Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The value of Pinterest

Bato Dugarzhapov, my Pinterest discovery
If you are an artist and you're not using Pinterest, I think you're missing out. I view Pinterest as a kind of "flash card" system to learn about art, artists, and art history. I use it to view bodies of work from specific artists, discover new artists, promote my own work, and inform my own painting.

Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that allows users to create online theme-based bulletin boards of images they find interesting. Images on Pinterest come from the internet, blogs, or any other source that's available online. I have boards dedicated to various categories of art (landscape, interior, still life, etc.); self-portraits; artists' studios, workspaces and materials; and many other topics (including lots of non-art-related subjects). Although it's possible to keep your boards private, the educational value of Pinterest comes from seeing what other people post. I often find pinners whose taste and interests overlap with mine and use the results of their research to expand my own investigations. I'm frequently introduced to artists I would never have otherwise known about. (I'll write more about this later.)

Bato Dugarzhapov: The Winter Linden
Pinterest is helping me develop my taste in art and my knowledge about art history. When I sort through thousands of images of art I become more adept at recognizing the work of specific artists and how painting styles have evolved over time. I find myself going through phases of liking certain compositional elements, subjects, or perspectives and then I move on to a new obsession. All these visual references help me understand and appreciate art more thoroughly. On a practical level it helps me make may own work more confident and adventuresome.

Obviously Pinterest is no substitute for going to museums and galleries. But when time and expense are constraints, it's a good substitute. I'm convinced that my time in the studio is enhanced by what I'm learning on Pinterest, and I also recognize that it can be a way to procrastinate and avoid getting into my studio and making my own art. Like everything else, Pinterest is used intentionally and in balance with other activities.