I know on the surface this may be a bit unsettling to the Visual Artist. Consider that artists spend a lifetime being inspired by visual impressions and the interpretations thereof. What you see and what ultimately ends up in a work of art is invariably not what many artists intend. It’s comforting that you can always fall back on “I meant to do that” or “This came out better than I imagined, I must be a genius”. The reality is often a blend of all three.
For me I was extremely lucky. Vacillating between painting and photography at a very young age, I not so quickly determined that a camera presented a better future for someone with my personality and traits. Having the gift of gab, which I now understand made up for my now fashionable Dyslexia seemed to be a natural genesis of photographing people and objects for money. Commercial Photographers need to know how to sell. Most of the time your ability to communicate visually comes in second place.
Making the transition from Photographer to Brush Artist created a serious dilemma. For years I saw images. In fact, to this day I have to be somewhat careful as to what I expose the minds eye to. A real torment is television news. I can hang onto those images for a lifetime. Not a good thing. I take great comfort in visiting an art gallery, zoo, leisurely walk in the desert or by the ocean. But this in itself is laced with its own visual trickery.
What was your inspiration for that painting? It’s fun to be asked and even fun to explain. But to me this is the curse of really true originality. If you want…and this is not for every artist…you may embrace…Breaking the Habit of Seeing.
Give it a go…stop seeing with your eyes and try to develop visual thinking from within. Let your mind do the dictation. I’ve heard the pioneers of Modernism espouse this mantra. But as I’ve studied their work, more often than not, they were just smearing colors into shapes giving these works an esoteric title. I give Pollock credit for at least saying he was being directed by his sub-conscious mind when he was in the zone. Even he was surprised to see what ended up on the floor canvas. It’s not his work that I necessarily admire, although it’s quite good, but the fact he was forced to give a deeper meaning to his creations and managed to pull it off.
You will know when you pass the inspiration zone and start developing work that is purely inner brain driven. At first you will play hell trying to interpret what messages you’re receiving. The trick is to not be analytical but work at reception. Be prepared for a specific theme to emerge. Depending upon what’s going on deep within your psyche you can pull this off in a matter of months. For me this was a happen-stance. I started out painting what I saw, and I quickly realized that other than technique there was virtually no originality.
Don’t be judgmental of your creativity and never allow others, no matter their level of expertise to judge your work. Let it flow naturally…no time constraints or urgency. Hemingway would write every single day in his Moleskine notebook and commented, “This is crap.” But he also knew where those snippets of creativity were taking him. For every hundred paragraphs of disjointed words, he would give birth to brilliant prose…and he recognized it when he saw it. We can all benefit from the daily flexing of our creative muscles.
Fall Revealed – Rod Jones Artist – Oil on Canvas- 48″x 30″ The colors of fall, leaves, branches, pine needles, sky…all in one breath and thought. The essence of fall combined into one element.
Be original…don’t play follow the follower. I realize that this method can improve technical skills but you will be better off in the long run paying less attention to what medium or color palette to use. If you need inspiration clear your mind in front of a blank canvas and be prepared to make many trips to your mind’s ether. During my journey the only reality was the style or name I gave my work. I call it Receptive Abstract Patternism because that is exactly what my history served up from the deepest and rarely visited niches of my mind.
Jardin de Tuileries-The painting owes its name to the Tuileries Garden. It is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Oblique and non-oblique in form which enlightens senses.
After a long successful career as a Commercial Photographer I picked up paintbrush, which is something I did when I was younger. Like any budding artist you have a desire to try many different styles and techniques of painting. I went through this phase somewhat rapidly. One thing did become apparent; I was very much interested in color and shapes. From my earliest paintings, the style I call Receptive Abstract Patternism started to materialize.
Before I get into it too deeply, an interesting note as to the actual derivation of the term…it came from my daughter who was 17 at the time, she was living with my paintings scattered all over the home, my studio and of course hanging on the wall of her bedroom – her choice, not mine. At breakfast she turned to my wife and I and said, “ You should call your work Receptive Abstract Patternism”. I knew instantly that was a pretty insightful name for my style of art.
Ok… so what is Receptive Abstract Patternism exactly?
While most people can understand the word abstract… because it certainly is. Most of my work is non-representational and non-objective. So it’s easy to conclude that my artwork is abstract. The word Patternism is pretty obvious…we often say that the paintings are held together by the continuity and comfort of pattern. As the work has progressed some of these patterns are quite complex. Others are simple. But if you view the vast number of painting I have created you will quickly see the style and many faceted uses of patterns.
Now is the part of the term I am particularly partial to, the word Receptive. You have to be pretty open in your thinking to be receptive, open to being creative. Plus you can’t be overly objective. Of course you can be receptive to outside influences, many representational artists are, and they interpret subject matter with their own unique styles. My Receptive style requires the stimulation to percolate up from my own non-objective thinking.
I never or very rarely ever plan out a painting, they just evolved on the canvas. Colors seem to beget colors, shapes seem to find their own juxtapositions, and the work starts to look cohesive. I can honestly say, it’s just as much fun for me to see how they end up. Many an early morning, I have gone into the studio to see what the previous day’s work yielded. Even the paintings that I thought had the potential of being total disasters somehow managed to save themselves overnight. Some of my work is simple. Not too terribly complicated, but no one can argue that it’s not original.
Historically there have been artists that fervently state that they’re not inspired by anything. I fall in line with those creatives and I can confidently say I do not get any real inspiration from the world around me. Some of my paintings end up with titles with a nature theme. But this is the result of studying the work long after completion. Some of my pieces beg for names…while others are painfully difficult to name. But that is one of the great joys of being an artist.
Rod Jones Artist creator of Receptive Abstract Patternism
This experimental painting signifies the birth of the artist’s Receptive Abstract Patternism. The background is India Ink and the various color elements are acrylic. There is some faint Sgraffito representing leaves.
One of my earliest paintings where Receptive Abstract Patternism started to reveal itself. I was still playing with various mediums so the background of this one is India Ink and then I added acrylic paint which represents the various shapes.
The Rosetta Stone provided a way for modern archeologists to decode the writings of the past. With Rosetta Window this painting explores the idea of the window of your mind providing all the knowledge that is necessary to decode and understand all universal knowledge.
As my style progressed some of my paintings became very busy and complicated. This oil painting uses brush strokes. In fact, some of my more complicated paintings have several thousand brush strokes. Which is a real challenge because I am not typically that patient. A writer once jokingly said, ”I wonder what goes on in your mind?”
Many times in the context of personal relationships what we hold within our minds and hearts affects the dynamic of the expression of love. The painting Interiors demonstrates this by the three forms being very individual but very connected by the very “fabric” of their being, while outside forces attempt to make their borders but cannot succeed.
As you can see this painting is filled with intense color and I’m starting to incorporate different elements. This painting actually started out as a horizontal. If you look at the border you can see that it lines up that way. But after completion it became a vertical and then earned its name.
The Shard – The web of the city trying to restrain London’s Shard as it breaks free of the congestion of the city and the people below. Letting the world know that it has arrived and offers a breathtaking view for those who are willing to scale its heights.
A more recent work where I am incorporating better defined shapes and blending in patternism. This painting actually earned its name while listening to my favorite British classical station via the Internet, and the building The Shard was all they talked about.
Jardin de Tuileries-The painting owes its name to the Tuileries Garden. It is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Oblique and non-oblique in form which enlightens senses.
As my work has become more popular it was suggested that I start developing some posters. These were initially designed for specific venues but I have now made them available for sale. Just as a side-note…this is one of my wife’s favorite paintings. She is my muse and I trust her critical eye. She is quite creative in her own right.
Not but a day or two ago a veteran Verizon DSL Technician visited our studio office. While he was working on boosting our DSL speed he looked at some of the paintings in the office and commented, “What was your inspiration for this painting…and again for that painting?” I replied in what could have been interpreted as a smart A** reply. NADA. His eyes widened, “What do you mean you are not inspired?” So I explained, “I do everything humanly possible to not be influenced by what I see…and in some cases what I hear, read or touch”.
I personally think many artists and those who look at art are hood-wigged into thinking that in order to be creative you have to be stimulated by some outside force. Art teachers promulgate this lure so their students become dependent on searching for some elusive muse that will get inside their brain and feed them with profound creative thoughts. To make things even more complicated, artists and those who view art have constantly defined and re-defined the nomenclature of art, to some known as “art speak”.
When I look at Hans Hoffman who in no short way influenced hundreds of successful and not so successful artists to become dependent on theory. Hans was a master at creating the Techniques of Critique. He even is credited with specific art theories like PUSH and PULL and many others.
Loosely paraphrasing Mercedes Matter who was a friend of Hans, he admitted to her that he was becoming depressed for all those years of teaching and not creating. It seems to me that he was creating a lot of vocabulary for artists to use to justify their own artistic value. I suppose that is a creative outlet onto itself. But it wasn’t until he had to face that blank canvas on his own that his OWN inner thinking had to look at the creative side of being innovative without outside influences.
This is a divinely fine line. How can you be an artist and not be influenced?? If you are an interpretive artist you can start with a subject and then begin to bend the rules. A horse becomes blue…a tree becomes pink in the shadow areas. So the subject dictates your creative interpretation. But…to be truly creative, you have to move into non-interpretive art. There you are all on your own…and the self doubts abound.
I have studied the works of many abstract artists and for some reason they always need the security of inspiration, rather it be nature or a poem.
I knew the Verizon man was a bright cookie…very articulate. Seeing how I would not give him a rationale for a particular painting, he gave me his…what fun! Not another self-proclaimed art aficionado…but a real gut level input from an innocent. His descriptions reinforced my own desire not to lead a painting, but to let the viewer interpret on their own. This is somewhat contradictory because I do name my paintings giving the viewer a clue as to how to think. I can’t stand the idea of giving them a number. For me naming a painting after it’s completed allows me the luxury of interpreting my own outside influences.
I know there’s people out there who insist that I was influenced by Albers (i.e. Homage to the Square), but no… when I started painting I did not know who he was, nor had I ever seen one of his paintings. In the opening of my website I do suggest that certain artists had they lived or painted longer might have emulated my Receptive Abstract Patternism style. Which may or may not have embellished their careers.
If there was one artist that influenced me more than any other, and I can honestly say I find his work extremely disturbing and nightmarish, that would be Francis Bacon. But here is an artist who was truly a original and completely understood the danger of taking art classes.
Francis Bacon - Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion
Can you create without being influenced? Yes I believe you can. But you have to approach the canvas without any preconceived notion and you have to let the creativity flow through your body. There are many creative people that are amazed at what comes out of their soul. Writers look back at their writing and are amazed. Artists revisit a painting and sometimes find it hard to believe that they actually created that. A good example of non-influenced painting is Jackson Pollock. His only sin was trying to explain how he created. What is it with us artists that require us to have some justification for what we create?? Wouldn’t it be simply wonderful if we just Did It…didn’t care why or what…or rhyme or reason??? So what if your best painting hangs in your bathroom???
HIgh Desert Fallen Joshua Tree
While looking at a fallen Joshua Tree it’s difficult not to take away an impression that may later try and creep into a painting. I did take a somewhat artistic photo of the Joshua Tree. The Mormon pioneers named this treelike plant after the prophet Joshua, because its extended branches resembled the outstretched arm of the prophet Joshua as he pointed with his spear to the city of Ai.
Joshua Tree - Mojave Desert in Winter
Created this photograph just for fun on my iPod Touch. Nothing special but very few people in the world every see a Joshua Tree. Amazingly this giant is related to a lily!
“Creativity may be cerebral influences that are not necessarily interpreted in the conscious mind. There is simply no justification for certain art. They do not exist in any world that we actually know or can relate to. In the end…The only truth is color.” From a literary work in progress by Rod Jones Artist.
Rod Jones Artist - Tate Cafe - oil on canvas - 36x36
Rod Jones Artist - Dyslexia - Oil on Canvas- 24x30
Rod Jones Artist- Poe's Reign - Oil on Canvas - 24x30
You would be amazed at the who’s who of dyslexics…Right off… let’s name this one… not that he needs anymore attention… Picasso. Yes he and some other pretty well-known artists were lucky enough to be blessed with dyslexia. Just to name a few more in the world of art Ansel Adams, Da Vinci, Rauschenberg, Rodin and Pollock.
Because I happen to like Pollock’s work and because I have always been fascinated by Lee Krasner’s art I started reading Lee Krasner a biography by Gail Levin. I was surprised to learn, although I should have guessed it, Lee was a member of the exclusive club of dyslexia. It seemed like she had to deal with art not only in a man’s world but at times her dyslexia may have created self-doubt in her own abilities.
Lee Krasner - A Biography by Gail Levin
Learning of Lee Krasner’s dyslexia prompted me to explore the topic further I had to look back on my own life with dyslexia. Unfortunately when I was growing up not much was known about people with dyslexia. Most often we were labeled as having a “learning problem/issue”. Makes me wonder how many blessed children ended up not pursuing their dreams because they were stigmatized as being “slow”. I guess the good thing is a lot of these children compensated in other ways and learned to become resourceful and what they couldn’t go through they would go around.
Thinking that you think differently? Well if you have dyslexia you probably do. You wonder why when you are driving a car you navigate by landmarks, not by streets. When you’re asked to describe an object you look at that object from every possible direction, not just straight on utilizing a lifetime’s worth of experience and mental images. Makes me think that Cezanne must have been dyslexic. After all he would paint a bowl of fruit straight on, but rendering it from multiple angles and perspectives at the same time. Everyone thought he was begin so innovative, but if he had dyslexia that’s how he actually saw the world. Could this also apply to Cubism? It certainly was conceived in the world of perspectives…and in some cases movement ala Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Stair Case No 2.
Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase No 2
For artists dyslexia can be a real blessing in disguise. You end up using parts of your brain that many others simply never used or stop using all together. A good example… most dyslexics think in pictures not in words. Children use a good part of their brain when they’re playing, that’s why they have such phenomal imaginations. Most people as they get older stop using a chunk of their brain, dyslexics virtually spend their whole lives in picture thoughts and comparisons.
A picture thinker, could think a single picture of a concept that might require hundreds or thousands of words to describe.” So Ansel Adams was a dyslexic and no doubt countless other photographers. In the mind of a dyslexic a picture is worth a thousand words…and probably a dyslexic coined this phrase.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso
How does dyslexia directly benefit us artists?
For me it took awhile to understand that I actually had dyslexia primarily because I just didn’t know what was going on. At first I thought everyone thought this way, and then as my life evolved I realized that my thinking wasn’t always in sync with those around me. I’ve always had a phenomenal memory but now I realize that memory is all about having photographs of your experiences in my mental filing cabinet. I spent a good part of my life as a commercial photographer. Dyslexics are amazing problem solvers and anyone who has ever executed a complicated shoot rather it be still or video knows that you are constantly solving the issues of compatibility between all of the elements so you end up with a cohesive interpretation. When I shifted to brush art I made a conscientious effort, albeit not an easy one, to create art that wasn’t representational, nor influenced by outside stimuli like natures patterns and shapes (I still have a long way to go here).
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Pablo Picasso
One thing for sure, once I started to better understand dyslexia it seemed like a ton of bricks was taken off my shoulders and I learned to adjust and trust my own perceptions. Taking the time to really understand dyslexia has been a life changing experience. I wish I would have dealt with this early on in my life. Once I clearly understood what dyslexia was all about my life has become way more pleasurable. It’s increased my tolerance and provided me with a better understanding of how our own thinking can be an amazing thing when the energy is directed.
You may want to pick up a couple of books on the topic. I found that these two books were very helpful.
The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide, M.D., M.A. & Fernette F. Eide, M.D.
The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis with Eldon M. Braun
Books on Dyslexia
I’m sure there are many more. A quick look on Amazon or Google will be of great benefit. There are organizations out there to help parents better understand children that are born with dyslexia. I would encourage every parent to learn as much as they can and maybe even join an organization for parents with dyslexic children. This can change the outcome of your child’s life into something wonderful.
I would never not want to be dyslexic. There are a million rewards all attached to internal and external perception. I call it peripheral thinking.
“I can step into a painting and walk around and come home with a thousands images that are embedded in my brain for life. ” Rod Jones Artist
Celebrate your dyslexia…you are in some pretty amazing company.
Walt Disney, Agatha Christie, Richard Branson, Bruce Jenner, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, John Lennon, Jay Leno, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Salma Hayek, Ludwig Van Beethoven.
I’m sure you can find a whole bunch more and you’ll find some heroes and heroines that you can relate to.
When Rod Jones Artist & Dyslexia Merge
Just a peek…not quite done yet!
Far, Far From Being Completed - Rod Jones Artist in Studio
Some artists, mostly “great” have the ability to see things beyond their normal senses. These mental forces or intuitions, with luck find their way into the brush. Everything about a painting has meaning.
Subject matter… “you name it, you can paint it…even if you don’t really see it.”
Composition… for every rule you should break 10… and then you will learn composition.
Color...if it doesn’t exist in nature it probably doesn’t exist at all. Green is green. But there are a million shades and awe to possess the right one.
Texture…you can see and touch it which allows you to feel it. An egg is perfectly smooth to the touch. But explore through a microscope and you will see the riff with the most incredible topography.
Then there are the “unseen” elements of a work of art. Most assuredly the viewers own interpretation of what they see based on a life-time of experiences, hang-ups and realities.
Many approach a painting with no preconceived notion of what to expect and walk away with energy or profound emotion & feelings.
For me I always suspected that there was another dimension to art that can only be interpreted by one’s ability to see things beyond the normal senses. So I decided to put this notion to the test.
Long time friend and psychic RuthLordan ( http://www.ruthlordan.com ) in my opinion has the intuitive ability to see beyond the image on a canvas. So I asked her to interpret a recent painting of mine that was featured on the TV show The Good Wife. I asked Ruth to give me a reading. This wasn’t the first time I called upon her amazing ability to help me look at one of my paintings from an entirely different perspective. This is what I learned concerning the spiritual side of art from Ruth in her own words:
Art inspired humanity and in fact many sentient beings (have u ever noticed how your pets and even horses respond to art works?).
Can art also create the experience of satori, enlightenment, nirvana? YES ! Mandala artworks are used for meditation.
As a 5th plus generational psychic consultant with 43 yrs of professional experience, I love to use art as a meditative tool and find that different paintings have different psychic energy. When I meditate on a work, I sense the psychic vibrations and energy and what the destiny of the painting can be thru this “reading”.
True artists infuse their spirits into the pieces which charges them. Plus as Spirit comes in thru many artists, there is a Divine infusion as well. All of this leads to an amazing psychic experience.
One of the best group meditations I have facilitated is when we gather a group and I guide a psychic meditation around a painting.
Often this is a “christening” of the painting.
Ruth’s comment, “The true artist infuses their spirit into each piece and charges them.” resonates with me on many levels and I’m sure my fellow artists who learn to embrace this thinking will find deeper meaning in every creation, good or bad.
So what was Ruth’s interpretation of my painting entitled ROCOCO? This is the one that ended up on the TV series The Good Wife. This is the painting:
Rod Jones Artist -Rococo-24”h x 30” w-oil on canvas
Ruth’s Reading of the painting Rococo:
“A very positive piece that sends the subtle message Good triumphs over evil (this is because the grey darkness tries to hamper the yellow light glow, but fails at it. There is also clean sophistication that is imparted with subconscious force to the viewer—it would be difficult to keep clutter in a space where this painting “reigned” on the wall. The other message it sends is “pace yourself-be mellow and win”
Even though I created this painting with no real mission (as usual) it just evolved. Naming the painting was somewhat more difficult, but it just looked like Rococo…ornate, but not over-done for an abstract.
This wasn’t the first time I had Ruth read one of my paintings. The painting entitled TEARS OF ALLAH created over a year ago, presented a disturbing and sometimes haunting feeling in my studio. My wife and daughter avoided this painting to the point where they wouldn’t come into the studio unless I turned it around to face the wall. So naturally this one needed a reading. Here’s the painting.
Rod Jones Artist-Tears of Allah-36x48-oil on canvas - I have never placed this painting on my website, nor have I offered it for sale.
And…here is Ruth’s reading of the painting Tears of Allah:
“WOW! When I heard the name I thought of sadness Allah crying as his religion had been hijacked but seeing this painting I realize these are tears of joy that thru all the little roadblcoks and sidetraps of life (the red lines) the tears of joy continue to flow and cleanse the earth, and the cool thing is that the tears will win…the little blockades are just that–little blockades—whether they stand for terrorists, jihadists, corporations stealing oil, backward regimes, nuclear problems—the tears of joy will bring joy despite the petty annoyances…..and of course since they are tears of joy about the universe they are the cleanser of veil so we can get prophetic dreams and visions by vibing with the tears When I really look I see the tears and not the blockades as I call them, so it opens the gates to the soul.”
I have to say…when I created this painting there wasn’t a political thought in my head. On a subconscious level I knew this painting was giving off a ton of energy. I even had difficulty dealing with it at times. I would walk away thinking that this would become an interesting underpainting for one of my more eclectic designs. But that was not to be. I developed an almost compulsive need to complete the work. And then even I had trouble with it. It just seemed to be saying something…but I couldn’t connect. So I approached Ruth and said, “See what you can see.” The title just flashed into my mind and it stuck immediately. I never entertained any other title. You might say the name was imprinted on the canvas even before the first brush stroke.
Do I believe in psychics? The short answer is YES & No. Yes…when I hear stuff that I like. And NO when I hear stuff I don’t like. I can say in total confidence that this is absolutely true for all of us.
Thank you Ruth for giving me a deeper look into the soul of my work.
It’s hard for me to look at a steak and not think of Aaron Copland. After all the VO on the TV commercial says, “Beef…It’s what’s for dinner.” With Hoe-Down from the Rodeo Suite blazing in the background (yes, I know this commercial is disturbing to my vegan & PETA friends).
I grew up in the west and traveled with my parents extensively from Arizona to Colorado from the Dakotas to Texas, and everything in between. As a lad my mind was filled with a million images that provided a staging area for an over-active imagination. When I heard Copland’s music it created a musical backdrop to many of these images, and somehow tied the creative process of creating altogether.
As I matured I started looking east. In fact, New York held the most fascination. Everything the west wasn’t.. is the island of Manhattan. Enter Gershwin and Rhapsody in Blue. I don’t think New York would have it’s fascinating appeal if it wasn’t for this incredible eclectic composer. For every image from gritty to grandure there is a Gershwin note that describes.
From New York onto Europe and most specifically Paris. Being a young American, it just doesn’t get much better than Gershwin’s American in Paris. You can’t separate the two, and oh the fantasies!
A Baton VS a Brush
A composer can create a masterful painting without picking up a brush. A composer works with a tonal palette.
Consider the music composed by Mussorgsky for the artist Victor Hartmann – a tribute to his friend, who died suddenly in 1873 at the age of 39. Hartman was sn artist of energy, but would no doubt be lost to history if it wasn’t for the composer Mussorgsky. He composed a graphic suite entitled Pictures at an Exhibition; it is considered a classic of the virtuoso piano repertoire, an epic work of such grand conception that its orchestral potential was immediately recognized. A musical work of art stimulated by the visual works of a painter.
Artists and composers are both visual and auditory people they often stimulate and inspire each other. Music and visual art share many descriptive terms that are exactly alike. It’s fascinating when you can see just how many artistic terms are used to describe music and conversantly with art.
MUSIC – color: Color ( or timbre - pronounced “TAM-ber”) includes all the aspects of a sound that do not have anything to do with how high or low it is, how loud or soft, or how long or short. In other words, if a flute plays a note, and then an oboe plays the same note, for the same length of time, at the same loudness, you can still easily tell the two notes apart, because a flute sounds different from an oboe. This difference is the color of the sound. See Basic Elements of Music
ART: color - Produced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes and object and reflects back to the eyes. One of the elements of art. Color has hue (color name), intensity and value.
MUSIC: contrast Contrast of musical materials sustains our interest and feeds our love of change; it provides variety to a form.
ART: contrast - Difference between two things. There can be contrast in value, color, pattern and texture.
MUSIC: composition a written piece of music.
ART: composition the art of combining the parts of awork to produce a harmonious whole.
A description of my art using the musical term: HARMONY
MUSIC: harmony the simultaneous sounding of tones producing a musical meaningful sound.
ART: harmony a state of “visual rightness” and compatibility between colors, or parts of adesign, or composition giving an effect of anaesthetically pleasing whole.
Rod Jones Artist - Paris -36”w x 24”h oil on canvas. During one of his many trips to Paris the artist was inspired to create this painting. There is no specific focal point. But you can see the streets of Paris & what appears to be buildings. The color palette leans towards pastels, primarily because the artist has always felt that Paris is a more "feminine" city.
Gershwin and Copland as well as many other composers from just about every genre of music can stimulate your art. Organized musical notes floating around in your head can be converted into brush strokes. There’s something magical about music. It takes your mind in profound directions. You can’t listen to Copland without envisioning the west, horses, cowboys and square dancing. New York’s Madison Avenue grabbed Copland and gave us a theme song for beef.
Constructing and deconstructing a painting that has been stimulated by a piece of music can be pretty profound. If listening to Copland makes you envision a rodeo, and rodeo’s are filled with horses, and you decide to paint a horse…the music can trigger abstract thinking and your composition can achieve an elevated and interesting take on the simple paining of a horse.
Franz Marc- Blue Horse
Music Motivates & Stimulates the Creative Mind
Here is something to try…grab Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue or An American in Paris…put it on your iPod or ??? with your headset, grab your camera and head out into the city. You will be amazed what you start focusing on with the mind’s eye and that camera. It won’t be the skyline (per say), you will feel the energy and see nuances that you never knew existed. Take these visions back into the studio and witness the magic as it is revealed on your canvas.
For those completely immersed in nature, try the same experiment with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I have…virtually all four seasons. It lifts your spirit into a new visual awareness of the majesty of nature. From an acorn to a giant tree displaying their golden fall leaves, you just look…and hearing the four compositions can be life altering.
Rod Jones Artist -FALL REVEALED 48”w x 30”h - Oil on Canvas. The artist created this painting after a walk in the woods listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons - Fall. Note the blue sky leaking through the fall colors & the outlines of limbs and trees.
It’s now fall…let Vivaldi stimulate your own composition.
In case your one of the billions of people in this amazing world that do not understand, here’s the centuries old scoop. No two people look at a piece of art the same way. In fact, no two people look at much of anything in the same way. We can agree that an elephant is by definition an elephant, but that’s where it quickly ends. One may see one of God’s great achievements, another may see a bountiful meal that could sustain a tribe for weeks.
“Three Blind Men and an Elephant”
One day, three blind men happened to meet each other and gossiped a long time about many things. Suddenly one of them recalled, ” I heard that an elephant is a queer animal. Too bad we’re blind and can’t see it.”
“Ah, yes, truly too bad we don’t have the good fortune to see the strange animal,” another one sighed.
The third one, quite annoyed, joined in and said, “See? Forget it! Just to feel it would be great.”
“Well, that’s true. If only there were some way of touching the elephant, we’d be able to know,” they all agreed.
It so happened that a merchant with a herd of elephants was passing, and overheard their conversation. “You fellows, do you really want to feel an elephant? Then follow me; I will show you,” he said.
The three men were surprised and happy. Taking one another’s hand, they quickly formed a line and followed while the merchant led the way. Each one began to contemplate how he would feel the animal, and tried to figure how he would form an image.
After reaching their destination, the merchant asked them to sit on the ground to wait. In a few minutes he led the first blind man to feel the elephant. With outstretched hand, he touched first the left foreleg and then the right. After that he felt the two legs from the top to the bottom, and with a beaming face, turned to say, “So, the queer animal is just like that.” Then he slowly returned to the group.
Thereupon the second blind man was led to the rear of the elephant. He touched the tail which wagged a few times, and he exclaimed with satisfaction, “Ha! Truly a queer animal! Truly odd! I know now. I know.” He hurriedly stepped aside.
The third blind man’s turn came, and he touched the elephant’s trunk which moved back and forth turning and twisting and he thought, “That’s it! I’ve learned.”
The three blind men thanked the merchant and went their way. Each one was secretly excited over the experience and had a lot to say, yet all walked rapidly without saying a word.
“Let’s sit down and have a discussion about this queer animal,” the second blind man said, breaking the silence.
“A very good idea. Very good.” the other two agreed for they also had this in mind.
Without waiting for anyone to be properly seated, the second one blurted out, “This queer animal is like our straw fans swinging back and forth to give us a breeze. However, it’s not so big or well made. The main portion is rather wispy.”
“No, no!” the first blind man shouted in disagreement. “This queer animal resembles two big trees without any branches.”
“You’re both wrong.” the third man replied. “This queer animal is similar to a snake; it’s long and round, and very strong.”
How they argued! Each one insisted that he alone was correct. Of course, there was no conclusion for not one had thoroughly examined the whole elephant. How can anyone describe the whole until he has learned the total of the parts.
The Fable of the Elephant & the Blind Men
Perception is the mother of everyone’s reality. Just the word ART alone can set off unusual brain waves and patterns when viewed with an MRI.
A humble two-dimensional painting gives the viewer very little. You can’t hear it, you can’t taste it, and if it’s dry…you can’t even smell it. “Although we should get a flash mob together and go to the Louvre in Paris and simultaneously start smelling the works of Rembrandt. Most specifically The Carcass of Ox painting.”
Rembrandts - The Carcass Ox - Louvre Paris
Click to enlarge the carcass.
Not so pleasant huh?
Let’s say that 50 people show up…some art students, some vacationers, a couple of anarchists – who always show up for anything, perhaps a few stragglers from a tourist group and just for the sake of overall continuity one art critic.
Each one will look at this painting and interpret it entirely different from the other. If there is a consensus it might be…”What the hell was Rembrandt thinking when he painted this?” After that the opinions are going to be quite varied. The art students will quickly say, “Oh I read about this painting. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t think I like it now. But what use of painting technique.” The vacationers, ” Well I’m glad we got to visit the world famous Louvre and participate in the Flash Mob. Don’t know about this painting. What are we having for lunch anyway.” The anarchists -Without rule, they may interpret the painting as a metaphor for filleting society. The stragglers from the tourist group will first take a picture and they will discuss the merits of this painting each with a decidedly less than articulated interpretation and view. The art critic first he will say, “ This painting truly describes the human condition and should remind everyone why it’s better to become a vegetarian.” And then go on to say, “This painting fits into a less meaningful period of the artist’s life.”
The influence of art on the viewer…
Comments like…I love red. So every painting that has red in it excites me. I like pastoral scenes. Every painting that calms my inner spirit is great. Some better than others. I am into jazz. Paintings that are abstract really turn me on. They just seem to have a rhythm to them. Especially if there’s lots of shades of yellow. Historical paintings really turn me on especially Delacroix’s Leading the People that inspired the Statue of Liberty 50 years later.
Delacroix - Leading the People
So let’s take the pastoral painting by Alvan Fisher 1854 for example:
Alvan Fisher Pastoral Landscape
Each viewer who gazes upon this painting is going to be influenced by his/her own historical references and every or many experiences they have had in life. If you grew up on a (old style) farm you will be able to really relate because of the livestock and the pond. Others will think of the sounds of nature and the stillness of the trees, maybe even humming Bach’s JesuBleibetFreude. Some will completely immerse in the color palette, so many different shades of earth tones. And those who are into light will relish in the warmth and glow of the late afternoon sun as it inflames the foothills of the mountain.
No two artists paint nearly the same…and for sure…no two art viewers see art in the same way. Even though they have the gift of vision to see the painting, they are still blinded by a brain filled with memories. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, and I might say…courage…to empty your brain and really see a painting for the first time. Go and visit a favorite painting once a month at a museum. Do this for an entire year and note the changes of your interpretations. You will be absolutely astonished when you go back and read your notes.
They Will Never See What You See…
As artists we expect so much of those who look at our work. What we see is “OUR REALITY” and not those of our viewers. When someone likes a piece of our work we should never expect that they are being excited by anything we did in its creation. It’s really more about their life and their experiences, and what they bring to the visual table.
Rod Jones Artist - Algernon - Oil on Canvas
View this painting full screen. I have heard so many interpretations. The most fascinating is the fact that some people only focus on the blue squares. Others see the backgrounds shapes more prominently. It’s not an optical illusion. It’s just a perception and how your subconscious mind in conjunction with your vision can interpret a relatively simple piece of art work. An no…it is not a close-up of the wall of the elephant.
A muse… is a muse… is a muse…to paraphrase the lady of prose-poem Gertrude Stein in her work Sacred Emily. I’m going to go out on a limb here, albeit just a few inches on that limb, and say Ms. Stein defiantly had a muse in the name of one called Alice B. Toklas.
You would be hard pressed to show me an artist or a creative type that didn’t have a muse. But what exactly is a muse? Well it’s…
A guiding spirit.
A source of inspiration.
A person, place or thing.
Do you need a muse? Well…if you want to be in the great company of the world’s most talented people, you’ll find one. You can’t necessarily pick one, they often pick you. It’s something that just evolves in your life and you may not even recognize you have one for years. Often they in the background stimulating you until one day you have an epiphany and they become real. Your own real muse then becomes an even more profound catalyst to inspirations and creativity.
Muses that enliven…On the hot list of muses that inspire most…women take the poll position. Consider George Sand and the impact she’s had on the composer Frederick Chopin. Fascinating reading if you care to delve into their tumultuous lives. But no one would argue that she was his principal muse.
Fanny Brawne had a profound impact on the poet Keats. Unfortunately Keats died young, and never completly had the opportunity to fulfill the inspirations that were given to him by Fanny and the great love they shared.
On the more obvious side of muses, Victorine (Olympia) for Manet, Kiki for Man Ray, Gala for Dali, and Charis & Weston.
Salvidor Dali's wife Gala as Leda the mother of Helen
Gala & Dali
So can a male artist have a man as a muse? Well that immediately leads us to the complicated relationship of Francis Bacon and George Dyer. Dyer was certainly a muse but a little psychotic & often destructive; creating love, hate and inspiration within minutes of each other.
Bacon & Dyer
What about a female artist and the male muse? I vote Stieglitz for Georgia O’Keefe. This one is tougher to define. Stieglitz defiantly created notoriety for O’Keefe and without him she may not have become as well-known. This is a situation where Stieglitz might have been more of a task master & promoter than a true muse, but they shared love and tremendous creativity in both of their artistic disciplines.
When a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man…and they both are blessed with phenomenal artistic talent. The power couple goes to… Diego Rivera & Frieda Kahlo. Watch the move Frieda. It’s reasonably accurate.
Frieda Kahlo & Diego Rivera
The number 1 & 2 of all muses…
1. Good old Mother Nature…more art, more poetry, more writing, more music and more just plain old creativity has been inspired by nature. Visually, poetically and even auditorily. Just think of the breeze rustling through the trees…or as the song goes the Autumn Leaves composed by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacque Prevert. This is the muse of nature in one of her finest hours. Lady Nature is the queen of the muses. Godly inspiration for every living thing. Even animals will stop and reflect on the beauty of the day. Even the most cynical person on the planet will lose their composure in front of a brilliant sunrise or sunset. Thank God for nature!
Substances…personally I think this is the bottom rung of the world of muses. If you have to jack yourself up, down or sideways to get inspiration, I think something’s missing. But I for one know, many examples of great writing and thinking that have percolated out of the minds of the inebriated. Love him or hate him Edgar Allen Poe knew how to engage after some “recreation”. Jazz would never have become jazz without a little smoke in the air. To get there, I mean to get there creatively, you can’t discount the wonderful effects of booze…of all flavors. From Absinthe to Tokay or MD2020 there’s a lot of inspiration and creative outpouring that comes from a glass of the “elixir of life”.
Do muses even know they are muses? In my opinion…some do, but most don’t. A muse is so incredibly personal to the creative mind, triggering every emotion that one can have. Good, bad, and in some cases ugly. The right muse can make you razor sharp and mellifluous at the same time, giving birth to profound creativity. Muses are most personal and often can be confusing to the nonconforming spirit.
“A muse…to each his own.” ~ R. J.
“Dear unfeigned muse…Do not un-a-muse me.” ~ R. J.
Recently we sold a painting that was particularly loved by my whole family… still, to this day, every time we part with a painting it stirs up emotions that are so conflicting it’s a wonder that anyone can really sell a painting. To put it mildly, it’s a bit painful parting with my work. Conflicting emotions, joy…and sorrow.
That’s when I remembered the 1965 movie “The Agony & The Ecstasy”, starring Charlton Heston. Heston portrays Michelangelo during the period he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I am certainly no Michelangelo, but however I related to his intense emotion in the movie. This movie is filled with emotional highs & lows, and if you ever read books about the life of Michelangelo it was no picnic for someone as brilliantly creative as this genius. His life was filled with conflicting emotions, extreme joy and then angst.
“I have suffered great sorrow…God willed it so” ~ Michelangelo Buonarroti
I know lots of creative people that feel when somebody buys a piece of their artwork it’s like stamp of approval and that they (finally) have value. During all those years that I hocked my photography the emotions attached were simple. I always had the negative and retained a nice set of prints for use in portfolios or to hang on the wall. Letting go was never an issue.
Of course, recieving a check for a painting is sweet. It psychologically off-sets the financial commitment you made to become an artist in the first place. So for that, it is certainly a reward.
I often wonder what cruel trick has been played on the most talent of us human beings. Would you want the fame of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert or Vivaldi? What about artists like Van Gogh (the patron saint of Bad Luck), Modigliani, Lautrec, Gorky, Gauguin or Pollock? The emotional and psychological challenges these brilliant people faced for most of us would be truly unbearable. And to add the maximum insult some never really became famous or in some cases notorious in their lifetimes. More often than not barely making enough money to eat, let alone buy paint and canvas. Just how much anxiety is there when you have a brilliant artistic concept floating around in your brain day after day, week after week, sometimes months and years before you can actually commit it to canvas? It’s gotta hurt.
“I consciously chose the dog’s path through life. I shall be poor; I shall be a painter.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
The maximum creative pain award goes to…poets. Although the pain they experienced may be the catalyst for some of their greatest works. I’m thinking Keats, Poe, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath. Now we’re getting into some serious creative hurt.
Creativity in all its forms, seems to come with a price. Probably, more often than not, self inflicted. Have you ever completed a painting and your heart and soul were filled with joy, only to revisit days later and ask yourself…”What the hell was I thinking?” And then weeks perhaps months later, you look at it again and go…”Ah, that’s not bad work.”Or if you are really fickle, you may say to yourself “Wow…that’s pretty good.” ”Did I really paint that???” This isn’t just for painters… composers, writers, poets, sculptors … they all experience these feelings. The suffering here comes from your own insecurities and lack of confidence. Even Pablo Picasso who by anyone’s standards is one of the greatest artists who ever lived often wined to his intimates that he didn’t feel like he was good enough or doubted his own veracity as an artist. I can hear you commenting to yourself right now, I should be so lucky as to be 1/10th as successful as Pablo. And you say to yourself I would relish and enjoy every minute, every accolade, the security of a rich bank account and I would snivel to no one.
The trick is to relish every peak, every success, every joy… with the understanding that there will always be challanges, no matter what you do in your life. I touched on this in my blog Men vs Women Artists.
[Artists] have their ups and downs…for a while everything you do is wonderful or you think it is, then you slide down…pulling yourself up again is the most important part of your life. ~ Milton Resnick
Immersing your life in creativity has a price. And for some, a very high price. I don’t know if it equates to your effort or not…Paul Klee stated, “He who strives will never enjoy this life peacefully.”
I often refer to it [creative hurts] in my own life as creative dissatisfaction. But I… and I suggest to all…” Learn to live peak to peak, sooner or later the valleys will fill in with discarded memories”.
DECISIONS 60” h x 48” w - oil on canvas - Rod Jones Artist
At one point in my photography career I photographed several rather prestigious and extensive art collections, from some very well-heeled art collectors living in Rancho Santa Fe, California and La Jolla, California. We’re talking Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir all the way through Warhol, Rothko, Mondrian, Picasso, and Pollock. I certainly was impressed by the art, but I was even more intrigued how these paintings fit into the interiors of these magnificent homes. To this day I’m still fascinated how a Picasso painting can fashionably meld with the most conservative interior and not look out of place. I was most struck by the fact that these were paintings that I mostly associated with great art museums of the world were so incredibly comfortable on the walls of these interiors. In a grand dining room that looked like a castle with heavy wooden table and chairs and a medieval looking fireplace at the end, promptly displaying a rather large abstract painting of Wassily Kandinsky. Not to be slighted by the position in the home, but along the corridor leading to the laundry room were a series of Warhol soup cans. Nothing short of eclectic, but stunningly well done.
Just about every interior style can benefit from a piece of modern, or my choice abstract art. Okay…I know this would be a tremendous reach in an Early American interior, but many of the rest Rococo, French Provincial, Mission, Mediterranean, on and on, often benefit from incorporating a great looking abstract painting.
Bedroom with L’ART DE LA MER 60" x 48"
When it comes to creating art for the home, man has been deeply committed, just take a look at the Lascaux, France cave paintings, probably the best example of early interior design using wall art, albeit painting on the wall rather than hung.
Lascaux cave painting - Dressing up your cave interior
Upon exiting the Lascaux, France cave in 1940, Pablo Picasso said, ”We have invented nothing”
Why do we decorate our homes with paintings anyway? I suppose in many cases it’s a visual history providing a record and a showcase of what’s important in our lives. A remembrance from a place visited or a far off distant land, or simply a painting of a loved one(s). I don’t know what Woody Allen was thinking when he put that extremely disturbing photo on the dining room wall in one of his movies. But Goya on the other hand did something similar in his dining room, only to be interpreted by devotees of Freud for many decades creating a whole host of theories on why people associate certain art with where and how they live.
Saturn Devouring One of his Sons - Museo del Prado - Madrid, Spain
But more often than not, unless the wall art is carefully orchestrated by an interior designer it could be a real hodge-poge of art only representing a whim. You visit Carmel, California and you immediately think…”Oh wouldn’t that painting of a Monterey Pine with the Ocean be wonderful in our family room?” Probably the most sought after piece of art is the one that goes over your couch.
Simpson's Couch Art w/ Santa's Little Helper
Wall art can be so much more. The right piece can inspire, motivate and create profound periods of contemplation. Many of the top CEO’s, especially those related to high tech businesses embrace abstract art. At first it’s the result of the designer or someone wanting to look really hip and futuristic, but upon closer examination and through my own conversations I’ve learned that many of these entrepreneurial thinkers really immerse in a good abstract painting. Especially if it has depth of composition and color. There is nothing like trying to come up with a new idea, concept or just plain old solve a problem when you sit back and lose your thoughts in the visual of a solid abstract painting. A good painting in this genre can give so much to the viewer. And probably most interesting, is it changes with mood, light and ambient sounds.
Representational art or Non-Representational art as part of interior design. When you visit a home that is fashionably decorated you might see an impressionist painting knock-off of a Monet painting or depending upon the budget you could easily run into a Thomas Kincade. Now I would be the last to criticize because I grew up in a Southern California home where art was purely something to cover a bare wall. And if it matched something else in the room, more the better. As a child I would often day dream and wonder where that little town or village was. Do deers really come down and drink from a stream out the front door? Or did women really carry parasols while wearing a hat in a beautiful bowed white dress in a field of red flowers? There was definitely some tinkering with my boyish imagination. All that changed when I got Dave Brubeck’s LP – Take Five. The art on that album created a new synapses in my brain. After that, the rewiring process began. As I visited more homes, offices and hotels I began to pay more attention to the art on the walls and quickly understood how a dynamic and large abstract painting, even if it was as simple as a broad field painting could really be the focal point of any room.
To this day abstract art is highly collectible and can be as important to the interior environment as any piece of furniture. You don’t have to be too daring to incorporate a unique piece of abstract art, it will keep any interior from looking like, as some interior designer’s say “Too matchy, matchy”. Eclectic is cool when tastefully done. I shows good taste and if i dare say, some real class.
Abstract art goes perfectly well with classical music, jazz music, fine wine, freshly painted walls, plants, warm cozy fireplaces, a thinking environment (like an office), and it especially goes well with the all time classic Chicken in a Biscuit crackers & squeeze cheese.
Painting entitled- Interior Design 18 x 36 oil on canvas Rod Jones Artist