Observation is a key ingredient in creating art that reflects the beauty of our natural world. It is often easier to work from photographs and masterful artists have done so for a long time. But hands down, the most visual information is available to us from life itself. The nuances of light, the vibrancy of color, the atmospheric conditions, the three-dimentionality of what we see is available most dramatically from “life.” A Still Life set up, an outdoor panorama or some kind soul who will sit patiently for a portrait are all examples of painting “from life.”
The two-dimensional nature of a photograph does some of our brain work already. Photographs are wonderful and I use them a lot myself. But in painting or drawing “from life” our brains have the exercise of translating the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional canvas or paper. Someone in my last class likened drawing from life to algebra in the way the brain worked to complete an equation – and it is so true. We approach our canvas with a multiplicity of variable ingredients and seek to make a convincing equation from the visual information. It’s push ups for the brain and ultimately the means for the most stunning art work.
In a spiritual application, life can be lived like a photograph – safe, standoff-ish, still and at a distance. Or, in this comparison, “from life” – vibrantly, whole-heartedly, in the fray, in the stuff, in the glorious rhythm where everything is seen and felt and experienced to the core.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
- An Education in the Arts Impacts the Culture (penfrea.com)
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