Discovering the Artist within me (Part III) – Connecting with the Soul.

Last week, I was down with viral fever. The whole week, all hundred and sixty-eight hours of it, went up in a puff. Then, yesterday, I happened to meet an artist and my conversation with him, fueled up my thought-process.

All these years, I had kept a lid on my need to paint my soul and its connection to the world. I had done everything that wouldn’t let me feel the pain of seeing my own vulnerabilities. I had boarded shut the window that opened into my soul.  The connection of my soul with the world is, as you might surmise, full of knots and tangles. It is going to perhaps be the most difficult thing to paint. But I must paint it so that I can see it as much as others can – for only then will I truly understand it.

Recently, since I’ve begun to connect with contemporary artists, I’ve been learning things that I hadn’t known all this while. That illustration, cartooning, and caricature-drawing don’t qualify as art, and that an artist’s past as an illustrator or a cartoonist, in some way makes the artist’s art less palatable.

Oddly, I cannot nod a blind yes to it, for in my books an artist and his art is the sum-total of the artist’s past – and whatever colors that artist chooses to put on the canvas are made from his sweat and blood, and those countless hours that he spent perfecting his skill. I believe and I seriously do, that we cannot have artists popping out of pre-approved molds.

Yesterday, I stood in a gallery looking at works that didn’t speak to me. They made me feel dead inside. I’m sure the artist felt otherwise. She, in fact had reasons for every little thing she had put into her works, and she was animatedly describing them to her audience. She spoke of her experiences and how it made her art what it was. The art was her expression, but the world that it connected to, wasn’t mine.

I am beginning to think that one of the important characteristics of art is the soul-connection. It should be born from an artist’s soul and then it should embrace the viewer’s. Without this connection, art would never find its patrons, and without patrons, the artist’s work will never be seen.

Advertisements

Discovering the Artist within me (Part II) – Classification.

Artists are classified. Period.

Ironically, periods are what classify artists, as do schools and styles. And if you apply paint on canvas, you’ll automatically be classified as a kind of artist, or your art shall be called a mix of styles.

In past several days, I  have had the opportunity of interacting with an amazing young woman. I draw and paint what I want, and having never set foot in an art school until recently, I’ve been both positively and negatively blessed. Positively because I still think the way I want to and I continue to question what I don’t understand, and negatively because the techniques of art are difficult to come by.

This young person is a vibrant combination of intellect and creativity, and her thoughts on art are mature beyond her years. My learning from her has led me reflect upon what My illustrations done for the purpose of exemplifying articles and news, and my caricature renditions of people for the purpose of satire and/or humor notwithstanding, I draw and paint:

  • My thoughts that often take the form of expressions, faces, mountains, animals of all ilk.
  • My memories that fluctuate between the light and dark but often get personified/morphed into my physical experiences.
  • Motion, speed, acceleration for everything around us is perpetually in motion.
  • Colors – washes, splashes, blobs…but all to bring out my thoughts in a visual format.

My young friend tells me that the artist within me may have surrealistic leanings. I do love Dali’s surrealist renderings, but I’m not sure if I would eventually paint like that. Dreams are different from thoughts – thoughts are anchored in logic; dreams break those anchors, allowing the thoughts to fly aimlessly, meeting other thoughts that they were never supposed to meet, and populating a landscape to give birth to surrealism. The elements of surprise, the realistic treatment of people, animals, and objects – they were the hallmarks of Dali’s paintings.

Oh, now that I’m reminded of Salvador Dali, I must show you the caricature that I did of him a few years ago. A simple pencil rendering, nothing much – but one day, I shall paint him the way he would’ve painted himself, surrealistically.

-artist-salvador-dali-mustaches-moustaches-surrealism-surrealist-caricature-of-dali.jpg

My take on Dali’s work has always been of wondrous respect.

Right now, I stand on a spiritual event horizon. If I cross over, I may not return; if I don’t, I won’t know what lies on the other side. But from the windows of time that rush past me at lightening speed, I’ve been able to catch a few glimpses and those glimpses must be translated into sketches…those sketches might get me my visa to the other side. I just hope that it’s a tourist visa and that it comes with a free return ticket.

 

Discovering the Artist within me (Part I) – Art? What’s that again?

Art is something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings… Merriam Webster.

By this definition, everything that’s created with imagination and skill,  and which either looks/feels good or expresses an important idea or emotion, can be classified as art. For this reason, I suppose, a piece of music that makes the listeners swing and dance (looks/feels good) is art; a caricature-composition that obviously requires a lot of imagination and skill to create and which expresses an important idea, is art; a dramatic scene in a movie that is directed with imagination and acted out with skill, and makes people bite their nails (expresses/conveys important feelings) is art.

By this definition, what may be art for you might not be art for me, for the expression must be understood and felt. By the same definition, something that’s created with imagination and skill, but is neither beautiful nor expresses an important idea or feeling, isn’t art; nor is something that’s created without imagination or skill but expresses and important idea or a feeling – (a pamphlet, a news item?)

As I go through the history of art, learning from it in bits and pieces, I realize that art is evolutionary. What is considered art at one time and place may not be considered so in another. In the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth century when art separated itself from the visual renderings of religious nature, and began acquiring a personality of its own, most of the works that were acclaimed internationally, had one or both of these characteristics.

  1. They evoked an emotional response in their viewers.
  2. They were aesthetically pleasing.

The degree to which each of these characteristics would be experienced by the viewers varies, and yet, these are the two basic reasons why people buy the art of an unknown artist. (The known artist’s work is often bought by art-investors who “invest” in the works of an artist who’s expected to become a star. These characteristics don’t matter then.)

Let us look at two interesting works. (I’m not good with the names of the art-periods and the art-schools, and as I’m studying them mostly to “feel” art, I won’t force myself to remember them.)

The Scream by Edvard Munch.

This painting by Munch reminds me of my times of hopelessness. Most of us have been through dark times in our lives, and while we could argue about the degrees of darkness that one may have experienced, for each individual his darkness is made of the deepest darkest black. Munch’s Scream for me is soundless and endless. It draws a strong emotional response from me.

And this is my response to the painting, not to the artist, nor to the artist’s own pain. I knew nothing of Munch when I had first seen an image of this painting.

The Scream definitely isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me. I won’t want it on my living room wall because every time I’d look at it, I’d be hurled back into that half-forgotten pit of darkness. And yet, for me, it’s a work of art. While it may be pointed out that it’s illustrative or even symbolic and thus doesn’t open itself to multiple interpretations, I still consider it art, for it even darkness is interpreted differently by each one of us.

American Gothic by Grant Wood.

When this painting was first displayed, it aroused emotions of different kinds. Mostly because the Iowans felt that it didn’t really depict the kind of people they were. And yet, after almost ninety years and tens of thousands of miles away, this painting still evokes an emotional response from me. It makes me think of life as a book filled with pages that the read the same throughout. It slaps me across the face to wake me up, and sends me scrambling to find a notebook or a sketchbook; it reminds me that life isn’t about living in comfort and dying within…because that’s my personal takeaway from the expressions I see on the faces of the farmer and his daughter (or Wood’s dentist and Wood’s sister.)

The emotional response isn’t as strong as the one evoked by The Scream, but it isn’t as dark either. If I could afford it, I’d love to own the American Gothic. The painting also has a stronger aesthetic dimension for me. I love the skill with which it’s painted, and I love the overall composition. The straight verticals, the neat and clean house in the background, the expressions on the two faces, the metal of the pitchfork, everything’s been painted with such finesse. I love it!

Over the next few weeks, I intend to look at other major artworks and measure my own responses to them, because I really want to figure out what my own view of art is.

Comments and suggestions to help me on this journey would be appreciated from the bottom of my heart 🙂

 

Plans are…a Switch!

 

Plans are a switch – You toggle them on and off, as you like. 
Or they are a glitch…in every unplanned event in your life.

This is why I don’t like plans.

No, I am not tossing “plans” into the bin without trying them out. You know well that there was a time I’d make plans and announce them right here on my blog, hoping that announcing them to my readers would help me keep them.

But no – my plans were a switch. 

I’d switch them off on the slightest opportunity of having to do something more interesting. It wasn’t working out at all.

So I made up my mind and decided to follow them come what may. I ignored the random fun and happy things that happened around me, and I tried staying true to them. But honestly, all it did to me was make me feel miserable.

And I began thinking of plans as a glitch.

You see, most of the fun events are unplanned. You do them because you want to do them at a particular moment. Or you do them because they’ve been needling you for a very long time…but your plans, your logical and practical plans that you made with a hundred constraints in place were making you postpone them.  So my plans suddenly became a glitch in everything I really wanted to do.

Caught between the switch and the glitch…your plans, you see, are nothing more than a pain in your…oh well, your precious derrière. (The French do have a delicate way of putting things.) I decided to ditch both the switch and the glitch, to let the reasonably trustworthy hand of fate take over the puppeteering of my life from me.

Until reason returns… please don’t hold me responsible for my actions. I would have no hand in whatever I do.

So, don’t ask me why I’m posting Malcolm Gladwell’s caricature here. It just happened.

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell, the Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw.

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell – Digital Painting – Actual Size: 10 inches by 12 inches at 300 dpi.

Perhaps because we started our careers in publishing with the same magazine, The American Spectator…or because I find the intense look in his eyes disconcerting and intriguing at the same time…or just because in this beautiful moment, I’m making unplanned, unreasoned decisions.

Read the original post about Gladwell’s caricature, and about my first assignment with The American Spectator, and if you are interested in checking out my Portfolio without the clutter of my mutterings and musings, please head over to shafalianand.wordpress.com.