Famous performance artist, Laurie Anderson, was quoted as saying that “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” The meaning behind her words is clear. Music, like visual art, is a feast for the senses. To truly experience art in any form, you must immerse yourself. Art is subjective; each person views art from their own history and perspective. Therefore, writing content about any type of art form can be challenging.
Through the Artist’s Eyes
Although anyone can learn art history, the truth is that unless we meet the artist, there is no way to know what they were thinking when they created their work. Some pieces are fraught with meaning when developed, however others represent the artist frolicking through the elements and displaying the result.
Artists as a group think differently than the average person. You might get an idea of how an artist thinks by spending a day with a small child. Children are enthralled by simple things that adults take for granted such as a fallen leaf, a smooth stone, or a bird chirping in a tree. Artists also view their world through a unique filter, focusing on what they see and capturing it in their mind’s eye. When viewing the fallen leaf, an artist may see the subtle shades of color encapsulating the leaf, its surroundings and the light shining on the leaf. Or they may see how the leaf represents the cycle of life that a tree goes through each year, and choose to present that view in their artwork.
Meeting the Artist
The best way to understand art is to meet the artist who created it. Although it is impossible to meet the artists of yesteryear, talking to current artists can offer a glimpse into the labor that went into their pieces. Much of the work in art happens before the brush touches the canvas or the clay drops on the wheel. Artists design their work for hours or days before they produce it.
Each artist has a unique process for designing, however, whether it is in their mind or a drawing on paper, planning the piece is often the most difficult part of the work they do. Besides their vision, getting the art materials to behave in the specific manner is challenging. Artists’ work rarely matches their design-vision exactly. The artwork takes on its own life due to the artistic medium used.
Part of appreciating art is finding your own meaning. However, good art is never easy; we should appreciate the hours of labor it entails. Art pulls us all out of the world of the mediocre and mundane and into the imagination, the possible, and the inspired. Artists are inventors with the capability of expressing their vision in color and texture that we can only stand on the outside and admire as we wonder at the mystery of perception.
Paula A is a writer by day and a voracious reader by night. She is currently trying to keep her house clean and her mind uncluttered, (or is it the other way around). She specializes in sales and marketing, hazelnut lattes and admiring local art.