Because I have a page called “Poems About Paintings” where I use paintings as writing prompts and actually am quite pleased with some of the writing that’s inspired, I very often see posts from a site called “Artists Trying to Make a Living Making Art.”
I’m sort of a lurker there, though, for a couple of reasons. One is I’m not, myself, an artist. My drawing ability is at the stick figure level. I remember once, trying to demonstrate some point in English to a class of 5th graders. So, I drew a dog on the board. “This is a dog,” I began. “No, it’s not. It’s a pig,” one student objected. “It’s a dog,” I repeated, and didn’t think it necessary to say “It’s a dog for the purpose of this exercise, you ignorant little brats” or “It’s a dog because I say it’s a dog, humor me on this one.” However, the class consensus was that it was definitely a pig. One girl, trying to be nice, allowed that it might be a sheep.
Another reason is that the site has about 30,000 members and I’ve noticed, through experience, that if you weigh in with a comment on anything, the thread will have hundreds of comments and you’ll get bored long before you can read them all.
Still, sometimes I comment without thinking and there was one thread today bemoaning modern art. The canvas in question was basically a solid red. One guy had written a response to all the people saying “That’s not art.” “You’re a bunch of ignorant philistines,” he said. (I’m paraphrasing) “Of course this is great art.”
I responded, saying “O.K., smartass,” (I didn’t actually say smartass, although my tone may have been a bit passive-aggressive), explain how that is art.
This led to a rather spirited discussion about what art is and what it should be, and someone made a comment I liked, which was that there is nothing inherently beautiful about a waterfall, that’s just water obeying natural laws, the beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, so I wrote this poem, which I’m kind of pleased with:
The beauty of a waterfall
is not within the waterfall
that’s only nature following nature’s plan
But, the beauty’s very real
it’s what we see, it’s what we feel
there are whole worlds within the mind of man
It was a good day for poetry. It was a good day.