Art and Beauty / by Jeannine Cook

Beauty - in all the arts - is part and parcel of the creative endeavour, to some, but not to everyone. For ages, in the United States, it seemed that the concept of beauty had become almost effete, out of favour, something to be ignored, denied or ridiculed... in many circles. Then, of course, there has been a reaction, and the word "beauty" seems to have crept back into artistic vocabularies. Especially into vocabularies about the visual arts. Perhaps in our rather dismal, complicated times, we all need something to uplift and cheer us, something bigger and more noble than our mundane daily lives, something that gives pleasure to our senses.

It has always seemed to me that beauty is something almost magical, because so often, it catches one unawares, stops one in one's tracks, and blows the whole world wide open into wonderful new dimensions. It can be anything - a painting, a drawing, music, sculpture, a bird song, scenery, light falling onto something, cloud formations... But instinctively one knows that one is registering something special and uplifting - the day becomes better and often more serene, even for a moment. I am sure that there are wonderful analyses of the brain lighting up in its different parts as a person registers some form of beauty; ironically the more illustrations I see of brain functions, the more beautiful I find them to be as well!

As an artist, it is always demanding, humbling and fascinating to try and convey, on paper or canvas for instance. something which one has found to be beautiful. So seldom does one ever succeed in doing the subject justice. But an artist is impelled to try. Since I am also aware that every person who looks at the art one has produced is bringing to the equation his or her own life experience and therefore form of perception, the melding of my endeavours and that person's "eye"can help (or hinder!) in the rendering of beauty.

Ansel Adams was truly correct when he observed, "Art is both the taking and giving of beauty". It is an important dialogue to have, an exchange that can be priceless.