Swirls and Splotches

Posted Saturday, November 5, 2011, 3:34 PM

It may not surprise anyone to learn that I took Art in High School.

I was trying to figure out what kind of art I wanted to pursue. The stuff I liked to do and was quite decent at, sketching and drawing, cartoons and comic strips, was not looked on as a viable career, so my Art Teacher tried to get me interested in all kinds of arts, so I had a lot wider skill set to draw upon, and other career options to fall back on.

This meant trying things like clay sculpture, oil painting, watercolours, pastels, graphic design, and printing. I turned out to be not very good at those things. For an artist, I am surprisingly clumsy and ham-fisted a lot of the time, and the actual manipulation of the tools is where I fell down most often.

Also, being partially red-green colourblind doesn't help much either.

As the end of High School was approaching, I had to look at the Tertiary Education I could move on to. The local Art School, which was a Fine Arts Polytechnic Course, was the only option realistically presented to me. In hindsight, I wish they had pointed me towards the Graphic Design course at the University, but as my Teachers, and especially the Guidance Counsellor, were generally clueless and unhelpful, that wasn't even raised as an option. So in my last year at High School, I had to shape my portfolio towards Fine Arts.

As I mentioned, that was not my passion. But it was all I had.

About halfway through the year, it became clear that I was not going to put together a presentation that would impress anyone. It was all half-finished pencil portraits, black and white cartoons, and simple sketches. Nothing that would excite an Art School snob at all. So the Art Teacher asked me to do something more along the lines of what they were looking for.

I was reluctant. I had no passion or interest in art of that kind. To me that was pretentious nonsense, artificially trumped up to have "meaning" when it was clearly superficial scribbly bullshit catered directly to the snobs. I really didn't want to have to do artwork of that kind. But in the end I did anyway.

So I put together a few random scribbly things, mixed up some bright coloured swirly nonsense, and a few more portraits this time using more and inaccurate colour ranges. I had no passion for them whatsoever, thought they were meaningless and a waste of time, but it filled up my portfolio.

I showed these paintings to others, to see if they reacted to them as soullessly as I had when creating them.

I was very disappointed to discover that they were my most popular works yet. Everyone loved them, and dismissed my own personal favourites entirely.

Sure, people like what they like, and that's fine by me. But they didn't see that I had no interest in what I was making, that it meant nothing to me, that it was just a bunch of random swirls and splatters. They thought it was more than that, when really it wasn't.

That was the moment I realised that the Art World is a steaming load of superficial bullshit that I wanted no part of.

I can almost guarantee you that other Artists, the ones who slam together piles of junk and give some pseudo-philosophical bollocks title, are the ones who made the same discovery as I did but instead saw it as an opportunity to make some money from idiots who wouldn't know true artistic talent if they had breakfast with it. If they could fool the experts into believing there was something in their meaningless splotches and junkpiles, they would laugh all the way to the bank.

This is why I don't like Modern Art and the ridiculous amounts of money some of the lucky few artists are making from it. They know they're scamming people into shelling out their cash, and it disappoints me that people are so stupid as to fall for it. Coupled with their arrogance and patronising pretentiousness, the whole system just makes me irrationally angry.

Sometimes the world makes no sense.

In the end I never went to any Art School.