Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Olive said this should be a blog entry, so thus it is:If I were in elementary school with Kandinsky, I would not like him.

I recently visited the Art Institute of Chicago. In particular, I spent half an hour with the Kandinskys, as Kandinsky happens to be one of my favorite artists. However, I also noticed a couple things which lead me to believe that had I known Kandinsky as a child, I would have sneered at his artistic talents.

First of all, he doesn’t cover the entire canvas. It actually looked like in his earlier paintings he did, so maybe as a child he would have done so; I like to cover the entire surface of my art (if you can call anything I have done art; certainly I have never used a canvas), with no naked dead space, and no little places where the base material showed through. Kandinsky didn’t leave a whole lot of space uncovered, just little tiny spots here and there between lines or shapes and the space around them. But still, it’s enough that I can tell close up.

Secondly, he didn’t make lines with a solid edge. When I use a paintbrush, I like my brushstroke to have a good firm edge—I hate that part at the end of the brushstroke where you run out of paint and it streaks into eventual nothingness. Such a stroke equals sloppiness in my mind. But Kandinsky is full of brushstrokes like that, and it doesn’t bother me now, but it would have done so years ago. Maybe I am not very artistic in that sense.

Third, well… actually, there is no third. When I was little I drew concrete images that were outlined in black. That sounds remarkably like a coloring book, come to think of it. I wonder if my childhood expectations would be different if I had not used such coloring books; in other words, I wonder if we are stunting our children by giving them such “artwork” to color. I would tend to say yes, except that I ended up liking Kandinsky anyway, so maybe it has more to do with individual personalities than with societal standards.

Conclusion: I love Kandinsky, even if I wouldn’t have liked him when we were both kids. And someday I would like to see this piece. Wow.


J said...

My sister and I LOVE Kandinsky! LOVE LOVE LOVE him!
Wahooo! That is cool you saw some of his stuff up close.

elegyrl said...

I think that you are amazing! I think that it shows that we all grow. From childhood until now it is ok that then the focus was on coloring book images and now you appreciate the art of Kandinsky. I think that it doesnt stunt our children and/or childhood by the "art" of coloring books. Life changes as do we all so we can learn to appreciate other forms of "art" I know there are things I liked then that I disagree with now and vice versa! Its the same way with what the gospel teaches us and how we grow from it. There are many movies I used to watch with no negative outcome that now adays bother me a lot because of the content! I love that we can learn and grow and we truely learn what types of "Art" our Heavenly Father would have us enjoy and appreciate.

elegyrl said...

oh... and we learn to appreciate it little by little, starting with coloring book images to the kandinsky's! Like it says in the scriptures "line upon line, precept upon precept"

Betty Edit said...

J--You know, that painting you did for me had the same feel as a Kandinsky, I would say. Or rather, I feel the same energy when I look at it that I do when I look at a Kandinsky, if that makes sense.

Elegyrl, you are a wise woman. There was one movie I saw when I was little that I thought was really really funny. I saw it again in high school and realized it was absolutely terrible, but I hadn't known it before because I was too young to understand any of the dirty humor. Sad, sad, sad.

J said...

Oooh can I see a picture of that painting! It has been a long time :)

Betty Edit said...

You could see that painting, but it is in a box in the garage, as are all my books and dishes and music and most of my belongings. Within a few months they will be moving out of the garage, but for now... well, it would be nearly impossible to find at this point. :o(

But someday. :o)

unicorn girl said...

Hi there,
I think it is important for children to learn to color inside the lines so they can develop their fine motor skills. Then they can move beyond that skill to more interesting forms, such as the famous Kandinsky paintings.
I think there is something to say about form, positive and negative space as well as line and texture. Just a thought.

Betty Edit said...

Excellent point, unicorn girl. I forget about things like motor skills. Good thing you work with kids and I don't, eh? :o)