What Lies Within


“Art is autobiographical…you cannot put more into your art than you yourself contain.” This quote by Jonas Lie places great responsibility on the artist. One is called not only to be exceptionally skilled as regards to one’s craft but more importantly,  to be an exceptional individual. In the act of creating one cannot remove one’s own being from the process. The two are intertwined and inseparable. One can only paint what one knows in the true sense of the word. What is within dictates one’s selection of what to create as well as how that image will find its shape and form. But more importantly, what is within, as revealed through the image, will lay bare to the world that most intimate part of our human nature. That part of our humanity, our personal geography, will present itself in a way that is beyond our will, our ability to control.

When we look at artists in history, is it not an inner transformation revealed in their work that we seek? A deeper connection between the world and ourselves? One is not so interested in how they were viewed in their own time but what do they reveal for me here and now. Does their work have efficacy? Does the image have a transformative power or is it mere beautiful technique?

The more profound the image the greater the connection is between Nature and the inner life of the artist. Both revealing more of one another-the artist showing an insight into Nature and Nature unveiling the inner life and convictions of the artist. These convictions of the artist become exposed in their work in the process of creation and by the subsequent feelings that emerge. Through his sympathy with nature, the artist creates a  bond. This bond or contract with nature is the image. Images act as guide posts. The image linking us back through history and giving us the ability to dwell momentarily with the artist, sharing in his humanity. The image also, becomes a  visual hallmark of recognition that touches us deep within our being and allows us to say ‘yes’- to give our personal assent- an elan.The journey, of both the artist and the viewer, acts as a moral and spiritual reinforcement. “I do not attempt voluntarily to symbolize nature, but in portraying nature to impart to my work a suggestion of that which is within, and that which is beyond.” (Jonas Lie, as quoted in “Jonas Lie-Painter,” Index of Twentieth Century Artist 1 ,(August 1934: 225.)

Author: Judith Reeve

For nearly 30 years I've developed my painting practice in the studio, building on what I leaned from my student days at the Lyme Academy of Fine Art. Along with my daily journey creating images which I write about here on this blog, I am also currently writing a book on the color practice of Robert Henri.

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