Happy New Year! How would you like to start 2024 in a new, creative way?
Every Wednesday and Saturday, we will be posting an installment of our book, Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively offering you a pathway to art and the vision of the artist. Enabling you to develop your own inner creativity and apply it to the personal cycle of everyday living!
II. THE JOURNEY TO ART
Art Walks, Part 3
O’Keeffe’s paintings, like Monet’s works of art, are also easily accessible, enhancing your journey down the street. And while you walk block out those persistent, sometimes nagging thoughts that can pursue you: the events of the day, the obligations and responsibilities, the worries that can mushroom into anxieties, the active and potential conflicts. Wipe them from your consciousness, if only for ten minutes.
Let your eyes wander freely, over the moving vista that you create with the momentum of your body. Houses probably stand between the trees. Have you really noticed them before? In their individuality and uniqueness, from the smallest to the largest structure, they are man-made and unlike nature, sometimes flawed in their appearance and design. Yet that is what made them so intriguing to an artist like Edward Hopper, a contemporary of Georgia O’Keeffe.
Houses were often the focus of his paintings and watercolors, as if he were making portraits of them. The tiny one-story bungalows, more roof than building—plain, white frame with narrow windows. Or the immense Victorian, ridiculed in Hopper’s own time, with elaborate turrets and towers, intimidating rather than inviting. The former is as ordinary as the latter is extraordinary, yet both have their own personalities.
Can you discover like Hopper that special abode? It may be wood or brick, compact or sprawling, old or new. You might not want to purchase it, but you can possess it with your mind if only for a fleeting moment as you continue your walk.
Note, too. all the passing objects and sights: the stop signs, telephone poles, just planted flowers, a bird overhead, a dog barking, a woman waving, raindrops from a recent downpour evaporating on the hood of a car, a sewer cover. You view them randomly in no particular order, like snapshots taken by a camera. Except that the photographer is you, the film your memory, quickly snapped.
Artist-photographers offer you an opportunity to select and review the miscellaneous images that are so easy to forget. They magnify through their lenses, with the artistry of a painter, the lines and textures of what already exists, taken from an multitude of perspectives, often in black and and white, though also in color. Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Imogen Cunningham, Henri Cartier-Bresson head a long list that spans just over a century. Photography is one of the newest art forms, a product of industry and technology birthed in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Finally, consider your neighborhood overall as you end your walk. Isn’t it a unique place, simply because you live within its border, wherever it might begin or end. Even your address is significant—Market, Buena Vista, 45th—connected to you and your immediate surroundings. Van Gogh, for instance, lived off the Place de Lamartine in Arles, a city in southern France where he dwelled at the peak of his creative career. Although he lived there for just over a year, he understood and loved the scenery around him that he viewed inevitably on foot. For Vincent’s walks often offered revelations, captured in hundreds of paintings, watercolors, and drawings: the rolling plains of the countryside just outside the city, the autumn colors of the park across the street, the nightly customers of the local cafe.
Perhaps someday your neighborhood might be as inspiring to you as Arles was to Van Gogh—your own personal vision enriched by each passing day.
COMING NEXT: MONET
Copyright 2010: Joan Hart, Museum One, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented including photocopying, recording and information storage and retrieval without permission from the publisher.