soul and purpose

"Through my paintings I hope to communicate a personal enthusiasm and respect for the natural world, thus encourage in others an active stewardship of same." -- JEANNE ILLENYE

Contemplation: genius & art

Recently I was asked to discuss the concept, "Rules and models destroy genius and art."

Well, let me give that one some thought. This is an enormous subject and open for infinite interpretation. Just off the top and dissecting that a bit, I debate addressing rules or models first. Perhaps models would be the quickest to dismiss. Upon hearing the word "model" one is conditioned to visualize a thin, pretty young woman (although the author could've been referring to a bottle or flower, etc.). Nevertheless, as most folks think of a supermodel, I'll therefore slightly change the direction and address "beauty" first.

There is actually a mathematical equation for beauty (admittedly, I have forgotten it) which can easily qualify the statement that models destroy genius and art. Yes, if there is a tremendous lack of "beauty" in a particular model and if one is attempting to be purely representational in one's depiction of same, the model can inhibit creativity. However, that having been said, beauty can still be found in that very same model by merely altering the pose, setting and/or manipulating the lighting to effect mood, etc. Also, the artist has his/her own internal instincts for making alterations which enhance and diminish features that may otherwise not fall into the technical qualifications of beauty. This is most easily observed when reviewing the variations of artists' works during a life drawing class. Then there are those artists who deliberately defy beauty and relish the deformed and ugly. That leads me to the next portion of that statement, rules.

Being a child of the 60's and a Capricorn in the astrological chart and the Fire element in ancient Chinese philosophy, you can immediately guess my response to rules. However, while I think rules are made to be broken, there are indeed some that have proven to follow along the lines of that mathematical equation. With my own work, for example, I follow the tried and true Hogarth Curve composition utlized by the Dutch masters for my large floral still lifes. Then there are the five elements of design, which again, I consistently utilize. As my personal intention is to create paintings that evoke pleasant thoughts and strike a chord in the viewer that reminds them to take the time to appreciate our natural world, I attempt to portray my subjects with significant accuracy, again enhancing where my instincts suggest, all within my particular skill level. True, it's difficult to present a flower or any form thereof, as unattractive, however, some may alter it so far beyond reality that it can metamorphasize into a mere interpretation of that individual's innermost thoughts and emotions rather than the subject that initially inspired the work.

In other words, models and rules in my opinion do not destroy genius and art. It is up to the artist to interpret those rules and models in such a way as to use them to best advantage depending upon the intentions of the artist. Therein lies the genius of creating art.
-- Jeanne Illenye

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I was published in Visual Language Magazine


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