Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Healing Power of Landscape Paintings

I recently found an uplifting and interesting tidbit for those of us who enjoy painting landscapes. According to Dr. John Diamond, in his 1979 book Your Body Doesn't Lie, when a person looks at a landscape painting it will raise their level of well being, balance their right and left brain hemispheres and increase their life energy. The book describes Dr. Diamond’s research and practice for Behavioral Kinesiology (BK), which uses muscle testing from Kinesiology to test for factors in the environment that raise and lower a person’s energy or life force. He muscle tested patients for music, electronic devices, picture symbols, food, just about everything, as well as paintings. He found that a photograph of a landscape or an actual view of a landscape did not come close to the life giving qualities from a landscape painting (!)

Here is a quote (p. 76 in Dr. Diamond’s book) “…The results are not nearly so satisfactory with line drawings or with photographs. Looking at a beautiful scene in nature may or may not be as effective, depending on the ability of the viewer to abstract certain qualities from it, which is, after all, what a good painter has already done for us. I have found that if people take an “energy break” every so often – just to recite a verse or two of poetry or to look at a picture postcard of a painting, stress and tension will be considerably reduced……and the Life Energy will be high…”

How cool is that?


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Going Beyond Technique

The learning curve for most artists generally takes a similar path, which I see consisting of 2 parts. The first part is mastering technique. Not all techniques in all mediums, but the ones that will best suit the artists needs. The technique is mastered when the artist has enough tools to say what they want to say. Then comes part 2. This is a key point where the artist rises above technique, and the message or content or voice of the artist takes precedent. Here it gets tricky because a successful work of art contains not only the voice of the artist but the voice of the medium as well. The artist must create a balance between mastery and surrender. Mastery of the technique, while surrendering to the materials and message, as well as being a conduit to the collective energies/concerns of the times.

As a teacher I often see a tough spot happening between parts 1 and 2. This is the “leaping off” step. Sometimes students will keep taking class after class long after they have enough technique, but it’s a bit scary at that point to realize you have enough technique and then to use those techniques to say what you want to say. My suggestion is that students take a few technique classes, then take a year off with no classes and no teachers to just paint on their own. From then on sign up for a short workshop once a year to add something new, get reinspired.

I recently received a comment regarding my book, Acrylic Revolution, wishing that more of the examples in the book were finished paintings, and here is a good opportunity to add some clarity to my intent. This book is a collection of techniques. My intent in writing this book was to inspire artists to make that leap from part 1 to part 2, and to create their own unique style by combining techniques. To do this I decided to give final examples for each of the techniques but only going as far as a technique can go without becoming a painting. I put finished paintings at the gallery at the end of the book to show that powerful paintings are a combination of many techniques. It is this combining that encourages creating your own style. The techniques are purposefully left in a state full of potential, just for those purposes, to get your own creative juices flowing – not to imitate.

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