Ask the Art Connoisseur


Ever been confused when friends start to gush about brushstrokes and the “media” used by an artist?  Looking for suggestions for the empty space over your fireplace mantle since your wife made you take down your black light poster of Iron Butterfly?  Ask the Art Connoisseur–he appreciates art even if you don’t!

“To make a squirrel, we’ll need a sphere, a cone, and a lot of acorns.”


Dear Art Connoisseur:

I have two questions, but they are short.  Number one–do you know why there are so many squirrels in “classic” works of art?  Second–how do artists get them to hold still long enough to paint them?  I mean paint the squirrels into a picture, not “paint them” paint them, you know what I mean.

Thanks for your time.

Chuck Schwen, Schwen Discount Auto Parts, Rockford IL




Dear Chuck:

Squirrels have been a source of fascination for visual artists since the Renaissance, when Leonardo da Vinci painted the “Squirrel Lisa.”  da Vinci was also an inventor, and he developed a method to make squirrels hold still by killing them first, then propping them up with strands of uncooked spaghetti.  For more information on the many innovations that this “genius” left us, consult your encyclopedia under “V” for “Vinci,” not “d” for “duh.”





Dear Mr. Art Connoisseur–

I was discouraged from pursuing a career in art by my sixth grade teacher, who said I had no aptitude for numbers.  I have nonetheless gone on to a successful career as bookkeeper at the Lyman Insurance Agency in Neosho.  I know QuickBooks and do my own tax returns using “off-the-shelf” software.

What I would like to know is whether art is like a foreign language or the piano where you have to start early and keep at it for a long time to be any good at it.  There is an exhibition coming up at the Cole County Fair this August and I would like to enter a paint-by-number picture of a cat I got at a hobby store.  (I got the picture there, not the cat.)  It looks just like my little “Fluffer-Nutter,” who is sitting on my lap as I type this!



Wanda Jean Newcombe, Knob Noster MO


Dear Wanda Jean–

Developmental specialists have achieved encouraging results with late-blooming artists such as yourself, and now there are even “adult” coloring books to help people like you stay within the lines.  As for your math background, even the most difficult paint-by-number kit only goes up to 24 colors, so I don’t think you’ll need a calculator to handle it.

Everything was going fine until someone opened up a bottle of Chardonnay.


Dear Mr. Art Connoisseur:

My wife Judy has been bugging me to get rid of my favorite work of art for years.  It is a humorous painting of a bunch of dogs playing poker, and is actually a collector’s item as I purchased it at the going-out-of-business sale of Green Mountain Airways.  It had been decorating their gate at Shaftsbury International Airport, which they had to give up when they went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy after their only plane skidded off the runway and hit a cow.

I am looking for some artsy “lingo” I can use to shut Judy up when she starts in about how “tacky” this very special painting is to me.

Your long-time reader,


Orel Gomes, Quechee, Vermont

Don’t tell Orel this isn’t a masterpiece.


Dear Orel–

You have hit upon a very important principle of aesthetics–you haven’t really appreciated a work of art until you can talk about it in an obscure and high-flown manner.  Tell your wife–nicely, of course–that your treasured item is an example of post-post-modernist irony that challenges our preconceptions of what art is by subverting conventional notions of blodda-blodda-blodda.

For the maximum effect, you may want to wear a beret while saying this.  Make sure you don’t tear out the tag if you want to return it afterwards.


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