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Emotions in Art

Willow Fronds in Spring

Weeping Willow Fronds in Spring

I’ve been reading the latest Louise Penny book, which always give me artistic pause.  Her mysteries often have art woven into the story, with the characters pondering the deep, dark meaning behind the creation of art.  Hmmm.  In this one, she has a character stating that a good piece of art begins “with a lump in the throat”, and involves destruction before creation.  There is probably a lot of truth to that,  although I have seen paintings on exhibit that probably were cathartic to make but more properly belonged in the studio or the therapist’s office than on display.

For the most part, when I paint, the love and joy I wish to share is the starting point, and beyond that I am reaching for beauty and to avoid trite.  Sure, anyone paying attention must be feeling dismay at things like California running out of water, or escalating hatreds leaping up in the world like wildfire.  And yes, I could paint that but I choose to look for the beauty that is here.  I guess I feel that whatever we turn our attention to will expand, so I choose beauty and love, not out of a polyanna wish that bad things would go away, but because they exist.  It is my reply, if you will.

What about you?  What do you look for in a piece of art?  Often what I see actually sell at galleries is nothing more than washes of color, and I wonder what that means.  Are people exhausted, and simply wanting the equivalent of white noise on their walls?  I think this may be the case.  We are asked to understand so much, these days.

12 thoughts on “Emotions in Art

  1. You ask some good questions. They make one think about choices. Art that attracts me is almost always making a positive statement about the world. That’s how I see things. We humans have such enormous potential for good and bad. I am drawn to those works that reach deep and strike a chord or touch a memory I cherish.

    There are important and valuable art works that point out the negative side of humanity. They are reminders to me of the ways we should strive to avoid. I just don’t feel the need to seek out those works.

    We’ve watched a lot of programs on PBS about art and craft and the people who create it. It is always interesting to see what motivates them. I never done much of anything artistic. About ten years ago, I decided to learn to play guitar and play the blues. It’s become a very satisfying act to turn on some music each day and play with it. It expresses deep feelings. I think that is what art does for the artist.

    1. Well said, Jim. You have exactly expressed the other side of what I was thinking. Being able to play along with the blues~ yes, I think that must be very satisfying.

      1. Here is someone who finds beauty and art in what he loves. I came across this in another person’s blog today and thought of our conversation.

    2. Oh my gosh, Jim, this was fantastic!!! THank you for sending me this inspiring link. I have resolved anew to do just what he is doing~ focus on my own thing, the thing that moves me, and forget worrying about trying to please the masses. I just got downsized from the gallery that was carrying me in Chicago. The owner and I are very fond of each other, and she always said she would never carry abstract art because it is so empty. But she has to stay alive, and it is abstract that sells so now that is what is in her gallery. Bringing my paintings home was the best thing that could have happened for me, I think. It woke me up. We had a tearful parting, and I came away more determined than ever to trust my own vision. Just like this amazing guy in the waves!

      1. I’m glad you liked it. In his case, he ends up with some fascinating images of water and sand doing things the mind doesn’t imagine. It happens too fast. His images are wonderful. An aspect maybe more interesting to me is his methods and tactics. I wonder what he is looking for as he anticipates a wave. How does he know certain waves and conditions will yield a motion or image he wants?

        Other artists do that in their own ways. A painter knows how colors mix and blend. They know how to make shadow and depth and mood. A sculptor can see a hunk of stone as a finished work of art. They can carve and shape form. A quilter such as Melanie, my dear wife, sees patterns and connections that grow and frame the previous parts.

        Have you thought about showing us a painting in stages with your accompanying thoughts about why and where to go next? How your process led to the finished work? I would find posts like that to be very interesting. It is inspiring to see how the mind of an artist works. It opens doors for the rest of us.

      2. Hi Jim,
        I didn’t see this comment before~sorry for the delay! Hope you and Melanie are having a great trip by the way.
        I have considered showing a painting in process. That would be fun to do~I have a crazy weekend coming up so I’ll get started on that next week. 🙂

  2. To be honest, I can’t specifically describe what I look for in art in any genre. Obviously originality of vision or expression is important. I do prefer the positive, but the negative can be quite appealing if there is some deep reason to present the image as pointing to something better rather than some unpleasant voyeurism into suffering or devastation.
    I generally am presenting nature’s beauty. Often the less than beautiful is still telling a story…the recycling of life is very natural and has a special beauty that is often not appreciated but definitely non-negative.
    That said, I would still rather see the loveliness of your willow fronds and that quiet little polypore than a rotting tree. 🙂

  3. Chuckle chuckle…I’m just looking now at 2 paintings I did last year of ….rotting trees!:) I thought they were cool, and like you, think that has a special beauty that goes unappreciated. But perhaps not for a painting.
    I’m delighted you like my little polypore~ thank you!

  4. If I consider the artworks that I own there is no single aspect common to all. I tend to impulse buy. I see something. It appeals to me or I identify a connection and if I can, I buy. Much of what I own is not hanging today as we have too much glass and too little wall space. Natural history is a major theme. I have paintings, photos and sculptures. But I have some oddities, one of which is always displayed wherever I live. Colour washes do nothing for me. I do like Kandinsky, Miro and some less traditional work but I don’t own any. 😊 I do own two Gingolds. I enjoy photographing decay in the sense of the natural cycle of life. Fungi are very photogenic. My problem with art is that I largely ignored it when young because I had no artistic streak. So I expect my tastes are naive or immature. But I never buy to speculate. I only buy what I want to look at. Does it make any sense?

  5. That makes perfect sense, and hooray for art collectors! If only we all had more walls. I just read a wonderful novel by Susan Vreeland about art. In it she has a character observe that great art helps the viewer see or identify with a truth about themselves or about life.
    I found this inspiring but at the end of the day I do the same as you~I’m impulsive and go for what I like.

  6. I liked this one a lot.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting, and for your kind comment.

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