Your visible instincts list

19

Dear Artist,

Visible instincts are personal items that bring magic and specificity to your paintings and, with practice, appear automatically. They’re at times universal and technical, but can be poetic or even self-honed nothings, unique to you and your brush. Your list is one-of-a-kind, and you’re probably already working it:

Honore-Daumier_the-players

“Players”
oil painting by Honoré Daumier (1808 – 1879)

Grey to neutralize — a rest for the eye
Large and/or interlocking gradations — to catch the eye
Warm colours against cool
Strong value contrast
High colour intensity
Simplicity of form
Signature strokes
Big against small
Reduced palette
Colour surprise
Imperfection

honore-daumier_the-laundress

“The Laundress”
oil painting by Honoré Daumier

Obfuscation
Perfection
An unapologetic quiet area
Counterpoint and bounce
Subject with narrative
Unexpected drama
Arbitrary pattern
Calligraphic line
Point of focus
Design echo
Surface joy
Mystery

Perhaps your list has become a bit automatic — burned into your aesthetic psyche and pouring from your hand like muscle memory. Consider returning it to the conscious mind and making tweaks before your next beginning. Build or rebuild your personal list by working backwards from aesthetic, spiritual and communicative goals. Clean it up and write it down. As with the jotting of chores on a hasty note, there’s a freeing of the imagination that occurs with getting your list down on paper.

You don’t need to work through a series of cluttering elements. Imagine, instead, furthering the possible and deepening the work’s potential and meaning. “Adornment, what a science! Beauty, what a weapon! Modesty, what elegance!” said Coco Chanel. Like stars in the cosmos, some invisible instincts will spark like flashbulbs while others wink silently from the dust.

Honore-Daumier_the-painter

“The Painter”
self-portrait by Honoré Daumier

Sincerely,

Sara

PS: “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” (Charles Bukowski)

Esoterica: Your personal list of visible instincts need only have one goal. “Add more style, drama, energy, design, elegance, wonkiness, pathos, mood, texture, humour, or any number of effects that an individual artist might discover and claim,” said Dad. “When the creator consciously and earnestly cruises her work — one or more of these directions can usually be found.”

“The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart.” (Charles Bukowski, You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense)

Share.

19 Comments

    • Visible instincts. What a wonderfully descriptive phrase! I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before, but it is a perfect fit for what we unconsciously do to draw attention to what is important in the painting. It is instinctual, but you are quite right, if we draw back, we can make the unconscious act conscious, and add other visual transitions to our artistic knapsack. It will keep us from getting too predictable, too ‘linear’ in our work.

      Visual instinct. Thank you Sara. With your permission, I’ll steal that phrase!

  1. Visible instincts. What a wonderfully descriptive phrase! I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before, but it is a perfect fit for what we unconsciously do to draw attention to what is important in the painting. It is instinctual, but you are quite right, if we draw back, we can make the unconscious act conscious, and add other visual transitions to our artistic knapsack. It will keep us from getting too predictable, too ‘linear’ in our work.

    Visual instinct. Thank you Sara. With your permission, I’ll steal that phrase!

  2. Top ten favorite articles. Sometimes things we do as artists are such second nature we don’t realize how amazing they actually are. Thank you for your poetic description.

  3. Hello Sara, I loved your Fathers posts and I admit to being a bit skeptical about you taking over (How much would it change?) It has changed of course, but I’ve come to love your post as well. Well done. Your Dad was, and would be proud.

    • Thank you for bringing the unconscious into consciousness, for me anyway. Profound words and thoughts to help me on my journey as I head into the studio today, pad of paper and pencil by the easel. As always I love the choice of quotes, and the care taken in the choosing. Thank you.

  4. Gabrielle Dempsey on

    I really enjoyed reading and reflecting on this post! Few people discuss these elements in such a well-realized way… Thanks for posting.

  5. Your list is amazing. I’m not sure that mine would be that long… then again, maybe it is and I just don’t even realize it – they are instincts, after all ;)

  6. Reflecting upon what I can recognize as my own visible instincts makes me eager to discover whether viewers of my work look with fascination at one or more of these, even when they do not understand the concept.

  7. What a wonderful gift. I like each and every one of your posts – but this one tops it all. You’re right, “…there’s a freeing of the imagination that occurs with getting your list down on paper,” and “…returning it to the conscious mind” will certainly bring those awareness to the present moment and into the painting. Marvelous! Thank You so much for sharing this.

Leave A Reply

Featured Workshop


to

Featured Artist

Share.

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

Subscribe and receive the Twice-Weekly letter on art. You’ll be joining a worldwide community of artists.
Subscription is free.