Over recent decades, a great deal of new research has been done on the brain and how it functions. ‘The embodied mind emphasises that the body helps to shape the way we think, feel and behave, it is an embodied and relational process, that regulates energy and information flow.’ With the Cartesian paradigm -body and mind – ‘we have logical, linear, sequential meaning,’ but this leaves out ’emotions, intuition, creativity and a capacity to dare to try different solutions.’ In the Cartesin paradigm, ‘Taking advantage of the benefits brought about by the right hemisphere of the brain, such as creative imagination, serenity, a global view and a capacity of synthesis are not considered. In Antonio Damasio’s book,’Descarte’s Mistake’ he writes ‘the vision of the human being as a whole, is the key to the global development of the being.’
Meaning comes out of experience.
The writer, James Joyce wrote, ‘Our creativity has propelled human evolution.’
Classical styles of Chinese landscapes developed from the desire to leave the problems of society behind and look towards Nature, ‘men sought permanence within the natural world, it showed the inner landscape of the artist’s heart and mind.’
Impressionist painters, such as Claude Monet, worked outdoors and rapidly, in order to catch the fleeting sun light on the scenes they painted. Art critics at the time, scorned their work, but these painters were ‘in the moment’ when they painted.
Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) wrote, ‘The landscape thinks itself in me and I am in its (the landscape). He also had a great respect for Nature, he would look at a mountain, for example, seeing the changing light as he worked, building up the scene in geometric shapes. In his still life paintings of apples, he used soft colours, with certain areas highlighted by stronger colour in small patches. ‘An artist builds up an internal tension of some kind, then comes a need to start work.’ Cezanne called it his ‘petit sensation’ he saw it as a secret key to art, an intimate and private experience. ‘It is like an internal energy or ’emotion’ that needs to be used, ‘it brings about an emotional relationship with the art when it is completed.’ I have painted canvases which result in the same experience, I look at the painting and can relive the feeling I had when I painted it, always remembering of course, that memories are constantly revised.
Some aesthetic quality, such as balance and harmony is required, otherwise it is ‘an expression of mess’ another quote I picked up on!
Howard Hodgkin, whose works are not among my favourites, but I know someone who finds them meaningful,
writes, ‘art has the capacity to recreate a strong effective charge within certain colours and shapes, a way in which his, the artist’s memories, are recovered. Colour, texture and line are ways the painter makes his/her marks. I like to work with colour most of all. He also said ‘we come to a place when we get back something from the painting’ and then the painting may give back a similar experience to the viewer.
Paul Klee took a line for a walk, a wonderful way to express creativity, not a doodle, because his line drawings are simple yet beautiful.
I would recommend that it’s better to look at a painting for a while, before reading about the painter’s life or the message he or she is hoping to convey, study can follow later.
Adreinne Degerick Chaplin, in her book Art and Embodiment…. Biological and Phenomenological Contributions to Understanding Beauty and Aesthetic writes, ‘Art, both as a practice and as an experience, belongs as it were, to the hardware of human nature.’ In her book she refers to the work of three philosophers, Ellen Dissanayake, Susanne K Lnger and Merleau-Ponty.
E. Dissanayake ‘draws on anthropological research to develop an evolutionary based philosophy, based on the notion of ‘making special’.
S K Langer and Merleau-Ponty draw on empirical science, in order to develop a theory of art and embodiment, that takes the body seriously, they each reach conclusions in their own way.
S Langer draws on ‘geology, physics and biology, she has developed a biologically based cognitive philosophy of art and mind, rooted in the notion of ‘symbolism’.
Merleau-Ponty ‘drew on medical science and empirical psychology in order to develop a theory of art.’
I am grateful to the internet for providing so much information, only a tiny fraction of which I have used. I am in awe of the work that goes into research, to help us understand more.