Walking up in the silence of the early morning the thought occured to me that it would be helpful for my readers/viewers to have a set of guidelines to support them in viewing works of art. Here are some suggestions to help deepen your artistic conversation.
First and formost realize that art is subjective. What one expert loves another may hate. As the viewer you are the one who decides whether a work of art is great or horrendous.
Case in point: At the end of the class I took with Cynthia Packard each of the participants had to choose their best and their worst works. The pieces were then voted upon by the particpating artists. Which was the best? Which was the worst? The votes between my two submissions were equally divided. Three people thought that my seleced best piece was my worst. Three people thought that my selected worst piece was my best. These were accomplished artists. Even more interesting to me is the number of people who hae been in my studio and have loved what I consider my worst piece. The converstaion I have been in with the "worst" painting ever since is, "What do people see that I don't?" Art is subjective.
As you begin to view art it is helpful to know what style of art you are drawn to. It is an easy task. Take a look around your home. What do you have hanging on the walls of your space? Begin to notice what kind of pieces your soul is drawn to. Enter into a conversation with yourself. Don't worry about being able to define the style yet. Just notice when you find yourself saying, "Oh, I like that." or "Oh, I don't like that."
The Artistic Conversations
In any work of art there are three converations taking place. The first conversation is between the artist and the work of art. The second conversation is between you and the work of art. The third conversation is the works' conversation about itself.
As you begin to look closely at art notice if you are enganged in a conversation. For a piece of art to be great, it must first attract a viewer's eye and start a conversation. Great art is timeless. It lasts through the generations. The cave paintings in France and Spain are great, not because they were done by cave dwellers. They are great because they still engage humanity in a conversation.
Four Elements To Consider
There are four elements to consider when looking at art. Once the piece has caught your eye consider the following: 1. Composition: Is your eye static or are you exploring the whole piece?This is true about any piece of art, sculpture, architecture, etc. When people looked at the World Trade Center they were engaged in a conversation about the whole structure, not just the entry way. 2. Foreground, middleground, background: It the work flat or is there depth? Art is dynamic. Again it does not matter whether it is a painting, a piece of music, a sculpture or a piece of funiture.
3. Color: Are the colors/textures carrying on a conversation throughout the chosen media. Do the colors/textures relate to each other? If you ever have a chance to see a piece of Michaelangelos' great scuptural works intitally you might see a piece of white marble. Look closely. Watch the colors dance! Look at the textures! The conversation is still alive hundreds of years laster. The same is true of Rembrandts' black and white etchings. 4. Story: What is the story that is being told?
These suggestions are offered as a place to begin. Use my suggestions as a to view my work and expand the way you look at the world around you. As you go through your day, wherever you are, you are surrounded by works of art.
On Monday I'll be writing about the difference between a picture and a work of art. Following that I will be writing about my artistic journey over the past ten years. See you next week. Thanks for visiting.