|The second process of Solution consists of a self examination by the artist.|
Once the desire to produce art exists, the artist must assess his capabilities and knowledge of ART. It is foolish to attempt to do something about which you know nothing.
In order for the artist to realize the desire and effectively bring about its creation, the impurities in his knowledge must be removed. He needs to begin the work with a set of cleansed and pure elemental qualities. The only way to accomplish this prerequisite is to know the rudiments of ART.
The artist must rid himself of all detrimental qualities such as personal prejudices, preferences and misconceptions. Adherence to personal whim is an extremely dangerous pathway for the serious artist to take. It might lead to blindness toward those basic, essential elements which are intrinsic to true art, to those things which provide a universality to art, to those characteristics which allow ART to be experienced and understood by all peoples. Adherence to personal style tends to limit the experience to a single, privileged audience rather than to all. Such a route is undesirable if the artist is intent in creating a comprehensive, universal art.
The pathway to essential art must lead through a total knowledge and understanding of all things which art encompasses. To undertake that course the artist must become a master of all that has gone before and acquire not only a quantitative knowledge but moreso a qualitative knowledge. Mere rote understanding of art and art history is insufficient. The artist must examine his data and be able to assimilate all the facts in order to proceed toward production of a gestalt in art.
There are many things of which the artist should assess his knowledge:
The artist needs to know the basic rudiments of art. He should be able to grasp the functions of the basic design and compositional elements (which will be dealt with in greater depth under the process of Separation). He should understand what artistic devices and means are possible by the use of a particular design or compositional element. He should become aware of what devices are made possible by the combination of more than one design or compositional element. A freemason must know what mortar will most effectively and most easily provide the substance to hold a wall together. He must likewise know how to combine the mortar with blocks in order to construct the wall. So it is with the artistic elements; the artist must know what his building material is capable of in order to construct his art.
The artist needs to know what tools will effectively aid him:
1. In drawing media he needs to be aware of what effects can be achieved by varying substances such as the use of charcoal as compared to graphite, as compared to conte, as compared to crayon, as compared to chalk, as compared to ink, etc. He needs to know what techniques are made possible by the use of pencils as compared to unpressed media. He needs to know the tonal effects of varying hardnesses in a specific tool such as charcoal or pencil. He needs to be aware of the degree of plasticity of the various media to achieve certain effects such as shading and blending; he needs to know the limitations inherent to certain media such as wax based crayon as compared to oil based crayon or graphite pencil as compared to charcoal pencil.
2. In painting media he needs to know what results various forms of paint and staining materials will provide. He has to become acquainted with the spreadability and blending qualities of oils, as compared to acrylics, as compared to temperas, as compared to caseins, etc. He needs to know which forms of paint media will be best suited to be used as washes and glazes. He needs to know which media are best suited to form impasto effects. He likewise needs to be familiar with the proper tools to apply the media whether they be brushes, air-brushes, palette knives, sponges, toothbrushes, etc.
3. In ceramic media the artist should be knowledgeable of the varying plasticity and qualities of different clays, ranging from porcelain to stoneware to terra cotta and so on. He needs to have an understanding of glazes and the methods by which a raku glaze is produced as compared to a slip glaze, as compared to a salt glaze, etc. A knowledge of technique from throwing on the wheel to hand forming by slab, pinching, coiling etc., is necessary along with a coincident knowledge of what tools such as the wheel itself, ribs, shaping sticks and so forth will serve as compliant extensions of the hand. The artist must be cognizant of the drying properties of the material of clay. He also needs to know how to properly manipulate and operate the kiln in which the ceramic work is to be fired.
4. In printmaking media he needs to have a knowledge of the traditional methods such as, gravure, lithography, serigraphy and block printing along with more contemporary forms such as photoengraving and xerography. In each case he must be knowledgeable of the media and tools necessary to perform the chosen method. He must be able to differentiate and chose from the various chemicals inherent to the procedures of the particular processes. He must know which acid to use to etch a zinc or copper plate as compared to a lithography stone. He must know what form of ink will function most efficiently to transfer an image from a silkscreen as compared to an engraving plate. He needs to know what paper will work best with the particular method for efficient saturation. He must be aware of the presses With which he must work so that he will be able to operate them in a way to produce print after print of a consistent quality.
5. In sculpture media he needs to know the inherent characteristics of the media whether it be wood, metal, plastic, clay, stone or whatever; he needs to know the limits of the media in order to mold it into a form. He needs to know what auxiliary materials may be necessary to join pieces of the media together such as glue for wood and solder for metal. He must know how to manipulate tools such as hammers, chisels, torches, saws, sanders etc., in varying ways to either add or subtract from the media. As in ceramic media, the artist should be knowledgeable with the methods to finish the media, whether it be glazing, polishing, painting, staining or whatever.
6. In fabrics media he needs to know the characteristics and capabilities of various fabric forms such as cloth and leather. He needs to be able to operate machinery like looms and sewing machines. He must be aware of technical skills such as quilting, weaving, sewing and so on.
7. In collage media he needs to be familiar with paper and assorted other media in terms of texture and ability to be attached effectively. He must be knowledgeable of glues and kindred media which will afford the binding of two objects together. He must become experienced with techniques ranging from simple gluing of objects to frottage in which the collage aspect is implied rather than actual. He should be aware of tools such as brayers that will facilitate the attachment of the glue covered papers without allowing the material to curl or wrinkle. He should be familiar with techniques of manipulating the paper media in ways to give the collage media variety such as froissage and brulage.
8. In photography media he needs to know the logistics of the specialized equipment such as the camera and enlarger. He needs to be aware of optical theories in order to manipulate lenses to the best advantage. He must know how to orchestrate lights and reflectors. As in printmaking media he needs to be knowledgeable about the chemicals which. he must use to fix the photograph. He should be acquainted with filters and other equipment which will permit him to achieve certain effects in the camera while being aware of what inks will permit him to achieve certain effects on the photograph after, it is developed.
The above is merely a fragmentary glimpse at the media and tools which the artist needs to have control over in order to give tangibility to an idea in visual form. In any case, the point here is that unless the artist knows all the limitations and capabilities of the tools and media he intends to work with, he might not be capable of bringing his idea to a realization. The only means to reach this end is for the artist to search out all possible tools and gain a knowledge of their characteristics through extensive experimentation.
The artist needs to know what media will accomplish specific results. Once a knowledge of varied media and tools necessary to those media is accomplished, the artist should make an attempt to make logical choices of which media to use in particular situations to most effectively realize an idea. A desired imagery such as a landscape might be more effectively realized by the use of photography as compared to painting. A desired imagery such as a figure might be produced more effectively in sculpture media rather than by photography. The haze surrounding a mountain range in a landscape might be more effective by the use of chalk while a tree in the same landscape would be most effectively realized by employment of paint or collage. By way of a knowledge of the various media available and the tools to manipulate that media the artist will be afforded the leisure to choose the one most effective in a particular situation.
The artist needs to know art history; he needs to know the accomplishments and failures of other artist's attempts to produce art. He not only needs to be aware of art movements and their evolution but also. He needs to comprehend why and how the art movement began and evolved. He needs to recognize the environments and situations which prompted an art style or movement. Mere memorization of facts and dates is insufficient. The artist must delve into the rationales behind the facts for the purpose of realizing why an attempt either succeeded or failed. By analyzing the past in art, the artist will be able to proceed toward the future, without repeating the mistakes of others.
The process of Solution is a difficult and arduous task to undertake. But unless the artist undergoes a serious self-examination of his knowledge and technical skills he will be unable to proceed to the point where he will be able to accomplish the transmutation of art into ART. To proceed in ignorance is the procession of the fool with no knowledge of where he has been and no conception of where he is headed.