I was at Ethan’s (9) elementary school open house. He was showing me all of his sculptures, paintings, poems, stories and other materials. He made this one piece of artwork using colored tracing paper. Of course, there were 20 pieces like this next to it, but Ethan’s stopped me in my tracks.
Unlike the others, his had excellent composition, balance, color, movement and most importantly taste. It was actually legitimate artwork. It was a simple piece, but all of the details were right.
One might be a great chef, musician, interior designer, hairdresser or other kind of artist without any training. You could just naturally have taste. Learning the terms and official doctrines is a great thing to do and will help an artist evolve, but doesn’t change the fundamentals.
What is taste? Where does it come from? Why do some people have it and others do not? If you have taste in food, does that translate to other disciplines? Being able to create and being able to recognize great things is different as well. One might have taste in food and not be a chef; such as a food critic.
I want to encourage my kids to think about how things are put together and why one is better than another on objective as well as subjective levels. Why do we remember Mozart and not Salieri? Why do people pay so much for a Van Gogh but not as much for a Winslow Homer? Something is hard wired in our brains to like certain things. Beauty isn’t all subjective. Having taste has something to do with being able to see and feel these wirings.
Maybe I am not uncovering some innate truth here, but looking at that piece by Ethan last night, I felt proud that my boy had some taste.