In 2005 I took a trip to Australia. This trip was interesting because unlike most of my previous travel-abroad experiences, this was not studio art related. Unlike my time in Europe, I was not exposed to museum after museum filled with art. Instead, I had limited time for just one musuem visit. Instead of going to a museum devoted to Australian art, I chose to go to one with more of a Western focus, determining that this was where I was more likely to see world-famous art.
Looking back, I can honestly say I missed a huge opportunity by not going to the Australian art museum. While I did see some world-famous art in the other museum, it was comparable to world-famous art I had seen in other parts of the world. It was a nice enough musuem visit, but it did not do much stretch my range of artistic exposure.
On one hand, it was a missed opportunity. One the other hand though, I did become exposed to Australian art. During the course of the trip, I encountered numerous buildings, tourist stops, etc. that featured Australian art, particularly art with an Aborigianl flavor to it. I wasn’t sure of what to originally make of this art. It was so different that I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked it. I was particularly drawn to the Aboriginal “dot” paintings, which were paints made up of countless dots. These paintings produced a dizzying, almost glittery effect that both drew me in and made me wary enough to want to keep my distance.
I found myself thinking about Aboriginal art long after the trip. I realized that the dot paintings were intriguing me because the process of their creation was completely foreign to me. I could not figure out how in the world the paintings were created. After some though, I finally decided to try and make a few of my own. What began as a code to crack became a newfound obsession. My first paintings were rough at best, but I did eventually figure out how to create the same visual effects with dots. I began producing dozens of dot paintings. While the subject matter started off as Australian themed, I began also creating images based on my own life with dot paintings.
Eventually I moved on to other projects, but I learned a lot from my dot painting days. For starters, I know nothing about art that it outside the Western influence. While I can rattle off facts about American and European art, I know basically nothing about Asian, African or Australian art, not to mention countless micro-cultures and their artistic styles.
Lesson learned: take opportunities to learn about every artistic style and culture that you can. You never know what you might decide to apply to your own art work.