I will make no pretense of being an artist. I am a human being struggling to find ways to express my thoughts, ideas and emotions to others in the only way that seems to work for me.
I’ve studied visual art, poetry, films from my teens through college and on until today. More years than I care to think. One thing I have learned is a good piece of art communicates emotion with clarity by giving you some place within the piece to grab a hold and understand.
When I was in high school, teachers tried to tell me poems only had one meaning. When I’d get called on and give my ideas as to what the writer was trying to say, invariably I was wrong and some smarter student in the class would “explain” it to me.
Now I know the teacher lied! A good poem speaks to your emotional being and means what it means based on what you bring to it. If the writer is good you have an emotional response. If the writer is bad you just feel nothing. The only person who knows what the poem truly means is the poet. And a poet isn’t worried that you understand what his meaning is but rather that you respond in your heart. If you have lived an experience close to the poets then you might get close to what he was thinking when the words were written but that’s not the point.
For the poet or visual artist, the piece of art exists to elicit emotions and thought. Art tries to build connections in your mind and heart and maybe how you relate to the world around you. The artist must master his craft before he explores the limits. I tell my wife why I wander when she speeds down the sidewalk is because there has to be some of us who notice everything everyone else misses so we can show it to them.
In college my photography teacher insisted I understood all the rules and could apply them with purpose and meaning before I was allowed to start breaking the rules. Great art breaks the rules but the artist knows all the rules and breaks them by design to express his art.
Picasso started painting pictures like this:
Before he could see and understand how to create art like this:
The same with Monet.
One of the greatest poets was e.e. cummings. One of my favorite poems is;
i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
After writing for years I can only produce poems like this;
No Browsing In NYC by Wood Dickinson
We tramped long and short blocks in the rain,
then huddled, under one too-small blue umbrella,
outside a second storey book store.
I said, “All I want to do is look around.”
You tugged my sleeve
and pointed at the sign: No Browsing.
We continued, walking in the messy rain,
into the night and bed,
the rain still spitting outside our open window
mixed with the barking of taxi horns
and the smell of tired buildings.
When I create a photograph I start with the end in mind. What I want to create usually begins life looking nothing like what I’m trying to create. I will pass through a few tries before I finally achieve the product I was looking for. Here is an example:
Next I will talk about “Chairs” and why I did what I did.