Im­por­tant Prin­ci­ples of Art

Har­ley Brown’s fas­ci­nat­ing things no one else will tell you

International Artist - - Contents -

Is there a real down­side to art? Not that I can think of. In my art life, I’ve learned through dif­fi­cult mo­ments; they’re part of the cre­ative world. My ob­ses­sions got more in­tense with each year. I didn’t mind that the days and weeks seemed to get shorter when I got wildly into my pas­tels and pen­cils. And now, well, the past two decades have flown by like Cap­tain Marvel on steroids. Be­lieve me, when you find your way, it will be like no one else’s. You’re mak­ing your per­sonal path through the tan­gled for­est of ex­is­tence. Bravo! By good for­tune, I never tried to be “bet­ter” than other artists. I’ve sim­ply wanted to be bet­ter than I was last year. Rat­ing my­self with my­self. I’ve never tried for per­fec­tion in art; that’s not in my thoughts. In art, I don’t un­der­stand “per­fect.” Who does?

You bring in the ob­servers’ eyes with your art­work’s de­sign. That’s when they come closer for your per­sonal strokes and colour. In the same way, a sim­ple, in­trigu­ing plot leads to some­thing quite com­pelling. Go­ing against the grain for its own sake is sur­face sand­ing. Don’t let even a frag­ment of jeal­ously creep into your thoughts. It can dullen your hard-earned strengths. Un­less you’re a cam­era, it’s quite im­pos­si­ble to ac­tu­ally du­pli­cate. That’s one of the joys of be­ing hu­man. Re­mem­ber that. If my art makes oth­ers happy, that’s well and good. I do my art to give my­self joy and it surely does. When I’m paint­ing, I have a bond be­tween me and my sub­ject that can be found nowhere else. “Try­ing” to be cre­ative can steal its pur­pose. Your cre­ativ­ity will grab and then help lead you. You may even be­gin to ap­pre­ci­ate its ar­ro­gant na­ture. In my 60 years of per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion with art, I have wit­nessed many in­di­vid­u­als ac­tu­ally turn their lives around for the bet­ter. I’ve seen it in my work­shops, sem­i­nars and close gath­er­ings of peo­ple who have the great­est de­sire work­ing as artists. It’s been my per­sonal joy show­ing in­di­vid­u­als some ba­sics of draw­ing even within a day. Shapes and shad­ows and a few color prin­ci­ples. In ev­ery case, they were thrilled at what they thought was im­pos­si­ble. Many of these peo­ple didn’t have any de­sire to do art un­til that eu­reka mo­ment. Once a few fun­da­men­tals were learned, they were off into that fan­tasy world we artists in­habit. They may not be mak­ing mas­ter­pieces but they are in­di­vid­u­als mak­ing per­sonal images. I would like here and now to see a wave of peo­ple en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to draw, sketch and doo­dle. Re­mem­ber, any­thing a pen­cil lays upon pa­per is an ac­tual cre­ation. Creat­ing is one of the most ful­fill­ing and lift­ing mo­ments of the hu­man mind and over­rides so many of life’s dif­fi­cul­ties. Let’s start a revo­lu­tion in visual art. And the last­ing spirit of a mind at peace with it­self. Start it and watch it spread. Let me first ex­plain who I con­sider artists. There was a time, in my pi­ous pe­riod that I felt some­one had to be in the pro­fes­sion, make a liv­ing as an artist or work as an in­struc­tor. Only then could some­one say, “Yes, I’m an artist.” (For the record, when I was 10 and draw­ing ev­ery day, I said to my­self and any­one who’d lis­ten, “Hey, I’m an artist!”) Lately, I’ve sim­pli­fied my at­ti­tudes. I’ll say here and now: any­one on this planet is fully al­lowed to call them­selves what­ever they want and I’ll in­clude “artist.” One rea­son be­ing this: when is that mo­ment a per­son ac­tu­ally be­comes an artist? Is it a sud­den dec­la­ra­tion? Does a di­ploma cer­tify it? How about that fel­low who works in a depart­ment store and can’t wait to get

home and at least do a draw­ing or two? Wouldn’t we say sure, he’s an artist.

Tak­ing this Fur­ther

If you are an artist—am­a­teur, part time, full time—and art is in your heart, a fas­ci­nat­ing sce­nario could be writ­ten about you. Why? Be­cause of your pure and de­voted at­tach­ment to art. That alone makes you in­ter­est­ing. Es­pe­cially be­cause of your un­ex­pected learn­ing and turn­ing points, ob­struc­tions, im­prove­ments, art friends, doubts then mo­ments of pure con­fi­dence, men­tors, life changes. All these things and so much more are hap­pen­ing with you.

Even Fur­ther

You may take your­self for granted, but your in­ner thoughts mixed with your his­tory could be molded into a dra­matic and spir­ited ad­ven­ture in chap­ter and film. There is truth in ev­ery word I write here. The arts are within an un­com­mon, leg­endary world, quite apart from all else. And you are one of the prin­ci­ple char­ac­ters. Think no less. With your art­work, re­mem­ber: in time you’ll know when to “quit” a piece…whether or not it’s fin­ished.

Un­der­stand­ing Art

After half a cen­tury, I still don’t un­der­stand Pi­casso’s paint­ings (nor many oth­ers in the con­tem­po­rary art world). I look at art for its im­me­di­ate vi­su­als and not its noted deeper meet­ings with Fau­vism, cu­bism…(oh yet, nose on side of head). If you know me, you’ll un­der­stand I am not mak­ing judge­ments of other peo­ple’s di­verse opin­ions. I’m not say­ing I’m right any more than I’m right in lik­ing gar­lic and Curly Howard movies. That’s just me. One bot­tom line: I’ve seen por­tray­als that show in­com­pe­tence and noth­ing more. Many art crit­ics love to wax on about how those par­tic­u­lar artists went deep within the sub­ject’s soul. That’s an ex­cuse and not an ex­pla­na­tion. I want to look for and know the artist’s cen­ter, not the sub­ject’s. Take time to think about this and you’ll un­der­stand. Per­sonal skills brought forth with pas­sion reach my judg­ment but­ton.

Where I am Now

I’m now in Van­cou­ver; ac­tu­ally the South Sur­rey area. As I look out the

win­dow there’s a blue sky, a few clouds. Snow­capped moun­tains straight ahead. On the other side, cool clear Pa­cific Ocean wa­ter go­ing far past the hori­zon. How does my mind ac­cept this to­tal dif­fer­ence; es­pe­cially after decades in the desert, cac­tus area of Ari­zona? I thor­oughly rel­ished each of those years in Tuc­son, and now have a great af­fec­tion for this iconic part of Bri­tish Columbia, Canada. One of the first things that hit me: what will I be draw­ing and paint­ing now that I’m here? What will in­spire me? Well, the an­swer has al­ways been quite sim­ple. Wher­ever I am, I au­to­mat­i­cally feel im­mersed with my sur­round­ings. Im­me­di­ately I feel “quite at home.” And here, “home” is the won­drous ef­fect of ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing I see. And as much as this delights my senses, an ex­tra lift is in pass­ing these in­ter­pre­ta­tions on to you.

Let’s Look at It This Way

For this mo­ment, think of a day in the out­side world as sim­i­lar to a day in the stu­dio. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say we have a big plan for that day; a project we re­ally want to do and getting it done will be quite ex­cit­ing. But as you know, while work­ing at it, we have a few twists and turns and even a cou­ple of road blocks. Still, with our ex­pe­ri­ences in life, we pretty well know how to han­dle them. Fi­nally this cru­cial project gets com­pleted. Those twists and road­blocks took us where we might not have gone and they worked won­ders; they made the project even bet­ter than ex­pected. Thank good­ness we’re not ro­bots but imag­i­na­tive, re­source­ful hu­man be­ings. Let’s now go the same way but with our next paint­ing. We gen­er­ally know what we want on can­vas; even did a cou­ple of pre­lim­i­nary sketches. We start, filled with joy and en­thu­si­asm. Ah, be­fore we know it, there’s a color not work­ing over on the left side. Then right away that odd hue we hastily threw on top of it is per­fect; bet­ter than what we planned. We also are go­ing to change the de­sign a bit to in­clude the dark area on the right side of the sub­ject. And that fa­cial ex­pres­sion is blah, even the tilt of the head! Hey, these new changes are work­ing! Mov­ing that part, en­hanc­ing this area are bring­ing this piece to­gether! Way bet­ter than an­tic­i­pated. We painted our sub­ject by push­ing our cre­ative knowl­edge and skills. What’s hap­pen­ing here are ex­pe­ri­ences, tal­ents, an ad­ven­tur­ous spirit. Not be­ing afraid to make changes that can bring more life and true in­di­vid­u­al­ity to a ma­jor project or a paint­ing on the easel. Noth­ing we ever do goes just as planned and that’s one of the purest in­spi­ra­tions of life.

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