Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Celebration of Color

Soph Laugh
Acrylic on Canvas, 24x24
Private Collection

I have just recently entered my first art contest with the Drawing Academy. My entry, titled: A Celebration of Color, is actually a happy pattern of reversal - a colorblind artist expressing themselves in a vibrant, colorful juxtaposition of color. How these colors speak to the viewer, I cannot say, for I am that colorblind artist. Thus, I must invoke my imagination to conceive of concepts my eyes do not convey for me. 

This pattern of reversal is a founding principle behind the artwork. Even a color-sighted person must imagine what the juxtaposition of lines, circles, and splashes of color mean to another person. In this imagining, it is as if a reversal of thought is taking place, a presupposition of what another sees and feels and interprets based on what is seen, felt, and interpreted within. Does the viewer see what the artist saw? How do art critics define art when it is so highly predicated upon subjective interpretation? Is it the way the paint is spattered on the canvas? Should the paint be smooth and free of unintentional marks or blemishes or should the paint be bold and impasto'd in way that the shapes the paint creates are geometrically pleasing to the eyes? Should a painting incorporate elements from the masters? Should it have an underpainting? Should it be clean and pristine and yet spontaneously executed? Should the artist's care and precision be visible, thus inferring purpose and intention? All these questions and more cross the mind of the artist, the viewer, and the critic, and lead to a dramatic disunity of opinion as to the structure and tone, crudeness and folly associated with art production. 

Viewing art is as much about examining the life of the artist and what led to the artwork's production as it is about the medium. While skill, dexterity, and vision are most certainly a major factor in determining the worth of a piece of art, what collectors seek is a sentiment that speaks to them. A bridge that connects beauty to the individual appreciating it. The themes of fortune, pride, or adversity come into play in the aesthetic appreciation of art. Behind the striking quality of any given piece of art is the successful conveyance of an overtone that speaks for what would otherwise be a mute object of worth. Overall, the artwork must reveal an indecision and tentativeness on the part of the artist. How can I convey what I see? ...and then show it, is the pattern viewers seek to follow. And when they find it, that is the moment when the artwork speaks to them. That is when a viewer says, "I get it" or "I feel the same way" or "Wow! I never thought of it that way" (whatever "it" is). 

Art is taking a lack of unity such as subjective opinion and showing its light and dark contrasts, its intellectual sense of seriousness and potential, and its emotionally driven dramatic flare that ignites a sensation in the heart, stomach and mind of the viewer. Art is a source of dramatic excitement, tension, a way of intellectually investigating patterns that are not based so much on predictability but on contrast, irony, multi-layered inversion, and pleasing, or sometimes disturbing, concepts. 

Unifying the minds of the viewer to the artist cannot guarantee an aesthetic success story. If the artwork lacks a unified tone, fails to appeal to the aesthetic appreciation of the art critic, or if the piece is flat and leads to disinterest, it becomes a typical deus ex machina, moving the story of the piece forward by the artist painting themselves into a corner. With no other way out, an artist finishes off the piece and Voilá! the painting comes comes to a happy ending. This convention of Greek tragedy is present in many pieces of artwork that employ similar resolutions. But the piece that manages to spare the life of the artist is the one in which the artist gives up something personal, conveys something they would otherwise keep silent just so that others might know it through their aesthetic efforts. It is this sharing of something new or something entirely personal that elevates a piece of artwork to a masterpiece, irrespective of how the paint is applied onto the canvas. 

The aesthetic discomfort I feel in using color is the experience I had, as an artist, in crafting this piece of artwork. It is this added degree of unexpected, uncomfortable, reversed, and perhaps, paradoxical detail that makes my artwork's story familiar. I'm not suggesting that there are many colorblind artist, but rather acknowledging that I do have this impediment. But despite this impediment, or maybe because of it, I am determined to participate in the experience of art. And more personally, in the experience of color. 

Art allows one to experiment fully with a language for the purpose of finding freedom in expression, a principle of unity in how we convey an unsettling thought or experience before an audience. Showing one's art to an audience can feel similar to that dream we've all had... you know the dream, the one when you get to work or school or stand up at a podium to speak only to discover you're not fully clothed! 

It is precisely this nature of triumph despite tragedy that is so very beautiful in our aesthetic consciousness, a consciousness that substitutes itself for moral consciousness, something that ultimately defines the dramatic illusion, detaching the audience from the character, thus making it possible to experience the parodic dimension of the moment of the artist for oneself. 

Artists are artistically self-conscious characters who contend with reality by creating visual images and by engaging an audience in a symbolic or ritualistic action that relates both to role-playing and role-acting. The result of this highly developed aesthetic consciousness is a cast of characters who define their existence through art. 


Anonymous said...

Lovely piece of writing as usual. I wanted to highlight just part of your thread regarding questions we have all asked at some point and nowhere confusing your post as your search for answers.

So let us focus on the intention of the artist. If you look at someone like Jackson Pollock, there is no underlying sketch or rough tracing, it is pure unadulterated darting of the paint in such an anarchic way, there can be no room for transfer of intention nor typical messages. The answers lie purely with the beholder.

Does the viewer see what the artist sees? Maybe? Yes? Sometimes? Never? No? *insert stop sign* … Here, let’s look at it another way. I recently saw a sketch someone had done of two circles only ever so slightly linking in the middle. These crossed over circles were showing the difference between the writer and his intention to a section of his book (left circle) and the reader (right circle) . The words that accompanied the sketch were as follows:
What the writer wrote, ‘ Martin walked through the blue door’ … The reader perceives this to mean ‘Martin is seeing the world in a depressed state but is pushing through in order to achieve his goal’. What the writer meant ‘Martin walked through the blue (explicit deleted) door’. LOL! Now what can we take from this? Nothing? Everything? Something?

If one were to ask if art should be one thing or another, one is asking if there is a right type of food or song…. There is ice cream for the break-ups of relationships and music for the discovery of them and yet the two can be switched at any given notice. It’s mood based. It’s a moment you stumble into an art gallery for the first time and see something you would never have looked at. It’s serendipitous. It’s like a great love, not perfect but perfect for you.

As for critics… I have seen such sycophants fawn over the works of an elephant believing it to be a man who is potentially one the greatest artist of our generation. Where upon discovery, they foolishly entertained their belief until out of sight of the cameras (please note, I’m not for one moment saying the pachyderm had no talent, I’m just saying this is a stellar example of how a viewer may 1. see the piece through the eyes of the artist regardless of the typical definition of talent.... which we can somewhat assume Dumbo had not… and probably just wanted some nuts…and 2. That critics can ... can.... cannnn be a little supercilious and pretentious on a subject matter that they really have no qualification for… for the true critics our the alls in us).

On a side note, I would think you Sophy, having an artist’s soul, possess a perfect vantage on the ‘sui generis’ we have been discussing as of late, for where you may not be able to offer the model truth behind colour (and I use this term very very loosely), you give the viewer a chance to see how blends can work without this illusion of rights and wrongs. Much, I would think, as a young deaf Beethoven did. He may have been robbed of the pleasure of the whole but he had the sights and tears of all that listened to his work. Bravo on the recognition your piece has received and remember you still owe me a painting and bottle of merlot for my third rate comedic act ;)

Markus Porkus Piggyus

Soph Laugh said...

Señor Porkus:

Thank you, as ever, for your insight, wit, and wisdom. Excellent commentary on Jackson Pollock. While he was not an example I used, you're certainly right: no underlying sketch, no rough tracing, just a true exploration of the movement and trajectory of color when it is flung against a canvas. It is like catching paint mid-stream, only captured on a canvas. Viewing his art is like searching for faces in marble or other natural materials. It teaches us more about our inner world and what we see as much as it teaches us about the behavior of paint ... which is exactly the underlining premise of your comment.

I don't know if your insight into ice cream being for break-ups and music for the discovery of them is more brilliant or charming, notably both. And YES, it is mood based: both the food choice and the choice of art. Sometimes our tastes change, but we always have a fondness for those things which we once liked. Like a favorite cupcake from childhood. As adults, it may no longer be palatable - being too sweet for diminished adult taste buds - but it is nostalgic. This is the same with art. Some of our favorite early pieces, while never losing their mastery, enter into the brain in a nostalgic way, evoking emotions and sometimes song lyrics as they do. Whatever we felt the first time we saw that piece (or ate that apple pie or heard that song) is exactly the sensations that return to us time and time again. In this respect, art, like food and music, is a mood igniter. We can then fill in the blanks as to what makes any given piece of art great, but we have to feel something to look deeper, to question, and to explore.

Soph Laugh said...

I'll leave the world of critics alone. I know that many art critics are highly trained and knowledgeable with respect to things I have never yet explored, but like with anything, we are all human, no expert can tell anyone else what they see, despite being able to tell them how well the piece was crafted, how it is new with respect to past art, or what symbolic elements are present that the untrained eye might not notice. In this respect, their commentary is invaluable and teaches us much about what we might not at first blush notice. But their commentary is a lagniappe stroke of insight, nothing more.

I'm happy you mentioned Beethoven. His Opus 20 for one reminds me of what it feels like to paint with color and wonder all the while what others might or might not see. Being colorblind is sometimes a misnomer, often times people ask me if I see in grays, but I do not (at least I don't think I do, *wink, wink) ... I see colors but they mutate ... I see something has a color, then my mind starts sorting through all the colors, and I try to match the color of the object with what someone has told me "that color is" in the past. For example: if something is gray, I first recognize it as being a cool color, then I tend to choose among the colors that psychologically speak to me or relate to concepts I enjoy, and will often times come up with purple as a first choice. In fact, the kids laugh because last year in Paris it snowed quite heavily, causing us to head out to buy snow boots just to walk around. I bought the most amazing pair of beautiful purple boots I had ever seen only to have the rest of the world tell me that they were gray. Honestly, I was disappointed to discover that my amazing purple boots were not purple as it was the color I wanted others to share with me.

Colors are mixed up in my mind, as conveyed in my piece, because other than feeling that color is warm or cold, I just don't perceive color as easily as others do. I have to rely on what I have been told and on trying to look for clues that might inform me as to which color is present.

Other than admitting I would like to see colors the way that others do, in particular so that I might enjoy Impressionistic paintings, I don't mind (of course, I don't have a choice) not seeing color. Going forward, I am just going to choose the colors that speak to me and not rely so much on labels and what the color wheel says goes together. I am already doing a bit of that, but more and more I will choose according to feel and entirely disregard what the world says. Now, what comes out might not mesh or blend well in the eyes of those with color sight, but at least they'll feel good (to me) and maybe somehow in their weirdness they'll feel good to others, too.

In this respect, there might be something new to learn.

Sophus Beatlemania Laughicus