This time ‘round on my installment of Muddy Colors I thought it might be interesting to share some work that I consider to be *powerful*.
Now I suppose I should talk about what that means for a moment and when I say “what that means” I only mean what it means to me. Not that it will or even should mean that to you. I’m actually quite positive that everyone who’s likely to look at this article has a very unique set of requirements to fulfill that particular label when it comes to art.
Powerful art to me has an element that is essentially indescribable (as I proceed with an article to approximate a description) but that I feel or react to on a visceral level. I *think* this likely means that the work is making a subconscious connection that I am not fully aware of enough to define verbally. As *artsy* as this may sound, I believe most of the artists I’ve known have expressed a feeling parallel to this.
It is that work that you look at and it seems more than the sum of its parts. There is some element that exists in it that is beyond the simple elements of style and academic process. It has a life of its own and seems to exist as itself, rather than a painting or drawing of itself. As in, this is not a painting of a thing but the essential thing itself. If I were more of a romantic I suppose I might say that this painting is not an expression of fear/love/anger/hate but is somehow made of those things.
Why do I think its important to find work that makes you react that way? Whatever work that you find powerful, compelling, intriguing, etc, my personal opinion is that as an artist, there is likely some aspect of that work that you want to see in your own art. I think we need to have that nonverbal communication.
When I first started on this endeavor, years ago (around 1850) I was consumed with process, technique and tools. I would ask “How do you do that?”. At some point I stopped asking that question (not forever, I’m still a fan of learning new processes) and started asking “How do I want to do this?”
I will say that the process of making works isn’t drastically different between most of the artists I’ve studied. Though the impact of the works can be decidedly different. I feel like it should be said… It’s not in the hand, it’s in the Mind/Heart/Spirit.
Curating collections of images that have that ‘unspeakable” element was and is still a part of my “seeking.” I guess you could say that I’ve become comfortable with the mystery that I feel in certain pieces that defy academic dissection.
Will I ever achieve this in my work?
I can’t answer that. I can only say that sometimes when I turn off my mental dialogue and sort of zone out when I’m working…. you know it if you’ve ever felt it… when you slip into that timeless space where the work… works itself out… it seems like I am close.
We come up with theories and processes, rules and guidelines that seem to help people learn and produce work, yet someone comes along that seems to break the rules and disregard the theories and make works that hit us like a maul.
People ask me all the time if there’s some kind of magic involved in all this. I’m not supposed to say yes but saying no doesn’t feel… true.
If I ever find out for sure… I’ll let you know.