Painting Blog > Artist-Art, Teaching > Peace – Art’s First Rule

Peace – Art’s First Rule

Originally posted on November, 7, 2007

"Misty Morning", watercolor and dry pastel, 38cm x 29cm, 100% cotton paper, 2007

It has been said that the first rule in painting is that there are no rules. Also, it has been said that a painting begins with an “idea?. I believe that both of these conflicting statements to be false. It is not to say that a painting may not begin with an idea. It is to say that an idea is not an integral part. Within the limitations of a short essay I can only suggest why I think so. Even if I was to persuasively argue this position many people would still not agree. Such are many popular firmly held convictions. I will, however, return in future articles to this problem. It is vitally important today.

Not only for the artist painter, but for the artist generally, peace and tranquillity are absolutely prerequisite. It is for this reason that I believe that it is impossible to teach art. Aesthetic sensibility is not something you can learn. Artistic sensibilities are the natural result of peace and calm in one’s life and much contact with nature. You cannot teach this in a classroom or a workshop. Impossible! This for the same reason, “we do not sing because we are happy, we are happy because we sing?.

If you are one of the few people who are actually reading this article I can only tell you this: It is not the things in life that you do not know that are the problem, it is the things that you think that you know that are not so.

Very, very few people can grasp the importance of what I’m saying: Almost nobody gets it. It is too simple. Our minds have been conditioned to look for complex problems to solve. Yet the great minds among us pursuing scientific problems find their solutions when they relax and do and think of other things. This has been documented countless times. Most of our important scientific discoveries have happened this way.

Back to the problem at hand: artistic creativity. Finding the core of our creative instincts may be like pealing an onion. We simplify our lives one small piece at a time. The instinct for positive emotions and creative work is innate. We cannot find it by looking in our minds. It is in our hearts. Tranquillity and peace is the golden rule. It is the only rule. There are no other rules.

Published in french as Être en paix – principale règle de l’art

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