"ART is a word which summarizes THE QUALITY OF COMMUNICATION. "
L. Ron Hubbard

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The “Basics” of Art

If I had to break art down into its “basics,” its abstract elements, I would say they consist of line, value (lightness and darkness), form, color, depth, and composition. I plan to address each of these in the workbook I am working on. And then I will include some words on “beyond the basics.”

As students have again and again expressed to me that they felt that they lacked “the basics,” the intent of my workbook will be to help them get oriented. Georgia O’Keefe said "It is surprising to me to see how many people separate the objective from the abstract. Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or a tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is line and colors put together so that they say something."

There are many worthwhile how-to books available on the market. I plan to include a bibliography of some I am familiar with.

But this will be primarily a book intended to break down the basics so that you can practice them with suggested exercises that I hope you will use to improve your skill.

If you have not previously painted, you will need some supplies. I will include suggested supply lists for acrylic painters and oil painters in the appendix. I will also reference some websites of art supply companies.


forrest said...

So they "say something."

I'm not just being a pill; I'm really not so sure what this means.

In music... obviously there is no semantic content to be said. But I'll listen to some piece by Brahms where he's being very assertive (as he often is), and sometimes I'll feel like commenting: "That's telling them!" But _what_ he's telling them is something like, "It goes like THIS, see!"

Is that what a painting is suppose to say? Something like: "Here, like THIS!" ?

Pam said...

Well, I'm not a particular fan of Georgia O'Keefe. But she was trying to "say something." Many visual artists are not necessarily very articulate.

forrest said...

Okay, another form... Writers _are_ very articulate. But there's a difference between a writer who is just filling paper and one 'who's saying something.' It's about having the nerve to put some real content into it, and also about doing so with force and grace.

There was this traveling Cuban artist I ran into at the Quaker meeting house in Vienna. He was good pr for the regime at this point of his career, but his style of anti-representational stuff had been muy politically uncool in some of the Communist circles he'd visited. Talking about periods in his work, he'd speak of whole decades as being 'dark' periods. We didn't ask him about it (should have) but I suspect he'd been living in an interesting camp learning to cut sugar cane or something like that. But this art that emphatically did NOT represent anything was obviously life & death to him; he had to continue whether it was in fashion or not.

As he got to talking more about the process of putting out these things... I put it together with various things I'd read, and blurted: "You aren't making a product; you're having a dialogue with it!"

So maybe a common factor in these activities we call "arts" is that someone is (so far as he's doing it right) tuned into something sacred, whether or not he thinks in those terms. What we mean by "saying something" is probably not conveying "information" per se, but passing on the 'signal' an artist has received.

One of Anne's early music teachers warned the class, that if they were going to make a mistake, it had better be "an honest mistake," ie forceful enough to at least show that the player meant it! As I see it, "Saying something" also means making honest mistakes in your work.