Art vs Me

At a young age it was clear that I had abilities to draw and color that I had either quickly developed or was gifted with (perhaps a blog should be done in regards to the idea of talent – lots of differing opinions on that). I could observe an object or a picture and do a relatively accurate representation of it through contour, with some crayons, markers, or pencils. At some point, I introduced a method of describing tone contained within the line shapes. I continued to advance to a method that also employed blending, based on my mother’s advice. In a fairly short amount of time I developed a strong ability to do representational drawing, complete with light and shadow, hard and soft edges, and proper proportions and perspective, with enough accuracy and insight to do recognizable likenesses.

In many ways this observational ability and the coordination to put it on paper has served me well and given me the basic building blocks of visual art’s grammar. I still use these lessons in my art today. With enough time between drawings I can get a little rusty, but with a bit of warming up, I’m able to get back into the swing of my abilities. It shows that with enough practice and knowledge, a person can acquire deep-seated instincts.

One thing I didn’t learn or practice much as a growing artist was artistic expression or elements that go into it, such as shape language, color theory, or compositional techniques. Much of that I learned in college and have been attempting to implement in different ways. I like to think of these expressive elements as having a greater deal of power in the atmosphere or mood of a painting or drawing than whether or not something is depicted realistically.

It’s an ongoing challenge for me to blend my intrinsic and basic abilities in art with the more abstract and personal expressive qualities that I want to employ to set my art apart from others and reflect my purposes and vision. In many ways I’m creating my own visual language using commonly recognizable scenes and objects. A good illustration of this is to see the difference between Cezanne’s portrayal of apples and Van Gogh’s own depictions. Two great artists painting with observational intelligence yet with diverging methods, resulting in windows for the viewer into the creative minds of the respective artists.

Perhaps style and artistic choice is a matter of simple fact and natural development. Perhaps any two artists would paint the same scene differently, even if they desired to paint with every intention being identical. I just know that I don’t want my artwork to resemble the hundreds of other artists who do landscape paintings. So, the question to myself is, “How?”

I’m in the process of learning the answer. In the same way that a math student needs to show that they understand the process by which they obtain their solution by showing their work, so I must continue going through the processes of creation and problem-solving in order to reach the conclusions that will help me create and discover ways of communicating visually. At the end of the day, I desire simplicity. For all of the hypothetical and rhetorical musings, the real growth and benefit is found in the basics. Those same basics that I learned without setting up definitions, without spelunking into my inner thoughts and understandings, without eating my own tail, but instead found through joyful working. Discovery was discovered, focus was received not forced, and building blocks combined and stacked without a preliminary design.

The importance of joyful work lies in its generosity to our senses, understanding, and abilities.

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