The Laws of Nature

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three important steps

Over the past couple of days I've had to resolve a technique problem in oil painting. One leg of my research included reading Juliette Aristides' book Classical Painting Atelier (2008). I heartily recommend it, and want to discuss an important point she made which builds upon an earlier blog about the first step in becoming an artist.

Aristides wrote: The student must take three important steps before he can make progress:
1) His mind must be trained to know what to look for
2) His vision must be honed so that he sees these things in life, and
3) His hand must be trained so that he can execute his ideas as he envisions them.
In other words, the ability of the artist's mind to understand a subject precedes his ability to execute what he sees.

I like the emphasis she places on the training and coordination of the mind-vision-hand in order to advance in the creation of art. But, there's much more to it. Aristides also wrote: Painting is an expression of the soul. The artist has the ability to reorganize and order this world to convey the internal aspect of life. The job of the artist is not to repeat or transcribe what he sees, but to interpret it. A technician copies but an artist transforms. The artist condenses and embellishes upon life.

I think this is a great message to budding-artists or to those who have veered off course. I think Degas nailed it when he said that he lies in his art to tell the truth!


Constance McLennan said...

Or, as one of my painting teachers put it succinctly, "Editing."

Unknown said...

The most daunting and challenging for me is the first step. I still am so much of a rookie in that field.

M said...

" A technician copies but an artist transforms. The artist condenses and embellishes upon life."
That sums up the way I see artists working. A wise friend once said a similar thing to me early in my career when I as struggling with the content I was attracted to. Her words, "Consider what you bring to the content you are interested in and paint it in such a way that you make it yours." have helped me develop confidence in my our artistic voice. Good post Kathy.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Constance. That's the perfect word!

Sheila, I know it feels daunting at the beginning stage and that's natural. Just keep going - you'll succeed!

You got good advice, Margaret. The importance of "making it yours" can't be overemphasized!

-Don said...

What a great posting, Kathy. It further clarifies something I've always tried to follow as I create: paint what you see in something, not what you know about it. -Don

Unknown said...

Nicely stated, Don!