Artists are accustomed to a variety of Viewer responses from bizarre facial quirks to downright blunt criticism. Viewers, on the other hand, are used to just as unwanted Artist reactions as eyerolls and pompous rationalizations.

     Yet, art doesn’t exist with only half of the parties in question.  A true aesthetic experience for an Artist only begins with the work’s creation. A painting (or any medium) needs to resonate with a Viewer in order to complete the artistic cycle. Movies, for example, produce creative works of art, but are considered (many times unfairly) failures without big box office returns.   

      Now, social media has entered the realm of the Artist/Viewer. In the world of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (and the list continues to grow), both emerging and established artists have found a means of pushing the level of feedback. Artists post their latest; Viewers respond; Artists chat; Viewers question; Artists try to answer; Viewers scroll up.

      I have been an Artist and an avid Viewer of art all of my life. As a Viewer, especially in my early years, I could not get enough of any Artist I met. I asked dumb questions, some with obvious answers, just in the hope of getting the Artist to “talk art”. As a Viewer, I’ve been the lucky recipient of passionate tirades and introspective musings. On the other hand, I’ve seen my share of shrugged shoulders.

      As an Artist, I have also dished it out to poor unsuspecting Viewers on occasion, yet those times are rare simply because I am a die-hard teacher.  Patience comes with the job, or one doesn’t last long in the profession.    

      When I was in high school in the late 60’s, my grandmother told me that women only had three career options: nurse, secretary or teacher. I didn’t question. I just chose the one with the most control.

      My responsibility as an art teacher, however, is more than providing instruction on the use of materials to make “purty” pictures. My job is to demystify this vague puzzle called Art. Yes, Art is mysterious, but it is also exciting for both the Artist and Viewer IF they know how to communicate with each other.

     As soon as a Viewer is exposed to any aspect of an Artist’s life behind that closed studio door, he takes a huge step towards a fuller understanding and eventual tolerance.