The Appreciation of Art

“Every Artist dips his brush into his own soul.”

― Henry Ward Beecher.

Rudolph Arnheim, the Art theorist and Perceptual Psychologist, believed that all psychological processes have cognitive, emotional, and motivational qualities. These qualities, he believed, are reflected in the compositions of every artist. They are intrinsic to every artwork, thus giving expression to the artist’s ‘life-lived’ or life experiences in a very personal way. When viewing a work of art, we can also experience this tangible connection with the artist’s aesthetic connection to his art if we open ourselves to it. Each of us is driven innately to make sense of what we perceive. We unconsciously give form, structure, and ultimately meaning to whatever we see, be it a painting, or any visual image.. In doing so, we consciously begin to appreciate art in a more meaningful way, as a deeper expression of the artists connection with his work. We can also appreciate an artwork for its' own sake. We can view a work of art, and for a myriad of reasons admire it for what it is. Even as an Artist I am sometimes guilty of dismissing a work of art ‘out of hand’, if on first viewing I fail to consider it in the context of an expression of someone’s life experiences. We are left unsatisfied if we also close ourselves to our natural instincts to find meaning and ultimately relevance to our own lives and experiences. Thus, even a work of high abstract art can have meaning for the viewer, if we but reference our own lives and experiences when viewing it.

In the end, I’m reminded of Henry Ward Beecher’s words, “Every Artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” These are words which give affirmation to anyone, to everyone who strives to give purpose and meaning to their work, who gives deep personal expression to the art they create, and to those who seek to discover that deeper personal relationship the artist has with his art.