Monday, March 18, 2019

4 ways to look at art

I love to find new art books.  A new book called Universal Principles of Art begins by saying "the visual arts are unique in that they form a nexus where craft, technology, philosophy and the imagination come together to make something that is both wonderful and necessary."  I have been thinking about these four parts that form a whole, and here are my reflections.

CRAFT in its ancient OE usage meant "strength."  To me this is the sensation of power in a visual image that cannot be explained but can be felt. 

It often emerges from a sensation of ambiguity.  Is the horse aggressive, or frightened? Or both?

TECHNOLOGY from the Indo-European base Tek  means to "shape or make".   For me this is the technical skill of an artwork.

I look for a section of a painting that surprises, as if someone else's mind and hand made the decisions and applied the marks.  And this way of working becomes my teacher for the piece.

PHILOSOPHY is defined as "loving" from the Greek philos and "wisdom" from sophos.  Loving wisdom. To me this refers to the idea or theme that carries the meaning of the work.  In the upper half of this painting the wheelchair is empty and the path disappears either into freedom along the green sward or into calamity in the pond. 

The same theme of dramatic choice is echoed in the lower half--either the bird will be successful or the fish will.  And one or the other will not.

IMAGINATION  is from the Latin verb imaginari "to form an image in one's mind, picture to oneself."  This is perhaps the most praised and pressured aspect of art making. 

Imagination is drama--
the juxtaposition that creates new relationship.

Imagination is a never before seen thing.

But of course these four ways of looking at art do not appear in isolation.  Always they are in effective communion. The strength of the feeling is carried by the match of the  media to its handling, the philosophy is held in view by the imaginative source of all these elements: the artist herself.  

And the source of these paintings is not just from my intention , but also from a series of 47 dreams for the Journey Oracle, asked for when I was creating the divination cards beginning in 1992.  For many years the dreams only existed as the deep source of 47 questions, one for each oracle card.  Decades later I rediscovered the dreams, and decided to paint a image compiled from all the elements in each dream. And so this new journey oracle has begun.