Counterpose: Chaos, the Bringer of Equilibrium, oil on linen, 36 x 42 inches, studio inventory
Chaos was depressed. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t manage to cope with all of the contradictory forces within her: darkness, burning lights, forms, demons, angels, and bright colors. No single element was the answer to the meaning of existence. It was as if a hundred opinionated voices were speaking all at once, forcefully demanding their spot at the top of the heap. There was nothing tangible to fight, and there was no place to flee. She said: “What an unbearable life.”
There was one tiny, microscopic Sublime atom in the chaotic flux that wasn’t fighting, yelling, or competing. It softly mused: “This is all so silly because there is beauty in everything and everything has its nature. I know there is sense to all of this, we only need to discover the key.”
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Venus 3, oil on linen, 46 x 26 inches. Studio inventory.
Venus was the most beautiful baby born, but she was cursed in two ways: First, no one knew who her father was, her mother deftly convincing the village that the father was Zeus. The second curse was that she was indeed beautiful. She drew looks of appraisal and sometimes envy from everyone she passed. But she felt tremendous shame because she thought they were staring at her because of her illegitimacy.
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Critiquing Art: Look for What is Alive
Courbet, The Painter’s Studio, 1855, oil on canvas, 12 x 20 feet
Representational art students are taught to be critical. During critiques, the stress is on the work’s problems. It is not uncommon to see students turning red with embarrassment or anger. Sometimes one will cry. Aside from a bully or two, most of them will accept the critiques as a necessary evil. “Grow a tough skin” is said to oneself and others. The idea is that in the art world only the tough survive.
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1) Tell us who you are and what you do.
I grew up on the beach and have been an artist ever since. I’m a figurative artist and my work explores light, love, and appreciation.
2) When did you first become familiar with Ayn Rand and her works?
When I was 19, my sister Janet—a world top-20 tennis player—told me she had a book I needed to read. That book was Atlas Shrugged.
3) What most interested you or hit you with an “Ah hah!” about Rand’s thinking?
I felt like Rand was giving me a pat on the back for being an artist. She has a very high regard for artists. It was like she was saying to me: “You’re doing a great job; keep going.”
4) How does her work inspire you today?
She’s a great champion of creators. Rand’s work is a reminder that it’s the creation that matters the most, not superficial things. That is inspiring.
5) Rand wanted us to aspire to a world as it can be and should be. Can you tell us something optimistic you see in the world today or in the future?
What a great question! When I started my career, there were only a handful of figurative artists and they were not held in esteem. Now there are thousands upon thousands of exceptionally good artists who’ve paid their dues and really learned all the skillsets to create incredible figurative works. This is a huge, monumental development and I think Rand helped to set the stage for it.
Michael Newberry is Artist-in-Residence with The Atlas Society