Monday, April 20, 2009

Teaching Children to Love Fine Art

"I don’t want to go to the museum! It’s Boring!"
That complaint your children might express at the idea of learning more about fine art could cut you to the quick if you want nothing more than to see your children come to love fine art as much as you do.

It’s a natural instinct we have as parents to want our children to appreciate the finer things in life.
But how do we go about instilling a love of fine art in our kids in such a way that they rush to the car with zeal and enthusiasm at the prospect of going to the museum and enjoying some great art?

Well obviously, we want to avoid making it a chore or something they "have to do" just to get mom and dad off their backs. Yes, it’s ok if they spend time with great art because its part of what you do as a family. But if it becomes the center of a big fight and struggle, that will not instill the love of art that you know and you want them to know.

The first place children will begin to understand the love of great art will be when they see it in you. Even though children, and especially teenagers don’t seem to be learning from their parents, they are learning from watching everything you do and listening to the things you speak passionately about and value in your own life.

If enjoyment of fine art is a value to you, let the children see that passion in you. Don’t keep from dinner table conversation or from your adult interactions your emotions and reflections of the great things about spending time with great art. If it is expressed sincerely and comes from your heart, your children will "hear" that and it will become a value to them.

To youth, the greatest value of all is, "is it fun?" Well, fun is just youthful way of describing something they love to do, that the time doing it passes quickly and they cannot get enough of that event. So you can capture that feeling of fun by making their excursions into the art world fun and exciting. Children love to have fun with their parents.

So when its time to go to the museum or galleries, put yourself in your most fun loving mood. Make every aspect of the trip lighthearted and full of adventure. You can make a game of the trip by creating games with small prizes for the children to play as they go through the galleries and admire the artworks.

Surround your time on "art safari" with the kids with family events that everyone enjoys. When we were children, my mom and dad always started a trip to the art gallery by going to the park near the gallery for a picnic and some time of play.

Then we made the excursion into the galleries a family affair so the children could observe from their mom and dad how to look at great art and see the feelings those art works caused in their parents. Then afterward, it was time for ice cream and discussions about what they had seen and observed.

Special art events have a special excitement that kids just love to be a part of. When the King Tut exhibit came through America, the excitement in each city along the route was phenomenal.

So when you find out about special events, make sure your kids are aware of it and the unique chance to explore some part of the art world that may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The school may be building that excitement too so you can use the momentum happening at school to make that trip into the world of fine art especially exciting.

Until next time...

Cynthia Goranson

Painting "Gator Days"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Art That is Controversial

There are some fine artworks that can be described in no other terms then that they are “difficult”.

They may deal with harsh themes of fear, pain, loneliness or themes of violence such as war or suicide. When we encounter these kinds of art works in shows or galleries, it is our natural instinct to avert our eyes or just avoid that part of the show because we know it will upset us.

But we need to know how to look at difficult fine art as much as we can look at art that pleases us. The artistic soul does not confine itself to just themes of happiness and peace. There is something about the artistic temperament that can produce some of the most beautiful art works from the torture in the soul over personal tragedy or social wrongs.

Never has this been more evident than the explosion of art that came out of the great wars of the last century. It seems that after each great conflict, artists came forward with stirring and moving art works that reflect the horror in the human heart and soul that is a result of these terrible events in human history.

So this is one good reason to patronize and appreciate what the artist is trying to say to us. By expressing those strong emotions in the form of art, the artist is performing an act of emotional purging personally. But because the place of artist in society is sometimes to bring healing, that catharsis of the soul the artist goes through can perform a similar catharsis for you and I when we are strong enough to expose ourselves to that art work.

It is also important to remember that the artist is not necessarily trying to upset you and not to allow others to interpret the artist for you. Not long ago the photographic artist Robert Mapplethorp created a huge controversy with a show that included some very graphic sexual images.

Along with those images were some lovely photographs of flowers, fruit and children. But because the artist has offended the sensibilities of some, many interpreted his other art works, particularly those of the children as obscene.

Look at each artwork in its own context. It is possible that Mapplethorp was just making a commentary on the beauty and innocence of young children. But because the children were nude and because Mapplethorp was gay and had produced other very provocative sexually charged pieces, the viewers projected perverted sexuality onto those pictures of children.

The lesson to us is that we cannot let other circumstances to influence how we react to art. Each artwork stands on its own. We, as educated consumers, must judge each work in its own setting to see what the artist may have been saying with that particular work.

There may be astounding beauty even in scenes of tremendous suffering and human tragedy. So when you look at a difficult piece, in addition to letting the theme and the pathos of the piece talk to you, be sure you judge the artwork artistically as well.

Study the colors, the relationship of the objects to each other, the use of realism, surrealism and abstract art concepts to add depth to what you are looking at. Always let the artwork be an artwork. Then you will enjoy multiple meanings and layers of cognizance to what the artist has presented.

Until next time...

Cynthia Goranson

Painting "Northern Conflict"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thinking of Starting Your Own Art Gallery?

So you are an art collector at the moment, with several pieces of art in your collection, and have noticed just how profitable the world of art can be for individuals looking to get into it in terms of business rather than as a hobby.

It may seem like a romantic notion to have your own art gallery and be able to influence the world of art in a small way, but that is often not the reality.

Starting any business of your own is extremely difficult, but starting an art gallery can be one of the most difficult of business tasks. You not only have to have a measure of artistic talent, as such, but you have to have a great deal of business sense.

However, there are several tips that can help you on your way if that is really what you want to do.

1. Never open your own art gallery if it is only for the money - If you are in the gallery business for the money then look elsewhere because most galleries only make enough to cover the bills for the first few years. Until your business is established, you have next to no chance of making enough money to call your business a success.

You should open the gallery because you love art and not to make a profit. If you do make a profit then that is a bonus.

2. If you have no knowledge of art collecting then do your homework beforehand - If you know nothing about art collecting then running an art gallery is not for you, but if you are determined then you need to learn all of the ins and outs of art collecting before you can own a gallery. This will take you at least six months if not longer so be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

3. Tap into your passion for art - A passion for art is a must and is necessary if you really want to attract both artists and sponsors alike. It is also necessary when trying to advertise any events that you have in your calendar. Beware of letting your love of art get in the way of your business head.

4. Know exactly what it is that you plan to do - You should have an aim, a goal, before setting up any business. If you want to own an art gallery then you should have a target for sales and a target for your involvement in the community too.

5. Find out where the best location would be before renting premises - Of course, if you are planning to set up business in a village with 250 working class inhabitants then it is to be expected that business will not be booming.

However, if you have a good location in the centre of a town with little competition and middle class demographics then you will do far better. Check out rents and your audience before you actually put a deposit down on your potential gallery.

6. Have a business background - You must have business skills in order to make your art gallery work. Without business acumen, the likelihood is that you will be one of the businesses that do not see two years, and there are way too many of those around at the moment!

7. Brush up on your people skills - You need people skills to be able to attract artists, sponsors and press attention and should be able to make all of those feel comfortable in your gallery. Attracting customers is also a big part of any business so make sure that you are well prepared!

There is so much more to opening a gallery than meets the eye. You have all of the mundane tasks like hanging promotional materials, publicizing events, making sure that artists want to trust you to sell their work, courting the press and any number of other tasks that get tiresome and boring after the first few weeks.

If you are prepared to do that and dedicate yourself to the pursuit of the fine arts for the rest of your life then it may be for you. You must certainly be prepared to work hard. Just make sure that you are getting into art gallery owning for the right reasons instead of the romantic image that you have in your head.

Until next time...

Cynthia Goranson

P.S. Consider opening an online gallery to get started. To see an example visit

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Really Great Art Can Change You

Art and art appreciation is usually categorized as entertainment primarily because it is something we do with our free time. Unless you are an artist, gallery owner, agent or dealer, art is probably not your profession so you participate in your enjoyment of fine art when you can away from work.

But there is something unique about fine art that is different from other forms of entertainment. More so than bowling or playing cards or even camping or skiing, great art can make changes to us at a fundamental level and make us more mature and reflective people.

Art appreciation is an acquired taste. To be able to enjoy fine art, one must go through a period of acclimation and growth as a person.

To someone who does not know how to enjoy fine are, the sight of an art lover standing for an hour in front of a great painting, unmoving seems virtually absurd. They cannot understand that even though the art lover is still and the art work is not moving, there is a hurricane of emotion, passion and communication between the art lover, the art work and the artist all taking place that cannot be seen with the eyes.

Artists share some characteristics with poets, playwrights and even evangelists because they often are burning with a message to pass along to mankind. And because art is their language and way of talking to us, that artist pours his soul into an artwork to reach you and I when we come upon that artwork and “unlock” the meaning and hear the message the artist has to say.

In that way, great art can communicate philosophical, ethical, moral, political, poetic or religious ideas just as loudly as any speaker presenting a convincing diatribe from a pulpit. The language of the artist is the image and the stirring emotions those images provoke. But those images can change how we view the world and how we understand the deeper idea that the artist wanted us to ponder with him or her in ways that could never be communicated any other way.

Artists call upon us to look deep within ourselves and reflect on our place in the universe and within the scope of human history. These are “deep thoughts” that we would not ordinarily ponder left to our own. So the artist is doing us a great service by facilitating deeper reflection. That deeper reflection makes us wiser people, more mature and intelligent people and people of heart and soul more so than if the artist never spoke to us.

The reflection that time spent with great art births in us can cause changes at a very deep place in our personalities. It is not uncommon for a dad to come away from time with a great artwork with a resolve to be a better father and to take time to savor the moments he has with his children. A minister may come to a moment of quiet in his soul looking at a fine art work and walk away with a deeper appreciation for his place in the lives of his congregation and a stronger conviction to do all he can to minister to the needy in the community.

Even the politician or businessman will be challenged by great art to stop and think about not just what we do but why we do it. Fine art shines a light in our souls and shows us things about ourselves that no human counselor could ever reveal.

And if we grow into better people, people of heart and an empathy for others around us and people who spend time in time and reflection about the big affairs or our lives, then the time we spend with fine art allowing it to change us will have been time well spent indeed.

Until next time..

Cynthia Goranson

Painting "Santa Fe Santuary"