I hosted a poll last week on the contents of this post and “Concepts & Inspirations” won over “Medium & Craft”! I will do both, this just determined which one I would do first. I got caught up in some tasks and commission work so I'll try and give you a comprehensive summary of the things I consider when diving into new work.
I would say it's fair to start from the beginning, which would be Western. Before this point (aka. Elementary & highschool) I was mostly interested in drawing fantasy and cartoons, which can be the case for any kid who loves to draw what they love. As I mentioned in a previous post, I loved drawing dragons. When it came to secondary-education, they wanted me to think about it more. Fantasy still supplied most of my work, even though they tried to beat it out of me, which is probably why I wasn't cut for fine art at the time. I found solace when I learned about Romanticism.
If you're unfamiliar with the movement, it was the time during the Industrial Revolution when artists started rejecting classical values and the mechanical (logic & machine) in favour of the spirit that exists within ourselves and the landscape (emotion & the world). It wasn't necessarily regressive in nature, they just found the path of progress not without its consequences. I think I summarized it well enough in a document I made in my final year at Sheridan, and I'll highlight some keywords as we go:
“Ever since I was first introduced to the Romantic movement over a decade ago, I still believe the best way to describe their motive as thus: to evoke a “stirring of the heart”.
"The artists during this time, late 18th to mid-19th century, had a preoccupation with valuing emotion over logic. Social and political conflicts urged artists to respond through their work and elicit a stronger response from the public. Landscape painters sought the picturesque and used the landscape as a vessel for allegory: a union between soul and the natural world. Sometimes the presence of people was only noted by their memory in the form of architectural ruin. Romantics tried to harness a more spiritual energy to charge their work, which many of them did when they reacted to the world of their time. Many of these artists referred to the writings of Edmund Burke, who described the various relationships of beauty and the sublime.
"The Sublime is an experience caused by something that inspires both awe and terror. Burke theorized the various traits that contribute to this feeling, many of which Romantic artists utilized in their paintings. Such characteristics include magnitude, sensory intensity, and the degree of danger it presents the viewer. This presented threat held at a distance sparks pleasure in the guise of “survival”. A painting can house dark and terrible things, yet be composed in stunning, breathtaking scenes that dwarf and humble the viewer.
"Romantic artists and theorists like Burke wished to issue a warning to humanity, that in forgetting our spirituality and our relationship with the landscape, we deprive ourselves of an enlightenment that only the sublime can help us obtain. This mixture of awe and terror, of hope and despair, allows artists and viewers alike the chance to experience serenity on a level that logic could never offer.”
When it came to Burke's writing I was only ever interested in what constituted the Sublime. I don't much care for his outlook on women but I remind myself that it was a different time. If you'd like to look up his work it's now public domain and you can read it online here:
What does this all mean to me, then. Well I'm a very emotional person, so emotional to the point I can't go without destroying myself. Rarely do I express anger interpersonally because the intensity of it is too much for the regular person. Sometimes I wonder to myself if its a form of emotional immaturity, but I feel I would be much too apathetic otherwise. I am aware of what is both beautiful and ugly in this world, and I am not consumed in the game of life to cope with it. When I draw monsters, death or ruin, it really isn't a matter of what's conventionally good or bad. It can be both. This is my way of coping, of reflection.
When I pair that with fantasy, I feel even more fulfilled. Imagine that my body is a lens, and when the world we know passes through me, it becomes magnified and transformed. I remember having a talk with a friend once; fantasy worldbuilding is the most successful when it's believable. From the outside eye, my world might not look it, but it contains many of the building blocks of reality. Sometimes their forms are so raw that they're not immediately recognizable. It's also ever-shifting, which can be daunting to many and even to myself sometimes. Soul and emotion govern it all, so I can't have much say in the matter.
How sickeningly poetic eh? I never considered myself a romantic in the traditional sense but this sort of begs the question. I can't tell you if I'd be a model example of a Neo-Romanticist either. Maybe if it's an umbrella term... I guess I'll know by the end of my lifespan.
I thiiiiiiiiink that should be it for today. I've been esoteric enough for the week. Yet it's just one segment of my concepts, oh boy! Tune in next week and I'll talk about narrative.
Looks like Medium's gonna have to wait a couple weeks, oops!