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May 22, 2018
Something I have taken a long time to come to terms with—one of many things that I have taken a long time to come to terms with—is that I am an artist who can't always picture things in my mind's eye.
Sometimes when I am reading a particularly well-written description of a scene, I may be able to picture it, or sometimes when I am reading about something I've seen lots of pictures of before, I may not be too surprised when I see it presented visually, as when I saw the dining room in Hogwarts Castle when I saw the first Harry Potter movie: I had seen enough old Gothic castles to not have to do much imagining when I read Rowling's book.
Other times, I will read paragraphs of description in a novel but still not have any idea of the scene I'm reading about. Just can't picture it in my mind's eye. Then I'll see a movie version of the book and wonder, “Oh, is that what the author was talking about?” when I see the scene dramatized. Is my problem with the way the description was written, or do I have a problem turning words into pictures? I dunno. I don't always do well with guided meditations, either. I usually have to remember something before I can imagine it anew.
That confusion notwithstanding, I seem to have a pretty good concept of space arrangements. I'm pretty good at judging distances, and I can most of the time walk into a room and be able to recommend ways of re-arranging the furniture and ornamentation if it needs it. I'm told that a lot of people can't do that, but I can.
Other times, when my husband, who is an extremely clever wordsmith, describes things to me, despite his best efforts, I have to put a paper and pencil in his hand and ask him to illustrate what he's talking about. Perhaps it is thanks to the fact that I often think literally and concretely that I don't always take a hint very well. People may with frustration ask, when someone is slow on the uptake, “Do I have to paint you a picture?” Well, yeah, with me, sometimes you do.
And yet here I am, a visual artist, who envisions things all the time.
After many years, I have reached some peace about the apparent contradiction: an artist who can't picture everything in his mind's eye. What I have relaxed about has been the realization that not all artists have to be good at all kinds of art. Grey doesn't need to consult any reference to get proportions right when he's drawing human bodies—he has all the right proportions in his head, and they just flow out his hand. I do what artists call non-objective or non-representational art: art that doesn't depict anything, so I never need to know if an arm is the right length compared to the length of the torso.
But that's why we create tools, anyway. If I'm working on the computer, my design program draws my lines straight and measured for me, or if I'm working with paper on a table, I have rulers to do that work for me. People who observe and/or consume art may not always realize it, but what is true for a handyperson is true for an artist: you need the right tool for the right job. Part of being a professional is not so much being able to do pull images out of thin air as knowing what tools will help you to accomplish your objectives. I may be good at re-arranging rooms, but you can be darn sure that I do it better when I have a measuring tape in my hand.
It's true in a lot of professions, and it's true in art: there are lots of ways of being proficient, and some artists are proficient in a lot of ways, but some aren't. But they can still be artists. You don't have to do it all. You just have to be able to do some of it, and you still get to participate.
Our online gallery provides you with aids to envisioning our art in different settings: at The Artists LeFey you can adjust the size to create the effect you want in any of several kinds of rooms: bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, meeting rooms... It's kind of a fun tool. We're glad to be able to offer it. Try it, it's pretty cool!
©May 18, 2018 Khrysso Heart LeFey
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