My Thoughts on Art
Art as a science
Since I've spent about 30 years calling myself an artist, I often feel the need to create art. That might seem like a relatively simple thing for an artist to do, but in order to create art an artist needs to know what art is (at least to them-self.) I've heard so many definitions it makes my head spin. Like, art is beauty, art is communication, art is making an illustration of something recognizable, art is creativity, art is in the eyes of the beholder, art is an expression of feelings, art is something wonderful, art is love, art is kind of now kind of wow, and on and on. All those definitions may apply but if art is everything why even bother to have the word "art" in our vocabulary? I'm not ready to believe that, "art that can be defined," is not art.
About the Artist
To complicate matters even more, when I look at someone else's art I don't hold it to the same standards as my own. My feeling is that just because I don't understand what they've done doesn't mean that the work doesn't have some sort of value to the art world. When I look at their work I naturally compare it to what I do but I also just try to experience the work and feel whether or not I like it. Sometimes I'm very attracted to something and have a hard time defining why. That process can be exhausting because of the diversity of artistic expression in the world and shifting through what is a contribution to the art world and what is just another clever statement can be a daunting task. It seems to me a generally agreed upon definition for art that could be built upon would be helpful to society.
I don't want to tell anyone what they should think art is. I do have an idea what I think art is and invite dialog. My opinions might help others with theirs and theirs with mine and bring higher quality art into the world.
My own definition of two dimensional art seems to change as I change but I like to keep it handy so I can feel satisfied with my creations. For the moment it seems to be, art is aesthetically pleasing structured pattern that is in harmony with the subject being illustrated. Illustrations are a form of communication and I don't feel that on its own qualifies them to be called art. I believe art must have at least some form of aesthetic value.
While the illustration of an idea may not be enough on it's own to qualify something to be called, it might be the most important aspect of art. It is the illustrative component that passes the message of the work from the artist to the viewers.
I've seen great strides in both the quality and diversity of illustration but haven't noticed a corresponding increase in the level of design theory. I feel the great focus on styles, individuality and spontaneity has created a trend in the world of modern art, of styles and no substance.
All illustrations are abstract. Even photo realistic illustrations are two dimensional patterns, which by definition makes them abstracts because they are not the three dimensional things they represent. By my definition, even masterfully produced illustrations do not qualify as good art unless their abstract two dimensional patterns represent aesthetically pleasing good structure, (unless the admiration for the skill, knowledge or incite required to produce the work is being considered to be the works ascetic value.) Also it can be argued that the statement that an illustration is making has a form of ascetic value such as a revolutionary idea because it is beautiful to watch the human race evolve.
Illustrations can be of non material subjects such as feelings or concepts. Two dimensional apparently nonrepresentational patterns can be art because some are illustrations of their own aesthetically pleasing mathematical structures.
Over the years I've noticed some tension between designers and illustrators. Each saying that what the other does isn't art. By my way of thinking both are trying to create art, but focusing on different aspects of it and both need the skills the other has to offer.
My search to understand the structure of a masterpiece has led me to think of art as a science. Thinking this way led my to come up with a simple set of rules for composing images. In order to create the system of composition that I use, I needed to study several branches of science, including physiology and physics, and apply them in a new and integrated way. I use math to bring the various disciplines together in an easy to use system. This system relates the picture plane to the image and the image to human physiology in a concrete but subtle way. Whether by using my system or any other method, I believe all true art, produced intuitively or systematically, must maintain this relationship no matter what the artist is trying to express. Images produced without structure might make provocative and or relevant statements, but I feel they should be classified as a form of dialog, not as art, and may lose their impact without historical context to support them.
Some may argue that works created with math are not art, but merely mathematical solutions. My feeling is that even if a painting is done using intuition, the artist still relies to some degree on basic rules, training, or past experience, much of which can be traced back to some form of math. My system still allows the artist to make intuitive decisions every step of the way, but always within strict mathematical guidelines. This is not a restriction to creativity but a tool to steer it in the right direction.
In closing I would like to add that I'm not trying to promote the idea that all good art should look similar, I encourage diversity. Just because artist use similar rules to guide them doesn't mean their work will look the same. 100 identical seeds grown at 100 diverse places yields 100 diverse plants even though they use the identical rules to grow.