Every discipline has it’s tools. Writer’s craft with words to stimulate the senses, rouse the emotions, and spark our ideas. Construction workers use tools to make an architect’s drawings a physical reality. Teachers use books, imagination, and dialog to inspire their students to learn.
When we want to know more about art, how to read it, understand it, and enjoy it…we need to know more about the tools that the artist uses. While artists educate themselves about color, line, shadow, and perspective to create their works, we, the viewers, educate ourselves about these same things so that we can engage with art works intelligently.
Art is a visual language, and to appreciate art fully we must learn its language. In this next series of blog posts I’ll explore the tools that artists use to help decode the visual language of art.
Everyone has the potential to respond to and find enrichment in art, but often that potential is untapped. When we lack experience and knowledge at decoding the visual language of art we are quite literally, toddlers. Walking in a museum we look at a work, we decide if we like it and move on to the next…normally feeling out of our element and not understanding what all the fuss is about or what we were ‘supposed’ to see.
We are held back from enjoying art due to ignorance and our fear that we appear ignorant. Unless we grew up in a household of artists, this feeling of being ‘out of our depth’ in a museum is pretty much the norm. All of us start in that place, we don’t know the language. It’s like me sitting with the Russian side of my family and only getting snippets of the conversation. The solution to this discomfort is simple enough, learn a bit more of the visual language of art, and exponentially our enjoyment of art will grow.
Love and knowledge go hand in hand. When we love we want to know more, as our knowledge base grows our love and appreciation for what we see will deepen. As we learn more of the language of art we begin to be able to enter the dialog and we learn even more, which deepens our dialog…and so it goes.
Art is a two way conversation between the artist and the viewer. Normally when we interact with art the artist isn’t standing next to the work guiding us through his part of the conversation. We must allow the work itself to speak. The key to all good conversation is the ability to listen, to really hear what is being said.
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