Certain paintings stop us in our tracks. They might give us chills, or make our hearts hurt. It’s hard to define why we have these reactions because they’re personal and authentic. For those reasons, they can’t be argued with. But there’s another side to this mystery: the side that creates the art sparking those strong feelings. If you’d like to have that power–the power to make your art evoke real emotion–read The Language of Energy in Art: Finding Your Vision.
On Visual Unity by Charlotte Wharton
Throughout the ages artists have been known to temper their paintings for visual and emotional effects that they felt the subject needed to be fully expressed or because it was requested by a patron. Some historical examples:
• Anthony van Dyck (Flemish, 1599-1641) used symbolic devices such as columns as a sign of status, or tender flesh color to give grace and delicacy to portraits. Each device rendered a different sense to his work.
• Diego Velázquez (Spanish, 1599-1660) had a lifelong obsession of composing his paintings with different shapes for a desired expression of balance, rhythm and movement.
• John-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875) and John Constable (English, 1776-1837) both felt that they had to become poetical to render the various sentiments of nature.
• Claude Monet (French, 1840-1926) painted with as many as six different marks and techniques to achieve his famous atmospheric and scintillating light effects.
• Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) had a wide range of styles. He was known to cubically dismantle a woman in a painting and sensuously, lyrically draw another all in the same day.
• John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925) knew when and how to adjust values and brush strokes to embrace a certain quality of a subject.
So what we can glean from these masters is to adjust–temper–their technique, marks or their manner of working to achieve a desired effect. This brings us to two concerns facing today’s artists. Many know only how to copy a photograph, which has no innate emotion or sentiment. Still others say they paint only what they see. They, too, are either copying, like the camera, or they are painting on a highly developed intuitive level and are no longer aware of how they arrive at what they paint. The latter is indeed a realm of artistry that we all hope to attain. However, even at that level, it is to our credit as artists to have an arsenal of various techniques, color palettes and materials that can be molded to communicate the motive for painting a subject.
The task at hand then, is for artists to learn or reacquaint themselves with how to adjust or temper a painting, how to put themselves into their work, or how to impart their sense of a subject. A visual language has come down through the centuries from the Renaissance Masters who discovered or employed it. We can take from it what we need to impart meaning to our work. Every painting requires two elements for full expression: design unity and visual unity. Design unity provides the structural impact of a painting, while visual unity communicates the desired sense or meaning of a work of art.
It is visual unity–the communicative element of art–upon which the book, The Language of Energy in Art: Finding Your Vision focuses. Let its words guide you in finding or honing your unique voice, your vision, and your sense of nature. ~Charlotte Wharton
How beautifully said! We can see from the examples shown here how powerful the implementation of visual unity can be. Learn how to evoke an emotional response in similar ways with Wharton’s The Language of Energy in Art: Finding Your Vision. In addition to learning how to hone your voice, you’ll also be introduced to solid concepts, such as the Munsell Color System.
Which of the artists listed above is your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below and join the conversation!
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