Focus on Art

By Rob Mohr

Secrets of the Mature Artist


focus-july2011-2Dorothy Parker wrote, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” 

Want to create quality artworks? The process may not be as difficult as you think. Openness to learning and willingness to share understandings as well as to have your works critiqued within a community of artists will yield extraordinary results.

Art (creation) is a process. The resulting works are incidental. When the artist - curious and inquiring - learns to see with deep insight and to experience the world and life with feeling and emotion, the process becomes vital. A creative mind and spirit engendered by curiosity and profound insight give form to your emotions and then to your artworks. Awareness of the subtleties, nuances, the veiled aspects of reality, coupled with the capacity to work with these discoveries and experiences constitutes the way of the artist. A mature artist, with soul and spirit, becomes a revealer of emotions, architect of subversive signs, and a revealer of hidden truths.

Within the process of artistic maturation it becomes essential to look at and analyze the art of the past — of at least the last 200 years. Go to museums, use learning websites like the ones below, copy the artworks of great artists, and, with an open heart and mind analyze the artworks of your friends and associates. Read art journals, art history and Ralph Mayer’s essential The Artist Handbook.

focus-july2011Study under mature, qualified artists, participate in workshops, become part of a group in which works by all members are collectively critiqued or openly juried by a small group of mature artists. Constructive critiques enable the developing artist to be in touch with their strengths and weaknesses. For example within the Lakeside writer’s community, the critique of one another’s writing has consistently strengthened the quality of the work being done by members. The rate at which we grow as artists and the development of the artistic path we choose are dependent on the mature feedback we receive from other artists. A critique should provide honest and encouraging feedback where each artwork considered becomes a launching pad to a new stage in the search for understanding. Good critiques call on the knowledge, sensitivity, and natural curiosity of each participant. In an ideal critique, several mature artists collectively evaluate artworks done by developing artists.

Understanding the essential elements and principles that enable an artwork to hold together as one world or a whole must be understood and practiced. An artist needs to know the rules well before they break them - breaking the rules is how great art comes into being. Good paintings must somehow be aesthetically satisfying while they evoke raw emotion, touch the spiritual, or uncover memories, or shed light on mysteries. Good art always pushes viewers to new understanding of life and art and bring into being a new creation, or a new world never seen or understood before.

Successful art awakens, disturbs, pleases, lifts the viewer’s spirits, scares the hell out of us, and teaches in an unending variety of ways.

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