Tapping The Marvellous!

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Art Notes to Myself _DerekM

On the role of LINE in painting:

Paul Klee, once, famously said: Drawing is taking a Line for a walk… a Whimsical Walk, if you please, across a blank sheet of paper!

On FORM in painting:

Picasso and Braque, as we all know, fragmented and broke up FORM.

I, on the other hand, am freely INVENTING purely, new Forms or whimsically DISTORTING, pleasantly of course, REMODELLING & EXTRAPOLATING from familiar Forms.

On using COLOUR alone TO GET A SENSE OF DEPTH in painting:

Now, in modern art, vanishing point perspectives have become redundant… the eye roams over the entire surface of the canvas. There are many points of view!!!

So how does one create AN ILLUSION of DEPTH (and/or of space) on a 2-D surface?

For centuries, artists have employed single or multiple Vanishing Point perspectives or Trompe l’oeil techniques to create a sense of depth and 3D dimensionality on a 2D surface.

Trompe l’oeil is a French phrase that literally means, “to deceive the eye.”

It’s used to describe a style of painting that uses shading and perspective to make a two-dimensional painting appear to be truly three-dimensional—at least for a few moments.

Cézanne played with REVERSE or INVERSE perspectives and flattened surfaces to show the same arrangement from multiple angles at once. He achieved this by emphasizing each individual object rather than the scene as a whole, culminating in eye-catching, off-kilter compositions.

This Principle of Distortion would later play a major role in Cubism, as artist Georges Braque noted in 1957: “The hard-and-fast rules of perspective which were imposed on art, were a ghastly mistake and it has taken four centuries to redress that; Paul Cézanne and after him Picasso and myself can take a lot of credit for this.”

When paired with his analytical brushstrokes and vivid colour palette, it is this unique approach to perspective that would eventually lead Picasso to call Cézanne “the Father of us all.”

I’ve adopted a rather different approach to try and get a sense of depth in my paintings……I’ve used the VEHICLE of COLOUR!

I got pretty curious about how different colours affect our sense of perception of space and depth.

I observed that different colours impinge on our retinas in different ways.

The first “colour” to impinge on our retinas is white. (White is actually a composite of all colours - remember Newton’s disc from school days, made up all the colours of the rainbow, VIBGYOR, which when spun displays only white?)

Then comes yellow, orange and red… These colours come towards the eye,

in that order.

So the first Hue that hits the retina is White and then Yellow and then Orange and then Red!

(Hello? HUE's calling? Sorry, BLUE has gone out on a date with YELLOW to paint the town RED....A LURiD tale in the making, i'm sure. It will be SPLASHED all over the Front pages of tomorrow’s Newspapers!)

And the colours which retreat away from our vision are green, blue, violet, and finally black (which actually is classified as an absence of colour). And the middle planes are Greys and Browns...

I’ve noticed printed in a few art books, that Brown is classified as a “hue” placed between Orange and Red!

Brown is NOT a pure colour but NOISE, but a mixture of Hues from the opposite sides of the Colour Circle!

Anyway, this is only my observation and opinion, don't mean to sound pedantic, ok?

Hence, using ONLY colour, I’ve tried, to create an illusion of depth.

One needs to squint at a painting with half-closed eyes to see the effect…areas coming towards us and others retreating or receding from our vision...

Does the concept of QUALITY in ART really exist in today's climate of Aesthetic Relativism? or Is it The Emperor's New Clothes all over again?

Doesn't hype and hoopla play an important role in hiking up prices or creating unmerited value for any particular artist's work?

Does Anything Go? Really? In the name of Art?

Can Quality in Art be judged OBJECTIVELY? That's the critical Question, isn't it?

Let me quote from the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig:

QUALITY! You know what it is, yet you don't know what it is.

But that's self-contradictory. For some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about.

But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist.

Why else would people pay fortunes for some things and throw others on the trash pile?

Obviously some things are better than others -- but what's the “betterness” all about? -- So round and round you go, spinning mental wheels and nowhere finding any place to get traction.

What the hell is Quality? What is it?

Then someone said, “What do you think?''

He paused for a long time. ”I think there is such a thing as Quality, but that as soon as you try to define it, something goes haywire. You can't do it.”

A few days later he worked up a definition of his own and put it on the blackboard to be copied for posterity.

The definition was: “Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognized by a non-thinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined.”

But then, below the definition on the blackboard, he wrote, “But even though Quality cannot be defined, you know what Quality is!” and the storm started all over again.

“Oh, no, we don't!”

“Oh, yes, you do.”

“Oh, no, we don't!”

“Oh, yes, you do!” he said and he had some material ready to demonstrate it to them.

He had selected two examples of student composition. The first was a rambling, disconnected thing with interesting ideas that never built into anything. The second was a magnificent piece by a student who was mystified himself about why it had come out so well.

The professor read both, then asked for a show of hands on who thought the first was best. Two hands went up. He asked how many liked the second better. Twenty-eight hands went up.

“Whatever it is,” he said, “that caused the overwhelming majority to raise their hands for the second one is what I mean by Quality. So you know what it is.”

The difficulty lies in the inability to express the aesthetic experience in verbal language. It has often been pointed out that if one could translate this successfully then there would be no need for the plastic arts.

One cannot ignore this standpoint, and hence many an honest critic despairs of ever being able to get to the heart of things in this respect.

This does not mean that the others have not attempted to isolate and describe the aesthetic factor in art. There are well known treatises both in the East and in the West on this, but no universal agreement.

I have also been influenced by MANDALA pattern making.

....a MANDALA (in the Sanskrit language, it literally means, a circle) is a spiritual and ritual Visual, Graphic Picture, Painting or Symbol, in Indian religions, representing the Universe.

In common use, "mandala" has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or not necessarily geometric pattern usually that represents the Cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a Microcosm of the Universe.

I let non-geometrical, maybe amorphous forms arise and treat the entire painting as a mandala pattern but NOT in the strictest sense of being one!

The design of the mandala is supposed to be visually appealing so as to absorb the mind in such a way that irritating thoughts are unable to get through and a spiritual essence surrounds the individual observing the mandala, which in turn allows the individual a higher consciousness or awareness, almost as though being hypnotized. This allows the busy mind to take a break while the creative mind is allowed to run free.

Colours and their symbolic meanings:

RED for strength, high energy and passion

PINK for love, intuition and the feminine

ORANGE for creativity, transformation, self-awareness and intuition

YELLOW for learning, wisdom, laughter and happiness

GREEN for physical healing, psychic ability, love of nature and caring

BLUE for emotional healing, inner peace and meditation

PURPLE or VIOLET for all things spiritual

WHITE for spiritual focus

BLACK for mystery, deep thinking and individuality

On using ONLY specific COLOURs to achieve HARMONY in a painting:

Quite by accident, I discovered some rather simple rules of Colour Harmony.

Of course, I humbly submit that this is only MY OWN theory. It definitely works for me or at least I think it does.

I’m well aware of the prevalent Complementary, Achromatic, Analogous (also called Dominance Harmony), Accented Analogous, Triadic, Tetradic, Rectangle, Square and Polychromatic colour schemes adopted in common artistic practice.

My method is rather simple, as it should be, i guess.

I do NOT use all three Primary colours in a painting.

For instance, if I use BLUE and YELLOW as Primaries, I don’t use RED as a Primary colour but as a Tertiary colour like MAGENTA/MAROON (Red-Violet) or FLAMINGO RED (Red-Orange)

If I use, BLUE and RED as Primaries, I use YELLOW as a Tertiary colour like OCHRE (Yellow-Orange) or LEAF GREEN/LIME (Yellow-Green)

If I use YELLOW and RED as Primaries, I use BLUE as a Tertiary colour like INDIGO (Blue-Red) or TEAL/TURQUOISE/PHTHALO/EMERALD (Blue-Green, Greenish-Blue)

(POP goes the EASEL? haha..just kidding!)

Same goes for the three Secondary colours Green, Orange and Violet (or Purple). I use, only two of them in a painting...

If I use GREEN and ORANGE, I don’t use VIOLET but I use either INDIGO

(Blue-Violet) or MAGENTA (Red-Violet).

If I use GREEN and VIOLET I use either OCHRE ( Yellow-Red) or FLAMINGO RED ( Red-Orange)

And if I use ORANGE and VIOLET I use either INDIGO (Blue-Violet) or TEAL/PHTHALO/EMERALD ( Blue-green or vice-versa)

I try to use as MINIMAL a colour palette as possible, since I’m, not only trying to harmonize the colour scheme of a painting but also trying to get that sense of depth, using only colour, I spoke about earlier.

(The eccentric French composer, Erik Satie, who played jazz piano at a Paris café made this his motto: Stop trying to be Impressive! Be EFFECTIVE!)

And when in doubt I always use a GREY or BROWN!

The MIDDLE planes are always GREYs and/or BROWNs, which are NOT pure colours, in that sense, but mixtures from opposite sides of the Colour Circle and fall well within it.

But GREY always does the trick, in finally harmonizing and balancing the entire colour scheme of almost all the paintings I’ve set out to bring into existence...

Actually I find it very interesting to start out with Tertiary colours and work my way backwards to minimum two Primary colours.

And lastly, i plug in WHITE and/or BLACK where needed, if at all!

And once I capture that Aesthetic feeling, I’m consciously after..….the painting is complete!

After all, Art Making is all about making the invisible, VISIBLE, isn’t it?

(Thus said, Marcel Duchamp who was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and Conceptual art. Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century art, and he had a SEMINAL, very decisive influence on the development of Conceptual Art. He rejected the work of many of his fellow artists (such as Henri Matisse) as RETINAL art, intended ONLY to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted TO USE ART to serve the MIND!)

Honestly, i didn't care much for Duchamp's art but was enamoured by his thinking processes!

CONcep?TUAL Art, whose main concern, apparently is to INTRIGUE the mind. BUT without an equal concern for the Aesthetic factor, Conceptual Art can appear arid, futile, pompous or downright rubbish to the layperson, who might feel intimidated, out-of-his/her-depth, thinking that there must be some deep secret to understanding ART, only available to an initiated few...Duchamp, himself, got terribly bored and “gave up” his “art-making” and went back to playing chess, for the rest of his life.

CARTOONS, Comic books, Comic Strips, etc.. too, no matter how visually pleasing, appealing or eye-catching, may elicit a chuckle or two or more, but cannot truly be considered ART, for the simple reason that that “Aesthetic Experience”, I spoke about earlier can never be arrived at in a cartoon. This is the crucial difference between Art & Craft too!

Anyway, all this is, humbly speaking, my OWN OPINION!

I want MY ART, to, not only please THE EYE but also, to Tickle ONE’S FUNNY BONE & IMAGINATION and to Intrigue & Engage THE MIND!

and thusTO INCITE & IGNITE a Sense of MAGIC, WONDER & DELIGHT in the viewer! And also, honestly to bring A SMILE to every face!

Now wouldn’t that be MARVELLOUS?

That, in a nutshell, is My ARTISTIC STATEMENT!

I would describe my Art as TAPPING The MARVELLOUS!

Finally, In COMPOSING my paintings and CHOOSING canvas sizes, i always try to keep the Golden Ratio in mind i.e. Width divided by Height (or vice-versa) equals 1.6 (The Golden Ratio)

There's a common mathematical ratio found in nature that can be used in creating pleasing, natural-looking compositions in one’s own art or design work. It's called the Golden Ratio, although it's also known as the Golden Mean, The Golden Section, or the Greek letter phi.

The Art world has felt the influence of the Golden Ratio for centuries. Also known as the Golden Section or the Divine Proportion, this mathematical principle is an expression of the ratio of two sums whereby their ratio is equal to the larger of the two quantities i.e. 1.6 being the ideal ratio.

(The Rule of Thirds, a simplification of The Golden Spiral, is what I am, actually, intuitively, very deliberately and consciously, aware of, when composing a painting.

This Rule is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section.

The Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline than a rigid rule. It is intended to help the artist with the placement of the elements and focal points within the composition.

But, if you want your viewer to ignore the other parts of your painting, then go ahead, break a rule and centre your subject like a big Bull's-Eye! Haha)

Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation by E.H. Gombrich

This book was very crucial to my understanding of art.

Described by Kenneth Clark as 'one of the most brilliant books of art criticism that I have ever read',

Art and Illusion is a classic study of image-making. It seeks to answer a simple question: why is there such a thing as style? The question may be simple but there is no easy answer, and Professor Gombrich's brilliant and wide-ranging exploration of the history and psychology of pictorial representation leads him into countless crucial areas.

Gombrich examines, questions and re-evaluates old and new ideas on such matters as the imitation of nature, the function of tradition, the problem of abstraction, the validity of perspective and the interpretation of expression: All of which reveal that pictorial representation is far from being a straightforward matter. First published more than 40 years ago, Art and Illusion has lost none of its vitality and importance.

In applying the findings of experimental science to a nuanced understanding of art and in tackling complex ideas and theoretical issues, Gombrich is rigorous.

Yet he always retains a sense of wonder at the inexhaustible capacity of the mind, and at the subtlety of the relationships involved in seeing the world and in making and seeing art. With profound knowledge and his exceptional gift for clear exposition, he advances each argument as an hypothesis to be tested. The problems of representation are forever fundamental to the history of art: Art and Illusion remains an essential text for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of art.

I am deeply influenced and endeavour to follow, to the best of my understanding, the Gestalt Principles in Art and Perception.

The central principle is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies.

This principle maintains that when the human mind (perceptual system) forms a percept or "gestalt", the whole has a reality of its own, independent of the parts.

The original famous phrase of Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka, "the whole is something else than the sum of its parts" is often incorrectly translated as "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

He firmly corrected students who replaced "other" with "greater".

"This is not a principle of addition" he said.The whole has an independent existence.

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the Law of Prägnanz (in the German language, pithiness), which says that we tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetrical, and simple.

A major aspect of Gestalt theory is that it implies that the mind understands external stimuli as a whole rather than the sum of their parts. The wholes are structured and organized using grouping laws, which are called either Laws or Principles.

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