I try to make something that is emotionally engaging. I shoot for making an image that teases at you, trying to get you interested. If it’s a realist piece then I use composition, color, value and narrative information to win that interest. The Formal Qualities should support, give heft to, the narrative content. If the piece is abstract I may or may not use some of the same formal qualities but it’s probably more about internal mental and emotional processes and about the event that occurred when the image was made.
Common to both is emotional communication. As an artist, I have as my greatest desire the need to come across to you. I want to speak to you with this Visual language. If casual everyday Conversation were fully satisfying, if it was really consummately rewarding, we probably wouldn’t feel the need to try some other way to communicate. Visual artists are those people who notice that imagery can have a powerful life enhancing effect on us. A piece of visual art acts as this extra channel of communication, one that passes by verbal and even intellectual constructs of our world. We make art because art talks in ways we can’t.
Yet really, it is conversation that I am after. It’s just that with art, this conversation sometimes begins as something tacit: a conversation between you and the art. So what about actual verbal conversation? Well it should happen as well. While definitive explanations leave me cold (like explaining a joke) I also disagree that “nothing needs to be said.”
Visual art gives us something of immediate value that shifts our focus away from thinking that life can be explained. An excellent piece of artwork creates an immediate positive response, becoming a sort of talisman from another world, one that informs us that a different kind of information is available. Not explanatory or discursive, but suggestive, sensual, even voluptuous. It causes us to witness a powerful truth that lies in our senses and their ability to inform and communicate something beyond words. Though art has no literal meaning, it should convey value. Though art is about non-verbal communication, it should get us talking in new ways.
Art communicates by inference and suggestion, not by explanation. We don’t get answers here, at least not in a logical or conclusive sense. If we’re lucky, a successful piece of art will give us a well asked question. And questions can get us talking.