There are many ways of experiencing art, depending on many things including personal experience and preference; and experiences of art – both general, and in relation to education and the exposure one will have had to art (cultural, environmental, bias, etc).
For every person there is a difference in the sense of how something looks, feels, tastes, etc. So, it follows that the process of making art is going to amount to each person making something individual, personal and meaningful. Everyone will have a different set of thought processes and outcomes to bring to any art they make. It all depends, I suppose, on your ‘wiring’!
Consider too that there are plenty of examples of artists work being affected by their mental or physical state. For example, Dadd had significant mental problems. El Greco’s work looked elongated because of his astigmatism.
If we throw in cultural norms, and the perceived value of the arts in education (or not!) immediately one can see that there are huge variations in perceptions of how to make and look at art.
There is much that can be said about art in education. One is lucky if one has good experiences of making art while in school. This experience can be a bit ‘hit and miss’, and certainly a great many people reach their adult years with only a narrow sense of what art is and, more notably, what it can mean for the individual. (Sometimes it seems as though art is regarded as a ‘luxury’ that ‘doesn’t matter that much!’)
Making art and talking about it requires a whole vocabulary that might not necessarily be useful in every-day-speak. The more often we involve our selves in creative activity, the more often we extend our range of vocabulary. Experiencing dance, music, painting, etc. allows the individual to express themselves in a personal way and consequently, to develop vocabulary and ways of expressing ideas that fit those experiences. At the outset, children are often likely to express their ideas more freely and creatively if that expression comes out of experiences such as dance, music, etc. (There is a parallel with art. If one wants to justify art in education, it can be said that the value of art is that children emerge, from these ‘multimedia’ processes as more fluent, confident and, very importantly, involved in what they say. Also, the quality of written work that children produce is frequently more vibrant, expressive and bold as a result of creative experiences).
Much of the vocabulary that creative people use is ‘process’ led. Processes that might include thinking in some, or all, of the following ways: Emotionally, imaginatively, creatively, expressively, poetically, qualitatively, technically, analytically, observationally, physically, critically and so on.
The use of language in art can also have it’s reference in history and science, etc.
Engaging the body in a physical sense is central to making art whether that refers to holding a paintbrush, chiselling rock, beating a drum, dancing, etc. So again, new vocabulary is used throughout the making process.
Our use of language, and particularly our vocabulary, can be as simple or as extended and detailed as we wish. In truth, as soon as we are taught to speak, that very human characteristic becomes our companion in life. We talk to ourselves and to others and vocabulary we choose is what colours our life in all we do.
I have begun to publish a picture image each week on Facebook.
This is the one for this week:
This picture is painted on unprepared canvas. I used mainly Golden paints.
It was developed over several months as I made decisions about the colours I wanted to use. At first, the picture was pale but over time I developed greater intensity in the colour. I also worked on creating texture using thick paint in some areas of the picture.
I thought a lot about the title - which didn't emerge till the work was finished.
I thought that the idea of global voyaging seemed to fit with a lot of conversations people are having at the moment, often about our carbon foot prints and the way we impact on the earth through our travelling.
It also reflects on travelling over oceans... which is exciting and sometimes perilous!
A Painting a Week: 2
Bowl of Light (acrylic on prepared canvas)
I painted this picture about five years ago when I was investing a great deal of interest in developing 'abstract' compositions. The picture evolved over a number of weeks. In that time I considered the composition in terms of colour, shape and balance.
The original inspiration for it came from a visit to Wales. A friend and I had driven to the top of a valley near Llangollen on a wet afternoon. As we turned to dip down into the valley the sun broke through and literally changed everything. The valley danced with light, and to add to the beauty of the event song birds began to sing. It was a magical moment. Moments such as that lodge in my memory and influence my mood and my ideas.
Making Progress in Painting
I have begun to think about how to get back into painting after show-ing my work in St Ives.
The initial problem is facing up to an empty canvas. This is problematic because there is no guarantee that there will be inspiration. The muse may not be there. It is a common thing for artists to find that they lack inspiration, and this may last for days or weeks. Sometimes more! The thing is not to bow to dejection and to let that get the better of one.
It is important to keep turning up to the studio – to sit and think; to organise tubes of paint; to tend brushes, etc. These times are rarely wasted. I have been awaiting the moment when I might put brush to canvas. I am looking forward. This week I have begun to work and to see what may emerge. So here is what have been up to:
I painted a simple acrylic on robust watercolour paper. Next, I cut it up and selecting useful parts that might offer a way forward. I then developed these small bits of inspiration - painting them onto un-stretched canvas.
Some new elements have emerged in these pieces. The palette is restricted and that in itself offers a way forward. Also, the second and third pieces have a sense of space which reminds me of desserts and prairies. Thinking about this ‘spacial’ element could be interesting.
I am unsure of where all of this will lead but I now have things to explore and ideas to build on and that suggests a good start has been made.