Beauty, Representational Art, and Modernism

I am sitting in a beautiful beachfront lounge writing this blog. There’s an excitement in the air for those signed up to listen and gain insight from the upcoming speakers. Odd Nerdrum walks by; artists outside are plein air painting along the boardwalk. Venders are setting up their products with eager buyers waiting to purchase a new painting tool. There’s something magical about putting yourself into a new environment with like-minded people. (Agree with this? Tweet it!)

A common scene during The Representational Art Conference (TRAC)

A common scene during The Representational Art Conference (TRAC)

The Representational Art Conference (TRAC) was established in 2012 with the purpose of promoting the role of representational art in the 21st century through discussion, presentations, and demonstrations.

This conference began with an honest and personal desire to bring together those who wish to discus, paint, and socialize with representational art as the focus. Academic papers, panel discussions with question and answer time, and demonstration form the structure of the conference.

Where does representational art fit into the world of conceptual art, installations, assemblages, deconstruction, and reconstruction? Is beauty an important element to consider or has it been put aside in place of critical thinking and concept? Can beauty and representational art coexist with modernism?

portrait painting by Jean Pederson, Silk Wrapped

Silk Wrapped (watercolor, 16×20) by Jean Pederson. Just as in any other art form such as dance or music, there are many genres within the visual arts. Realism, Modernism, and Expressionism are a few examples of visual genres.

There is a very strong movement growing in support of beauty, skill, representation, and critical thinking. Many of the attendees are young and confident artists who are ready to take on the challenge of being relevant within today’s art scene. And a surprising number of people presenting papers for the convention fall within that demographic.

I remember while in a university drawing class in the 80s, my professor asked the class to draw a picture of nothing. I never understood the value of this assignment and many others–he couldn’t articulate what his expectations were. I suspect that many art students have experienced similar directions over the decades. This type of art education seems to be part of the frustration when chatting with presenters and participants alike.

I do believe that there is something to be learned and gained from all genres of art just as there are in musical and dance styles. In the meantime the California sunshine will shine upon me as I wait in anticipation for sharing of more art-drenched topics.

Best regards,

Learn more from Mixed Media Artist Jean Pederson
Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques, and the Personal Artistic Journey (book or download)
Expressive Portraits: Watercolor and Mixed Media Techniques (paperback)
Wet Glazing Watercolor Portrait (DVD)
Watercolor Artist, August 2011: Create the illusion of depth in your paintings with these simple tips and helpful illustrations of linear and aerial perspective. (article)
• See her work at

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