The seeds of “good art” are various. So are the definitions. Some words to describe “good art” are: resonant (to whom); beautiful, (not always); engaging (to some); transformative (maybe); makes you think, makes you feel; makes you rich (HA!)l The one word that is hard to dispute when trying to capture the elusive definition of “good art” is authentic. And like nature, it is surprising and inevitable at the same time.
Our goal as artists is to mine the depths of our process, ourselves and our stimuli until authenticity floats to the top. What tools we use will fluctuate. But what results will clearly come from our hand.
For me and for most it is the intuitive self that delivers. And since the analytical or left brain is generally easier to access I tend to devise exercises designed to access the right brain– to take the thinking and control out of the mix and let the unconscious take the lead.
Not this week. This week I’ve been inspired by expanding an idea by thinking of new ways in which to see. A marvelous artist, Ann Hamilton, spoke on Saturday about her work’s inspiration of text and textile, which came from sitting with her grandmother who knitted while she read—text and textile. Ann has taken that concept into far reaching places. (http://www.annhamiltonstudio.com/scripts.html )
A recent Brain Pickings offered some wonderful minimalist posters that illustrate imagery that expands an idea: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/27/childrens-book-posters/ Now it’s our turn.
How many ways can you represent a bird, a dancer, a desert, a figure, a church, a bridge, etc.? Choose one subject that you’ve already explored in a painting. Prepare 4 SMALL, clean substrates (can be 8” x 8”, but at least 2 must be fresh). Think about THREE different ways to characterize your subject. Words like simplify, enlarge, crop, magnify, multiply, layer, heat, cool, combine and mix are some you can apply to evoke a new image. Save the 4th substrate for next week. (Size of each should be no more than 12” x 12”.)
“Variations on a theme” is a common methodology in composing music. Those who are musically minded can share their thoughts. For the visual approach take a look at Monet’s variations on the Rouen Cathedral: http://www.learn.columbia.edu/monet/swf/
How many variations of your theme can you start to think about? (Don’t be afraid to jot them down…….)