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Monday, April 18, 2011

Sidney Nolan

"Painting is an extension of man's means of communication.  As such, it's pure, difficult, and wonderful."

Australian Artist
1917 - 1992

All the arts are about communication.  Whether you paint, write, sing or act, you are involved in the process of communicating.  And communication is one of the most difficult aspects of being human.  We never seem to get it right.  Marriages break up over the inability to communicate.  Children don't speak to their parents.  Bosses fail to inspire their employees.

Painting, poetry and novels are highly specialized forms of communication — an attempt by the artist to tell the world what he is feeling.  And sometimes he is successful and sometimes he is not.  Take this painting, Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringbark Creek, by Sidney Nolan.  What does it communicate to you?  If I asked 10 different people the same question, I bet I would get 10 different answers.  Communication is very difficult.  If it was easy, we probably would not have a need for creative leaders who work hard at communicating.

Even artists and writers don't always know what they are communicating with their creative work.  Paintings, poetry and novels are often communicating on multiple levels with multiple messages.  The painter, poet and novelist are aware of some of these messages but not all of them.  That is what makes art so fascinating.

If you are interested in feedback from your audience, don't ask whether they liked the work or if it was any good.  Ask: "What does my painting, poem or story communicate to you?"  Then listen with your heart and soul.  You may be amazed at what others see in your work.