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.

Bottled Sensation

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“Painting from nature is not copying the object, but realizing one’s sensations.” Paul Cezanne (from The Painters Keys)

Seasonal changes and their effects on artists are likely as different as one artist’s work is from another. Copying nature improves with practice. The tough part is the “realizing one’s sensations” part. Each season brings new and different sensations.   It takes a conscious effort to realize those sensations. Translating the realizations into art is easier said than done. Copying is not the same thing as imparting sensation into a painting.

To realize one’s sensations into art is a topic for some concentration. Opinions abound on how to get in touch with one’s senses. It’s not the practice that matters. It’s taking the time to experience the sights, the smells, the tastes, the touch, and the sounds. In spring, the new green leaves are more intensely green in the spring. The smells are freshness, new growth. The tastes are raindrops coaxing out the new growth. The touch is the softness of tender new shoots. The sounds are the breezes scattering the petals of the newly blooming flowers of the trees. Summer brings a whole new set of sensations. Fall another and winter still another.

Realizing the sensations is one thing. Translating them to art is another. One can describe sensations, talk about them, think about them. But can one put them on paper or canvas? It is a high goal. I wish someone would figure out a way to bottle it. It would be so much easier. Open a bottle of Sensation Realization and pour it over the canvas. Presto! Instant sensation. Somehow, that just doesn’t translate as anything with real feeling. It sure sounded good. One can always hope. And in the meantime, keep calm and continue painting.