I like to think of myself as an intellectual artist. I don’t mean to say that I am superiorly intelligent, I just mean that my work (and the art that inspires me) stimulates the intellect as opposed to the emotions.
So where does that leave me in a very emotion-orientated field?
At first glance not very well off. I’m surrounded by people that pass over a piece of art simply because the color blue makes them feel “wrong.”
I used to respond by saying, “I’m a synesthete I know all about blue evoking unusual reactions. . . but still I’d rather have art that says something!”
Eventually I realised that beauty does say something in its own right, as does plainness, and that you don’t need a “message” to “say” something.
To me beauty is fluent, strong, and true. It’s not merely pretty or pleasant to look at, but an honour and pleasure to be around. Beauty is enlightening when studied and that makes it integral to art. And plainness or ugliness can be jarring and even more resonating than beauty can when they’re used effectively.
Still, I’ve never felt quite like I’m of the same mentality as other artists and art lovers. I see popular art and wonder why it seems so disassociated from the past and not in touch with reality. Isn’t the road forward built on the past?
Perhaps we’ve distanced ourselves from our intellectual side a little too much. Emotions can’t tell all of our stories. And maybe beauty can’t be both negative space and the focal point, nor can ugliness.
The Renaissance masters had an aptitude for infusing both intelligence and emotion into their work. They jump-started progress in maths and sciences. They invented prototypes of what people centuries later perfected, but they also displayed deep emotions in their work.
The old masters structured compositions to hold your attention for hours and used color palettes and values which sang in harmony. They crafted their works so lovingly that centuries later people in a very different world are still touched by them.
And why were they so successful in conveying meaning to others? Obviously they were amazing artists, but I think it’s more in-depth than that. By reviving past knowledge they brought progress, using ancient Greek and Roman teachings and modes of expression they spoke to an ideal deeply ingrained in their culture.
It makes one wonder what is deeply ingrained in our own culture? What can we, as artists, dredge up from the nearly forgotten and use to illuminate a way forward?
Art is so much deeper than pure intellect or pure emotion. Its true power lies in the combination of the two, and that is what makes it so provoking. If you disassociate either the intellect or the emotion, art loses its breath, its life. . . its way to connect with all of us who are living and breathing ourselves.
So the next time you create, think about your methods. Will you say something using beauty, or intellect? Will you refer to the past? Or, best of all, will you find a way to do all of the above?
For more from C. nick Tuigsinn, please visit her website.
*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*
"How long will this painting take? And how do I know when I'm done?" These are two questions that artists are faced with all the time. The answers are very important for planning purposes, for figuring out the price of a painting and to maintain one’s sanity. (One might think that after 22 years in the business I would be better at giving my wife, Jen, an accurate answer to. . . read more
Subscribe to our totally free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!