgment.
Clare: I agree. That’s more or less where I came in, comparing the immediate impact of art to the slower seduction – or not – of a book. It’s fascinating to see how our minds and emotions work together!
Dev: Clearly we all love art, and artists, since they populate our books. We also love readers, love them so much we’re each giving away a book. Leave a comment below for a chance to win.
Which of the paintings trips your trigger? Or feel free to share your favorite artist with us.
BLINDED BY OUR EYES by Clare London
London art dealer Charles Garrett has devoted his life to appreciating beauty, both in art & in his companions. His fashionable life is rocked to the core when he discovers the body of a young artist, Paolo Valero, in a pool of blood in his gallery.
As Paolo’s mentor, Charles is haunted by the horror of his violent death. He investigates Paolo’s past & discovers a tangled web of motives & potential suspects, some closer to home than he ever imagined. He’s drawn to Antony Walker, an aggressive, handsome sculptor with unsavory ties to Paolo. Charles is unsettled by Antony’s forceful nature but irresistibly attracted to his passion. When the evidence points toward Antony’s guilt, Charles is thrown into emotional turmoil. Has he lost his heart to a killer?
SYMPATHY by Jordan Castillo Price
Fear takes many forms. As a child, Anthony Potosi was afraid of the Hook House, not because of the cheesy stories his older brothers attempted to terrorize him with, but the startling presence of gravestones he stumbled across in the abandoned Victorian’s overgrown yard.
It’s been ages since Tony has thought about the old place. As an adult, he’s had to deal with more immediate fears. The fear that he’d never recover from the accident that killed his father and shattered his pelvis was at the top of the list. Now that he can walk again, though, the fear that his brothers are edging him out of the family landscaping business seems more pressing…until he’s called to make a drop-off at the Hook House.
While delivering the order, Tony finds ceramicist David Dean living there, along with several dozen eerily expressive clay figures he’s sculpted. David has converted the weedy lot to native prairie, and the dilapidated stone outbuilding to a pottery studio. While he hasn’t worked his alchemy on the family plot, it’s no longer quite as daunting as Tony remembers. It’s nowhere near as frightening as getting physical with someone for the first time since his accident, especially with a body he’d presumed was broken beyond repair, and especially with someone as captivating as David. Tony finds that learning to open up again to trust, desire—and maybe even love—is far scarier than The Hook.
PAINTING IN THE RAIN by Dev Bentham
Helping teenagers is tough. They face so many dangers – peer pressure, drugs, pregnancy, STDs. As a trained social worker, Mike knows all about it. He’s taken a temporary job on the Oregon coast working with at-risk kids. But when he meets Gabe, the father of one of his charges, he finds himself in another type of danger – that of falling in love and getting stuck in a small, conservative town, not to mention living with an angry teenager. And yet, he’s drawn to Gabe in a way he never imagined possible.
Gabe, whose own father left before he was born, stays in a town where he no longer feels welcome. He’s living the life of a lonely artist so that he can be a father to his son, a bond that’s been threatened by divorce and Gabe’s public coming out. When he meets Mike, Gabe is bowled over with a longing so deep that he finds himself willing to risk everything.
There are plenty of dangers in a small town. When a gay kid gets hurt and they refuse to leave him to his fate, Mike and Gabe may be risking more than their hearts.
Today Dev, Jordan, and Clare are offering an amazing prize to one lucky reader — all three books! Yep, one commenter is going to win all three of these awesome books. So be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post for your chance to enter. The contest closes on Thursday, July 25th at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck to everyone and thanks to our authors for the fabulous prize!
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
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- Void where prohibited by law.
I’m usually a more traditional art person, though with the two you show I am more drawn to Head and I quite like some of Dali’s paintings. My favourite that I have have actually seen is Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey – the emotion and the detail, the folds of her dress, shine on her nails are just amazing. I think I sat and stared at it for best part of an hour!
I am not sure how we discovered Michael Parkes but we have a number of his prints (can’t afford the real thing unfortunately) throughout our house. However we also have a good number of more traditional prints. I find that I like art that challenges me more now that I did when I was younger. I like both the pictures for different reasons; the technical skill in the first picture and the realism amaze me, the second picture makes me think more however.
I really love the picture of the head above. It’s so interesting.
Per Jordan’s comment. I beleive a viewers history,culture, education, and exposure to art can create wild variations in how they interpret visual art. With writing i believe the author does a greater amount of creating a back story or describing in great detail the characters, and evironments and emotions of their work. Also interesting, the visual artist may add a written statement to compliment their work, while the writer may use an illustration to compliment their words.
I’m not much of an art person. I find that I like what I like. I just want something to produce a feeling in me, no feeling, I don’t like it.
I have to say I’m not atracted to either of the paintings but their not ‘ugly’. I can see the time and dedication put in either one. I do think it’s easier to judge a painting than a book although the cover always helps me. A cover usually is the first thing that draws me in. If the summary is anything I like I’m more tempted to buy the book if it has an interesting cover. (and I don’t mean the too pretty, too sexy specimens that are on some! )
It has to grab me. Make me want to keep watching.
Even if I don’t win I’m putting all three books on my wish-list! They sound quite intriguing. (Love the cover of ‘Sympathy’ best. )
I enjoy paintings that are more abstract. I appreciate colors that are bright and visually appealing to me and that are not necessarily of an object, just beautiful swirling brushstrokes that I can just lose myself in. All three of these books look like fantastic reads and all your talents speak for themselves. I will own them eventually whether I win them or not because I must have them!
All of the books sound like a good read,adding to my list.
I’m loving this discussion. It’s intriguing to me how different people react to visual art. I love the mix of exposure, personal history and temperament that we all bring to each piece.
I don’t get art for the most part. I like what I like but most of it does not appeal or I don’t get it. So I’m very glad writing isnot given the breadth visual art is. There would be far too many stories I’d never understand.
There is an exception to my earlier comment. When a writer throws in a lot of symbolism into their story, that symbol may not be universal. It might be easily understood by one culture and hold an entirely different meaning in another, just like that same conflict that arises in visual arts. Still I feel very directed by a writers words, where as I can make up my own story (if I did not read the artist statement or any previous reviews) about a painting I am viewing.
I’m loving this discussion too because there aren’t any right or wrong answers, just opinions! There does seem to be a quicker “I get it” or “I don’t get it” with visual art as compared to writing.
—“Jordan: These two images are interesting because I could see someone who didn’t like the abstract woman saying it was too crude, or it hardly took any talent, or even “I could’ve painted that myself” which is something people who know nothing about art tend to exclaim whenever they see abstract work.”
I could give the same argument about writing. There are times I see poorly edited work and simple cookie cutter, formulaic plots and think to myself, “I could write that.” Much of what I read may not be very high quality but I still enjoy it for it’s entertainment value, kind of like literary junk food. Then look at something like War and Peace, and say, “I don’t really like it, even though it was thought provoking and probably good for me (literary health food) but I can appreciate the effort and craftsmanship, well above my skill level, that went into it.
Either way, sophisticated or simple, what is important to me in visual or literary art is that it strikes some chord, triggers some kind of emotion for me. If a book or a work of art can make me cry, laugh, get angry, or even strike fear, I consider it a success.
I like different kinds of art, some traditional and some modern. Thanks for the fantastic giveaway!
This is a great discussion, and it confirms to me that the word’s a fab collection of people all with their own ideas and emotional triggers! Who said, it’d be a boring world if we all liked the same?! You see, to me, “getting it” is open to everyone, and nothing too mysterious – it’s the gut feeling you get when you first look at something, whether it’s Wow or Hmmm *g*. I’d be thrilled as an artist if I could inspire that in a viewer. I try in my writing to do a similar thing.
It’s so true that we all bring our backgrounds and personalities to bear when we’re viewing or reading.
I don’t know much about art but wish I did. Count me in please 🙂
Interesting post: I love artwork and m/m romance, so I enjoyed reading it.
And doubly interesting to see three good writers.
Please add my name to the hat!
My favorite artist is Native American Jerome Tiger; beautiful works. I would love to read all three and would have to toss a coin to decide which would be first.
My all time favorite painting is by Courbet and it’s of a woman with long red hair looking into a mirror. I don’t know is it’s still on display but I first saw it at the MMA in NY. I was walking by and literally jolted to a stop and stared at it for almost an hour. She had the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I wish I could remember the name.
Andrea, I think the one you want is “Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl” http://www.gustavecourbet.org/Jo,-the-Beautiful-Irish-Girl,-1866.html. Isn’t it gorgeous?!
That’s it! Thanks so much for the name of it. It’s so important to me that I have it on my desktop and see it every day but the name escaped me.
What an interesting post! It so often comes down to your personal opinion. I don’t enjoy most modern art as much, but I can still appreciate the talent that created it and sometimes a particular piece of modern art will strike me. My favorite painting is probably Botticelli’s Primavera. I could look at it for hours.
I was an art history major in college, so I love this post! I tended to go toward more conceptual art, since it was much easier for me to write papers about. Stuff that was super-representational always seemed to be harder to analyze, and I still think “okay, but is there more?” when I see a lot of it now (unless it’s very striking). Robert Rauschenberg has always been my favorite, mostly because no matter what cool thing I studied (Abstract Expressionism, modern dance), he was always involved. And of course, if you open up the definitions (the dancing body as live sculpture and so forth), then you can find all sorts of interesting connections to explore…
Trix, that’s so awesome that you mentioned Rauschenberg. We talk about who the favorite artists are for each of our characters and that’s who I picked for my rogue ceramicist.
In the third stop of the mini blog tour, I meant to say 😀
Ooh, gotta check that out–thanks!
I have to admit I’m not really art enthusiast. I’ve gone to a couple of art museums or fairs but only because I had to for a college class. I do appreciate some art but a majority of the time I try to stay clear of paintings, photos, pottery, etc.
Thank you for the giveaway ^^
In the video game The Sims the characters have various traits, and one of them could potentially be “Doesn’t Like Art.” I’m imagining the little icon on you 😉
I really like the art by George Grie (neosurrealism) and artists who do very creative photomanipulation. It makes me look twice at a picture and wonder.
I wish I had that kind of talent. I have just enough to know how much talent I don’t have. I love all kinds of Art. My favorite to do was abstract but with real life detail. Like a mountain scene with unrealistic color for example. That way no one knows when you mess up. 🙂
… I’m spending a very happy hour looking into the artists that people suggest LOL …
I’m a fan of the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. I have a print of The Abbe I bought from an antique dealer in the UK. Not sure where I want to hang it in my new place. http://www.vam.ac.uk/users/node/1509
Oddly enough most of my favorite things are hung in my big bathroom! I have a few other faves throughout the house, but it is so hard to decide what to hang and where, and I’m a curator!
My friends pick on me saying that they enjoyed my bathroom gallery! Ha!
Maybe being a curator makes it more difficult to curate your own home. I’m sure there’s the temptation to overthink it all. I really dig the idea of a bathroom gallery, though. I also have a hall that could be put to use, though maybe that’s best for smaller pieces since you can’t back up to view from a distance. And I’m also not so cavalier about putting holes in a rental wall as I was in my trailer.
I use my long hall for a series of photos, b/w that are all the same size, matted and framed the same way. It works with the long, linear format. And don’t fuss over holes, that’s what Fast N’ Final was invented for. Just pick up a small jar from the hardware store. Also, believe it or not, if the artwork isn’t super heavy, those 3M Velcro strips totally rock! They come in large sizes and you can take the work of the wall and reposition it. I’m a dork for this sort of thing, I can’t help the advice. LOL
YAY, that’s super helpful!! I’m glad I mentioned the hole-reticence.
For those Brits in the crowd, one of my favorite artists is William Turner, especially after he loosens up a bit, into his romantic period work. http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/william-turner/the-morning-after-the-deluge
The paintings have enough grounding to convey a sense of landscape or seascape as it were, but the use of color, motion, brush work, gets the emotion, turmoil, across in a very powerful, more abstracted way. Enough art geek speak, I lurve it and really enjoy reading works from all three of you. While I already own many of your collective titles, I’d be trilled to join this happy contest!
thrilled…oh if I could only type as well as I paint.
LOL no problem. I am a HUGE fan of Turner. They’re the kind of paintings that can look as if he’s taking no care with the paint, but the emotion they engender are fabulous.
Jordan: If Wild Bill had a favorite painting or artists, what/who would it be?
Now THAT’S an interesting question. I’m thinking his tastes would be something I’d consider low-brow. His education is from the school of hard knocks and nothing formal. So he’d probably be familiar with very popular artists like Dali or Warhol (he probably “gets” Warhol) but would be drawn to things like R. Crumb. I would imagine he was probably involved a small scene of some sort in the eighties, but it was pretty informal. Likely a lot of musicians, poets, painters and fellow alcoholics who sporadically got together to be artsy.
It’s been a while (maybe a reread is in order) but I through Bill dabbled in painting in his past life.
Yes, he did big angry murals, painted leather jackets, band logos and flyers, that sort of stuff.
I like the first picture better, which is weird because I usually like more abstract stuff best. I like how it’s not completely perfect and structured, but it’s not so insane that it doesn’t make sense. It’s simple and beautiful (:
Count me in for the giveaway! Sympathy has been on my to-read list for a while now, I would love the chance to win it! Thanks!
This is a great and fascinating discussion! The Muse of Painting was pretty trite, even for its day. Yet, I can’t say I like Head any better. My favorite painter is Romare Bearden. I also like Jasper Johns, Jacob Lawrence, and Toulouse-Lautrec, going backwards in time. Thanks for this great blog tour!
I too like the first picture better… lol…
But, that’s not to say I completely dislike all abstract paintings either. I just like some and not others. You know? lol… I love a lot of Scenery painting. Wide open fields that you feel you can practically smell the grass from it. Or great storm or sky, night, and forest paintings… things like that really make me think about my place in the world.
Like… really, I’m just another small insignificant grain of sand in the vastness and beauty of mother nature.
This is the coolest tour! I’m behind – work week from hell getting days work done in 4 🙂 I’m not sure either of those two pictures appeal to me really. But then again I have strange tastes in a lot of things 😉 I love Schiele for example and not too many people call his stuff beautiful. Disturbing maybe, but not beautiful. That being said, I love ALL kinds of art. In my house I have huge Dali prints in these really heavy frames with suede mats. I have a series of the Four Seasons in the Pacific NW by an artist who incorporates First Nations imagery with the landscape and animals. I have gorgeous modern “angels” that I just bought last week in Madison, WI at the Art Fair off the Square from a New Mexico artist. I have Turkish rugs and Thai lacquer trays. I also have the prints of the my GR avatar and it’s companion piece.
Clare I love El Greco too – when I was first learning about painting on my first trip to The Art Institute in Chicago when I was a kid in grammar school I remember being in AWE of The Assumption of the Virgin. On a visit to NYC in 2001 the Frick had a fantastic exhibit on El Greco: Themes and Variations which had 7 paintings that had never been exhibited together before. It was one of most interesting exhibits I’ve ever seen. The Frick’s own St. Jerome and The Purification of the Temple and 5 other versions of the same were all shown side by side. It was fascinating to compare the same artist’s interpretation of the subject so many different ways.
How do I feel about books compared to art? Hmmmm. Well I’ve always said I could live in art museums and book stores – although finding a book store is pretty hard these days 🙁
Sadonna, if we could find an art gallery and bookstore combined… well, I’d move in 🙂