ArtistVision :: Masterclass :: Establishing a painting

:: The first skill: Imagination.

:: Tapping into the imagination

Tapping in to the imagination.

Here is how Ruskin puts it:

Herein is the chief practical difference between the higher and lower artists; a difference which I feel more and more every day that I give to the study of art. All the great men see what the paint before they paint it, - see it in a perfectly passive manner, - cannot help doing it if they would; whether in their mind's eye, or in bodily fact, does not matter; very often the mental vision is, I believe, in men of imagination, clearer than the bodily one, but vision it is , of one kind or another , - the whole scene, character, or incident passing before them as in second sight, whether they will or no, and requiring them to paint it as they see it; they not daring under the might of its presence, to alter one jot or tittle of it as they write it down or paint it down. (Modern Painters)

The following is an episode relating to JK Rowlings.
I have always loved her Harry Potter stories because the world she created is so clearly exactly a complete universe that can be accessed and explored by people other than herself. Apparently there is, in Japan, a whole school of writers producing books about Hogwarts.

According to the story which is now part of Harry Potter legend , JK Rowling came up with the idea of her schoolboy wizard while stuck on a delayed train from Manchester to London.

With the concept of Harry came his school, the ghosts, and even some of his friends. And by the end of the journey she had created the framework of the seven-book story which was to make her one of the richest women in the world.
"The train was delayed for hours. Harry came to me immediately, as did the school and a few of the other characters such as Nearly Headless Nick. I can't tell you why or what triggered it , but I saw the wizard school very plainly. I've never been so excited by an idea."


This, then, is the first skill of the true artist. We need to cultivate it and to celebrate it. We do that by dwelling in, and exploring the world of the imagination. This is a world which is not ours, it lies all about us, and it needs us to give form and substance to it, as it has needed Shakespeare, Beethoven and Titian before us.

A famous inventor, Charles F. Kettering said, "The opportunities of man are limited only by his imagination. But so few have imagination that there are ten thousand fiddlers to one composer."

And Ruskin again: "The imagination is never governed, it is always the ruling and divine power."

Let us explore and delight in this world of the imagination, this true world where creation takes place as natural occurrence, as we explore the many other skills that make up an artist .