'BMW Oracle outpaces Alinghi I at 2010 Americas Cup Race' by Alison C. Dibble, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches (painted from live stream of event, on computer screen)

‘BMW Oracle outpaces Alinghi I at 2010 Americas Cup Race’ by Alison C. Dibble, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches (painted from live stream of event, on computer screen)

In painting, there is an infrastructure of rules one could try to recall, such as:

– avoid having any part of the subject dissect the canvas into halves either vertically or horizontally
– don’t use black out of the tube
– work the whole canvas, not just one part at a time
– don’t paint from photos — paint only from life

I’m not endorsing these, just offering some examples. Perhaps the rules develop because painters figure out how to connect with the viewers of their time. Some of the rules change or become obsolete, in part because the audience is shifting in taste and preference, always questing for something new. A strict dictate in an earlier era might have little or no relevance later on. One can develop a long list of rules based on educational methods, research, conversations with friends.

Famous, beloved painters have regularly ignored selected rules. There could be great freedom in exploring the purposeful disregard of certain rules. Art advances through the courage of some people to move out ahead of the vanguard, to lead into new directions. Artists keen on novel and innovative approaches might have to venture into new territory where others have not dared to go.

And how would we know where that is, except that we are looking widely, participating in the scene, stepping outside the boundaries ourselves. We can go beyond the known and accepted. We can try something way different, and derive a strong satisfaction.

Will the audience follow? Isn’t that the question! We might not sell what we produce. Each artist must decide for her/himself whether that matters. At least part of the time, it surely does not.

The choice can be thought of as the mission, should we choose to accept it. Point us to edge of the envelope, and some among us will see how far we can push it.