Saturday, May 1, 2010

What I used to know......

Once upon a time, I thought that art was something that was capable of being fully understood. I guess I thought it would be like learning to bake a cake. Given the raw ingredients and instructions on how to put it all together, I would be able to come up with a successful cake/painting. I have discovered that art tends to be a bit more elusive than this. In fact, the greatest lesson I have gained from years of study complete now with my Masters of Fine Arts in painting, is how much I really don't know. At one time this realization might have caused me great anxiety, and certainly at 18 who wants to be told that they will really never know all the answers. I am actually okay with realizing that I don't know everything there is to know about art, because to believe I know that would be to limit its potential. I believe that those with strong opinions have done just that, limited their options, and narrowed their vision for the security of feeling they have the answers. It is a bit like the 4 blind men trying to describe what an elephant looks like by the area they have touched. Art is like the elephant, larger than any of us can see totally with our limited human faculties. We are all striving, searching, developing, trying to
understand the part we have begun to grasp. But, I believe the danger comes when we think we have figured it out and go on to profess what we have discovered as the only truth. Then we close ourselves off to future discovery, then the different artistic groups clash, claiming it is about the color, value, line, no line, expression, observation, realism, abstraction, impressionism, expressionism etc., etc. I fall back on, the more I know, the less I know, the more I need to know, that is what keeps me honest as an artist. Emmerson said something like, speak your truth today and tomorrow speak your truth again even if it contradicts what you said yesterday, because "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". When you discover something new about art, especially when it contradicts your old beliefs, embrace it. Perhaps you have grasped a bit more of that elephant and what you have felt contradicts what you originally had surmised.
What an exciting opportunity for growth!