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Old 03-05-2007, 11:11 PM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: Soul?

ah, and finally someone hits the meat of the matter. it is interesting that you shld raise this topic at this time, doug. i've been reflecting on my own work a bit. i noticed something 'peculiar' not long ago and have been ruminating on it ever since. i noticed that my photo art in particular, when done strictly in filters, often had a techinically good quality to it, but, and this is the kicker, when i worked completely in brushes and individual tools, putting in all those little touches by hand rather than a global filter, the work was better, at least to my eye. and moreover, i was generally more pleased and i'd often get more comments, shld i happen to post it. and to me, that is a bit of that 'soul' you are referring to.

i've noticed it in woodworking as well. you can use power tools galore and produce a really, technically, high quality piece of whatever, but when you work in hand tools, touching the wood, feeling the textures, hand planing and smoothing, and rubbing the wood down by hand, there is a distinct and palpable difference. and others will often notice it as well. it is like something of you is imbued into the wood. and moreover, the piece may not be technically as accurate as the power tool piece, but it is almost always the more desirable piece. i have seen wood done with incredible technical skill where you would swear that it was designed on a computer and cut with lasers, but it will rarely, if ever, beat something done almost entirely by hand. i have seen wood that almost glowed when worked by hand and it never ceases to amaze me. these pieces are always more valuable.

art is expression. it is communication. it is also about the quality of that communication. but if you sacrifice the communication for the quality, you are in error. if the filter or power tool is the primary means of achieving that communication then that is often what is doing the communicating. whereas, if it is YOU communicating, this is more real, more desirable and more 'soulful'. it's simply more directly from you rather than from the tool. so, something OF you may not be perfect technical quality, but it will often communicate better.

when you watch an actor, especially a good actor, you will see them live the role. they are not acting; they ARE the person, not portraying the person. the last good movie i watched was 'the last samurai'. both lead actors LIVED that role. you didnt have to be 'convinced' they were the person; they were simply the person. they felt the passions, the emotions, the drama and that just communicates directly. there is no 'interpretation' the lines have to go through. they are simply spoken. that movie had 'soul'.

i was watching that tv show where they were casting for the next stars of the broadway show 'grease'. i kept hearing the judges say things like 'let yourself out', 'be open', and i kept thinking about what that meant. and i remember doing drama back in school and it was always a bit interesting to find that i did well when i wasnt 'acting' at all. i did well when i was just being me being in that scenario. it's really quite amazing to play a drunk on stage and suddenly find yourself a bit drunk. THAT conveys!

so, if i were to interpret 'soul' here, i would say it's simply you in your work, whatever the medium. it's a portrayal of you through your work. it's a communication from you through your work. if you put a lot of filters or power tools or 'acting' in the way of that communication; if that communication has to go through all those artificial things, it tends to get watered down, lost.

now, i'm not about to throw away all my filters and plugins and power tools. i like my toys but i do find myself using them more judiciously these days.
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Old 03-06-2007, 04:01 AM
Gary Richardson's Avatar
Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Re: Soul?

Understand what you're saying Craig, but I just don't happen to agree with you.

A piece is either good/bad, beautiful/ugly emotional/flat independent of the technique used to achieve it. A viewer looking at it usually has no idea how you achieved your result, and mostly doesn't care, they judge the work not the "angst" you went through to get it.

As the artist you may feel that you need to be hands on to get feeling into your work, but most viewers will be blissfully ignorant of your struggle.

As for the Power tool vs Hand tool approach, either can be good or bad, just depends on how you use them.

I'm not trying to be confrontational here, just expressing my thoughts on what I've read.
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Old 03-06-2007, 10:44 AM
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GerryB GerryB is offline
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Re: Soul?

Doug Nelson: "This morning's batch of galleries left me technically impressed but emotionally empty.

C.J. Swartz: 'In my experience, there are images, movies, songs that have changed my mood without my "permission".'

Gary Richardson: "There have certainly been images and sounds that have affected me at the time, but how much of that was down to the piece, and how much was simply the frame of mind I was in is impossible for me to say."

smak: "My thought here is that it is your mood today that is influencing your emotional responses to what you are seeing."

"Soul" is a very subjective thing. "Soul" is in the artist as well as in the eyes of the beholder. The artist may have felt he had "soul" when he created the work. He may have poured his heart and soul into the work, but the one who looks at the finished s=work may not feel the same way. This may be due to his general mood or to his understanding of art or the artist's intent. He simply may not be "moved" by it. This does not mean that it has no "soul" or deep meaning for the artist or other observers of that particular piece of art.

We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences and different ideas of what is good or bad, what has meaning for us. This does not make the work good or bad. We can all look at the same work of art and get something different from it. All our reactions will still be valid, if not for everyone at least to each one of use, individually.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:35 PM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: Soul?

Gotta agree with all of the above.

I think back on "subjects du art" that have crossed my path and there are some that were experienced years ago that stand out in my memory. For example the Afgani woman's picture on the cover of National Geographi. Those piercing eyes, an understanding of women's plight in the region. A combination of things that has kept that image in my mind for years.

I can still hear the National Anthem and it will bring tears to my eyes. Not a really "great" musical composition by any means, but every time I hear (or sing) it, It evokes a deep sense of gratittude to all who, through generations, have sacrificed so much to keep that banner waving or the land of the free and the home of the brave.

These are just two examples of art that, for me, have SOUL. They move me, inspire me.
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