The Falcon

Why should my sleepy heart be taught
To whistle mocking-bird replies?
This is another bird you’ve caught,
Soft-feathered, with a falcon’s eyes.

The bird Imagination,
That flies so far, that dies so soon;
Her wings are coloured like the sun,
Her breast is coloured like the moon.

Weave her a chain of silver twist,
And a little hood of scarlet wool,
And let her perch upon your wrist,
And tell her she is beautiful.

– Elinor Wylie

A drawing is never really done.

It is simply a glimpse, at a given time, of an idea. Drawings are thoughts fixed in graphite lightly. They can be the best way to abandon an idea with no regrets, or a way to retain that fleeting something, to be revisiting months or even years later. […]

Now that it’s said and done, I’ve finally come to realize that it never really is, that pencils provide the perfect impermanence, the ultimate lightness of seeing, the line that is always between the lines in a sort of fractal meta-physicality – no matter how closely you depict an idea, there are always dozens more hidden within. [… W]hile practice makes good, perfect is always in the next sketch, that the only real line is the horizon.

It’s no coincidence that etymology provides such solace; with each drawing you draw yourself closer to two things: understanding the nature of the world around you and depicting in patient graphite the worlds you have within. Like two mirrors placed face to face, the artist is somewhere in that infinity of reflection and counter-reflection. […]

A drawing is never really done.


– John Howe,
“Drawing the Line Somewhere”

Transmitting Emotion

Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits it to others.

– Leo Tolstoy

The person who can communicate his emotions to the souls of others is the artist.

– Alphonse Mucha

There are a few corollaries to this conception of art-making. The artist must truly feel something for art to be possible. Charles Hawthorne said, “If you are not going to get a thrill, how can you give someone else one?”

This definition of art doesn’t concern itself with the formal qualities of the work. […] it simply has to evoke in the viewer the emotion that originally drove the creator. The artist isn’t the only one who matters. The viewer is part of the equation. Art can’t just be an isolated expressive activity that one person does to amuse himself. The success of art can be measured by the strength of its effect on the audience. […]

This notion of art ruled most of the 18th and 19th centuries until it was swept away by aestheticism and modernism. […] In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the definitions of art have been thorougly deconstructed. I believe we need to go back and dust off early ideas that lay behind the great masterpieces we admire from the past, and see if they still work for us today.

– James Gurney, “Transmitting Emotion”