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A Merry Jest

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Bob Wilson19/04/2017 20:40:20
1900 forum posts
205 photos

modern art (large).jpgThought I would share this merry jest with you. I recently joined Pixabay, an image site that makes available public domain images that may be freely used for any purpose. I placed this image of my model of the American barque James A Wright on it. It was rejected as "over exposed, not a very nice image distracted by the pen,slightly blurred, badly framed, and totally unsuitable for Pixabays high standards!"crying So, with my twisted sense of humour, I submitted a picture of my modelmaking cutting and spraying board, and entitled it "Cutting Edge Art." It was accepted in double quick time and is now on Pixabay for all to see! surprise


james a wright pb (large).jpg

Edited By Bob Wilson on 19/04/2017 20:40:52

Edited By Bob Wilson on 19/04/2017 20:41:25

Dave Milbourn19/04/2017 23:23:00
4025 forum posts
282 photos

Priceless, Bob - just priceless!

Dave M

Peter Fitness20/04/2017 00:42:38
510 forum posts
215 photos

To paraphrase an expression, "Art is in the eye of the beholder"thinking I'm sure the experts would be able to discuss, in a very learned fashion, the merits of your "Cutting Edge Art" photo, Bob. Things such as angles, composition, colour, etc, To my untrained eye it looks like a cutting and spraying board laugh


Edited By Peter Fitness on 20/04/2017 00:43:22

Bob Wilson20/04/2017 06:38:43
1900 forum posts
205 photos

It was a bit of a laugh, wasn't it? The viewing figures and "likes" are rising steadily! Maybe I will become another Picaso!laugh

Banjoman20/04/2017 09:21:36
1146 forum posts
2423 photos


For my part, I'm inclined to agree with the people at Pixabay: I find the photo of the cutting mat by far the better image!

And now to qualify what I mean by that. An image -- be it a photo, a painting, a drawing, whatever -- can be judged on very different set of criteria.

One possible such set actually has very little if anything to do with the image as such, but rather judges the subject. By these standards, a model of a ship might be deemed a much more interesting object than an old cutting mat, and therefore a picture of the model must be better than a picture of the cutting mat. By the same reasoning, one could claim that a photo of, say, Chatsworth House is intrinsically better than a photo of a run-down Council estate.

In my opinion such judgements are completely irrelevant when evaluating the quailties of an image. They are of course perfectly valid if what you are passing judgement on is the real thing, and personally I certainly find model ships much more interesting to look at as objects than I do old cuttings mats, just as I tend to find Chatsworth House a more attractive piece of architecture than most Council estates I've seen. However, the value of the subject matter does not automatically confer value upon an image of it.

Another possible set of criteria that are more relevant concern the illustrative qualities of the image, i.e. how well it represents its subject matter. From this point of view, I find your photo of the model ship much better than the photo of the cutting mat, because the former really allows you to see both what the model looks like and to judge its size by comparing it to the pen, while the photo of the cutting mat does not show the whole object, nor is it very easy to judge how large a part of the mat that one sees.

The final, and to my mind the most relevant, set of criteria for evaluating the quality of an image purely as an image is concerned with form, i.e. how such things as shapes, colours and light work with and against each other on the surface and within the boundaries formed by the image's outer edges. How well or not this happens has nothing to do with the intrinsic qualities of the subject, which might be real or imagined, nor with whether the image is representative or abstract. However, in practice it is often the case that any illustrative aim in producing an image is likely to conflict with the pure image qualities: to make a better illustration one often has to compromise on form, and vice-versa.

If the people on Pixabay look at images primarily from this third, form point of view rather than the second or first, I am to be honest not at all surprised at their evaluation. The James A. Wright photo is, in my opinion, a rather better illustration, but the cutting mat photo I find a much more interesting form.

Please note that, so far, I have not said anything about "art", which is a further complication. As I think I have already mentioned on the forum, my father was an artist (a painter and draughtsman), and I have spent many an hour discussing these matters with him. He was very firmly of the opinion that any value that an image has as art depends entirely on how well the form works within that image. To him the equation was very simple: good form = good art. Anything else was extraneaous.

Now, the thing is that the ability to read and evaluate, not to mention create form is very much like for example musical ability, i.e. a combination of talent and practice, and just as with music, or story-telling, or design or basically any creative endeavour, when seen over a large enough population such talent will be distributed according to the normal distribution bell curve, as will the tenacity and dedication needed to put in the necessary amount of practice. In other words, those really good at seeing and creating form -- like for example my father was -- will be much sparser on the ground than those that -- like myself -- are in the fair-to-middling part of the bell curve.

This in turn means that much -- I'd even say most -- evaluation of art looks at other things entirely, such as the value of the subject matter, or how the artwork makes one feel. These are not uninteresting matters, but according to my father (and I tend to agree with him, although I know that many people and most of the modern art world does not), they are distractions and neither make nor break art.

For my own part, I tend to add one more condition before I agree to call something art, and that is that the form has to exist as it does because of choices made by the artist, deliberately or based on well-honed skills and instincts. In other words, serendipity does not make anything that I would accept as art: for that, there must be purpose on the part of the artist.

To return to the cutting mat and your photo of it, I would say that if you were to put the cutting mat on a plinth and exhibit it as art, I would say no, that is not art, because although it may be nice to look at, it came about through serendipity and not by purpose. The photo, however, is another matter. There, you did make purposeful choices: the photo was taken at a certain angle, in a certain light, at a certain distance etc. There is also talent involved: you saw the object, realised that the photo could be made and then went on to make it. Not necessarily the talent of Picasso, but talent, certainly!

Alas!, my father is no longer with us, so I cannot show him the image and ask what he makes of it, but in my, as already mentioned, view of much more limited skill, it is a very nice image and I certainly think it has artistic value.

And with those words, I step down from my soapbox ...


Edited By Banjoman on 20/04/20

Bob Wilson20/04/2017 09:49:45
1900 forum posts
205 photos

Thanks for going to the trouble of writing all that. I got a message from a gent in the USA who thought the Cutting Edge Art was fantastic, and wanted to purchase it! I sent him a high resolution image free and for nothing. He had it framed and hung in his office! surprise There was no thought on my part of what went into it. It is actually the top of an old table that is kept outside and used for cutting and spraying. I just pointed the camera at it and took the picture. I knew full well that although it was rubbish, it would be well received in certain quarters.smiley To me, the image of the James A. Wright is superb (even though I say it myself). It is just another example of "dumbing down" as far as I am concernedface 24 As for Picasso's funny pics, I have more talent in my big toe than that sort of thing, but my conscience would not allow me to profit from it.blush

I have had more response from this cutting board in 12 hours than I have ever had from my model pics. I have also had a good laugh over it as well - It has cheered me up no end! smileywinksurprise

Keep the comments coming, I will not take offence - I really do regard it as a "Merry Jest!"


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