How Do We Decipher What Makes Great Art?
I was actually just talking to a friend of mine last night after we watched a tough loss at the local high school football game. We were discussing the idea of what makes great art I thought this would be a really good thing to discuss because it really got my mind thinking, “well what does make great art anyway?” I found myself waking up this morning thinking about this concept even further because there seems to be a lot of differentiation in the art world and it is a question I find people asking often. So let’s break this down a little bit.
What I Think Is Great, May Not Be Great To You
First and foremost what I may think is great art is not necessarily what you may think is great art. That's because we are two different people with different life experiences with possibly different stages in our lives. We probably like different things too. That's the beauty of being an individual and it is what makes us unique. If we weren’t different that wouldn’t be so exciting would it? So as we dive into this idea of what makes art great, here I will share my framework for how I decipher that in two different categories.
How Can We Differentiate It All?
How can we differentiate artwork between a highly technical portraiture artist versus an artist that is his highly skilled in drip painting or abstract art? One of the ways I like to break this down is I like to think about where the art comes from. Not necessarily the physical place where it comes from, but where did it come from in the place of someone's mind? Secondly, how does the viewer perceive their own response to that art? What framework of mind is the viewer in when they are unfolding the intricacies of that artwork?
Different People Have Different Perspectives
A little bit about me at this place in my life, I actually live in a building where my studio is right downstairs. I rent a private studio and outside of my space they are other artists around me who are working in other studios nearby. Therefore, in our building, there is a lot of different artwork on the wall and it is all coming from a different place, a different psyche and a different frame of mind.
Energetic Vibration & Influence
Let’s think about a very common artist stereotype. There are artists who prefer to use hallucinogens and substances to “breakthrough” their own mental blocks to allow themselves the freedom to express what their conscious mind can't do alone. For starters, I completely disagree that this method is sustainable but many artists use these substances for their “art” when in reality, from my medical perspective, I see it is actually more of a form of therapy, which is completely different. However, my thoughts about an artists process are my own and what makes an artist great and their process is up to them. What I ask myself is what is their frame of mind on these substances? What is influencing them during this process? What is their energetic vibration while under the influence of something like drugs or alcohol? Therefore, if there is a need for substances, why can’t an artist break through that outside of the substance use? What in their life can they not overcome to access that part of their mind?
My Highest Self
For me, I need to meditate regularly, eat healthy food, do my yoga and be very intentional to cultivate my energy in order to reach the deepest part of my subconscious mind to create art. It comes from what I like to call, “my higher self,” the greatest version of me I can imagine. Therefore, my art would change under the influence of external substances and truthfully I believe my art would suffer as a result.
Emotions Going Into The Art
So what about the emotions that go into the art? Is the art joyful? Colorful? Drab? Sad? Dull? Scary? Dark? Bright? Intricate? Simple? These are all different energies that are born both in the artist and the viewer. As an artist it is my job to create my own intentions onto the canvas. But I recognize I cannot necessarily be in control of what someone else feels about it unless I get the chance to explain my story.
The Responsibility Of The Viewer & The Artist
I believe the artist does have control over the energy that is created and locked into their artwork however. I believe that if my art is coming from the highest version of myself, then it will push my viewer to dig into the highest version of themselves. If I created art out of anger, victimhood, despair, I believe that vibration would also translate to my viewer.
The Law Of Attraction On Your Wall
This relates to what is called, “The Law of Attraction.” What you put out into the world is what you manifest and attract back to you. If you want more stress, you will create more stress. If you want more happiness, you will create more happiness. If you plan for a relationship to fail, you will find all the reasons it will fail. This applies to everything in our lives. I make it my job to only create from the highest and brightest version of myself because that is what I want to bring to my viewers. That is why I truly believe my art is medicinal for people. If my goal is to raise the vibration of my community, enhance the joy in the world around me, then that is the art I need to create in order to make that happen. This is why art works beyond just the physical representation. The energy attached to it is essential to understand if it is going to hang in your home. If you hang a picture that makes you stressed, that is your ticket to the world saying, “hey I’m over here looking for more stress in my life.” If you hang a painting that makes you feel peaceful every time you look at it you are putting that energy out into the world every time you look at it. “Hey world, I’m over here, feeling peaceful, thanks for all the peace in my life.” Art taps into the subconscious mind way more than most people give it credit for and this is why it is absolutely essential to be intentional about what art you choose to place around you.
Have you ever noticed people that watch the news all the time tend to talk about all the problems of the world? This is because human beings respond to drama, we are programmed to want to control our environment and if there is something that yells “danger, danger” we are going to respond stronger to that than the story about a cute puppy walking down the street. Our human selves are hardwired to survive. A cute puppy is not a threat to our survival, but a story about a crime around the corner puts us on edge thinking, “well what if that were me in that scenario?” For the record not all news is bad, I am simply using this example to prove a point that the more you focus on something, the more you attract it. Here is another example. You are thinking of buying a new car. Then the more you think about it, the more you see that car everywhere right? Well, art is no different. The more the artwork you either create and/or view, the more you will attract those same feelings into your life.
The Reticular Activating System
This phenomenon is the part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System that is at work. It is the part of the brain that stores information, activates wakefulness and rest, and can access the parts of the brain that store memories and ultimately helps us with our own perceptions. This is a scientific way to explain the Law of Attraction or Manifestation. We create what we see based on our perceptions, values and life experiences. The more we focus on something, the more we attract it through our Reticular Activating System.
So what makes great art? That depends… What do you consider to be great?
For more information on this topic, check out my book: "How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body" Click Below: