You the Emitter: intention!
Now let’s talk about intention, having already discussed about knowledge on our last post. In art, knowledge and intention walk hand in hand and “serious” artists deal with these two important concepts when confronting their works of art. If not, they are not making art, but are just imitating, mimicking reality as when they reproduce the reflection of that chickadee in a mirror. In this case, artists are not artists, but illustrators and there is nothing wrong in being an illustrator. When doing art, you need a plan. With the best of your knowledge, you need to identify an action that will help you attain a specific result. Ultimately, your work of art should reflect your end, your purpose, in brief your intention.
In 1906-07, at the age of 25, Picasso intended to change the course of painting. He bought the best linen, the best pigments and armed with his vast knowledge on modern art he developed an audacious plan that led to the creation of Les demoiselles d’Avignon. It took him a year and more than 500 sketches. And it was the same for all the great artists of the 20th century making sure that something worthwhile had to emerge.
As a much more experienced painting and art history professor, I reflect this way and I have to share my knowledge with my students. During the last 10 days, I met students from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States here in Tuscany. I had a choice: should I let them paint freely, merely copying the Italian landscape in front of them? Or, should I start my teaching day with a specific purpose such as: “the purpose of this exercise is to use a set of analogous colours so you may realise that you do not need to use all your colors”. Or, “I intend, through this exercise, that you convey the mood of mystery”. Of course, these are very simple goals, reflecting the nature of a plein-air art workshop, hence the notion of context which I will tackle in another post.
Back to Les demoiselles: Picasso aimed to transform painting through the concept of “art is you” instead of “art and you”, a concept which was the norm for the last 5 000 years. Picasso’s intention was to bring back shamanism into painting, something which was lost since the birth of history (or writing) or this painting The dance of the bulls from the Lascaux caves in France.
To conclude: as I said, knowledge and intention walk hand in hand. Therefore, small knowledge will bring forth a modest intention, resulting in a work of art of limited creativity. But vast knowledge can produce a deeper intention, and at the end, a greater work of art. But we shall never forget, artists with a small or vast knowledge have the final word on what they decide to do. It is simply a matter of choice, a Nietzschean choice.
My following posts will try to explain my understanding of art and its role in society. By doing so, it will also clarify the way we instruct during our painting workshops in Tuscany, the reason why we have, at Walk the Arts, so many returnees.