Does My Art Make You Mad?

I was talking with a young artist friend of mine the other day and he opined that if art doesn’t upset you, make you angry, scare you, challenge your beliefs, or make a political statement, that he wasn’t sure it should be called art. After he made the statement he sort of looked at me sheepishly and said “I don’t mean to offend you or say your are not a real artist.” I just laughed. Ah youth!

I do large scale landscapes. They are the opposite of upsetting (at least I hope so). I have always made my living as an “artist” but have never had much interest in upsetting people. You see, I have had issues with panic and anxiety since I was 6 years old. The last thing I am interested in is stress. I love that people send me emails about sitting down at the end of the day and having a peaceful moment with one of my paintings.

I recently read a biography of Norman Rockwell. Apparently he never considered himself an artist. He always called himself an illustrator. Am I an artist? I don’t know. I know that making art is humbling and that it wasn’t until much later in life that I truly understood what it meant say that someone was “gifted.” It is a GIFT to have the ability to create something that is truly your own. And it is an even greater gift to be able to make a living while doing it. People don’t earn artistic talent any more than they earn being beautiful or having brown eyes, or having a really big… well, you get the point. Again I say I don’t know if I am a real artist or not. I’m just thankful to be whatever I am.

kevin gillentine