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What Is Art? I’ll Tell You

One might as well ask, What is life? And that’s a good place to begin because that is just what art is: life. Art embodies life.The statements I make here are the result of my having been an artist most of my life, certainly all of my adult life. I have been a professional artist for most of those years. Before I was a professional, I was studying to become a professional. But I was never in it for the money. Hah. As would most artists maintain. Sadly, the state of their pockets and pocketbooks pointedly reflects this.I don’t say that art embodies life simply because I have observed this to be true. I have. But I say art embodies life because I have given a lot of thought to the subject of art. Not only have I given much thought to the subject, I have also lived in such a way as to understand as much as I could possibly understand about art and the creative process. Many artists satisfy themselves simply with making art. They don’t seek to understand it. Picasso said that if he knew what art was, he’d keep the information to himself. I think he did know what art was and that he kept the information to himself. But he may not have been able to communicate his knowledge in words. That was not his medium.It is mine, one of them. I studied many mediums, seeking to master them as best as I could, but more than that, I sought to understand them and to understand myself through them. I came to understand basic modes of perceiving. I believe that we have three basic modes of perceiving. These modes are also the three basic modes of consciousness. One could also call these modes the three basic creative energies. The three basic creative energies or modes of consciousness and perception are vision, essence, and flow. These modes relate to three basic art forms: painting, writing, and music. Sure, countless art mediums exist, just as do ways of perceiving. But if you were to get to the most basic mediums and the most basic modes of perceiving, this is what you will find.


In my desire to understand art, I found myself gravitating to the basic art mediums of painting, writing, and music. One day while painting, I went out for a run and had the realization that painting creates vision. As my mind went with that idea, it occurred to me that writing creates essence and music creates flow. Thus began a philosophical understanding that has blossomed into an ever growing model of, well, of everything (which includes “nothing”, by the way). I call the line of thought that creates this model my Science of Originality. The model continues to unfold. I continue to make fascinating discoveries. I see connections. Thus, when I say that art is life and life is art, I have a philosophical standpoint based not only on observation but also theory and a logical foundation of linguistic truth. What do I mean by “linguistic truth”? I mean that I make linguistic connections, connections that involve meaning and words. For example, one of the primary ways we experience and create vision is through the imagination. Imagination and vision are contextually linked. Essence and intuition are linked in the same way, as is flow and the act of dreaming. Such contextual links serve as the foundation for my model and theory of “how it all fits together”. Now, this in itself may not sound like much. Someone studying Neurolinguistics could make similar connections, although, I must say I have not seen the connection between essence and intuition nor many other connections I make, though I would heartily maintain that those connections exist and the connections are prominent and significant. What becomes especially interesting is the cross linkage, the secondary connections that come from the logic that would say that if A and B fit together and C and D thus fit together as well, then A and C have a connection, as do B and D, and so on.Vision, essence, and flow organize themselves in that order, and they perpetuate this structure as these forces evolve. First comes vision, then essence, then flow, and then vision again, then essence, then flow, and on and on. To understand how this works, let’s use the example of creating art. At first, one has a vision. Then one begins the effort of manifesting that vision. This involves the creation of essence. The essence of what? Essence. Real stuff, what vision gave us an idea of. Vision allows us to get a glimpse of what is real. Essence is the actual thing, and that’s the product of the artist’s efforts after he or she has a vision. Flow comes as a result of moving toward manifesting the vision. Once the artist gains momentum, the event of creating art falls into place, and the artists experiences a state of flow.With that in mind, looking at the connections I have made, we can see that imagination can bring about intuition. I would maintain it does not so much work the other way around. Intuition does not in itself cause imagination. Though I must also point out that intuition and imagination are infused with each other, so infused that it could be easy to mistake one for the other. I could say more to prove that imagination causes intuition, and show that through the creative process. I won’t say much. The point is that I make connections and they carry over into connections I would not have made had I not had the model in place. To emphasize the truth about imagination causing or stimulating intuition, I would ask you to consider the fiction writer who initially starts with a “what if?” – which is another way of saying that he imagines something – and then listens to the information that comes, often simply through the act of writing. Many fiction writers claim they begin with an image. The image informs. Another way of saying this is that the imagination gives voice to intuition.


Vision, essence, and flow are the basic forms of consciousness, for us, anyway. Perception and consciousness: For us, these are one and the same. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be aware without perceiving…something, whatever it is.When one reduces consciousness, indeed all reality, to these three forms, one can see that reality is a vibrant, evolving, cogent, integrated force. But not all we know is that way. I agree. Besides reality, we also have non-reality. We live in a dualistic universe. For us, non-reality exists, as ironic as that statement is. But of course the universe is ironic.Vision, essence, and flow are forces of life. Their opposites are forces of death: Delusion, superficiality, and stagnation. One might call these forces of consciousness. One would be mistaken. Rather, they are forces of ignorance and lack of consciousness.The artist works with vision, essence, and flow to create art. The artist creates life. Certainly we all have to deal with death. And we know well that creative people can be magnets for the forces of death. That would make sense, though. Opposites attract. The more creative you are, the more destructive you can potentially be as well. The key of course is to channel the destructive force into something productive.Artists live with death and sometimes find themselves entangled in it. But when they are making art, they are living and creating life. Thus, anyone can be an artist. You must embrace your life. Through that effort, you will create art.