the glory of the sunset, or long shadows cast over while snow. It can be the hot and dazzling brilliance of the desert, the fury of the surf, a lazy stream rippling in a gentle breeze. There are flowers to brighten a wall, birds in gorgeous plumage, villages nestled in the valleys. Getting into the spirit is finding the emotions in a subject, and trying to set them down with paint on canvas. This is something you alone can feel and do and no one else can tell you how. But the emotion becomes the motivating force behind your effort and this will show in the painting, provided you do not bog down in technical difficulties.
Beauty is really an emotional force, and if we find technical means to express it, such emotion will be felt. Beauty is so broad in its scope that it would be hard to miss it entirely if we tried. There is beauty in vigor and force, and there is tranquil beauty. There is voluptuous beauty, bizarre beauty, dignified beauty, serene beauty. There is beauty in basic form, in planes, and in textures. There is beauty in animated form, in classic form. There is beauty in the elements, the minerals, in all inanimate form. We are given such an abundance of beauty that we take it for granted, and unless we focus upon it, we are not even conscious of it. We might say that a man could not move ten feet without seeing some kind of beauty, provided he has the eyes to see it.
Even if this world had been but a barren desert, there still would have been beauty. A friend of mine paints nothing but the desert. To him there is enough beauty there to paint for the rest of his life. The beauty he finds is almost his religion, and his heart is as young as it ever was.
Willi a world so full of it, how can we ever feel that there is nothing to paint?
There is a big difference between "pretty art" and beautiful art. Pretty art is usually not profound, not truly studied or true to the beauty of nature. It usually consists of pretty colors assembled as in a piece of embroidery, or a design on wallpaper. We find "pretty" postcards that have been doctored up in the engraving plant, pretty pictures in children's books. They serve their purpose. Many prints are framed and sold and make pretty pictures in the home and cottage, but they do not belong in the category of art. To be profound—and beautiful—a work of art must be based on truth with little, if any, compromise.
It is obvious that the artist must manage to surround himself with the kind of beauty thai inspires him most. If you live in the United States, no matter in what part, you are not far from sources of enough natural beauty to keep any artist busy for a lifetime.
In the East there is the beautiful and varied Atlantic coast. There are the mountains of New York State and northern New England, with their streams and forests, where the changing seasons are so much more dramatically contrasted that they arc in the Far West. There are weather-beaten farmhouses and picturesque historic villages.
In the center of the country the landscape is not so varied, and there is less sense of the past, but the rolling farmlands and changing crops have color and character. Go north and you find the lakes, dunes, and liinberlands. Go south and there are line old plantation houses and tropical gardens, more wooded mountains, and the strange fascination of the swamplands.
In the West much of the ruggedness of the frontier survives in ghost towns, mines, and ranches. The deserts have their own beauty, and so do the tremendous mountain ranges and the magnificent views found along the coast.
All this beauty need not be abandoned for a so-called more sophisticated art. It can still be the basis of art, modern or otherwise, depending upon what the artisls of our country make of it. Let us never fall into the error of believing that art can be put into a single category, that it must be this or must be that. The galleries which are at present still only sympathetic to objective art should not close their doors to the non-objective, nor should the modern directors discount everything but the abstract. One brand of art can no
Trouble Ahead by Margery Ryerson, national academy of design, new york city There can be emotion or mood in any painting it
A landscape may carry the mood of the surroundings, the mood of the day
Lilacs by Ernest Fiene. There are flowers to brighten a wall, birds in gorgeous plumage, villages nestled in the valleys
Winter in the Catskills by Doris Lee, walker galleries, new york city more be rationed out to the public to the exclusion of all others than can one brand of coffee or cigarettes or one kind of food.
Art itself is bigger than any artist, art dealer, museum director, or critic. In art the job is always bigger than the man. Few things have ever been done that could not have been done just a little better, and possibly by the very same artist, if he had a longer life in which to develop his talents. Anyone who believes that the utmost has been reached in art is evidencing the first signs of stagnation. Art can never stand still nor reach a state where there is no more to be done. True beauty never becomes obsolete; it may suffer under the tides of fashion, be torn down and buried for ages, but only to be rediscovered and revived again. The reason for this is that the beauty lies in the mind of man.
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