Apr 262008

In Introduction Part 1 we discussed the why, when, how and where of this guide. In the second and last part of the introduction I would like to first, talk about the audience — who may find the guide useful; and second, introduce and elaborate a little on the table of contents.


Basically, I hope that anyone and everyone will find the guide helpful in one way or another. There are no specific requirements — I use very little special language and aim to speak in plain and clear terms. This, in fact, is the philosophy behind this whole publication. I hope that high school and undergraduate college/university students, working artists, art bloggers, art lovers and anyone who has the faintest interest in art will enjoy this guide.

I am aware that many of the things said will sound trivial and not particularly innovative. However, it is always the obvious ideas that slip our mind and undermine the quality of our writing: their absence creates nagging shortcomings; identifying them may also seem annoyingly impossible. For those of you who may feel like they already know everything mentioned here, I would like to say: these posts may serve you as a reminder or a reference source for your knowledge.

Although visual arts are the declared main focus, I believe that the guide may be useful for any kind of creative writing, even fiction. As an English undergraduate student writing essays I always visualized, even when trying to express the most abstract ideas. Perhaps I realized a little too late that I should deal with images directly; I am trying to make up for it as I am typing these words. It is strange that I wouldn’t be able to had I once not been an English undergraduate student…

Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite writers once said that the optimal audience he can imagine for himself consists of a room full of Nabokov clones — people who think and read exactly like the writer and would understand him immediately and without reservations. I think that although there may be some truth to this vision, it is a somewhat elitist and unproductive attitude. I believe that everybody can and should enjoy art.

A room full of people sounds nice — but to my mind all present must be different, coming from diverse backgrounds, carrying multifarious cultural contexts and impregnated with a set of their own ideas and ideals. I want the opposite of Nabokov’s vision. But he’s still my favorite!

Anyone can do it!

Yes, just like in the movie Ratatouille. The film is about a (talking and clever) rat named Remi, who wants to be a chef. All the odds are against him — being a pest is a problem — but eventually he becomes a successful chef and wins the recognition of his family and colony, who were very skeptic at the beginning.

I am surrounded by engineers and almost everyone in my family, close and remote alike, is in the sciences. So in a way, I am like Remi the rat. Something tells me that there are quite a few rats out there. Well, it’s time we built ourselves a colony and began expanding. No more guilt about loving art!

One of the purposes of this guide is to reassure you that this whole process can be done, learned and mastered absolutely regardless of any innate “talent” or “ability.” Of course some are more likely to enjoy art interpretation and critique, but, first, you need to try it, see if you like it or not, and then decide — you may suddenly discover that you derive great pleasure from this most stimulating mental activity. But regardless of the results, remember: all people possess imagination, and using it is a matter of technique that can be learned and acquired.

Another underlying goal is to demythologize the process: we all like to poke fun at the wannabe connoisseurs, who stand in front of a painting and mumble something about the “Colorful colors.” But why not to take a closer look at the source of the myth and debunk it? You may discover that art interpretation is not that difficult and that the joke has long become passe.

Table of Contents

Let’s take a glimpse at some of the subjects that will be covered in this guide:

  • Introduction
  • Brainstorming
  • The Power of Imagination
  • The Power of Association
  • Humor vs. Seriousness
  • Interpretation of Composition
  • Interpretation of Color

Separate chapters can be useful for different purposes. Each post is designed to be an independent small piece of writing including a few main ideas and suggestions on how to elaborate on them. Wherever a reader lands, s/he should be able to derive something from what s/he reads…

Stay tuned for the first part on Brainstorming!

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