Breezy Magic

Yellow Bearded Iris

“The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” William Butler Yeats (from The Painter’s Keys)

To provoke the senses is to be inspired. Without the conscious act of giving in to at least one sense little would be painted, written, performed or otherwise translated into art. Art requires that openness that comes from recognizing the role the senses play in inspiration. It is not only one sense that must be provoked in the creation of art, but all of them. And all of the senses include the most important and most elusive, the sixth sense

Can a painter paint smell or a writer write color? Suppose a person wants to provoke the feeling of a breeze blowing through the trees. Painting a few bent over trees won’t do it. Neither will writing the words, “ a breeze blowing through the trees,” provoke much. But giving those bent over trees some texture and color with paint, words or action and perhaps the senses of sight, touch, maybe hearing, could be provoked.  Add some autumn leaves and smell might join the other senses. Taste could even be added to the mix if those trees happen to be apple trees. Five senses have now come into play with that blowing breeze.

But what about the sixth sense, the magic sense? How can one go from sensing taste, sight, smell, feel and hearing to actually standing one with the trees totally within the blowing breeze. The only way the magical sixth sense can be provoked is to let go of the effort. The sixth sense comes from feeling the magic. The magic comes from within. To become one with that breeze is to go within and patiently sharpen the sense of magic, to be in that moment.   Artist and breeze are one.

All very easy for me to say but doing is another thing entirely. In the meantime, I think I will go out and sit under a tree for a while. Maybe if I sit long enough, the magic will happen. Maybe I will begin to grow roots. Maybe birds will nest in my hair. Maybe leaves will sprout from my fingers. Maybe I’ll sit long enough to get arrested for loitering. I wonder what the judge will do when I say I was sharpening my senses by becoming one with the breeze? Maybe someone will come bail me out of the slammer.

Sensing Sensitivity

Spanish Moss Mary Gwyn Bowen

Spanish Moss
Mary Gwyn Bowen

“Sensitivity to touch is one of the key distinctions between an artist and a person who is just using paint.” Van Waldron

Is sensitivity a key element in successful art?  Much is written about the senses and sensitivity.  Opinions are all over the board on whether sensitivity matters and whether artists and creative people are more sensitive than others.  Does it take a deeply sensitive person to create the type of art that touches the senses of the audience?  Do viewers instinctively react more forcefully to art created by the more sensitive artist?

One artist describes the feeling of acknowledging this sensitivity.  Vanessa Turner writes, “I have often felt that I was more sensitive than those around me, more affected by my surroundings and the energy of an environment than your average person.”  Artists capture what is missed by so many in the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Some would say artists are merely taking the time to stop and look around more often.  Artists spend time contemplating surroundings and therefore see more.  But that explanation is too simplistic.  Otherwise many more people would be artists.

Carolyn Edlund of the Artsyshark.com interviewed psychologist and researcher Douglas Eby of TalentDevelop.com.  Eby says “being a highly sensitive person is a trait in 15 to 20 percent of people but it seems to be much more common among artists.”  Eby quotes from an article on CNN saying “people with this trait tended to have more brain activity in the high-order visual processing regions.”   Evidently artists have more brainpower!

The highly developed sensitivity of the artist’s brain transfers into the hands of the artist and onto the art in the form of energy.  Art lacking deeply felt sensitivity is just draftsmanship. Without energy the art falls flat.  Technically correct art is without emotion.  It takes emotion to touch others.  It takes sensitivity to create emotion.  Of sensitivity, Vanessa Turner states, “It makes life beautiful.”    And that beauty is what shows up in the art.