Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Article About the Spirit and Life of a Piece of Art

Autumn Brilliance - $450
9 x 12 Oil on Canvas panel
Copyright of Dena McMurdie, 2009

I signed up to receive Fine Art Views by Clint Watson. It is a free email newsletter on various subjects related to art. I absolutely love receiving these emails. They are insightful and informative. This particular article expresses the way I feel about my art. Rather than try to sum it up and ruin it, I thought I would just re-publish a part of it.

I cannot count the number of times I have been asked why original art is so expensive. This article explains part of the reason:

Create (v): to bring into being; to cause to exist; to form out of nothing.

So, artwork created by an artist exists. It is an inanimate being. The word 'being' has several definitions but usually connotes life of some sort. You may just consider it a matter of semantics, but I believe that original art has life. I don't speak of life in some abstract fashion, but rather in the same way any other living object exists. It has something much, much deeper than the physical attributes of an inanimate object. Although inanimate, art is a being. It speaks. It breathes. It communicates. It challenges us. It causes us to feel, to wonder, to dream, or cry. It can inspire. It can lift. Or it can degrade.

When your hands mold the clay or push the brush around - you are forming something out of nothing. The thoughts, feelings, passions, and emotions all come into play to influence how your hands work. Intuition and experimentation play off each other. Knowledge and curiosity work to transform your emotions into expressions. Skill is developed and then manipulated in just the precise manner to achieve the subtle effects desired by you. Through this effort you cause a work of art to exist. It is born in your hands. It has life. It is, in a true and literal sense, a creation. This is why it is so powerful. It is not simply another object. It was created. It was brought into being. It now exists.

There is something spiritual about the creation of art, just like our bodies are both physical and spiritual. The spirit gives us life, thought, and emotion, etc. Once we die, the spirit has left the body, but the corpse is still there. Yet without the spirit to give it life, the body will eventually decompose and cease to exist in human form. There are similar principles with art. There is the physical canvas (or wood or stone or bronze), but deep within is the spirit of the piece. You give it that spirit as you create the work. The spirit gives the piece life which expresses thought and emotion. Without the spirit, the piece is lifeless or dead. That is why a print will never have the same effect as an original. It will never be an original creation. It is an imitation.

Yes, a photograph of a person can capture one's character or personality, even emotion. But a photograph can never replace the actual person. It is merely a representation of the original. Likewise, a reproduction of a work of art can capture a portion of the magic or spirit of the art - but it can never replace it. Consider how powerful and moving an image in an art history book (or as a print) is. However, when one sees the original, something much more powerful is felt. The printed version pales in comparison. Visit a museum and you will find this to be true.

There is something intangible within artworks created with care by gifted hands. That quality is, in my humble opinion, life.

Keith Bond

This article appears courtesy of by Clint Watson, a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists, collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art) . For a complimentary subscription, visit:

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