For many years I had a quote hanging in my studio by Golden Age artist/illustrator, N.C. Wyeth: “Let the motive for action be in the action itself and not in the results.”
I wanted my students to get it.
I wanted to get it. Don’t overthink a thing! You don’t need a clear end in mind when you begin. Leave yourself room to See! To Go! To observe! To Respond! Just do it! (Thanks Nike!) Get going and then be led. It’s a message of spontaneity. It’s a message of action. A message of faith, of creativity.
Somewhere in these words is my motive for drawing, for painting, for writing.
I’ve carried a sketchpad faithfully for the last 50 years- a habit I started in junior high school. On many of the pages are notes; written observations next to my visuals. Seldom planned, just spontaneous notes; spillover from the moment. Sometimes related, sometimes not. For years my students and family have encouraged me to share some of these notes, essays and sketches and I’ve resisted. So this is for them and anyone else who might find interest. (My motive for action applied!)
To add a little more clarity to the ten-dollar words that I chose for the title, here are my definitions of those terms: (Etymologists are excused at this point in the narrative.)
Perceptual: relating to the ability to interpret or become aware of something through the senses (especially as applied to the visual sense).
Phenomenology: almost defies definition, but I would accept an approach that combines Husserl’s and Maurice Marleau-Ponty’s (if you are really interested you’ll look them up, but it’s not necessary to follow me here) with some of my own. Since neither author wrote with the artist specifically in mind- I take the liberty to add my thoughts that lean towards a definition that speaks more directly to the visual artist who studies and processes physical phenomena through his or her consciousness. For me, it is about the process of Seeing: how, why and what we see and how we are transformed by it. So, part of it is certainly an existential philosophy, (that I lean upon very lightly) and part is simply a very practical breakdown of how we, as artists, view and translate the world around us.
It is about Seeing!
Seeing differently for the first time!