This is a classic example of a painting on velvet. We saw this one hanging on a wall and I had to take a photo. It is old and dated and some might even call it tacky, yet it’s still on the wall. This Indian isn’t a terrible painting, it is simply on a bad background. For all we know someone’s talented child or mother or sibling painted this for them as a gift, and they display it proudly. Art is subjective and will come in and out of fashion depending upon the audience and time. Some people think velvet is really cool, others find it vulgar, and still others like me find it fascinating. For whatever reason velvet was quite the hit back in the day. It’s classic, a bit strange but still a classic.
I’m not sure who started painting on velvet, probably a big fan of Elvis. Maybe it was an easy backdrop to obtain, easy to maintain, easy to stretch, easy to paint on, easy to display? I have seen different color velvet backgrounds, usually black and blue as they allow the brighter colors in the paint to really stand out. I have seen various topics, and of course Elvis has been the most common of all! Elvis on velvet, gotta love it, it’s a classic.
There are so many things that we call classics and yet have no idea why. Someone, somewhere in time thought they were good ideas, or they were starting a trend, or even moved things out of the box and appeared to be avant garde. For whatever reason the first person to think to make or produce these items, after years of being in the American culture they are now classics. They have come to represent the era, the time, the mindset of a portion of Americana. I would put velvet in the same category as an avocado refrigerator. We now find it tacky and odd to have ever made an appliance out of that color, yet most of American had that color for many years. And believe it or not, some designers are bringing it back (say it isn’t so!)
Maybe things become a classic in our eyes because they represent a simpler time, a space where we could do things without the internet, media, social overload we experience today. It took longer for new things to reach everyone, so when we saw them they really sparked our imagination. We had to pay attention and allow the new and different to register. We had time to process them and to figure out if we liked them or not. We had privacy and space to think for ourselves to be able to say yeah or nay to these items. We figured out how to make them our own instead of being told in an instant what we should think, or that we had to have them to be in and up to date. And we had the freedom to reject them simply because we didn’t like them…then that was it, we could see them no more if we chose not to. Some people loved art on velvet, others only associated it with Las Vegas, Elvis, and businesses of ill repute. Either way, you could choose for yourself and include it or exclude it from your world, or maybe even covet thy neighbor’s until you could afford it too. The more people who chose it made it a classic.
Velvet paintings represented something different, something strange. They showed imagination even if you don’t understand the why. Someone had the guts to do it first and someone else liked it enough to buy it, hang it up, and show it to others. It meant flash and glamour and expensive…well, sort of. It meant Vegas baby and all that went with it. So bring home or paint on velvet and you too could be on trend and create a classic for generations to come.
Let me go on record in saying that I do not plan to work on velvet nor do we plan to buy new kitchen appliances in avocado. But who knows what people will say in thirty years about the early 2000s. What goes around comes around, and maybe soon HGTV will show something on velvet and it will be all the rage all over again. Like I said, a classic. Good news you can still decide for yourself and take it or leave it.