I want my painting to communicate visually. That’s why I don’t always give each painting a verbal explanation (aside from sometimes feeling lazy about writing!).
However, I do have certain ideas which are related to my painting which I’d like to talk about here.
In my artwork the trigger is usually my emotional response to a particular visual experience which affected me in a given place & moment in time. The experiences which I have been concentrating on are often of moments where time seems to have stood still & there was a complete feeling of harmony & being part of the world. The painting itself can become a bit like wanting to capture the essence of the moment & to extend if for eternity.
Perhaps many of us feel something along these lines given our otherwise rushed, hectic lives?
One of my objectives for my painting (as most artists I suppose) is to try to put down my personal responses. I hope that my work can communicate something to some people.
Another objective is to say “Look!”
We are all experts in seeing in the sense that we have evolved that way. If not we would never have survived to be the humans we are today.
When we see we are constructing visual depth, shape , colours, contours, visual boundaries & so on in our minds. We constantly make sense of an enormous quantity of visual stimulae (let alone any other types).
This takes place continually & for the most part is fairly unconscious. If it weren’t I suppose our brains would become totally overloaded. At a certain point we would then be put under the such & such syndrome or mad category.
Another diverging but interesting question is at what point is somebody considered to be “mad”? Of course there are so many degrees & it depends who is judging. I could argue that everybody is or that nobody is. I could also argue that that statement is false because there must be some sort of definition, presumably agreed on by culture.
If you are still coping with reading this, (& maybe you decided I’m totally mad) I’d better go back to the point I was making about Looking as opposed to Seeing. I think that when we really look we are engaged in a more conscious proccess than just seeing.
This can help us perhaps to have more of a sense of being connected with the world. To look also contributes to the analysis of forms & a perception of underlying fundamental structure.
At this level of looking I begin to find arbitrary the use of the word “Abstract” as opposed to “Figurative” or “Representational”.
I particularly like the following quote by Arthur Dove:
“There is no such thing as abstraction: it is extraction, gravitation, and minding your own business.”
Just about all painting requires consideration of the arrangement of space. A lot of the time whether it is abstract or not depends on the scale we look at (zoom) – Ok I know I’m not saying something new!.
Another question that interests me is what causes the emotional response?
Obviously this varies depending on the original stimulus. It is also subjective given that all interpretation depends on your previous experience.
However, there do seem to be some overall rules which we can’t escape.
Here’s an example to show what I mean; Why are light & dark such important elements in design or the composition of a painting?
I believe that they can create an emotional response in the viewer & I guess they help us to quickly clarify which shapes to interprete.
Why or how do they do this ?
Because (simplifying a lot!) chemicals are triggered in the brain by the visual stimulae. Our brains have evolved to recognise changes in light or dark. Even a 7 month old baby can already distinguish between light & dark. This suggests to me that this ability has been fundamental to our survival.
Given this is such a basic visual structure that helps us to establish what’s what, this must be one of the fundamental aspects to consider in most compositions.
Of course, you can apply similar questions & answers to loads of other aspects, such as line, colour , grouping etc.
Perhaps asking these sorts of questions helps us understand why we like or dislike certain images regardless of their degree of abstraction.
Or do you respond just to subject matter? Or is it a bit of both? Or is it simply cultural?
What do you think?