“The retinal processing of light derived from Caravaggio’s insight into seeing became the lingua franca of Western Art for the next four hundred years. Within a hundred years of his breakthrough, one style dominated the western world from Velazquez in Spain to Rembrandt in Holland. According to Michael Baxandall in his book “Shadows and Enlightenment,” both scientists and artists of the 18th century were interested in the nature of perception and particularly the way by which the retina translates patterns of light and dark into form. For Baxandall, the authenticity of an artist such as Chardin lies in great measure in his ability to convey the notion that the observed is an invention of the seer. The painting’s center of gravity is always within the observer.” [Martin Mugar on Drawing & Painting]
The really nice thing about Martin Mugar’s new handbook for drawing and painting is how he links visual thinking and technique with theory, philosophy and ultimately to the processes of abstraction. The book begins with an exploration of vision and technique – how the artist can use light and space to create convincing objects and ultimately construct exciting compositions. He then takes us through the history of drawing and painting connecting the changes in art and art technique to social and cultural changes and advances in science, technology and philosophy.
In this book Martin also discusses his journey through art, his teachers and inspirations, as well as how his students came to learn and use his insights and lessons on vision and art. And as he relays these stories to us he lays out a comprehensive structure for learning, experimentation and understanding one’s own personal vision. He weaves the ideas of masters and philosophers all through this discussion of drawing and painting telling us that the making of art and the exploration of one’s vision through art is not simply about making convincing pictures or beautiful designs, but about something far deeper and more affecting. Martin is a thorough and complete artist and a wonderful teacher.
For more on Martin and his work and writing you should visit his blog http://martinmugar.blogspot.com/
“Abstraction that is created by the power of the concept to shape and establish structure is visually exciting. When it becomes mechanical, it loses its élan. The concepts that we teach are not new to the world but they are new to the student and the freshness of discovery is part of the experience of drawing and painting. All the concepts that give us space and the objects in it are embedded in the visual apparatus of the eye and mind and when they are uncovered there is often a sense of surprise and enhanced power. The revelation of the concept can carry the student’s work along for weeks, as it seems to magically shape their visual world.” [Martin Mugar on Drawing & Painting]