Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Finding out what the world is like

A work in progress, click to view larger.

I came across this quote last week, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

“Art is a way of finding out what the world is really like,
insofar as it causes us to view things more objectively
and also more subjectively.” 
~ John B. Mitchell

“Hmmm.” I thought at the time, “Really?  Isn’t it either one or the other?”
How can art make us more aware of two things that seem so different, that even appear to be opposites?

 My left brain informs me that objective art helps me see the world more truthfully.  For example, objective art is usually realistic in portrayal, and often illustrates a fact or direct observation.  It is a lens with a clarity provided by the artist’s editing powers; it teaches me things about the physical world I live in. 

My right brain embraces the veiled depths of subjective art, delights in suggested line and shadow, and loves to add its own storyline to that of the author.  I am often moved by subjective art without always knowing why.  It doesn’t have to be skillfully done; I just know that the artist made a successful connection.

Then there is that rare art that seems to transcend both of these “definitions” and firmly epitomize them both.  Think about Albrecht Durer’s painting Great Piece of Turf, and perhaps you’ll know what I mean.  To me, his watercolor study is a unique interplay between careful observation and an exploration of the mystery of life.

When I create art, I find that both objective and subjective views are enhanced and expanded, even more so than when being merely a viewer.  So, in my roundabout way, I agree with Mr. Mitchell.  Now, you may ask, what does that have to do with the photo at the top of the page?  I am taking some of my observations made during En Plein Air – Arts in the Fakahatchee and translating them into different mediums, the first being acrylic paint.  I just hope I can create something that echoes a transcendence of both views.