Painting from Photos – Consciousness and Purpose of Art (7)
September 23, 2007
In one of the comments Alan said:
“Art is a human activity and hence it must have a clear purpose and aim, discernible by the aid of reason and conscience.”
This is only half of the truth because it does not cover the process of creating itself.
My process of creating may be driven by a defined purpose – thus I am using my reason and conscience to decide that I want to create. This is the pattern I often start my painting process: an inspiration, an image in my head, scribbling on paper, detailed drawing, transferring the image to the canvas or other medium, underpainting, painting etc. The result may reflect exactly the image I had in my head. So everything was driven by reason and conscience. Even the purpose I started the painting for may be driven by a clearly defined task such as to create a painting for a certain theme for a special exhibition. End of story.
But sometimes I start the process quite differently: I have a feeling, no clear inspiration, I only see certain colours or a pattern (this might be clouds in the sky!) – then I start painting from intuition, from my subconscience not from reason – just in order to see where I would end up. I am not going to say that I am in trance but I watch my hand doing something that was not intention, not planned. The theme starts to live during the process. Somtimes the result is a piece of art, sometimes crap and ends in the bin (or beneath another painting).
This is why I love to paint on silk for example or on rayon where I can use all the silk painting techniques as underpainting. An example for this kind of process was “Frozen”,
a painting that was entirely painted without a plan.
The characteristic of painting on silk is that the paint flows where it wants to flow if you don’t use certain techniques to stop that. Therefore silk painting is one of the best tools to learn inspirational or spontaneous painting.
I started this painting applying very thin silk paints and just let it flow. Varying colours slighty and amount of paint led to a dramatic sky and between the drying phases I suddenly knew where this would lead to – a calm and cold winterday.
So here was no purpose before, there was no plan and no intent for this painting – only the dead trees I applied at the bottom in the end were done by purpose, forming that winter landscape but only as a result of the major painting.
I think this is exactly that kind of process that leads to abstract painting in general – fed only by emotion and feeling, especially when you are using organic and soft shapes only. It might be totally different with hard, geometrical shapes, abstract patterns which often live from their exactness and not loseness.
Another painting was quite the opposite – it had to be totally planned and meticulously constructed and drawn before because it is a triptych and the 3 panels live from the perspective of the scene in order to evoke distance and depth but I wanted them to be unified as one painting: “Ayutthaya”
There is another aspect where I am not sure whether we could handle this under the same premises of conscience and purpose:
what about humans who are mentally ill or have a defect such as autism – people who cannot express their intent nor thoughts and we (as the “normal”) have no access to their consciousness but they themselves might have a completely different connection to their inner self – we only cannot understand it because we are talking a different language. Art in these cases might be the only exit.
What about Alzheimer’s disease? We still know so little about the functions of our brains that we cannot determine what is perceived and felt by those who suffer from it.
And going back to the theme of conceptual art – this is a whole subject by itself that depends highly on the viewer to accept it as art or not – please see Jon Bardin and his blog “The Third Culture” about Neuroesthetic and the theories of the perception of art. This is a whole new field of neuroscience we just begin to discover.