Artistic Grammar

transits 36, photograph

“Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending.”

– David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art and Fear

Whether it’s making the first few marks with the brush on the canvas, or snapping the picture and hoping that the camera captured something like what inspired you to take it, when we start our artistic utterance, rarely do we know how it will turn out. It’s not a happy environment for control freaks.

As art viewers, when we see the final piece we don’t know its genesis. As the authors point out, any given masterpiece might have been moments away from abandonment before some inspiration struck and the artist found the right way to complete the work. That’s how fragile the process of getting from the beginning of the sentence to the end can be.

And I would add to their point by saying that a good piece of art is like a sentence that ends in time. How many pieces of art have you made that remind you of a run-on sentence, one that you didn’t know how and when to appropriately end?

No art will get made if we don’t start speaking, and our best pieces will get made when we know when to shut up.

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5 responses to “Artistic Grammar

  1. When wen know when to shut up…. thats the hard part for me sometimes… I love the analogy though. The creation/creative process, especially with all of the tools available in the digital darkroom makes me feel more like a true artist than merely someone who “takes pictures.” And yes, it does feel a bit like creating a sentence and heaven knows I can run on and on…. Likewise, I need to reign in my play with image.

    Good post Bob.

  2. “…a good piece of art is like a sentence that ends in time. ”

    Love this. It’s so true.

    And, a good piece of art is like an infant, new to the world, often needing time to fill its new place in the environment, while observers ask, “What is this new creature and how does it occupy its rightful place?”

    Excellent post and image.

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