Essays

 
 

The Amateur and the Professional

 
 

In working life there are two opposites, the professional and the amateur. One term co-exists with its opposite. Being an amateur or professional is based on notions of comparison determined by both the viewer and the person applying these terms. Depending if you are looking from within or from the outside levels of competence, efficiency, embarrassment and dissatisfaction are involved. An amateur may be content with their hobby or may be frustrated that they never take full possession, or display mastery, repeatedly tinged by shyness and vulnerability. A painter in their studio is an amateur, and then as a simplified projection, perhaps when their painting is ornamenting the walls of a gallery they become professional. There is a humility inherent to the play associated with the studio likened to tinkering in the garden shed. It is these earnest excavations that make painting so direct as philosophical objects, touched, like tertiary relics by the painter. 

 

The notion of a professional-amateur or amateur-professional is worth pursuing in a painting context. Painting epitomises these moments, as with every painting there are moments of intuition, luck as well as moments of design and assured planning and of naivety and worldliness. As both these terms contain complex relationships, that one cannot ignore, without sending a nod to the values they represent, a sometimes deliberate but mostly accidental refusal to do so renders these actions diluted and into a merely a ‘style’. This weakening of specificity is what is to be blamed likewise when something held symbolically by a sub-culture becomes ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ and enters the realm of fashion and mainstream and is rendered merely ‘fashionable’[1], as meaning is lost. Painting is always a homogenising medium, centrifugal and centripetal in nature as it can bear witness to the culmination of opposites. With amateurism there is a feeling of dissatisfaction, of undesirability, but as painters mediate each painting a fresh, these feelings are perhaps ritually repeated to fruitful outcomes born from going through the motions. 

 

 

 

[1]How do we make singular meaning in painting with such complex nuanced data that surrounds us? We must take ownership by personalizing something more widespread or ordinary; to stake territory, to strengthen the humanity in the mundane. We are surrounded by information that rests in objects that are both specific and nonspecific, in that the removal of the object from its provenance creates further chaos, how do we take them and make them our own? This is the change in provenance that youth cultures utilise, the appropriation of styles, but oblique to fashion and more about the power one has to rewrite an object's meaning, in an accumulative sort of way.  It is only when the values are diluted (and therefore exposed) with expansion of specific peoples, sometimes pertaining to differences in class in the UK, and that of multiple places, that the original meaning of the act is lost and rendered a ‘style’.