Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Art of Emotion

"Catching the Breeze" © Steve Henderson

Sometimes I’ll be discussing art or photography with someone and they will laugh nervously and say something like, “oh, I don’t know much about art,” as if there is some vast cloud of art knowledge that one must be tapped into in order to appreciate it.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of viewers can be intimidated by art because of those few people who have a lot of art knowledge and like to show it off. They talk about art like a sommelier would talk about wine, describing the process by which it was created and the details and nuances of each piece. In the presence of so much knowledge, it can sometimes be difficult to speak up when the only thing you know is whether you like the piece or not. You might not want to say much because you think people will laugh at your own lack of knowledge.

The funny thing about this is, art is exactly like wine, in that you honestly don’t need to know much about it to enjoy it – when you find something that fits your tastes, you know. You appreciate it because you like it, and that is all that matters.

"Fire" © Wendy Froshay
"Tommy" © Richard Harpum 

Think about one of your favorite pieces of art. (Better yet, if you can look at it right now, go ahead and let yourself get lost in it.) What is it about this particular piece of art that draws you in? What compels you to study it, to absorb it, to question the meaning behind it? What is it about this work that you like so much?

The odds are, it’s more than just a pretty picture. It’s not just the lines and shapes and colors – it’s the way they are arranged on the canvas in such a fashion that they cause a reaction in you. In fact, this piece of art makes you feel something. Sometimes as viewers, we are aware of what something makes us feel, especially if it is a strong feeling – love, passion, excitement, lust; pain sadness, anger, torment. But we are not always so aware of the subtler stirrings that take place just under the surface – peace, desire, concern, interest, wistfulness, mystery. It is often those quieter feelings that settle in and make us lose ourselves in a work of art, and the more we look, the more we feel.

"Horse Eye" © Tom Griffithe
"Frequency of a Hug" © Emelina Figueroa

Truly, many great works of art were created when the artist was feeling something very deeply, and was able to channel those emotions into their work. Take a look at some of the pieces in this post by OC Designer Source artists. What do you feel when you look at each of them? Which ones tug gently at your heartstrings – and which ones grab them and don’t let go?

Next time you are at an event or you are somewhere where you are looking at art, and you are feeling uncertain of your own knowledge, remember that art is all about emotion – and that’s all you need to know. If someone asks you what you think, just describe to them the way the piece makes you feel; what it evokes from you. That is the most important art knowledge you can ever have.

"No Limits" © Tien Frogget

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