A Random Observation on the Details.

by ncwinters on December 8, 2011

So this was cranked out in a feverish matter of minutes, in the middle of a painting jag. I couldn’t get the idea of details out of my head. Sorry if it’s a bit rambly, poorly written, chaotic and in general, poorly grammared. This may be one of the most honest and direct things I’ve written on this blog, apologies in advance as it may offend. Enjoy.


“No one is gonna notice all those tiny details. Why do you bother and slave over them?”

The presupposition is that I’m making art specifically for you, John Q. Viewer. While I display my work for the public to see and honestly feel good when the work receives a positive reaction, there’s a fine but very distinct line between pleasing an audience and letting their opinion dictate my creative direction.

Take it in another direction:

When friends and acquaintances see me slaving over a chunk of detail in a painting and can’t figure out why I’m so compelled to get it just right, they plead with me to move on because others, like them won’t ever notice. I wonder: says who? Who’s to say that THEIR level of observation is the most optimum, when in fact it may be sub-par? Am I then beholden to this viewer’s lack of depth to dictate the direction of my work? What if a friend of theirs walks up and points out an interesting aspect of the painting that the original friend never noticed? What happens if they take some time a few moments later, some time later in the day, or years later in life and notice those details I’ve slaved over? What if this new revelation leads to an increased appreciation for the work? What if this new revelation leads to an increased appreciation for the world they live in? This new experience heightens the pleasure they could obtain from just a quick viewing a piece of artwork and just maybe, (more importantly) may influence how they observe the myriad details of the world they live in.

It’s kind of like saying why bother looking at all the stuff in the world, when so much of it may be uninteresting? Why bother searching for that life experience that may be a new reward visually, emotionally, spiritually or soul satisfying in some other way? Why bother making art at all?

Why would I thus limit my artmaking to one viewer’s shallow viewpoint? Not to say that their view of the world is not valid and satisfying FOR THEM, but then again, why choose to make their viewpoint my own? I make art for myself and show it to others so they can share my experience and maybe experience a pleasurable feeling seeing what I have created. The moment I start limiting what I choose to build and create because they’ve “looked as much as they want to” is the moment I stop making art for myself.

I choose to make art for myself, and I think the enjoyment people get from it is to see a little window into my creative mind and take from it what they wish. If I were to start compromising what I choose to create to manage their viewing expectations, I begin to annihilate the idea of what it means to have my own artistic voice.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina December 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I think it’s hard for people to understand that going that extra mile is what makes what would be good art great art. Why settle when you’re capable of more? PLUS even if they don’t see the tiny details, they add to the overall aesthetic of the piece.

And has it not occurred to them that perhaps you gain satisfaction from “slaving” over a piece? Also, you get your stuff done so there’s no reason not to if that’s what you want to do.

rachel December 23, 2011 at 10:09 am

A million years ago my high school art teacher always used to say, “What’s the difference between art done by a child and art done by an artist? The detail!”.

I’ve only seen your work online, but I personally think the detail in your art is amazing and I have absolutely no idea why anyone would give you a hard time about it. Your art certainly motivates me to try and keep putting more time and detail into my work, but if people are silly enough to even give you a hard time then there’s certainly no hope for the rest of us artists to please everybody! 🙂

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