Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Breaking the Rules

It has been said that great artists break the rules. However, the reverse is not true!!

“All great artists break the rules, therefore breaking the rules will lead to great art!!”

Yeah!!! If only! Illogic does not rule however much the spin doctors would like it to!

I think if you look at many forms of art what you’ll see is that (apart from a few amazing geniuses, usually born to genius families and occurring about once in a hundred years!) really good artists have all spent a lot of time learning the basics of their profession. Once they know the theory and the techniques so well that they have become second nature, then they can begin to bend things a little to make a particular point. Take for example, Rubenstein’s playing of the Chopin nocturnes (wonderful music – I’ve worn out 3 copies!!) – if you actually sit with the music as he plays, you’ll see he takes all kinds of liberties with the timing. This is because he knew Chopin’s music so well, and the spirit of the music, and also the requirements of the playing of the music that he knew just exactly how much torque and rubato he could use to bring out the sweet melancholy of a particular phrase.

Because an athlete understands the mechanics and physics of a particular movement through excellent and lengthy training and repeated experiences, then he can explore a different way of accomplishing the same feat. Because the painter knows what it necessary to make a painting effective and endlessly intriguing, then he can bend those “artistic guidelines” in the interest of expressing a particular idea. For example, it’s generally accepted that the most important areas of a 2D visual piece be somewhere around an invisible line about 2/3 from one border and 1/3 from another – the so-called golden area not slap bang in the middle, and not on the edge.

But, if you wanted to make a piece about feeling like a target, then you might want to put yourself right in the middle of the piece…you would know that that might lead to viewers not seeing anything else in the piece and you would know strategies to overcome that. On the other hand you might be feeling as if you were right on the edge, almost disappearing – in which case you could put yourself right on the border – just creeping in…or walking out (depending on your theme!)…and again you would know how to compensate for the lack of balance such a composition might have. You would be using your knowledge and experience to enable you to go against some of the accepted guidelines to further your main idea.

So!!! Don’t break the rules thinking that might make you into a great artist!!

Break the rules when you’ve become a competent and experienced artist! And then you might become a great artist.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!


PS the picture at the top is of a dear friend, an artist, who is "breaking the rules" at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and creating a wonderful mixed media sculpture!

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