Phlebotomic is a blog experiment that seeks to gather multiple perspectives around a common prompt, which is provided weekly.

Last week's prompt was "Beauty"...

This week's prompt is "Path"...

17 January 2009

Art: mysterious simulation, passionate responses

For about 6 years I took art lessons. I was an aspiring landscape oil painter of an old, classical school. I logged in thousands of hours in the Fjordland Studio with my instructor - learning to mix my own custom mediums, create bristle-color-surface combinations, and tackling endless scene types. The school of painting I was learning was one that intended to capture natural scenes with as much realism as possible while leaving the least evidence of method and brushstroke. It was a game - to mysteriously re-create a natural scene in such a way that the human eye was not distracted by the evidence of our brushes!

For a few years the art scene was a magnificent journey of mysteries. How do you recreate the lighting, dimensions and vitality of a seaside sunset, crystal clear Alaskan mountain-scape or pastoral field? How do you achieve re-creation without evidence of touch? After awhile I could walk up and diagnose the medium, paint type, brush type and method used on a majority of paintings. There was a thrill to decoding art and nature in tandem! I described the physical world in new terms - Cerulean, Umber, Thalo, Ochre, and Grumbacher Yellow #5.

After an exhibit that effectively stole the joy of painting in lieu of the forced demand to produce quantities and types of pieces, a realization struck me: what an odd pursuit it is to invest enormous amounts of time into simulating reality and re-evoking the passionate response originally felt by a scene experienced in the past. Why do we enjoy and indulge in art so much? What about the (in some ways) silliness of pseudo-photography and emotional replay do we find alluring?

For the artist there's the shadow mission to transmit a personal emotion and perspective through the silent media of the finished piece. For the observer there's a dual experience in discerning the mood and intent of the artist plus the personal, soulical movement evoked.

Why do we enjoy art so much?


  1. made in the image of the creator...we long to create.

  2. Beauty calls out to us. yes, we long to create, but we even more long for the transcendent..that which goes beyond the canvas or the instrument...that which communicates to us more than a re-creation or an emotion. The beauty of the parable is that it tells so much more than the story it pictures, and so it is with art.

  3. Art takes us out of ourselves. I can feel myself almost "walking into" a good painting. I can walk past 98% of stuff hanging in museums and galleries, but then suddenly I'm hooked and pulled in.

  4. We enjoy it because it expresses what many times we are unable to, or lack the capacity to enunciate. Even when it is an attempt to copy nature, it puts a "twist" upon the natural world, and freezes it for a moment in time. BTW, I didn't realize I was in the presence of an "artiste!"