Oil 24"x20"

Camelia bud. Oil pastel 2"x3"

This is where I ramble – well what is a blog for if you can’t philosophise from time to time? So if you follow my blog, feel free to skip the next bit.

I looked out of the window into our garden yesterday and saw our  camelia  plant bursting into bloom. It was actually very arresting and I instinctively thought I need to paint it. But why? Am I responding to beauty? Am I experiencing emotion?

I often hear tutors and art people generally talking about emotional response to a subject. “What is it in this subject that grabs you emotionally? That’s what you’ve got to paint.” etc. Well, in my case not a lot. So I ask myself what bit is missing? A heart maybe? Now music is another matter. As soon as I start playing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis I get a catch in my throat. There’s a bit in Britten’s War Requiem that sends a shudder down my spine no matter how many times I hear it (In “Libere Me”). I understand emotion in relation to art in this context.

This got me thinking about visual art and music. Visual art is just “there”. To be looked at. And in fact it is usually representational of some recognisable  “thing” . Music is just not like that. It only lives whilst it is being performed, and it is abstract in essence (Not counting narrative music like Opera).  Yet I find it easier to respond with emotion to music, even though I am no musician or composer. Why? I don’t know. However, philosophers have had a good go at trying  to work it out.

Schopenhauer, whilst agreeing with Kant that we can only apprehend the world of phenomena (i.e. through our senses), thought that it was possible to perceive what Kant called “the thing in itself” though the arts – and he singled out music in particular. This idea has inspired Goethe, Schiller (whose poetry Beethoven used), Wagner and other artists in the “Romantic” genre. It also was a rich source of thought for Neitche.  A recent book by Craig Shuften called “Neitzche leave them kids alone”, argues that “Emo” bands like My Chemical Romance” ( The Black Parade) tap into the same thing and into a sense of unfulfilled longing.  An American preacher (yep, there are some really good ones out there) called Greg Boyd recently focussed a talk around the same theme of what he called “Sehnsucht”, a German word that captures the essence of “longing”. He argues that the resurrection of Jesus Christ resonates with that same sense of longing. Interesting.

So, back to the flowers. I am going to paint them in exactly the same manner as I felt when I saw them from the window – stabs of brilliant colour leaping out of the shadows and shouting  at the top of their voice. If it doesn’t work I won’t mind at all. This is one time when the whole thing really must be spontaneous in execution. However I will photograph each stage so you can see how I’m getting on. I sense that this is going to work really well, but the result will be very different from “Dubrovnik.”


~ by noelgarner on April 22, 2010.

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