It's the dreaded statement usually uttered by some misguided shmoe who makes the non-existent hair on the skin of accomplished abstract expressionist artists curl as their blood begins to boil and they roll their eyes while asking themselves why they even bother.
"My FOUR-year-old can do that!"
Yes, I've attended art fairs and museums where I've stood among the crowd in front of some of the most bad-ass paintings ever created and I've heard it myself more than once. The statement is quite revealing. Let's tackle this one head on, shall we?
We are living during a time when those fraternal twins, arrogance and ignorance, can be found frolicking in the background of every scenario that involves someone who thinks they can do someone else's job better - or just as good - as they can. It's an epidemic.
As a side note, you have no idea how much criticism writers and journalists get from people who just assume that what has been written was SO simple and easily put together. Sometimes the criticism can be downright venomous.
These days, people look at the finished product - good or bad - and never think about the deep consideration, research, emotion, sweat and sometimes blood that often goes into whatever it is that has been created for their consumption. This is why I think long and hard before I am critical of anything. Seeing the finished product only gives me part of the picture. Sure, it's the most important thing, but it's really incomplete. This is why I interview artists. I want the WHOLE picture, not just my personal perception of what has been created.
Imagine going to your grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. You arrive just in time for dinner to be served. The table has been set with the golden brown turkey holding court. The mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce look delicious. The green beans and corn on the cob are slathered with hot butter and the chocolate cake, pumpkin pie and cherry cheesecake look heavenly. Because your grandmother is your grandmother, she has taken great care to set everything on a white, antique table cloth in the dining room and the table is also decked out with a lovely green wreath and lit candles pepper the entire room and give an air of holiday elegance. The house is super clean and smells like warm rolls and apple pie. In short, your grandmother is Martha Stewart. Everything is as close to perfect as humans can be.
You are so inspired and blown away by this wonderful scene that looks absolutely effortless. In the midst of your glamoured intoxication, you blurt it out ...
"Hey Grandma! This looks great! You know what? Next year, we're gonna have Thanksgiving at our house! We can do this too!"
Your grandmother gives you that legendary Debbie Reynolds, knowing smile and says, "Well good darling! Before you leave, I'll give you my grocery list, recipes, house cleaning instructions, timeline and everything you'll need to pull it off! Oh and don't forget your budget!"
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Masterworks, masterpieces and jobs well done inspire us. In fact, isn't it the main function of excellence to inspire? Shouldn't a job well done actually motivate us to tackle our own challenges and pursue excellence in our own lives?
Paintings done by great painters set high standards. They're role models. Children need role models. Role models inspire us and they inspire children. When we get inspired, we also believe that like Superman, we too, can fly. That's just how it works and perhaps that's as it should be.
So artists, the next time you hear someone say, "My FOUR-year-old can do that!" Think about your grandmother who slaved away for you the week leading up to that Thanksgiving dinner. Think about the elbow grease, the emotion, the sweat and sometimes the blood that no one even considers because they're so blown away and inspired by your finished product.
Think about Superman and how with every passing generation, he convinces four year olds that they too can fly. "It's ... EASY!"
Now ... hear those words again in your head ... "My FOUR-year-old can do that!"
You're smiling right now, aren't you? I KNEW it!
Hey ... it comes with the gig of being a rock star.