When I was a student at art school, I remember a lesson in speaking about an artwork that seemingly has no meaning. When getting acquainted with the artwork, and there is no obvious place to start, begin with what you know about the piece. Start with the obvious stuff like describing the physical properties of the artwork. The dialogue might begin with its dimensions or materials. It might be noted whether it is framed or unframed. This method is like a first introduction to someone whom you’ve never met before. Following the initial introduction, more insightful aspects begin to reveal themselves.
Crossing the Threshold
Sometimes, making art is similar. The motivation to start something may be quite large or even unknown. If this is the case, then a deliberate crossing of the threshold must be made for something to begin. A brush mark, placed anywhere, initiates, and introduces the framework of the construction of forms. This the “what”, in this case, the head of a young woman.
As the process of making the “what” continues, the sense of the idea, as mysterious or out of reach it seems to be, also begins to articulate itself. This is the part that connects with something far more compelling than a simple rendering. Now, the translation of the subject starts to communicate a mood as the artwork then, hopefully, takes on the curious properties that compel us not only analytically but also emotionally.
So, like any introduction, the process must start somewhere. When creating a piece, it begins with a gesture, a mark of some kind. When describing an artwork, it begins with a word or two about what is obvious about it. Getting beyond the first steps brings us to a point where our mere descriptions become insightful thought. I love to encourage art appreciation and dialogue about what we see. If we are at a loss for words, and we wish to say something, let us begin with what we know and let us go from there. The dialogue is worthwhile.
Note: This painting was made while referencing an earlier study done with a professional studio model, the incomparable Toni Czechorosky, who posed for it. I sincerely appreciated the time working with her.