There is so much written about art that it is often mistaken for an intellectual pursuit. Our emotional life is really dominant over our intellectual life but we do not realize it. It is quite commonly thought that the intellect is responsible for everything that is made and done, and that everything that IS can be verbally explained. But a wide range of emotional response exists that cannot be put into words. We are so used to making these emotional responses that we are not consciously aware of them until they are represented in artwork. We pay far too much attention to what we read and see in books and on the Internet compared to what we experience directly. As great as this is, it must be a visceral experience.
Many folks ask where my ideas come from, and the answer is always the same − my imagination. But what is that? Imagination is the capacity to form mental images and to spontaneously generate them within one’s own mind. It has been suggested that the whole of human cognition is based upon imagination. That is, nothing that we perceive is purely observation but a dog’s breakfast of sense and imagination. It helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge, a fundamental means through which we make sense of the world.
The imagination is perhaps the most mysterious aspect or ourselves because it connects our conscious with our subconscious minds, allowing us to explore our inner selves in an attempt to make sense of our ever-changing world. Creativity cannot exist without our imagination.
I am forever intrigued by the mystery of the creative process, when I give up to it, stop thinking, and just DO, a wonderful magic happens – a magic that can make we weep just thinking about it. I once heard writer John Bentley Mays speak at U of T, (who described this process much more beautifully and eloquently than I) how it compels us to express our deepest desires. I believe that art is about beauty, even when a painting seems dark, it is still about beauty, showing what beauty in not.
Within us are a myriad of emotions for which there are no words. This is an idea I absorbed from first viewing the great abstract works of Agnes Martin, awestruck as I was by how much emotion she could convey with repetitive lines of graphite. The idea rests at the core of my painting and resonates whenever I am in the presence of a work of art that holds this quality. I can marvel at the beauty of it all, and weep in the presence of its overwhelming power. The language of the soul speaks to this great power. I have often felt this way standing before the great works of Mark Rothko, who perhaps has been the greatest influencer on my development and growth as an artist.
“Imagination plumbs the well of experience, memory and dreams. This deep place is also where design is sharpened and style is honed. Without imagination, work becomes dependent on reality and lacks the magic of the artist’s personality. Unfortunately, many do not trust their wells to be deep, and by so doing, stay shallow. “
~ Paul Klee
I, too seek to inspire in others with my art, the knowledge of a deep, wide range of emotion speaking to our shared human experience. I see myself as a conduit between the viewer and that which cannot be expressed in words, but which certainly can be felt. I see this as key to appreciating abstract art. Instead of trying to figure out what it means intellectually, I simply stand before it, absorb it, let it wash over me. No wonder in this urban rat race we have difficulty feeling anything at all. Yet spending time in the presence of good original art can help in soothing of the soul.
I see myself as a colourist in exploring themes of importance to my life. Flowers are one, especially tulips, which I see as messengers from another realm, their symbolic imagery a visual vocabulary for the expression of meaning beyond ourselves. My vision seeks to inspire others to reflect on the origins of beauty. This deep place is also where design is sharpened and style is honed. Without imagination, work becomes dependent on reality and lacks the magic of the artist’s personality.
When you beautify your own life, you beautify the lives of those around you.