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The Psychology of ARTWORK and Blending Realities

Self Portrait Drawing - Andrew Gable

Doing art for me throughout my life was always a very Self Reflective Process. In my 20’s as I got more into art and eventually studied it at school as a drawing major, it became more and more a tool that I would use to understand and investigate myself, where this way of approaching creating art in a way started to become my purpose within it. Art became a mirror through which I could reflect the world back to myself. What does this color mean? What does this posture mean? what does this abstract shape mean? and what does it say about me? What does it show me about myself?

So as I have walked my process as an artist, my interest in the psychology of art has burgeoned. What art can show us about ourselves or where art can become a tool to support ourselves as individuals and as humanity to become stronger and more effecitve is something that I have spent a lot of time considering and also creating actual works of art around.

Even when I look back at my older work where this interest to have my art be more aligned with psychology, mental health, the depths of human nature ect, wasn’t as concrete, I often will find pieces that I did are great tools now for me to reflect on and relate to the human experience in a way that does shed some light onto the mysteries of human consciousness, even though at the time of their creations I wasn’t 100 percent clear with what I was doing.

Internal Patterns Drawing By Andrew Gable

 

With the drawing I did above, I remember I wanted to create a face out of these sequences of abstract and semi-recognizable symbols, shapes, notations ect. Where in doing this I could represent the “inner appearance” of the being as well as the “outer appearance”. In looking at this piece recently I noticed an interesting point about human consciousness that I find holds true in my own life and awareness of myself today.

What I find for myself is that often times it is hard to distinguish between what is reality, and what is our interpretation of reality. What is truth and what is just merely our opinion.

What I have noticed about myself and my own life is that I will create ideas in my head about something that isn’t actually true at all.

let me take an example from my Art Career. I have had situations where I have engaged with a potential collector about purchasing a piece of art. And everything seemed to go really well and all is in agreement to connect at a later date to finalize the details. But then as a few days pass, I start to think they have backed out and eventually I come to the conclusion that “they aren’t going to buy a piece” and I am so sure of it, I believe it completely to the degree where I start reacting within myself, like feeling disappointed and basically thinking “maybe next time” Then, adversely to this idea I created, they contact me and are excited and move forward with purchasing a work of art they connected with.

In this situation my inner and outer realty become one and its hard to distinguish between what is real and true and what I am just making up in my own mind.

Now as a point of Direction within myself and my life, I have taken the approach to align myself and focus myself with What is Actually Real, as the Physical Facts, and to stop indulging in my mental reality because I have noticed how I can so quickly create false realities within myself which I become so preoccupied with that I cannot distinguish anymore that these ideas are simply existing in my head and not actually real which only becomes clear when reality asserts itself and shows  “see all that shit in your head was not actually valid” when the exact opposite of what I was certain would happen actually plays-out.

So the Drawing above called “Internal Patterns” illustrates this dimension quite nicely where you have the inner and outer structures of the face kind of seamlessly blending together where its hard to tell what is happening on the inside and what on the outside.

Its like this with our experiences of emotions and feelings as well, where it just all seems to merge seamlessly with our outer realities and we then think that it is our outer reality that is causing the inner experience maybe not seeing that our inner experiences are being triggered from a past memory or event or belief system that took years to create.

So just wanted to share this point that opened up when I was looking at this drawing “internal patterns”

View This Drawing on my Galley Here – http://andrewgableart.com/product/2745/

 

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Using Photo References and The Meaning of Life

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Why I use photo references.

When I carve my wildlife sculptures I will use allot of photo references. I get my images from the internet of the specific species of bear I am working on in different positions.

Essentially I am getting as many angles as possible so that I can understand how to sculpt the animal in 360 degrees.

When you creating a painting you only need one angle because a painting is flat, and so you only need one angle. Painting is a different process than sculpting. There are similarities but there is differences also.

When I started carving I decided to use photo references in my process because I wanted to understand the accurate way to sculpt the particular animal I was working on. I have spent years working from memory or ‘no references’ and seeing what kinds of expressions come from that. I have spent years working directly from life doing life drawing and life painting and seeing what kinds of expressions come from that.

One thing I have noticed is that when you work from ‘imagination’ you are working from a picture. You are working from a picture in your mind. That picture in your mind was formed from all the pictures of the particular point you are referencing throughout your life. So, then, what is the difference between using a photo reference that you hold in your hand versus using a photo reference that you hold in your mind.

I have found that my mind tends to be a bit more transient where to hold a physical photo reference really helps grounding me in the information I am looking at where in the mind it seems the information I can extract is less specific and I lose sight of the image easily.

So maybe it is a question about access?

Accessing the information you have acquired where for instance I have found I am not able to access as much detail by looking at an image in my mind versus looking at an actual photo.

Now this brings me to the point of DIRECT SEEING.

One point that I am practicing when I use photo references is ‘Direct Seeing’

People have the tendency to ‘interpret’ things. But within this often the ‘truth’ get lost. Throughout the last 7 years of my life, I have more and more aligned myself with DIRECT SEEING. This Direct Seeing process actually has little to do with art. It has more to do with my real life and who I have become within my real life, and the CONSEQUENCES that INTERPRETATION has had on this World, and so I have recognized for myself the value and imperative for DIRECT SEEING rather than Interpretation where Interpretation is EASY. It is something that we do all the time. Have you ever read a news article where you kind of just scanned and jumped your way through the article to get the general gist of what was being said. That is Interpretation. DIRECT SEEING would be to read the entire article thoroughly and to understanding completely what was being said. I see the later as more valuable and substantial to the human being and human development.

One reason I have aligned myself with DIRECT SEEING and practicing this within my life is because I have realized how little I actually know about myself, and how LIFE FUNCTIONS where for instance from my perspective, the fact that we don’t actually know where we come from as Life is a result of a kind of INTERPRETATION, of not bothering to look at the facts. I realized that in my late 20’s that I had no idea how I created myself. I had thoughts, and emotions and experiences existing within me and I had no idea where they came from, and from a certain perspective I found myself overwhelmed by what was going on inside of me and so I began a process of DIRECT SEEING, of pushing myself to SEE HOW THINGS REALLY WORK, and stop trying to fill in the gaps with interpretation where you don’t actually understand the functionality of something but rather have an incomplete picture yet you have convinced yourself you understand. As a result, we LOSE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLE of ourselves as human beings, as creators, because we don’t know how we work.

So I began to align myself with practicing DIRECT SEEING – Seeing what is really in front of me.

Another example is in communication, when you interpret someone’s words or – here’s a good one – where you create an IDEA in your mind about someone, like someone you like but have never really talked to at length, and then you think you really like this person, but then you finally go and talk to them and who they really are is NOT AT ALL what you interpreted and made-up in your head. So Interpretation is essentially just ‘making things up’. And I see this as making things up based on the information YOU ALREADY HAVE, and so from that perspective you don’t LEARN anything new, you just “Interpret” which is an expression of using what you already have and forming a particular opinion or idea or form.

So when I began carving 2 and half years ago, I used photo references to start to build up my information base of the animals I carve. I did not want to “make anything up”

I questioned what information I would use to fill in the gaps for instance when I was carving a bear and I didn’t have a direct reference for something like the back of the foot, or the shoulder. I could ‘make it up’ and it would probably look fine, and at times I do. But I at this stage push myself to understand the actual information and how it really works and fits together.

Look at the state of our world right now, wars, poverty, violence, everywhere, total destruction really. Yet no solutions on how to really go about fixing it. Most people have no idea how the system we live in functions or how money actually works, and i would challenge if those running the country even understand how things really work. Could anybody that truly understands how things work justify using violence against another life form as an apparent solution? To me, war and violence stems from a lack of understanding or ignorance of who we are as life, and so, I see DIRECT SEEING is important to start cultivating in this world to answer some of these problems we face.

So that is why I currently use photo references. Who knows, maybe someday I will lose the references and take the artwork in a different direction.

I am not to strict with myself. I am fine to interpret, but this must be a deliberate decision and not something done out of laziness.

When you write a research paper. It is important to do the research about the topic. If you do no research, you could probably write the paper but the content would likely be generalized and uninformative. This is the approach I take when I carve an animal. It is a research project, and I must do the research, about how the anatomy fits together.

Id like my projects to be expressive and Informative so I use photos as sources of information to utilize.

I also think that people respond better to ‘realism’ I think interpretation is easier and so that if I focus on developing a certain degree of realism that it will give me an edge in the art I make because I am actually creating something more ‘rare’ and so using photo references is also linked to this point of creating something that people will find valuable and see as unique. There is allot of art there, and I see ‘realism’ as a challenge that the minority of artists take on in their work. I don’t think it makes one persons art better or worse. Its a personal choice also of where I am at and what I see will benefit my own personal development and human being. For others, perhaps practicing letting go would be more beneficial to them in their lives and maybe someday I will be at that point, but for now, I focus on adding that dimension of realism to the sculptures I am creating.

So there is some insight into why I currently use photo references while I carve.