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Art in Life

by Donald Fox on 12/11/2013 7:11:09 AM

This post is by guest author, Donald Fox. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission.You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.  We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.

 

Uncertainty and disarray are hallmarks of real life. We, as humans, have personal expectations, desires, and goals, but we never really know what will happen whenever we walk through any door. Life is messy, and we spend a large amount of time attempting to create order from that messiness. As children, if we have loving and concerned parents, we are taught by example and by directive to manage ourselves and our affairs by creating some semblance of order. We may have to pick up our toys, straighten our rooms, put away our clothes, and possibly do various chores around the house to contribute to household order and stability. At school, we follow the regimen of class periods, do specific tasks at specific times, and generally experience days that are neatly organized for us. We learn, though some of us may resist, to fit, comfortably or not, into a defined and controlled environment. All the way through our developmental years in subtle and obvious ways we learn how organization and control make the world, at least intentionally, to work as efficiently and predictably as possible.

 

Along the way, we also find that there is unpredictability, uncertainty, uncontrollable circumstances, and sometimes tragedy. What may seem promising one moment can be followed by disappointment the next, or promises may be fulfilled after all. The more we can adjust to ambiguity and tolerate uncertainty the better we are able to live from a place of inner strength and resolve. There still will be many things beyond our control, but if we’re lucky, we may also learn that control may be overrated and sometimes creates its own set of problems.

 

It has been said that art imitates life. Actually, I think that art comments on life, but it is very different from life. For thousands of years artists have used art as a vehicle for observation, expression, commentary, investigation, musing, propagandizing, philosophizing, and proselytizing. Art is sometimes spontaneously expressed and sometimes carefully planned, but even when spontaneous there is structure and boundaries within which it occurs. Life, as I said before, is often messy, and artists themselves may be messy, but their art is usually orderly. When artists attempt to capture the messiness of life, they often dilute the purpose of art, which is, as I see it, to express some clear vision of what life can be in its grandest moments whether expressing beauty, understanding, endurance in the face of adversity, strength of human will and spirit, or the ability to transcend the momentary, demeaning, or banal aspects of existence. Does art sometimes venture to the darker side? Yes, but the art that does and succeeds rarely dwells there. Some spark of light is discovered that leads to hope and possibility for change even if the change does not occur within the art itself. Art may not always be uplifting, but by its crafting we find a means of questioning and contemplating those life challenges that appear unfair, disturbing, or unsolvable. We can recognize through art the shared values and qualities regardless of culture, tradition, or creed that otherwise we might not see.  

 

 

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Editor's Note:  You can view Donald's original post here.


 

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Related Posts:

Art Goal 2013: Designing A Simpler Life

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Figuring Out Life as a Full Time Artist


Topics: art and psychology | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

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 13 Comments

Michael Cardosa
via faso.com
Hi Donald,

Thank you for the posting. I like your comment that "art comments on life". Thinking about it, I believe that to be very true.

Thanks again,

Michael

Cathy de Lorimier
via faso.com
Donald,
When reading your post, I can't help but think that not only does the finished product of art comment on life, but the act of the artist CREATING the art also comments on life! Beginning our next work can start with a very lengthy process of thought and preparation for the concept (in one's head), or with a spontaneous emotional impetus (one's heart), or most likely, a bit of both. No one way is best or to be more admired, just as all types of people and personalities are valuable. Through art our individuality can't help but be revealed, as well as humanity's shared values and qualities which you so beautifully point out. Thank you so much for writing this post!

Susan G Holland
via faso.com
Donald this is a truly masterful essay. I will print this one out and keep it with my important things.

Thank you! You have embraced the Whole Thing about art here in a way I have not heard it before.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Donald -- The interpretation of viewers also plays a role, as you know. Take a work of art -- any work of art -- and show it to someone... he or she will likely come up with an interpretation based on his or her own experiences -- even if he or she is aware of the intention of the artist.

How we acquire / interpret information about the life of the artist also serves a role within the wider interpretation of art. I'll put it this way... I look at Norman Rockwell's illustrations differently now that I know about the struggles he faced as a husband. His wife had a lot of emotional problems -- and in many ways Rockwell lived a complicated life. That knowledge establishes new meanings when I view his classic images.

In life we experience light and dark / good and bad all the time. It is part of what it means to be human... to be able to pick up on both sides knowingly as a thinking creature, if you will. To deny either is absurd in my opinion. In both directions... we can see triumph -- we can see the spirit of what it means to be human... both the good and the bad.



David Ralston
via faso.com
Well I'm glad that's cleared up.

Betty Pieper
via faso.com
This is a thoughtful take on the issue. I have a whole category of paintings I call "commentary"
from a plump woman eating ice cream outside a store window with size 1 mannequins inside to "One Step Ahead of the Undertaker in a Johnny
Coat" depicting the cancer dilemma. It is so deeply ingrained in our culture to look for redemption and a better life...even pie in the sky...that it seems to come naturally even within
one work to have a lighter juxtaposition.

Marian Fortunati
via faso.com
Hi Donald,
As always, your commentaries are thoughtful and insightful. I enjoy reading them and wrapping my thoughts around them.
I also enjoyed the reactions of others as they read this essay -- they emphasized writing's place and the reader's interpretations of that art as well.


Sandy Askey-Adams
via faso.com
Hello Donald...

Thank you. This is beautifully written. Amazing.
I think every artist might want to read this.
It says so much. Going to keep this one.
Love all the comments too.


Donald Fox
via faso.com
Sorry for the delay in responding. I didn't know this had been published today, and I've been so busy with work I didn't check email until a few minutes ago. Thanks, everyone, for responding. I know that we each have our special connections to and beliefs about as well as experiences of art. That in itself is one fo the things that makes art so fascinating.

I agree with what you say, Cathy, and also lament just a bit that we can't always know for certain the motivation or intention of the artist. We often say that a work speaks for itself - and I know what is usually meant by that - even if we are personifying the inanimate. Perhaps all art is ironical in that way. It's about life and has a life of sorts but only because viewers animate it for themselves.

I absolutely agree, Brian. Art may sometimes be like the tree that falls in the forest with no one there to experience it - does the tree or the art make a sound? Art is really only useful when it is perceived in my opinion. Your comment about Rockwell is interesting. I've read a bit about that recently and heard an interview with his biographer.

Thanks Betty and David and Michael. All comments welcome.

Hi, Marian. I often find a subtle humor in your comments. Hope we get to meet sometime.

Rizwana A.Mundewadi
via faso.com
Three Small Words,
Loved your share Jack, simple and right from the heart.
One thing I always learn from you and Mikki, Survival of the fittest,it gives a lot of encouragement and hope to the many artists around the globe.
Love is a unique force, it works wonders to us and also allows us to work wonders to the lives of others.
Need your blessings, and with this strongest force, as on this spiritual journey of The Red Pilgrim, as I continue to make healing art...
Thank You Thank You Thank You!
Thank you for connecting and being a Guide.
Have a Great Year Ahead!
Take Care and All the Best!

Jana Botkin
via faso.com
Donald, I often say that "Real life is messy and we artists get to clean it up with our pencils and brushes".

Thanks for this thoughtful essay.

Ernie Kleven
via faso.com
Thanks for a very thoughtful article. I and two of my artist friends meet every month for coffee and this very subject was under discussion. We were trying to define good and bad art and finally concluded that to be an impossible task. To each individual; however, and from the standpoint of sales (if that's a consideration) good art might that which one would want to hang in their home or workplace.

Donald Fox
via faso.com
Rizwana, you might want to resubmit your comment on Jack White's post instead of here.

Yes, Jana, we'll certainly be kept busy with the clean-up. Thanks for sharing that.

Ernie, that definition might work for some, but I can think of a lot of art that I consider even better than good and wouldn't want to hang on my wall. I'll appreciate them on museum walls instead.










 

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