THE DRAMA SIMPLICITY
Harley Brown’s fascinating things no one else will tell you
We should often draw or paint subjects that many would think are rather commonplace. What’s important is putting our imagination and spirit into our love of art. In other words, through ourselves, we make a totally creative work.
This would be like one of the great moments in film history. Simple setting: backseat of a car with Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger discussing life. The film: On the Waterfront. I saw it in my mid-teens and remember every moment. Two men talking. Direct, natural, memorable.
Think Whistler’s Mother, Degas’ Dancer, Van Gogh’s Shoes, Durer’s Young Hare.
Let’s include two works from two different worlds: Munch’s The Scream and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Unembellished masterworks from the artists’ hearts.
Each of us as imaginative, individual artists, can draw or paint anything. When it’s from within it’s important and that’s why we’re here.
Begin in the arts becomes one of the reasons for waking up in the morning and we carry it to bed at night. To me, it is both part of my life and all of my life. Family and friend and daily routines, somehow all reflect upon my art. Sometimes peripherally and at other times with a mighty and positive force. Art is not work. What is art? Art is us.
Finding a Rhythm
A certain rhythm happens when I’m getting an artistic accuracy at the beginning of a work. That accuracy becomes a fearless flow. As I’m forming the head with features, my hand might swoop down to partially lay in the neck. Even continue into the shoulder. All these movements tie the work together, including marks and daubs in the background. When I’m into a work, there’s a steady rhythm to my approach. It’s hardly ever stop and start. If I’m hesitant, my hand keeps moving, even if lightly. I’m like a conductor with adagios and vivaces coming and going. Yes, this does happen.
When an artwork is finished, I have an abundance of energy and willful strength to take on whatever is waiting. Not all problems necessarily solved, yet the spirit remains and the day should never end.
Creating a Center of Interest
Everything in the arts should have a center of interest, a reason for being. A film’s basic plot, the main melody in a song, the reason for a novel, why a work of art was created. That centered of interest in a painting might not be obvious at first glance. I’ve often thought that centers of interest in art can also be psychological as well as visual. I’ve never seen American Gothic as just man and woman looking at me. Depending on my day, it always comes across different. Even Durer’s straightforward Young Hare is seen distinctly by each viewer.
Often when I observe a painting or drawing, I don’t look to see if this or that was done “correctly.” What’s more interesting is figuring out why the artist painted it. Sometimes even the artist isn’t quite sure. Much of the time, I see the artist’s motivation; even the sense of the artist reaching out.
Power of Observation
While I was teaching workshops, it was interesting to go around the room and observe the approach of each student working the same subject. One artist might be cautious by using fine strokes, slowly putting in shapes and shadows. “Getting it right.”
Another student’s interpretation could be quite bold, more impressionist strokes. They are not concerned about getting everything “correct” but wanting to have the joy of the moment. There would be the other artists in between those two, and in fact all over the place. Each very individual and very telling.
What I loved about these workshops was witnessing the students find a confidence. The cautious artists might get more aggressive after a couple of days and bold students could spend a little more time, joyfully controlling the shapes. Some would go back and forth until they found a “comfort zone.” I can say they were all quite individual with their art. More so by the day.
In all cases, there was a development that grandly inspired me. The students