The Art of Michael Whelan - a series
For the next few weeks I'm going to be exclusively sharing the work of my favorite artist Michael Whelan http://www.michaelwhelan.com
This is his piece Dawn Portal
For some time now I've come to the conclusion that whilst I love photography and indeed, I have great and grand plans for my own hobby of it, painting and illustrating is still where my heart lies - in the appreciation sense. For photography much of the "skill" lies in where you are at the time. Be that on the street, in danger or out gallavanting around the globe to capture landscapes. Really, it is where the photographer is that makes the photo. Yeah, you need to have an eye - but it doesn't go much more beyond that. Not like painting.
For with painting, and drawing, illustrating - you not only need an eye, you are not hindered by location. You can go anywhere and indeed, the best painters bring us places only accessible with our imaginations.
Most 'Fine Artists' who have gone to 'Art School' and want to sell in Galleries think this painter/Illustrator Michael Whelan isn't even any good. They scoff at his use of an airbrush (they did, he wielded it amongst great woe at his university, where he thankfully ignored them all) and believe his works lack "life."
I'm quite certain they are just unutterably jealous of his excellent skill with a medium that they can only push around with their fingers and then, with great impassioned ardour, attempt to pass off as meaningful with invented meaning.
You can quite tell what I think of 'Fine Artists.' Not much.
What I'll be sharing of Whelan's works are his personal visions. Not everything I show will be - I will show some contracted Illustration as well - but his personal works are what speak the loudest. It isn't often that someone with vision has the skill to actually visualize and bring to life what he sees in his mind. To me, there is no better realization of an artists symbolism, than someone who can actually...paint.
For the people wondering why I think what I think of 'Fine' Artists:
When I was 13 (I am fairly certain I've written this story before) I had a hippie 8th grade teacher, she was great. Very chill, loved stories and English and was very, very smart. Since it was California in the 80s we had all kinds of leeway with curriculum so she decided to do an Art History section.
She darkened the room and had us all sit on the floor. She showed us slides of Western Art from the middle ages on up. After describing the basics of the history of it, she began to ask us "how they made us feel" and "what did we think they meant."
Well, for lack of a better word, I learned that year what a grand storyteller I was in my own right; a bullshitter of the highest degree. I just began making stuff up. The more grandiose it was, the bigger words I used (and I was clever, I made sure to make it sound good, relative to the work we were looking at) the more she loved it.
But that was just the first experience I had. I was able to use this skill at any and all "art" related classes I had on through the rest of my education and indeed, on into adulthood and into gallery shows and exhibits my entire life. Making stuff up that sounds good, even to professionals. It's entirely too easy to do and once you get the knack of it, you can sound like a pretentious douchebag with the best of em.
All in all, I'd find the exercise rather amusing. I felt like a con artist. Shilling bullshit to hopeful believers.
I have zero respect for anyone taken with 'Fine Art'. It's a facade for cultural gatekeeping, that's all it is. They can shove it. Similar to how Rockwell and Leyendecker were shunned by Fine Artists, it still happens to this day. It makes me sick - but I'm sure that it's simple envy.
(a final aside; the film Art School confidential is a hilarious peek into what I'm talking about. John Malkovich's character is the pinnacle of precisely the kind of "Fine Artist" I'm talking about. Haha)