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A principle of art

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
Rombomb
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A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 26th, 2013, 9:50 pm

Someone asked me: What do you mean by the idea that all fields have principles and knowing them helps one learn in that field (even art)?

A physics principle is like: All energy is conserved. This helps one figure out how to approach physics problems related to energy. It helps him create math equations that correspond to the physics problems.

In art, lets say the problem is that you want the art viewer to feel calm when looking at your painting. What principle helps here?

What makes someone feel calm? Order. What makes someone feel the opposite (nervousness)? Chaos.

What does order and chaos mean in a painting? Well, one example is that curved lines is more ordered than lines with sharp edges. So, to make a nervous feeling, use lines with sharp edges. And to make a calm feeling, use curved lines.

Why does curved lines mean order, and why does jagged lines mean chaos? The answer is in the field of math. A curved line is defined by one equation. A jagged line is defined by multiple equations -- for each sharp edge (aka discontinuity) there are two equations representing the lines on each end of that discontinuity. The more equations, the more chaos. So the more discontinuities in a line, the more chaotic it is. And that chaos is registered by us neurologically.

So the principle is: Order causes calm -- so the reverse is, chaos causes nervousness.

But there is more to it. Too much order is overwhelmingly boring. And too much chaos is overwhelming too. So, in a chaotic painting, use at least one ordered element, and in an ordered painting, use at least one chaotic element.


An interesting consequence of this is that if an artist is calm, he'll create calm paintings. And if he's nervous, he'll create nervous paintings -- which is sort of an emotional resonance between the art creator and the art viewer. This is not to say that an artist cannot create a calm painting when he's nervous (or vice versa). The artist could know what I've explained, or he could have a customer asking for a calm painting, in which case he can override his subconscious.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Alias » February 27th, 2013, 1:10 am

....Or, he could be commissioned to paint something the right size to go over the sofa and match the blue-green colour theme of the room.

Of course there are principles, palettes and techniques to achieve all kinds of effects. That's the artist's skill-set. And if he's mastered those things really well, he can probably make an okay living in corporate office decoration or advertising. To be an actual artist, he'd need the skills, the theory, talent - and something to communicate.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 27th, 2013, 10:24 am

Alias wrote:To be an actual artist, he'd need the skills, the theory, talent - and something to communicate.
Do you think that skills and talent are fundamentally different?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Alias » February 27th, 2013, 11:07 am

Absolutely. Theory and technique can be learned by any average human. Talent is inborn and can't be learned, taught, passed on or communicated. Talent, though, is a multifaceted phenomenon: manual dexterity makes the craft - that is, the use of tools - easier to master; visual acuity and a sense of form and harmony help to apprehend theory more readily, and so on. A talented student acquires the skills more quickly and with far less effort than the most eager untalented one. (Trust me; I have taught both.) The most mysterious part of talent, however, is originality or creativity: the spark which animates one person's art while another, however technically perfect, work just lies there.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 27th, 2013, 11:37 am

Alias wrote:Absolutely. Theory and technique can be learned by any average human. Talent is inborn and can't be learned, taught, passed on or communicated. Talent, though, is a multifaceted phenomenon: manual dexterity
Do you agree that manual dexterity can be improved?
Alias wrote: makes the craft - that is, the use of tools - easier to master; visual acuity
Do you agree that we are born with little to no visual acuity and that we improve it over time?
Alias wrote: and a sense of form and harmony help to apprehend theory more readily, and so on.
What do you mean by a "sense of"?
Alias wrote: A talented student acquires the skills more quickly and with far less effort than the most eager untalented one. (Trust me; I have taught both.)
Your premise is that those two students started out with differing talents. And here you are arguing using your conclusion. What is your argument that we are born with the knowledge you're talking about? How do you know that the less talented person didn't learn things that the more talented person did learn before coming to your class?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Alias » February 27th, 2013, 2:23 pm

Rombomb wrote: Do you agree that manual dexterity can be improved?
Alias wrote:
Up to a point, yes. Everyone has built-in limits, which cannot be known in advance.
It's hard to tell what babies see because they communicate so poorly, but there seems to be some variation in their preferences for colour and texture almost from the beginning.
That, and the rest of your question will take more time than I have right now.

TBC
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 27th, 2013, 6:03 pm

Alias wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

Up to a point, yes. Everyone has built-in limits, which cannot be known in advance.
Why do you believe that people have different limits?
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)


It's hard to tell what babies see because they communicate so poorly, but there seems to be some variation in their preferences for colour and texture almost from the beginning.
Now you've changed the subject. But I agree its related.

Why do preferences matter in a subject about talent?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Alias » February 27th, 2013, 7:47 pm

Continued from am.
What do you mean by a "sense of" [colour and harmony]?
That's a kind of short-hand for a whole range of perceptions. I have no technical data on the neurology; only personal observation of people's responses to visual input.
Your premise is that those two students started out with differing talents.
My assertion was that every person has a different - uniquely different - set of proclivities and aptitudes. Each art-form requires a different set of skills. For each art-form the requisite talent is a set of proclivities and aptitudes that help a student of that art-form to learn the skills more quickly, with less instruction; they have greater facility and perform at higher level of proficiency, than students with less talent.
And here you are arguing using your conclusion.
I'm not arguing at all. I'm stating my opinion drawn from observation.
What is your argument that we are born with the knowledge you're talking about?
No, I said knowledge can be taught; perception and originality and aptitude cannot.
How do you know that the less talented person didn't learn things that the more talented person did learn before coming to your class?
I don't understand this question. Obviously, they all learned many things before coming to my class: I never took on a student under 8 years (and he was an exception). The talented 8-year-old created better and more interesting sculpture than even the hardest-working but untalented 10-to-12s. The untalented ones did some nice work, competent work; they could take pleasure in their learned and practiced skill, but they did not become artists.
Why do you believe that people have different limits?
Perhaps they don't, given unlimited time and patience and no physical deterioration - conditions I have not seen in human life. But I have witnessed diminishing returns in not only art, but other, unrelated skill-sets. Most people, no matter how much they train, will never be able to run a three-minute mile, lift twice their own weight, or distinguish 180 shades of red. I am very much aware of my own limits, of speed, strength, sight, taste, dexterity, balance, co-ordination, pitch and breath-control.
Now you've changed the subject. But I agree its related.
"It's hard to tell what babies see because they communicate so poorly, ...." etc

was not a different subject. It was a response to:
Do you agree that we are born with little to no visual acuity and that we improve it over time?
What it meant was: I can neither agree nor disagree about what visual acuity we're born with, since no person of recent birth has been able to tell me what they see. I can only infer differences in visual acuity in early life from the observable actions of babies -
Why do preferences matter in a subject about talent?
- and that is why a preference for harmonious colours over clashing ones, or symmetrical forms over misshapen ones might indicate a proclivity toward, and possibly the beginnings of aptitude for, the visual arts. Actual talent may become evident as a complex of perceptual and physical attributes and preferred activities at around age 4. While the child's motor and communication skills are undeveloped, its actions leave too much room for adult interpretation.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Discards » February 27th, 2013, 11:35 pm

Speaking of only fine art - talent is a product of practice. The talented artist is never without skill. Skill - meaning an ability to recreate depth, or to capture form - is derived from years and years of practise.

As a child I drew stick men like any other child. But I wanted "ghost-busters" on my page. And stick men weren't cutting the mustard for me. So, with a lot of spare time, I gradually experimented, learning how to alter the form of a figure into a representation. On the page. As this turned into an obsession I was inclined naturally to uptake other challenges - like encompassing the human body in sketch.

As people begin to encourage what you produce you become more and more interested in what you are creating. Eventually the things that you learned previously hit a certain level - at which point people rightly say of you " there's talent". People see talent in what you do. I believe there is a misconception that talent can't be taught because those who are very good at some art or sport do it effortlessly with impressive results. Of course, anyone who has been practising something for a very long time learns the ins and outs if his art. That he naturally transfers this skill based understanding into fluid works of art or expression - that is to be expected.

I don't generally set out to create something like a mood. If you look at great art it inspires your mood because of the style

Principles of art. 1. Breathe and be calm 2. Find the tempo 3. Choose the colours 4. Don't lose your tempo and applicate color ( rinse And repeat) 5. Don't skip around the composition until you have defined one area (until that area has been represmeted by applicated color - via color choice - in conjunction with the right tempo - springing from a self aware artist who is calm and focussed). Priciple #6. Transition from one finished area to the next in a way that is intuitive.

These are principles in a real sense. Each one depends on the previous one. An entire composition will consist of initiating these 6 principles well, until you find that the piece is finished.

I don't set out to create moods when I begin the creative process. The mood seems to follow afterwards. And usually there is more of a mood to the piece if at some point your involvement in the creative process was utterly submersed. In another way, if you were choosing colours, applying them, creating form - and doing all of this single mindedly - say - for three hours without noticing the time had passed - then you were inside that process.

Every artist has a different understanding of color theory and every artist approaches the representation of form a little differently. This is what I think style is. Moods arise from an artist's style. I guess you could definitely try to create a mood by copying a style - and there's no shame in that. But I personally enjoy seeing a mood arise from subtle little highlights here and there or an odd little color scheme somewhere else.

What I find coolest abou creating art are the strokes of genius. Those applications of color that you look at and think "that's awesome. I don't know how that happened."
To be is to do. To do is to be. Do-be, do-be, do-be, do. - the philosophical importance of Scoobie-do is to Scoobie-be!

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 28th, 2013, 1:25 pm

Alias wrote:Continued from am. (Nested quote removed.)

That's a kind of short-hand for a whole range of perceptions. I have no technical data on the neurology; only personal observation of people's responses to visual input.
Perception is theory-laden. Agreed?
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)

My assertion was that every person has a different - uniquely different - set of proclivities and aptitudes. Each art-form requires a different set of skills. For each art-form the requisite talent is a set of proclivities and aptitudes that help a student of that art-form to learn the skills more quickly, with less instruction; they have greater facility and perform at higher level of proficiency, than students with less talent.
Do you agree that proclivities are theory-laden?

Do you agree that the students you meet learned lots of things long before you met them that can help them in learning your material, and in creating their own ideas?
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)


I'm not arguing at all. I'm stating my opinion drawn from observation.
No. Your observation is what you've seen people do in your class. You're conclusion was that (1) since they learn at different rates, that must mean that (2) their talents are inborn. What is your argument that (1) implies (2)?
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)


No, I said knowledge can be taught; perception and originality and aptitude cannot.
All of that is knowledge (some explicit and some inexplicit).
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)

I don't understand this question. Obviously, they all learned many things before coming to my class: I never took on a student under 8 years (and he was an exception). The talented 8-year-old created better and more interesting sculpture than even the hardest-working but untalented 10-to-12s. The untalented ones did some nice work, competent work; they could take pleasure in their learned and practiced skill, but they did not become artists.
Ok, so regarding the knowledge that they gained before coming to your class, how do you know that the differences in their knowledge is the cause of the differing learning rates you noticed among students?
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)

Perhaps they don't, given unlimited time and patience and no physical deterioration - conditions I have not seen in human life. But I have witnessed diminishing returns in not only art, but other, unrelated skill-sets. Most people, no matter how much they train, will never be able to run a three-minute mile, lift twice their own weight, or distinguish 180 shades of red. I am very much aware of my own limits, of speed, strength, sight, taste, dexterity, balance, co-ordination, pitch and breath-control.
Physical limits exist. Mental limits do not.
Alias wrote:
(Nested quote removed.)

- and that is why a preference for harmonious colours over clashing ones, or symmetrical forms over misshapen ones might indicate a proclivity toward,
No. Having the preference, and then acting on that preference by *thinking* allows one to learn, to create ideas -- you're calling this proclivity/aptitude/talent.

Having the preference, and then not acting on it (say because parents are forcing the person to do otherwise), prevents one from learning.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Discards » February 28th, 2013, 6:38 pm

Alias wrote:Absolutely. Theory and technique can be learned by any average human. Talent is inborn and can't be learned, taught, passed on or communicated. Talent, though, is a multifaceted phenomenon: manual dexterity makes the craft - that is, the use of tools - easier to master; visual acuity and a sense of form and harmony help to apprehend theory more readily, and so on. A talented student acquires the skills more quickly and with far less effort than the most eager untalented one. (Trust me; I have taught both.) The most mysterious part of talent, however, is originality or creativity: the spark which animates one person's art while another, however technically perfect, work just lies there.
Originality, creativity, intuition, work ethic, and discovery - the last two also belong to a talented artist. A piece of work is able to take on a life of its own when the talented artist finds himself removed from the work.

I wonder how many original, talented, skilled 8 year old artists are mature enough to have work ethic or wise enough to let discoveries be what they are?

Maybe Beetoven is an example of a prodigy who was forced to work, rather than gain a sense of work ethic on his own.

I cringe when I hear that once a person is past the age of 22 that person's originality will never show itself in works of genius.

You can take Woods as an example. Child prodigy. Work ethic drilled into him by his father. Record breaking champion at an almost unprecedented young age. Goes an has affairs with countless women despite the fact that his wife is a total hotty!

He's coming back to where he was before slowly. But all of his talent couldn't secure him a legacy because he had to go around acting like a Persian prince.

Obviously, I have no point to make. Just food for thought. Of someone cares to find a point in what I said, please feel welcome to :)
To be is to do. To do is to be. Do-be, do-be, do-be, do. - the philosophical importance of Scoobie-do is to Scoobie-be!

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 28th, 2013, 6:53 pm

Discards wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

Originality, creativity, intuition, work ethic, and discovery - the last two also belong to a talented artist. A piece of work is able to take on a life of its own when the talented artist finds himself removed from the work.

I wonder how many original, talented, skilled 8 year old artists are mature enough to have work ethic or wise enough to let discoveries be what they are?
Maybe none.
Discards wrote: Maybe Beetoven is an example of a prodigy who was forced to work, rather than gain a sense of work ethic on his own.
Yes.
Discards wrote: I cringe when I hear that once a person is past the age of 22 that person's originality will never show itself in works of genius.
Ya thats stupid.
Discards wrote: Obviously, I have no point to make. Just food for thought. Of someone cares to find a point in what I said, please feel welcome to :)
You did make a point. And it is right.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Discards » February 28th, 2013, 7:39 pm

Rombomb wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

Maybe none. (Nested quote removed.)

Yes. (Nested quote removed.)

Ya thats stupid. (Nested quote removed.)

You did make a point. And it is right.
You disrespecting me, boy?

-- Updated February 28th, 2013, 6:53 pm to add the following --

You post a piece of your art and I'll post one of mine. That'll settle the question of who knows what talent is! Whadda you got? Wachyougot? Cam on } Bring it on. Cam on }
To be is to do. To do is to be. Do-be, do-be, do-be, do. - the philosophical importance of Scoobie-do is to Scoobie-be!

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Rombomb » February 28th, 2013, 8:08 pm

Discards wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


You disrespecting me, boy?
Is that a joke? I agreed with what you said.
Discards wrote: You post a piece of your art and I'll post one of mine. That'll settle the question of who knows what talent is! Whadda you got? Wachyougot? Cam on } Bring it on. Cam on }
I can barely draw stick figures.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.

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Re: A principle of art

Post by Alias » February 28th, 2013, 8:35 pm

The machine won't ask this in the words of my preference: What, pray, is "theory-laden" when it's at home? In general, I do not agree to theory-laden jargon.
Do you agree that the students you meet learned lots of things long before you met them that can help them in learning your material, and in creating their own ideas?
Sure, learning speed can vary for all kinds of reasons, including enthusiasm, attention-span, previous experience with tools, distractability (a big obstacle for pubescents) maturity and self-confidence. So?

Every person who learns new things finds that some kinds of skill and understanding come to him more easily than others. Nobody has the exact same aptitude for every kind of activity. Speed and ease of learning, both of theory and technique, is one example of the several ways in which native talent presents.

I'm not going to waste time arguing that all people are not born alike, interchangeable, with the same potential and traits. Babies exhibit unique personalities from a very early age. Talents are part of that personality package.
Your observation is what you've seen people do in your class.
And among my peers, and at the art gallery. My prediction - without having seen his work - is that Discards won't surpass Dali, no matter how much he practices.

"...perception and originality and aptitude cannot [be taught]."
All of that is knowledge (some explicit and some inexplicit).
No. Knowledge is knowledge, and it is explicit. Other attributes are other attributes. Else we wouldn't have bothered to make up words for perception, aptitude and originality: we would call them all knowledge.
Physical limits exist. Mental limits do not.
Where did you get this outlandish idea?
Having the preference, and then acting on that preference by *thinking* allows one to learn, to create ideas -- you're calling this proclivity/aptitude/talent.
I used the expression of preference for harmony as an outward indication of possible artistic talent in an infant too young to communicate what it perceives. I also said it's only an indication that adults may interpret, not a proof, because talents rarely manifest in an unmistakeable configuration before the age of 4.

Hair-splitting won't help. Art isn't a set of formulas you can condense into the little nutshell you seem to be constructing.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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