Image-making, visual communication and understanding, creativity, reflection, self-discovery, expression and more—at some level painting is about is about all of these. And when it resonates for the viewer or the maker it is felt somewhere in the region of the solar plexus. Is that the heart? Could that be the location of the soul, hiding under the ribs beneath the lungs? Does the brain have a satellite orbiting the liver? That’s the mystery. Regardless of how or why we feel the “…distinctive pulse of creative achievement…” (Roger Kimball The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art), we do.
Whether you have felt it or not, the mere fact that this mystery has been acknowledged and written about relentlessly through the ages validates its very existence. It also drives people to seek a formula to conjure its power. The ambiguity is uncomfortable in our post-Renaissance-man-at-the-center-of-the-universe world, especially when we seek to be the maker of this extraordinary thing. We want the building plans.
An encore listen to a TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert reminded me of the origin of the word “genius”. In Ancient Rome a genius was the guiding spirit of a person’s tutelage. It wasn’t the person. But now that the responsibility of brilliance rests squarely on our shoulders like a plow (most often burrowing in the mud), it’s no wonder we look for aids to walk with us to take some of the weight.
Toward that end we are going to review principles and elements of art that are taught at the most basic level. The following links are from the education departments of the Getty Center (I hope they work, if not I’ll have a few copies.): http://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/building_lessons/elements_art.pdf
We’re going to have a brief discussion of these ideas, then you can work on whatever you choose.