A Blog About Oil Painting

What Makes a Great Art Blog?

/ General Writing

If you've been a follower of this blog (ha ha, just kidding), you'll have noticed that, starting last summer, I changed the format and theme of my articles. I started writing more in-depth stuff.

My aim is to turn my blog into something that's useful for both me and my readers, a collection of information and stories that will be built as a long-term project. To get started I jotted down these thoughts on art blogs, including a list of this things that make for interesting content.

When I wrote my first blog post in 2012 (I'm not counting my brief, abandoned attempt at Tumblr), the shift from blogs to social media platforms was well underway.

Since then the list of artists who maintain a blog has shrunk exponentially.

It's easy to see why: engagement on social media is far greater and its picture-driven format is ideal for artists. On the other hand, writing compelling blog content takes time and effort (and it's difficult!).

Artists have always been drawn together. Before the internet it was through sketch clubs and open studios, in the 1990's it was DeviantArt, in the 2000's it was Wet Canvas, and since 2008 or so it has been Facebook and Instagram. Artists now build global relationships with other artists and their customer base with little regard to how difficult it was to do that even a few years ago.

So why do I continue to maintain an art blog?

  1. It helps me to keep a record of the story behind each painting and details of things like the color palette—information that would otherwise be lost.
  2. Writing about something lets me begin to really understand it.
  3.  But most importantly, as Noah Berlatsky wrote in The Atlantic: "one of the nice things about the Internet is that it provides venues where you can natter on, unfiltered by editors, and largely unencumbered by an audience".

I looked at many other art blogs while trying to find a model for my own. A few stood out (although what I don't find interesting are the blogs that make it to the top of lists of popular art blogs), but in the end I decided to follow my own path and not worry about what anyone else was doing.

All of this got me to thinking: what makes a great art blog (or any blog, for that matter), in particular what makes me keep coming back to read it?

In no particular order, my list would be:

1.Writing

Well-written articles. I'm not looking for Nobel prize-winning literature or even work that's done under the guidance of an ink-smudged editor, just something halfway good.

Although not a blog post, here's a great example: http://www.greggkreutz.com/coping-with-sargent. Gregg has an advantage over most other artists in that 1. he has an English Lit degree, and 2. he's already a best -selling author.

2.Insight & Depth

I want to learn about other artist's techniques and experiences, but most of all I want to read about things that the writer is passionate about—especially if they are willing to push the boundaries:

An example:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2013/jan/09/art-criticism-fawning-hatchet-job-award

3.Story Driven

In most articles about art we lead with a picture then write about it. That always forces the narrative into a pattern and it came become awfully repetitive and predictable—neither interesting nor engaging.

However, when you set out to tell a story and use the art to reinforce your narrative, you have much more freedom to create something interesting. Here's an example from a popular art blog:

https://stapletonkearns.blogspot.com/2016/01/arthur-wesley-dow-and-disjointed-ramble.html

What Stapleton does in this and other articles is to provide a bridge between the past and present generations of painters. His use of story telling combined with his writing ability provides the perfect vehicle for his own insight and experience.

 

 

 

Footnote

I've recently done away with the comments section. If you have questions or comments, please contact me directly. Links from other blogs are always welcome.