An In-Depth Look
by Clayton Peterson
One often forgotten characteristic of great artists is their commitment to their work and to themselves. They believe in what they do, and they want others to believe in it also. Myles Pinkney's sincere beliefs manifest themselves visually. They act as guides for those of us who, either intentionally or accidentally, enter the worlds that he creates.
Myles is, first of all, a creator. He is an artist, and he is a complex one. In examining the artist and his work, I would like to follow an approach used by R. Politsky, as described in her article entitled, "Toward a Typology of Research in the Creative Arts Therapies." She uses the four psychological typologies set forth by Mitroff and Kilmann in Methodological Approaches to Social Science. Their book presented differing investigative approaches in the sciences, as a part of the process to create a holistic scientific methodology. Their typologies were based upon Jungian inner psychological attitudes.
Merlin's Oak and The Wizard King demonstrate a technical virtuosity that stands above most of what is available today in both the contemporary fine art and commercial art markets. He is, unquestionably, an excellent craftsman, who has mastered his trade on his own.
He continues to harbor an active interest in everything that applies to his field. His interest in anything that might help him improve his art also
reveals that he is a Conceptual Theorist. Similar to the Analytical Scientist, the Conceptual Theorist is unbiased, holistic, imaginative, speculative, generalist, and impersonal.
Myles is, especially when coming up with ideas, someone who builds links
between different paradigms, and creates completely new ones. It is his
ability to look at his ideas from many different perspectives that
enables him to invent new ones time and time again. Yet as fascinating
as an idea may be to him, it must still be based upon his personal
values, or he will not pursue it. This is not out of stubbornness, but
out of the respect that he holds for the many artists who, by their
works, made it possible for him to become the artist that he is today.
Artists like Bouguereau, Alma-Tadema, William Holman Hunt, and Lord
Leighton are among those for whom he has the greatest respect.
Myles honors many artists who, until fairly recently, were not even included in art history textbooks. He has always been an Idealist, in that sense. As an Idealist he is not concerned with political issues. The world that he depicts stands apart from our social concerns, but he is not callous to the needs of the viewer. By using cultural references and personal symbols, he creates an art that is spiritual and mystical. This reveals Myles as, most strongly of all, both a Conceptual and Particular Humanist. Mitroff & Kilmann explained that for the Humanist, "The best stories are those which stir people's minds, hearts, and souls and by doing so gives them new insights into themselves, their problems, and their human condition" (Mitroff 93).
It is clear that Myles' work is about storytelling. Merlin's Oak is the story of an ancient sage and his future, and it is told by the revealed details in the painting, as well as by the characters' attitudes. The world's cultures abound with the stories and the myths that he is retelling and re-inventing for our time. Dragons and wizards, for example, are two of our most ancient heritages, but they stand as vital to us as ever. It is easy to prove by asking any parent if they have heard of Harry Potter? Why? It is because "Myths serve to inspire, generate conviction, orient action, and unify a person or group by creating the 'passionate participation of all functions of the personality (individual myth), or of all members of a society (collective myth)' " (Mitroff 4)
These paintings are not a record of the serious and humorless world that we think we walk around within, that we drive our cars across, that we consider when we think of our jobs, our bank accounts, and television programs. Instead, they are evidence of a world that is more tangible to us than our worries. His paintings are of the concerns that we address when we select a religion, laugh with our children, wonder what we can contribute to the world and why we are here. We are here to do the things that no one else can do for us, for our own unique and sometimes, secret purpose. Without it, we no longer exist. Without that purpose, we would not be able to live in the face of all the evil and grief that the world can offer. It is the one thing that each of us needs to believe in and remain committed to.
It is always self-affirming to see another person who is dedicated to what they do, who understands why they do it, and who is generous with the things that they have grown to love. This is what Myles Pinkney will be recognized for. What he has given to the world will be remembered for a very long time.
Politsky, R. H., "Toward a Typology of Research in the Creative Arts Therapies." The Arts in Psychotherapy. 22 (1995): 307-314.
Mitroff, I. I. & Kilmann, R. H., "Methodological Approaches to Social Science." San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1978.