“Realism” is hard to learn. It takes a great deal of effort, concentration, and persistence to acquire. There are art schools and curricula dedicated to “realism”, and they reliably produce skilled painters and draftsmen. However, there is also a low-key ideological cult of “realism” as the only true, objective measure of art and artists.
Why do I put “realism” in quotes? Well, what do we mean by “real”? The term itself is a classic example of begging the question. “Realism” as an artistic concept is infused with a lot of value judgement. Depending on your personal philosophy, it can be easy to conflate “realistic art” with some kind of higher intellectual truth. But if one technical approach is called “realism,” does that make other approaches “unreal”? Invoking “realism” as a category or priority is usually a chauvinistic loyalty to a certain type of artistic interpretation, not an appeal to truth in itself.
Description: A five-pointed star with American flag motif is centrally positioned over three large bald eagle heads. A smaller eagle flies just below. The large eagle heads are superimposed over a circle with stars-and-stripes motif, which covers an undetermined number of other eagles. This composite is overlaid onto an image of the United States flag, which is in space or against a cloudy night sky. It is also possible to make out another five-pointed star in the mid-background, which is itself adorned with five-pointed stars.
Number of Eagles: Undetermined, minimum of 6.
Clarity of Messaging: Stalwart and patriotic, if somewhat disorganized. There is a lack of apparent leadership, as each eagle is looking or flying in a different direction. This shirt is as much about stars as it is about eagles.
Overall Rating: ★★★
As artists we all get frustrated with our works in progress. We feel the sting of seeing our weaknesses exposed on the paper or canvas. That frustration easily leads to giving up and abandoning a half-finished piece. While there is sometimes value in moving on to the next thing and leaving an imperfect piece behind, there is also the risk of running from our mistakes and artistic weaknesses over and over again. Of course, these limitations will pursue us no matter how much we run. Until we turn and face our fears and try to solve the problems on the canvas, we won’t move forward. It’s an ongoing struggle.
Artists working in the digital medium have additional obstacles to overcome in this struggle.