Prehistoric Artists

March 7, 2008

A friend sent me photos of some prehistoric art the other day, one of the famous cave paintings. They were quite spectacular and he was amazed that something this sophisticated was created so many centuries ago. He wanted to share it with me and thought it would be a good inspiration for a post – and so it is. I was thinking about it that day, my feelings and reactions were floating around and I couldn’t quite grasp it and express it clearly in words, until I went out that night to see a friend perform at a cafe. There were other artists performing as well, the first one was … well, terrible. I listened, trying not to, and I could not stand this “music” he was producing. My body ached, literally, I would cringe in spots, grind my teeth in others and then I realized: I had no clue what rules of composition or singing the poor guy was violating, I couldn’t tell what notes he did not hit, what progressions he butchered – all I knew was that it hurt to listen to it! So why would it be so amazing that a cave man would produce a highly sophisticated painting? The answer seems obvious: he doesn’t know the rules. He knows nothing about composition, color theory, perspective, shading. He did not go to art school, did not study great masterpieces, no one told him what the rules are. Another question then: where do those rules come from? Before they make it into books – how do they show up? Being something of an artist myself I can give an answer to that: they come from observation of art. When I create, whether it’s a piece of what would be called art or a simple flyer, I do not think about it. When I choose colors I do not refer to a rule about colors, I choose them cause they look good. When my design is off balance I know it cause it feels “off”, it looks odd. When I correct it I know it is correct, cause it feels right. It is an almost physical sensation. Images have energy, one can feel the energy and feel whether the image works or not. When I apply a highlight somewhere on my painting it is because it is missing, I can feel it’s missing because the painting doesn’t feel right. Once whatever I created is completed I can sit back, look at it, analyze it and see what I did and why. Once it is done then I can describe what I did, split it into techniques, call it something, put it in a book. But not before the process of creation has been completed. Rules, regulations, techniques, knowledge, are created by observing reality. Their purpose is to analyze it, understand it, name it, control it. They are the tools that mind uses to feel safe. They are needed, useful for the mind, so much so in fact that the mind could not conceive of being able to exist without them. Indeed it could not exist without them. But God has no use for them. There is no life in knowledge. There is no creativity, there is no freedom. Any amount of knowledge of painting processes, painting techniques, will not make an artist painter out of a person who does not “feel it,” who does not express himself through painting. Conversely to a person who IS a painter the knowledge is useless, he doesn’t need it, it is superfluous. Why would I need to know that what I did is called this, and its reason is that … I just did it. That’s all there is too it. God has no need to KNOW anything. God IS, in this time or centuries ago – makes no difference. God IS.

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