Boobs. There, I said it. Not that I tried to conceal my intention when I painted two rather voluptuous pomelos and called the painting "Double P's." Does still life always have to appear stuffy, taking itself soooo seriously? The theme of my blog post today is the significance of humor in art and assigning value to irreverent art.
Sometimes I feel so much passion, compassion, humanity, pain and joy that I wish I could create a painting that translates my emotions so provocatively that it moves people to tears, like the way I feel when I listen to a Sigur Ros song really, really loudly. And then I go and paint a pair of suggestive pomelos. Why? I believe sharing humor is one of my best contributions to humanity. Maybe my painting will not move you to cry, but what if it moves you to laughter?
Cancer Treatment Centers of America use "laughter therapy" to promote overall health and wellness in their patients. Laughter may help prevent a heart attack, according to a 2009 study performed by cardiologists at University of Maryland.
"The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine,' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. (Source: Laughter is the Best Medicine for Your Heart | University of Maryland Medical Center)
Now, how do I determine the value of my flippant still life oil painting? Imagine a business person has to assign a monetary value to every deliverable he creates at work and then has to present the dollar amount to his coworkers at every meeting. If a given project took him 20 hours and he makes $25 per hour, he would announce his deliverable as worth $500. Or say a family physician must announce to her patient that the value of her effort toward that check-up is worth $150. Would you feel differently about your effort, your work? Does this make you feel awkward? Yeah, it does for us painters, too.
My "Double P's" painting currently hangs at Flying M Coffeehouse in downtown Boise, vulnerably announcing to the many patrons of this local favorite shop that it is worth $550. I did not arbitrarily assign that price. I take a price-per-square-inch approach, derived by calculating my target hourly wage (trust me, it's conservative), how many paintings I can make in a year, less my overhead. Operations aside, this painting achieves a balanced, interesting composition with beautiful pop-off-your-wall colors, and it involves honed technique of perspective and depth.
When you perform your annual spring cleaning, make a mental note of how much you spent on the junk you are now donating without hesitation. I bet it adds up to over $500. I would also wager a bet that you would not throw a $500 original oil painting into your donation pile, especially one that brings you heart-healthy laughter every day.
"The ability to laugh -- either naturally or as learned behavior -- may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer," says Miller. "We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list." (Source)